Whilst I haven’t been blogging as much as usual, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I’m doing on here, what I plan to do and what I’ve done so far, and it’s made me start to think about how the labels I’ve used have started to change and have started to develop. One of my biggest blogging characteristics is my age – I’m still a teen blogger, but I’ve started to realise that’s not what defines my presence on the internet anymore.
When I started blogging there were only a few teen, or tween, bloggers (aged from about 11-16) that were well known within the online world. It wasn’t a commonly known thing, so whenever I was asked about my blog and how young I was, there used to always be an element of surprise and intrigue, as well as questions about how I was coping at such a young age of 11. I was asked about what my parents thought and how they handled things; I was asked whether I knew how to cope with bullying and the other darker, scarier parts of the internet. It wasn’t really about what I wrote – it was about who I was as I wrote it.
You can still read my very first blog posts; they’re still live and I haven’t archived them even though there’s been a great temptation to do so. Looking at them now as a sixteen-year-old who’s been writing and creating for almost five years, they make me cringe and cave into that tempting thought of wiping the slate clean. I used to write about how you could recreate celebrity style when five years later I still genuinely don’t know who the Kardashian’s are and why they’re such a big deal.
People used to like what I wrote though because I had feedback and interaction and there was obviously an interest because I was getting asked to feature in magazines and travel to London for events and to film a pilot for a TV show, and all these sorts of exciting things… however, all of these features and all of this interest was mainly being given to me because of one thing – my age.
WHAT I WORE: Blue Floral Blouse (Jumble Sale) // Sparkly Black Maxi Dress (Charity Shop) // Vagabond Dioon (Mastershoe My-Shu)* // Jewellery (Unknown & Claire’s)
I was a ‘tween’ blogger and it was what became my niche, even if it wasn’t intended. My content wasn’t necessarily unique or ground-breaking, but it supposedly was because the ground-breaking thing was who it was being written by. I wouldn’t usually share statistical matters with just anyone but if you must know, my biggest click back and referral to my website is still the article about teen bloggers I was featured in by The Telegraph Magazine. I was 12 years old, I was wearing what was technically a culturally appropriated piece of headwear and I was shooting most of my blog posts on an iPhone 3G.
I’m not trying to say that it’s all been an illusion and I don’t deserve the successes I’ve been given because trust me, it’s not been easy. Blogging isn’t easy. Being an 11-year-old and constantly updating a website and maintaining it, isn’t easy, and I can see why I was unique and ‘inspiring’, and why I still am in my own right.
In fact, all of the stresses and long nights of writing blog posts have made me understand why bigger names and voices get frustrated over the fact that their hard work is often overseen because no matter how big the industry is becoming now, it’s still seen as a hobby and something that anyone can do (well, technically anyone can, but not many are ready for the commitment).
What I’m trying to say is – now that I’m older, I’m growing out of that label. In fact, in about two years’ time, it won’t even be factually correct, because I’ll be an adult (yes, this blog is going to have seen my full transition from an 11-year-old to a fully-fledged ‘adult’), and guess what? You don’t really hear anyone calling themselves an ‘adult blogger’ do you? Unless, you know… you’re into that kind of thing.
And these days, I know I’m not the only one who soon won’t have a blog to base upon their original niche. Although there were only a few popular teen bloggers in 2012, there were still many opening up blogs and Tumblr accounts to give it a shot (I have proof in the form of dozens of emails asking for advice and guidance).
Teen bloggers aren’t a niche anymore because it’s so easy to start something at the click of a button. I’ve found out that a lot of my readers of the same age and younger are bloggers themselves, just by clicking on their Twitter profiles after receiving a reply or a like.
I don’t get asked whether I’m coping with cyberbullying or hate anymore; my parents are barely mentioned when I’m answering interview questions, and it’s all because five years on, people know of these issues and how they work. They’ve seen it hundreds of times over. Young people can make blogs and code their own social media platforms. It’s not new anymore, and that’s a hard honest fact to come to terms with.
So, if you’re reading this as a teen blogger (a blogger who is within the age range of around 11-16 years old), how do we redefine ourselves? How do we stand out and make sure that our young voices don’t get drowned out by the hundreds of others doing the same thing? How do we grow up as a teen blogger?
Ask yourself, why are you blogging?
If you’re known for being a young blogger, or your readers are young and they look up to you for the fact that they can relate to what you’re saying, you need to make sure that you’ve defined the niche that yourself and your readers will be able to grow up with. For me, it’s been a journey. I now class myself as an ethical fashion blogger (and aspiring fashion designer) because that’s what is important to me. If you write about teen beauty, specify what your core focus is on. You don’t have to label yourself as a ‘confidence blogger’ or an ‘acne blogger’, but make your core focus a key message throughout everything you do (more on this in the next point).
Labels aren’t everything, though. You don’t have to feel like you’re fixed in one position, because of the fact you’re going to change. You’re what you are in this specific moment in time, not forever.
Write a mission statement…
If you want to make a point about what you’re doing and you want to stand up for what you believe in, shout it! Write a mission statement and make it clear and precise as to what your goal is. Your readers will know what they’re there for and what they’ll be gaining at the same time. Start defining what part of being a teen blogger is most important to you. Here’s mine from my about page…
My mission is to inspire others to be more confident in themselves and what they wear, whether that be in terms of their physical appearance (becoming more comfortable in the real you) or in terms of the actual clothes that are in their wardrobes (becoming more aware of who made them and where they came from).
It is also my aim to become more comfortable and aware of these topics myself and bring you along on the journey. I believe that not everyone is perfect, whether that be in terms of embracing their personality or living a more ethical life, and I want people to know that, that is okay. I want my blog to be a place where you feel comfortable in sharing your journeys too!
Let things change…
Don’t feel like you have to stick to a certain style or to a certain aesthetic just because that’s what you started with. I believe in creating a strong branding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t branch out and become the blogger and person you truly are. Allow your blog to grow up organically. Don’t force yourself into writing content just attract a certain audience. Let things change and develop. Think of yourself and your blog as a flower – you need to blossom and bloom.
…and accept it.
The hardest part is knowing that things have got harder and that being someone young online isn’t going to cause a stir. It might not have been why you started out, but it might have been what got you off the ground. It caused attention and it created your audience, but it might not necessarily do that anymore. It’s not just because of your age, it’s because of how much more choice there is. You have to accept the path things go, which is in fact, part of blossoming and blooming.
I’ve started to take this quote on board a lot, whether it’s to do with confidence or life in general – flowers are pretty but so are fairy lights and they look nothing alike. You can still have your own unique voice and still bloom into something individual and undefined by your age or another part of your personality or general being, and be successful and stand out. It really is about knowing what that is to you and watching people follow. In fact, I guess it’s about growing up in general – you have to work out who you are, first.
If you’re a teen blogger – how are you growing up online? Let’s chat in the comments!
Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx