Monday, August 1, 2011

An old-school blogger goes to the Nuffnang Blogopolis

I flew down to Melbourne on Saturday to attend this event. I'm intrigued by the new direction of blogging and wanted to see what it was all about.

Well, dear reader, it's still all about community, but with a whole lot of money thrown into the picture as well.

It's not a bad picture, really it isn't. But it is very different from the blog world I discovered 5 years ago.

The monetising (such a great word) is not a sell-out, really it isn't. It simply refers to a change in the AIM of the average blogger. The average blogger can now see her blogging (yes, the majority of bloggers are still women) as a legitimate career. I have no doubt that our grandchildren will be shocked to hear that we ever thought the job "blogger" was any different to journalist, photographer, food critic or teacher.

That being said, it's an end of an era in which a group of women shared their lives and stories while hidden from the view of the vast marketplace. If you have a popular blog nowadays you would be foolish not to make money from your talent and very hard work. But this will also necessarily mean that you'll be advertising products. Sigh.

This is most obvious in the world of the mummy-blogger and the beauty-blogger.

I could have used a mummy-blog in the early nineties when my babes were born, but alas it was not to be. So I'm so very happy for the mothers of 2011 that they have these fabulous blogs to which to turn for support, advice and laughter. Now they'll also be advised on the best nappies, formula, food and bath-bubbles. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's a business, and that's fine. Just a little sad, but only if you're still living in 2005 (as I do, from time to time, purely for the purpose of nostalgia).

Concerning beauty blogs. Let me state from the outset that I LOVE BEAUTY BLOGS. I like the big ones and the small ones, I love the arm swatches and posed fingernails and close-ups of lips. I love the camaraderie and joy and exuberant love of life. But most of all I love how SUBVERSIVE they are. Because, dear reader, beauty bloggers are starting to control (rather than follow) the market. They are bypassing those glossy magazines with the airbrushed ads and the snotty, up-selling department store counters and they are truly making history.

I asked Nikki from Stylingyou (one of my new beauty blogger crushes. I have many.) what she saw as the beauty blogger future. She responded by saying that it will be "explosive," and I absolutely agree. She backed this claim up with two of her personal experiences in the industry. Firstly, she was recently asked to speak to a group of beauty PR reps; that's right, they asked her to explain the new industry to them! Secondly, she cannot get any glossy mag to publish an article about beauty bloggers because they are seen as direct competition. 'Nuf said.

But. There's always a but.

Beauty blogs can be used for evil as well as for good. As the line between product sponsorship and personal style becomes blurred so does the definition of female beauty. In a world of cosmetics in which there exists a product for every perceived flaw (and I'm emphasising the word "perceived" here), will beauty bloggers at some point take a stand? Draw a line in the sand and refuse to cross it? I hope so, but I haven't so far found anyone who will bravely proclaim where a woman's beauty stops and a marketer's ploy begins. I'm not sure any of us know that yet.

So here is a ray of hope, and a tiny bit of encouragement to any beauty bloggers out there. Maybe more of a challenge than mere encouragement. I challenge beauty bloggers, once in a while, and only when they are genuinely moved to do so, to notice the NATURAL beauty of a woman's face and to document it in a post. I still want all the products, because I love that stuff, and that stuff makes me feel prettier and happier a lot of the time. But with a dash of the real stuff thrown in too, because that's what it's really about.

On that note, I'd like to present a portrait of Adele Horin (an Aussie journalist):

Painted by Stephanie Brown:

Which I found after I was inspired by Adele Horin's article celebrating the true beauty of the late, dear Margaret Olley:

A truly beautiful woman.


Ms Styling You said...

Thanks so much Eleanor - for asking that question - and for raising good points in your post. I'll definitely take them on board. I'm very selective about the products I include on my blog - I have to believe in them; they have to have worked for me; and I have to believe they are value for money.

Mary said...

I met Nikki a few weeks ago and she is wonderful.

And I love your post on this - it kind of helps me with my own response to the new blogging world - although I remain very nostalgic most of the time for the old one.

I need to embrace change.

Paola said...

I so agree.
This is the era where people too easily lose sight of being "normal" "natural" "simple".
So yes to beauty products used cleverly.

Nice restyling E.

Tania said...

I'm hardly an old bloggy hack but, dammit, I WILL live in the past, clinging nostalgically to posts of the non-advertorial persuasion. And Margaret Olley? Stunningly fabulous. Cried when she died. Cried and laughed when her art dealer friend regaled ABC listeners with tales of her addictions and foibles. What a beauty.

Anonymous said...

''s an end of an era in which a group of women shared their lives and stories while hidden from the view of the vast marketplace.'

Is it really the end? I'd like to think there are still a few of us out there who will respond with a resounding NO.

(Well, if not exactly 'resounding' then perhaps a 'wimpering' no.)

XX Erin

Duyvken said...

What a great thing to do E. You are an intrepid reporter embedding yourself on the new outpost and keeping us up to date. Love your thoughts on all this! Will have to do something thinking (probably while vacuuming and encouraging the children to tidy up after themselves and reminding myself to remember to go to the bank for mum) and share them with you all. And Erin!!! Hello!

Duyvken said...

You're so right, dear E.

Suse said...

I'm with Tania I'm afraid. I much prefer the days when people blogged without thought as to how they could make a profit from it. It felt more natural and honest.

I tend to turn off when I see sponsored posts, or blogs with ads on them.

Margaret Olley. Sigh.

Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots said...

It was lovely to meet you at the conference. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I had a look at your friend's and it seems very interesting.

I love your post and the thoughts it raises about the directions beauty blogs could go in. I hate glossy mags myself and never buy them. I hate the air-brushed fakeness of them. Wouldn't it be amazing if beauty blogs became the forerunners of celebrating real women, and show how they can be beautiful at any age? As the photos at the end of your post clearly shows :-)

The Coffee Lady said...

You are my touchstone, dearie. You really are.

Anonymous said...

Dear sweet Eleanor, it's a treat to read your very wise words.

I especially like that you state that it's ok to enjoy both sides of femininity, the natural beauty of every woman as well as the flambouyant thrill of the made over lady - I do believe they both live in all of us!
Always a great fan and friend - Anna of Helylle