(Crimson) Reflections: 10 Years of Blogging
Last month, in November of 2022, it was the 10th anniversary of me starting this blog. I did a wrap up post about the actual blog last year in celebration of 200 posts with statistics, so instead of a repeat, I want to talk a little about content creation and some advice / some of the things I’ve learned over these 10 years.
You should go for it
I was very hesitant to start this blog because I didn’t think I really had anything to say that anyone would care about. I was still fairly new to lolita, I hadn’t been around for ages, I wasn’t an influencer taking great photos… I was just me. The thing is, there is value to the community in posting things that are normal. Normal lolita, having normal experiences. Some of my early posts were opinion posts from the 52 week lolita challenge, news about new releases + my opinions on them, and reviews of things I bought from indie brands. Those types of topics aren’t overly challenging to write on even if you are newer to lolita (though of course, you want to talk about things you do have experience with. Like I could make a post about bloomers because I’d been wearing lolita in public with other lolita often enough for a few years that I had formed an opinion on bloomers). I think the community needs ‘normal’ voices to stay balanced and healthy. So if you want to blog, or start a youtube channel or post to insta or whatever platform and create content, don’t get hung up on not being experienced enough yet or polished enough in that medium. Create content about what you know, review the items you are buying now, talk about the struggles you have with different parts of the process of becoming a lolita, or existing as a lolita in the stage you are in now. I think content that is normal and real is very healthy for the community. So if you have been on the fence about starting a blog or creating content, this is me saying go for it!
Ethics matter in content creation
I have a pretty strong code of ethics for myself when I’m writing blog posts (at least IMHO). Each time I make a post I think about the following:
- Is this post about a person or a business?
- What would the impact of my post be to that person / business?
- How would I feel if it was me or my business and someone else made this post?
- Do I have all the information, or is it possible there is another side to this?
- If I don’t speak up about this, is my silence being complicit in something that is hurting people?
- Am I potentially punching down / bullying someone if I make this post?
- In what way could my readers misconstrue this and/or how could it get out of hand?
- If it gets out of hand, who (if anyone) could be hurt by it and in what way?
- Could this be seen as a reaction to something unrelated that is currently going on in the world or the lolita community?
- Does this make the community a better place? Or at least a net neutral?
- Is this the right medium for this message?
- Do I have the bandwidth to deal whatever consequences this post may have?
- Do I need to include any trigger warnings?
- Is this post biased / does it need any sort of disclaimers about that?
Most of my posts aren’t about anything super divisive. For example, a post about how to get ink out of clothing is really mundane and generally beneficial. But if I knew there was an active, very public dispute about, say a trade between two popular lolita where one was accusing the other of hiding an ink stain and the other said that person was lying and cause it themselves… a post about removing ink could seem like a jab at one (or both) of them, and the timing wouldn’t be right. So, in a situation like that, I’d either rework the post so it was more general, or wait a while for things to die down before publishing. Publishing other similar posts so it’s part of a series also dilutes this effect. (This didn’t actually happen by the way if anyone is worried, I just forgot to finish writing the post about ink stains!)
Likewise, with reviews, I’m really careful about writing negative or neutral reviews of indie brands that are new and aren’t well know. It’s really hard to overcome a bad review when you don’t have any positive reviews yet. If a brand was say, paying for positive reviews / sponsoring people, and I bought something and had a bad experience, sure, I’d write about it. But if a brand is generally unknown, I’m not going to tank their reputation over something minor just because my standards are higher than average. So, I generally only write reviews of new indie brands when I genuinely like the items, would recommend them to a friend and I have the energy to put together a good review.
Another good example would be responding to content created by other content creators. I wouldn’t feel bad writing a response to an article published in a mainstream fashion magazine 30+ years ago, but I would feel like it would be wrong for me to write a response to school work done by a student. I’m a 36 year old adult, and calling attention to something written by someone still in school that isn’t well known, IMHO, is problematic because it can result in people dog-pilling the student for the crime of not producing professional quality research work on their homework. I was a student once, and I started writing papers at midnight that were due in the morning on more than one occasion… Honestly, if I ran into something that had a large reach, but was factually wrong, I might try to find a way to publish something on the same topic without mentioning the student work, but in general, I try to avoid pointing a spotlight at students or minors just because I’ve seen that go really badly in the past and the last thing I want to do is pick on a young person.
This isn’t my job
Creating lolita content isn’t my job. I don’t monetize it. And this is really freeing to me because it means I can write about whatever I want, I can have the opinions I want, I can take as long as I want, I can trash a post halfway through and I don’t have to worry about not getting paid for a sponsorship because I didn’t post on time. I can also make ugly posts. They don’t have to be professional. I can make ugly graphics. As long as they work, they work. I also don’t have to track my stats and keep them at a certain level so advertisers or sponsors will work with me. If a post was fun and no one reads it, then it’s still totally OK.
Also there is something really fun about being a gremlin and just throwing an advertisement or promotional post up for a brand you really like or something like “ha! I’m gonna tell people how cool you are and you can’t stop me!”
Well, I mean they could stop me if they just asked me to take the post down, but you know what I mean. It’s like sneakily giving people gifts and then running away so they don’t know you left it, or buying the thing your friend said they liked and then surprise! it’s for them, can’t refuse it, already paid for! It’s fun.
I guess what I’m saying is… you don’t have to listen to the crowd that suggests that you monetize all your hobbies. It’s ok to just let them be fun.
What’s popular isn’t always right
The lowest hanging fruit for getting high engagement in lolita content creation is creating content that tells a titillating story or is shocking in some way. Useful content, educational content, beautiful content… that often takes more work to get the same response than content that just tells a juicy story. I work in web design / development / usability professionally, and one of the things I’m particularly interested in is marketing pop psychology as it applies to the web. Telling a story is one of the classic ways to get someone’s attention in marketing, advertising, etc, and this flows through to content creation online as well. Putting reddit posts, or true crime stories, or telling the juicy gossip over top of craft, makeup, art, nail, etc videos has been a trend I’ve been noticing lately, and it does increase viewership of the content.
If I make a post that is controversial, or tells a titillating story, it will get high engagement. But, I think it’s really important (and this goes back to the ethics part and the monetization part), to not make content based only on how popular it will be. I know what I can to do to drive traffic and get higher readership, etc. But, I think that shouldn’t be the goal of content creation. I don’t think making my blog as popular as possible should be the goal. I want to create content that either makes me happy, or that is good for the community. In then end, I think those things are more important than popularity.
In addition to chasing popularity in content creation not always being morally sound, sometimes popular lolita facts are factually incorrect too, so the statement applies under both readings. I’m working with lolibrary on a project that hopefully will help with dispelling some lolita myths.
Sometimes the answer has to be no
This is something I do struggle with a lot, especially because I’ve had situations where people have been hurt that I wasn’t willing to do something for them.
I’m not well. My current diagnosis is POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and Chronic Migraines and some issues with my stomach that are still up in the air. Walking around say, the mall, for 3-4 hours for me, even with breaks, feels like… when I was a little kid and we went to the ski slopes and we started in the morning before lunch and ended long after the lights came on at night with only a short break and I was too small to have ski poles, so I had to walk on the flat bits and do everything. Have you ever been really sick and you were so tired you fell asleep on your feet while standing? Or you fall over and you just lie there because you are so tired it’s just floor time? Have you ever been sick with like a stomach flu and felt so tired it’s hard to breath? I think that’s the closest I can’t explain it as. It’s hard to explain this kind of tired.
I get like this from going grocery shopping and doing the dishes in the same day. If I have a lot and I have to do self checkout (extra round of lifting everything), grocery shopping alone can be enough.
Right now, the screen and the letters are glowing and I’m going to have one heck of a migraine soon. Which is fine, it just makes it harder for me to be coherent.
And that’s the problem, really. Being coherent. I can’t write a high level panel that takes more than 40h of research and then give it at a convention and know for sure that I’ll be coherent enough to speak off the cuff. So I need to write notes. And writing a script for an hour long panel and rehearsing it takes time. A lot of time. And the answer, you would think, would be to have copanelists but that also is really hard for me because what ultimately ends up happening is people want to work on the panel at certain times and there are some times of year, like the month of December where I might have to use every coherent moment I have doing some specific task for Christmas or something. I can write blog posts because I write them at stupid random times on my own schedule. But the truth is, work gets almost all my coherent time, and some of my not coherent time.
So, sometimes I say no to things not because I don’t want to do them, or because I don’t like the person asking, but because I’m chronically ill. I probably don’t say no often enough, and I’m trying to get better about that.
And with that, I think I should probably wrap this up for now, because I’m tired, it’s nearly Christmas, and I’ve rambled enough. Wishing you and yours a wonderful and healthy holiday season.