Authenticity

I have recently spent some time reflecting on the term ‘authentic’ and what it means to me. Authentic referring to, for the purpose of this post, its human sense, meaning ‘true to one’s own personality, spirit or character’ . As a blogger, this is one of the things I value most highly when it comes to my posts, photos and general ‘online persona’. Equally however, it is also one of the things that causes me the most blogging anxiety.

Ever since I started my blog, I have always emphasised to myself that the most important part of it is to stay true to my character. The idea behind Alice Hope is simply as the name states, an expression of myself, and I’d like to think that you can read my personality through my writing – no matter what the post is about. When I started this blog, I didn’t share it on any of my socials, in fact, it was more of a personal thing. Until many months later, I found the confidence to start sharing my posts, and to even create an Instagram for my blog. Since then, myself and my blog have both come a long way, in terms of confidence, professionalism, and finding my niche in the blogging world.

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Of course, I am still about as small as a blogger can get, classified not even just as a ‘micro blogger’ but a ‘super micro blogger’. Do I have a problem with falling into this category? Not at all. In fact, read that term in a slightly different tone and voilà, there I am stood in a pink cape and mask ready to save the blogging universe, now that’s a much more exciting way to look at it isn’t it?

The truth is, being part of the micro blogger community is great, and one of the main reasons for this is because of its authenticity. You really feel like you have genuine connections with people. Since I started my blog Instagram (or blinsta if you’d rather) just over a year ago, I have had a modest growth to almost 1,700 followers. You might think this is slow growth and you’d probably be right to say so, but I think that growth is measured in lots of different ways.

I have tried to opt for the ‘quality over quantity’ approach. I may not have a big following, but what I do have, is a small following of lots of people that I regularly engage with, support and chat to as genuine friends. I would take 1 legitimate follower over 100 spam followers any day, as I’m sure most of you reading this would. Through my blog and my Instagram pages, I have tried my best to show the real me, and I hope that behind all the fancy posing, you guys can really see it. Blogging for me, is an expression of my creativity, not simply focused on the idea of becoming an influencer. I want to write, shoot content and style outfits, and find some people who appreciate my style along the way!

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So where does the anxiety come into it? Well, I suppose it links to everything that I just said. Although I can confidently say that all I have talked about so far is true, ironically, it somewhat causes me conflict. As bloggers, who face criticism for their job, (or what people deem as a lack thereof), there is a certain pressure to care and not care about numbers at the same time. Don’t care about them and you’ll never progress, care about them and you’re superficial or fake.

I have never been too focused on numbers and my following, but without a doubt, when Instagram’s algorithm affects my engagement, it definitely affects my mood. Since starting my Instagram and reaching my ‘peak point’ where I was regularly getting a minimum of 300 – 600 likes, I have watched my engagement more than half, thanks to the lack of exposure on my posts. This is something that I frustratingly can’t really do anything about. As I have said, of course it’s not all about the numbers, but when you spend a lot of time styling, shooting, deleting a million photos and editing the few good ones until you’re really proud of the result, it’s certainly disheartening when the efforts don’t pay off.

Things like this are the root of my conflict, I start to wonder why I care, am I too focused on numbers? Does this make me inauthentic? Do people think that all I care about is likes? A similar conflict presents itself when I work on promotional content. I have had a really lucky phase recently where an unexpected amount of brands have contacted me and asked to collaborate. These have all been amazing and I’m so grateful for the opportunity, plus, I adore all of the brands I have worked with! Even still, that question is there niggling at the back of my mind: does this mean I’m losing authenticity?

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After reflecting on this for a while, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t need to make myself feel guilty for thinking these things. At the end of the day, blogging is my main hobby, it’s my spare time, my motivation and my self-expression, so why shouldn’t I want it to do well? Why shouldn’t I seize opportunities to work with the brands that I love? Or to create content I’m proud of? I feel that we put a certain pressure on ourselves to not care about numbers for fear of coming across as ‘inauthentic’, but I say there’s nothing wrong with wanting your efforts to be appreciated, and it simply shows a passion behind what you do.

So, perhaps as a message to myself more than anyone else, it’s time to stop the guilt tripping. I appreciate every single person that’s part of my little community, and I hope that over time it will grow alongside my blog. I also hope that you guys agree that I am more than just the poses in my photos, and you see me as the authentic blogger that I think I am, because after all *cue camp rock theme tune* ‘this is real, this is me’.

Have you been affected by the Instagram algorithm? Are you part of the micro blogger community? What are your goals with your blog? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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