I've been feeling a little sorry for myself lately.
I've been blogging on here for a little over two months. My photos and my paint jobs were absolutely terrible when I started, and I've learned, practiced, and gradually improved, and with my improvements came the excitement that maybe I'd be good enough for people to actually want to pay attention to. And I'll admit, that's the whole reason I started. I love an audience, and I love to write. I've always wanted to have nice, manicured nails, but I couldn't motivate myself to spend the time and energy necessary to keep them looking pretty on a daily basis. The discovery of a world beyond OPI, the allure of instant publication, plus the opportunity to write and the possibility of actually being heard, nudged me to start blogging. Painting my nails is fun, but writing about it is better. I've gained a few readers in one capacity or another, which is totally awesome, but naturally, I want more. So how do I get myself out there in the ridiculously, insanely supersaturated world of polish and beauty blogging that I've now dove headlong into?
One of the first things I learned was that just because you follow someone and leave a few comments on their posts does not mean they will follow you back. All the talk of support in the world will not make someone follow your blog if they don't want to. And, that's been a little discouraging for me, especially in my enlightened little state of improvement. And so, the second thing I learned is that this is a seriously passive-aggresively competitive hobby. It is hard seeing new blogs' popularity rise stratospherically while you're still plinking away, and you can't for the life of you figure out why; how is anyone else's visibility any greater than yours? My writing's more engaging and my photos at least as good as so and so's, so Y NO ONE FOLLOW MY BLOG??!!! It's all too easy to start playing the comparison game and take this as the huge popularity contest the members gadget can tend to make it.
There are truly a lot of genuinely friendly, supportive women doing this who want nothing more than to make friends and have someone new join the party. But, struggling as I am, I've found myself guilty of this passive-aggression, trying to bait my fellow bloggers somehow into visiting and following. I've felt a little smote when I've received a kind comment and gone back and followed the commentor's blog, only to receive nothing more, so I've done the same thing and told myself that I won't follow anyone unless they follow me first. My comments sometimes feel more like fishing than genuine enthusiasm. How terrible is that? and stupid? But at the same time, I'd love to know the secret formula, what I'm doing wrong, why when I write the big-timers for advice, it falls on deaf ears, and why I'm growing so slowly. I've seen girls ask their readers what they'd like to what they'd like to see more of, ask generally what entices a person to follow a blog, be warned against "buying" readers with too many giveaways, all things I've been tempted by but largely wish to stay away from, because....
This is, after all, MY blog. It's what I like, and maybe there are people who like the same things. Why should I change my voice simply to gain popularity? And that brings me to another observation, which is the alarming amount of apologizing we do on our blogs. I'm sorry for the poor photo quality; I'm sorry for my dry cuticles; I'm sorry my nails are uneven; I'm sorry my cat clawed my finger last night (ahem). WHY are you sorry? First of all, life happens, and NO ONE'S hands or nails are perfect. We all know what it's like to fight with the weather and the lighting, to get a hangnail, and it is silly to expect our hands to appear kept under glass. We live, we have kids, pets, jobs, chores. And we're apologizing for our own art, whatever stage it's in. It is a known fact that some people are overly fickle and judgmental and make fun of others' chosen or God-given nail shapes, and some scoff at a less than perfectly executed photo. There are also those who think you're great and like what you're doing enough to come visit you every day. You don't owe either group an apology.
So anyway. In all honesty (while I'm into my fifth paragraph of it) I sometimes wonder what I'm trying to do. This all feels so cutthroat sometimes that I feel like doing away with LLPT and sticking with my cooking stuff. But the truth also is, it's fun. At its best, I'm getting to write, watching my photography skills improve, I'm discovering new things and thinking more creatively in terms of color than I ever have, and cultivating friendships. It's not all about the numbers, or the comments. It's about the journey and the experience.
Time to really heed that advice.