Thoughts On Blogging

Song Hye Kyo Vogue, Song Hye Kyo Vogue Korea, Song Hye Kyo Vogue Taiwan

A few things recently got me thinking about the state of blogging in general as well as where I want to be in the blogging world.

Instagram meme


The first was the Instagram outage that happened last month. I didn't even realize what was going on until late in the day when I saw Instagram trending on Twitter. People were acting like it was the end of the world and it was the funniest thing to me. I was a very late adopter to Instagram and have honestly never fully invested in it.  It always felt so superficial and soulless. And as someone who has made a living as a photographer at one point in my life, I feel like it has ruined the art of it for me in some ways because it's a platform that makes everyone think that they can be a photographer. I've gotten over that but I really do hate the whole system which has people chasing a constantly changing algorithm for views and validation. Well I don't have the time, energy or desire to pay that game. I don't have a plan. I just post what I want when I want to post it. The only thing I'm really concerned about is putting up quality images. And when Instagram went down, I felt justified with my lack of effort. I mean in the end, we have no control over how who sees our posts and what goes on there and it made me appreciate my blog and think about why I still blog.

I started blogging 8 years ago and the world of blogging as well as this blog have evolved so much since then. It was a different world. There was a value placed on substance over Pinterest worthy images, people actually read and there was more genuine engagement. As a blog reader, I still appreciate those who blog in a more old school way which is what I prefer to do. I believe there is still an inherent value in blogs. I still blog because I have things I want to say and share. I know some people probably wish that I would just stick to reviewing beauty products but I'm way past that and would be bored if that was all I did. I want to offer posts with practical informational value as well as write about things that matter to me like the importance of voting, why it's okay if we all don't like the same things, and why online privacy matters. The most gratifying thing for me is still when someone tells me that they learned something or tried something new which they read about here and it improved their life in some way. I can't do that on Instagram but I can on my blog and that's why my efforts will remain here. I don't care to compete with anyone, I'm here to do my own thing. My goals are to post consistently and constantly improve my content. I will do it as long as I enjoy it.

Garance Doré illustration


And then there was this excerpt from a post by Garance Doré on another aspect of blogging which absolutely resonated with me.

I think I asked Kanye who was sending him to Fashion Weeks. Most celebrities are paid to go to the shows. First class plane tickets, palaces, someone dresses them and they’re paid insane amounts to have their photo taken in the front row.

And Kanye replied – just me, no one is paying me. I pay myself. I send myself to fashion weeks. I’m really interested. I’m not here to make money.

Gah, that resonated with me so much.

It’s common in the fashion world to accept gifts with a mix of recognition and obsequiousness. A lot of people actually live off those gifts. They haven’t bought any of the things they are wearing, they don’t pay for any of the 5-star hotels they come out of, and they’d never have the means to buy their own business class ticket.

But not only do they love benefiting from the gifts, they actually expect them and end up thinking that’s what they’re owed.

They end up thinking they’re rich. I know fashion editors who spend their entire lives going from one press trip to another, basically living their lives by proxy.

I always felt a little bit uncomfortable with this idea when it came to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, because let’s face it: flying business class is a lot nicer than flying coach.

The problem is, of course, once you’ve been spoiled with privileges to the point you forget who you really are – a normal person with a normal salary – it’s like a drug: you’d do absolutely anything to not lose that privilege.

So then you lose all your critical thinking skills. When you’re not the one choosing what’s given to you and all you want are the trappings of a life of privilege (accompanied by the insecurity of knowing that deep down none of that really belongs to you), you end up putting up with anything just so the well doesn’t run dry.

But actually, saying no to extras when they don’t make sense, is not only the height of elegance – it’s also the only way to stay real.

And staying real is the only way to live.

The last line about saying no being the height of elegance and the only way to stay real is everything!  I'll never be one of those people who gets tons of free stuff thrown at them and I'm okay with that. Everything that any blogger or influencer gets for free is actually not free, it comes with a certain obligation and expectation. That's something I don't feel particularly comfortable being tied to and one reason why I say no more than yes these days. I also don't like clutter and I don't want to wreak havoc on my skin by testing a million products on it.  I remember reading a tweet from a blogger complaining that it was so hard to be a beauty blogger and her skin was messed up from testing too many products. I didn't even feel bad for her because that was her choice. Sure as bloggers, we all receive free products to review but those who only ever write about things they get for free come across as greedy and lose some credibility for me especially when they constantly gripe about how expensive some things are which is really disingenuous in a way. I get that finances are a factor for some but really people should be cognizant of presenting a consistent image and maintaining some level of standards. If it isn't something that I would actually be interested in enough to buy for myself or even afford, I usually say no. If the brand ethos isn't true to my beliefs, I say no. I have a long list of brands and types of products that I won't work with. I don't want to be contradictory because that comes off as hypocritical and it serves me well to be more discerning and only accept products that will work for me as well as my lifestyle. I have made some wonderful discoveries in that way.  At the same time there is a certain liberty and sense of control that comes with purchasing my own products. I really try to make sure there isn't a huge disconnect between the types of products I buy for myself compared to the types of PR samples I get.

The last thing I want to talk about is the whole fiasco that Pipdig is involved in which is seriously bad. I don't have a Pipdig theme but there are plenty of bloggers I know who do. I'm not going to drag anyone if you don't want to change your theme, it's your choice. But you do at least owe it to yourself to be fully informed of the entire situation because it comes down to some seriously shady and illegal business practices. In short there is malicious code in there that allows them to effectively remotely delete your entire blog and they're also stealing your server resources to attack their competitors. These posts from XOMISSEBonjour Blogger, and Jemjabella provide good informational rundowns as well as helpful advice on what to do. If you're not concerned, you should at least be aware that Pipdig is now under investigation and the company is refusing refund requests from customers. Like I said, this doesn't affect me personally but I feel a responsibility to the blogging community to spread the word.

Photos: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 


little luxury list said...

Wow I was actually looking into Pipdig themes! It’s insane what is going on!

Thank you for keeping it real. I’m not personal much on the blog (no personal pictures and I won’t talk much about our life here). But I enjoy the community of blogging and discovering new products or people. I’m glad to see if people turn away some perks. After all would they do that on their own dime? Probably not. I also won’t endorse or review just anything. It represents us as well right and the more you know, the more you can be selective.

Doctor Anne said...

I never really got comfortable with Instagram either, and just like you didn´t realize it was down until the next day, as work and my personal life were busy. My blog (and You Tube) will stay my main platforms, for many reasons, and I don´t want to invest my precious time in chasing an algorithm that is constantly changing just to meet certain numbers goals.

Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

Blackswan said...

Well said! I'm having a hard time catching up with all the social media thingy likes IG...... xoxo

Emmylou said...

I didn't even know about that Pipdig thing! Thanks for the update, Rowena!
And thank you for another awesome post. I am really old school when it comes to all this social media stuff, chingu. Like you, I was a late IG adapter, and I didn't last long. When someone started posting washroom pics, that's where I draw the line. And I can only imagine how someone like you, a legit photographer, see these pseudo-photographers who took one awesome pic after a week of taking pics and thinks they are hot shots. I just recently got into photography, and I even feel the same way! In terms of sponsorships and such, I just wrote on Sonia's blog how it's so crazy that even music festivals are now fashion shows with influencers being sponsored:( Sigh...
I've been offered products but have always turned them down because I feel like I would start losing my voice if I start doing these posts, esp. from companies I don't even really wear. I feel like saying YES to everything is just wrong!
Sorry for the rant, chingu. I go now....:D

Dressed With Soul said...

Dear Rowena, thanks a lot for this post. I think I can count myself also to the more old-school bloggers and I love blogging now since more than 6 years. I don't have an Instagram account and I'm not on any other platform with my blog as I blog simply because I like to write and to be in interaction with such interesting people like you. Therefore, thank you so much for being here in the way you are!
xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

Leah Davis said...

Rowena, I loved reading this post and the position you expressed. I'm just a reader that's followed you for years. I appreciate the individuality you express and the effort you place in being authentic. I'm not as active on any social media platforms as I used to be because it just began to feel like an empty way to spend time. The cookie-cutter approach mixed with the "everything must be perfect" idea that drives so much of social media has taken the personality out of it. Know your blog (and other platforms) are appreciated and noticed!

Pilar said...

Thank you for posting this Rowena! I agree, being real is the best way to be. I may get some products for a review, but I'm always going to keep it honest with my own opinions. I won't even work with a company unless I have control over what I'm going to write in my review etc. These products cost money and I would never want someone to buy something I know isn't worth the money. Instagram is okay, but blogger is where I first started.

Jenny said...

This was so well written Rowena, and I found myself nodding along while reading this. I have a love hate relationship with Instagram in that I enjoy how easy it is to share content and connect with others in my niche, but at the same time I hate how everything there has become about numbers and algorithms, and that you could post incredible content but not everyone would see it. In the end our blog is the only platform we truly own, where we don't have to worry about trying to game the system.

As for pipdig, I was following the entire fiasco and as a developer myself it really pissed me off how the company blatantly lied to their customers and took advantage of most blogger's technical inexperience. Also I lost a lot of respect for some of the big bloggers that defended pipdig without even trying to understand the situation. Kind of makes you question the integrity of the content they share.

♥︎ Geeky Posh

Ivana Split said...

I don't remember when was the last time I logged into Instagram. I never had any definite negative experience with this platform personally but I never saw its appeal either.Since facebook bought it, we stopped owning our content there and I find that worrying.

Ivana Split said...

I loved what you wrote about blogging. There is no such thing as a free gift in the blogging or influencer world. It is important to remember that we have responsibility, first to ourselves then to our readers.

Jackie Harrison said...

Thank you for this post very informative and helpful. I agree the blogging world is not the same. The interaction is decreasing and plenty of people do not read never understood why bother visiting. I also been blogging for a while 7 years and lately I been under so much pressure that I put content if I can once a week. I enjoy blogging but I do have a profession which is more important it pays my bills. I agree some people especially youtuber flaunt things given to them and trips I always wonder if you take that away how they going to feel. The pigdig so true seen it on someone blog that was not secure I question it the blogger notice she had been hack with a link by pigdig. Crazy how some companies find ways to scam to make money or get credit for someone else work.
Have a great weekend.

Carolyna's world said...

I have Instagram account but blog is a blog. Some of the bloggers totally drop the blogging and they are focus only on Instagram. I think it's not the same. It's like a short way to get something.

I wasn't like you one of those bloggers who gets many things for free but it's not the point of blogging in my opinion. It's important to be yourself making our blogs.

Have a lovely weekend

ALLIE NYC said...

Yes the world of blogging has seriously changed. And I have a love/hate relationship with it. i love the idea of it or the original idea of it but I agree that it has ruined in many ways the art of photography. And I do not like how the ever changing algorithm keeps you on the platform all the time. But that is the goal much like FB and the goal of its founder is sow division and keep you on the platform as much as possible b/c that means more ad revenue. We are being played and manipulated. Also there has been a bit of a backlash with a lot people deleting IG including the huge YouTuber Casey Neistat.

WOW that Pipdig! Holy moly yes there themes are used a lot. In fact I just changed my theme to a pipdig theme though I designed to not be easily recognizable as one of their themes. And funny but I had a big problem when I switched to their theme and could not even login in to WP.

But I am pretty sure it had to do with conflicts with the plugins after I updated them all. I had to contact my host and they deactivated the plugin causing the issue but I had to delete JetPack which was causing conflicts with multiple plugins.

Everything was fine after that. And I have to say their support was very helpful. But that is pretty crazy. I literally just switched and do not have the time and money to redo my theme yet once again. I will look in to this, thanks for the heads up.

Allie of

Gabrielle said...

Your thoughts on blogging are so interesting Rowena and I absolutely love how you mention you're blogging for yourself and that you're here to do your own thing - I think that's probably why your blog always guarantees such an interesting read! With regard to pipdig, I'm in total agreement and sadly I have one of their themes right now. I'm currently on the lookout for a gorgeous new Blogger template, although it's proving difficult - do let me know if you come across any fabulous Blogger template producers please! :)

Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

Sakuranko said...

Being a blogger is not easy and sometimes it's fun to try new things. What a lot of people do not know is that there are really very few things that I receive from sponsorship. And I said no, many times because I don´t like it because I don´t feel comfortable. Or because it's simply not my taste to try something like that.

I feel much more comfortable when I write something about what I like but if I have to say negative things I say, to show my last post and review in my blog where I expressed that I did not like the product for the reasons I mentioned there. The best way to stay real is being honest.

LianaLaurie said...

Very thoughtful post. Thank you for writing it!

Kinga K. said...

You said it in a good way :)

Carolina G. Ticala said...

Estupenda entrada! Espero verte pronto por mi blog! Feliz domingo! 🌼🌼🌼

Elvira said...

I completely don't fall in your niche - not interested in beauty products or any of that matter. But this was so refreshing to read. Every time I pick up blogging again, I find it harder to spot bloggers that don't mind writing more lengthy posts instead of lists and catchy titles with tons of (pinteresting) pictures. Maybe I'm old-fashioned but I just love to read what is on someone's mind. So this post was very refreshing and I'm grateful for the links to other, more personal posts.

Paola Lauretano said...

Congrats, well written post!
Totally agree... the blogosphere has changed, but I think that the real bloggers do run blogs, not only Instagram!
Kisses, Paola.


Shireen L. Platt said...

Post like this is one of the many reasons why I love and admire you, Rowena. You are real, you have always come across as genuine and wise and I take many of your words to heart and some of your recipes to my happy tummy. I have no idea what happened with Pipdig but I will read those links. Thank you for keeping it real and keeping us in the loop. xx

FashionRadi said...

So interesting to read your perspective on blogging. I also though it to be a bit funny when everyone was freaking out over ig being down.


I actually agree and still prefer having a blog even though I can't dedicate as much time as I used to. I love reading genuine comments from people especially when others say that they were inspired by a post from my blog so I can understand why you prefer that as well. Sadly, blogging has changed severely, but I do enjoy Instagram although I don't post often so that didn't bother me when it was offline. Mine has been great for my side business that I rarely use blogging agencies anymore because they are solely about the numbers. I switched Pipdig before all of this because I wasn't happy, tragic about what they did, that is so unprofessional. As a professional stylist and journalist, I can relate how you feel since everyone calls themselves a photographer when you are an actual one, that's how I feel when I see titles used loosely with some influencers. Hope your week is off to a great start. :)

sonia // daring coco said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts Rowena. I'm really tired of Instagram. It's not unique anymore. On a recent post of mine someone left a comment about how Instagram is pretty much such a copy of everyone else. Everyone posts about the same clothes, locations and have the same filters running through. I couldn't agree more. I attempted to re-enter the Insta scene a few weeks back (actually the day Insta fell, which felt like an omen to me!) and ended up investing heavily (read as stupidly) on numerous "filters" because I wanted to change my "look". It was such a waste of time and money. Nothing worked with my photos. One filter looked amazing on one, but then others not so much. And I realised that's because I don't just take photos of white surfaces or only take photos with tones of orange. Photography isn't so calculated. The best photos are those that you manage to capture without thought. And I think that's what I despise most about the Insta process. It's so calculated and unoriginal. There's no joy or sense of pride. If I do post something I'm always wrecked with anxiety over how many people will like it, and that is ludicrous. Also unhealthy. I've decided to focus more on my blog and Twitter, because my passion comes from writing and Insta isn't known for people reading lengthy essays. Not that most people even read these days on the blog. But I have noticed a slight improvement and more people voicing their opinions on a topic I've written about. Blogging has changed. There's such a push to monetise and create based on one sole theme or topic. My blog has never centred around one thing. It's a life and style blog. That's what I characterised it for and that means I'll write and post whatever I want. Even if that equals a major blogging no-no. I love your blog. It's always been clear how authentic you are to your voice. You've never wavered once and I really applaud you on that. I've sold out numerous times. Worked with brands I'd rather not have for the sake of building a brand portfolio or because finances were low. A few years back a lot of these companies weren't asking for much, for example with clothing just a photoshoot and tracked link. These days they approach you with all kinds of demands, the worst being they have full and complete rights over your photography! No thanks. I've learned how to weed them out politely, I give them my rates and terms. Most times they never respond back which goes to show their worth not mine. Being able to say no is something I'm trying hard to work on. I'm a people pleaser by nature so I find it hard to say no politely and professionally, but most times it backfires and I'm pushed to a corner. It would be wonderful to work with the brands I love, but at the same time constantly posting about gifted items does bring about someones authenticity and you end up losing sight of your brand and self. There are so many good points here, I could go on and on Rowena (hence why I had to leave commenting to the next morning!) Re Pipdig, I was aware and since been searching for appropriate themes. I haven't found any I am happy with, nor am I in a financial state to quickly jump ship either. I am taking my time, backing up my blog too and hopeful I can find something soon.


Lena L said...

I am quite late to leave my comment here but this is the third time that I'm reading this post. You've been always a wonderful writer on top of being a great photographer, but I can tell you this post represent why your readers love your blog and keep coming back to read more. Thanks for being real and inspiring us. <3

Mai Nguyen said...

I read about the pipdig issue and I was shocked! I was previously using a theme from them and I'm so glad I switched. I do miss the old days of blogging. I used to blog back in the days and I loved all of the regular blogs I would frequent. They don't update anymore, so I've been trying to find new blogs to follow.


Shamoo said...

This kind of article makes an interest in the website.

Jo said...

I remember this exact day when IG was down. I wasn't freaking out but I couldn't figure out why whatsapp wasn't working and then realize they are all attached.

Thank you for these insights Rowena! I still blog because no other social media can do what a blog can do. But now, I'm worried about the Pipdig thing because I use their themes and I noticed on my home bar, it shows "Not Secure." Oh man, what should I do now?

xo Jo