I was recently nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award by Lulubel from Tiny Love Bug. I really appreciate her giving me the nod – Tiny Love Blog is a really unique and entertaining site. They focus on relationships and advice, with multiple writers giving perspectives – perspectives that are often humorous. You can check out Lulubel’s blogger origin story ( favorite quote: “..the only Law I had ever been truly interested in was Jude.”) and the rest of her blog picks over in her award post.
I also feel like I need to apologize a bit, I’ve been really slow getting my post up. I don’t have a great excuse, just some life stuff, feeling exhausted after work likely as a result of being towards the end of a pregnancy, and also going a bit down the rabbit hole trying to pick the blogs I’m going to pass the torch to, and trying to write meaningful notes about each one. If I’m going to pick fifteen blogs to nominate, I’m going to take the time to pick good ones, and I’m going to take the time to write a good pitch for each of them – because its hard to find new things to read. So, sorry so late, and thanks Lulubel for picking me and your kind words!
What is a Blogger Recognition Award and What Now?
In short, a blogger nominates me, then I have to fulfill some obligations and pass it on with some nominations of my own. Here’s my to-do list:
- Thank the nominating blogger.
- Write a post about the award.
- Share a story of how and why you started your blog.
- Offer at least two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
- Pass on the nomination to another 15 bloggers.
- Respond to the nominating blogger with a link to this post on their blog.
How and Why I Started My Blog
This goes back a long way, to a previous life.. I originally started Rika Confesses to Almost All of It on Blogger rather than WordPress. I was modeling professionally at the time, although not terribly successfully. My original intent was to make the blog sort of a confessional of all the not-very-cool things that went into trying to make it to making a living that way: mildly humiliating cheese shoots that you do for the money; smiling and nodding through extremely insulting and often bad advice (“Once you get that nose fixed, you’ll be great.”), transactional “friendships”, douchey and unprofessional behavior from industry people; how hard it is to try to fully swing at something while still needing to make a living in the meantime; that time a photographer lured you out into a swamp under false pretenses and tried to convince you to let him hold your car keys for “safe keeping”. There wasn’t a real true account out there, that I could find, of how shitty it can be below the success bar in that industry – sure, you’d see some really successful models speaking out about pressure to lose weight or sexual harassment after they’d tolerated it all the way to the top. But nothing of the alternating thrill and shit slog of being an industry bottom feeder.
And I wrote some of these posts. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t really be as harshly honest as I needed to to make that concept sing. There were people who absolutely deserved to be called out, who I couldn’t call out because I still needed them. There were “this is my life now” things that I couldn’t believe I’d agreed to do for money or the chance at money, but I couldn’t write about them – I’d learned that you had to present the veneer of success if you ever wanted booked again. And I needed every bit of work too badly.
Eventually, and with several new, more specifically themed blogs started and abandoned along the way, and a stint focusing on YouTube, RikaConfesses evolved to the sort of auto-journalism/personal story time/random lifestyle and style mix that it is now. I also left modeling to start a “real career” in video games not long after the start of the blog, and once I was doing something I was truly passionate about, I could see how much I was NOT actually passionate about modeling (I think I was just passionate about finding a way to not just work a boring job). Once work and succeeding in that arena became more important to me, the blog changed as well – once I realized it was purely a hobby, I started blogging only for the goal of making it enjoyable to myself and writing (or photographing) things that I’m still proud of later. I don’t have the biggest audience, and I often ignore advice for growing that audience because I’m just not interested in writing something just because of the likelihood of views or becoming more similar to the blogs that have “made it”. And anyway, it kind of doesn’t matter what I do because no one will ever be as interested in it as they are interested in my hair!
I still don’t think this blog has hit its perfect iteration yet, but I think that maybe I’m closer to being able to at least see what that vision is now. I’m working on getting more consistent, and I’d like to get better at doing posts on things I think are useful or worth documenting – the amount of awesome travel photos that never got a post, or “I tried X thing..” posts that had their pictures taken and were basically written in my brain is a bit embarrassing. And I’d like to get better at doing helpful content – which I see as giving back for all the info I take from bloggers out there – while still never wavering from my own voice.
Advice for New Bloggers
First of all, if your intention is to leap straight into fast growth and being an “influencer” with a huge audience.. never follow my advice as that is absolutely not a thing I have done. If that’s not your intention, read on..
The best way to do blogging is to do it in a way that you will actually be able to continue doing it. Especially if you work a full time job that has to take priority over blogging, not everyone is going to be able to execute on all of the “right way” to grow your blog advice out there. But that doesn’t mean that your voice isn’t worth having a space in the world. Actually, in my opinion, your voice is especially valuable in the blog space if you aren’t a full time blogger or work-from-home-er or stay-at-home mom or not (yet) responsible for supporting yourself. No offense to any of those groups, but it can be very hard to find bloggers who aren’t in those categories, and damn I would like to find more. So, keep your blog to a scope that you can continue. If you can only do a post every week or every two weeks, do that. If you enjoy writing, but site design is torture to you then don’t so site design – use a site with pre-made templates, or have someone else do that part, or blog in a community somewhere. If you barely have time to do the posts that you want to, and doing share groups and every last social media network known to mankind eats even further into that time, consider not doing some or all of that hustling for views.
Be true to your own voice and style – don’t call your readers “lovelies” just because everyone else does if that’s not you. But understand that the reason for this isn’t to make you successful. The idea that if you are true to yourself, they will come is a bit of a myth. More likely you will sit there being true to yourself while same-y slog books sponsor posts and you can barely get anyone to notice your uniqueness. But you don’t stay true to your voice in order to cash in; you do it for yourself. So that a few years in, what you’ve put out there on the internet forever is something that you can feel good about and you can join me in giving a big fat eyeroll to the bloggers who have faked it all the way to the bank and now want to expose and bitch about how fake and miserable blogging is. And maybe, if you are somebody who is randomly lucky enough to be true to yourself in a way that happens to attract attention, at a time when your true self happens to be zeitgeisty, then you’re going straight to the top!
That said – don’t discount the value of doing at least a little bit of working with other people to increase your audience. Guest posts, collaborations, Facebook groups ect. can all get more people to view your content, and if you look around you can find ways to do these that don’t feel like you’re betraying yourself or participating in a popular kids clique. Nobody creates a thing that they hope no one notices, and there’s no shame in working to try to expand your reach a bit.
Who Am I Nominating?
Girl and Tonic is a blog about not drinking. There is so much cultural literature that glorifies drinking – my own blog is guilty of this at times actually – and so little that shows how cool prioritizing other things in your life can be. The site headline is “Drink less, do more” which has really been resounding with me now that I’m looking back at drinking with several months of hindsight and also staring down the barrel of the great free time reduction that is having a kid. I love Laurie’s posts and thoughts on not drinking and pursuing what you really want in life, and I also love the Not Drinking Diary interviews for the multiple perspective of different people. And I especially love that the overall tone is positive, not heavy with condemnation fire and brimstone. Even if you aren’t sober or considering going there, its a great read for looking at drinking through a different lens and not simply accepting the alcohol = fun/no alcohol = not fun equation that culture presents us with at every turn.
Leave Sarah Wild is a travel photo blog, which I found through her Instagram. Both the blog and the Instagram are full of awesome photos of awesome and sometimes less traveled destinations. Sarah herself has an interesting story as well – she was raised in a repressive Christian cult in the UK, and when she left, she had to leave most of her family behind and start over on her own. Since then she’s done a ton of travel, including solo travel, and lived abroad.
I always find multiple writer blogs appealing (perhaps because I fantasize about having a blog friend but don’t?), and I’m always looking for more blogs from other women with non-blogging careers. Trashy Fame hits both marks, and its from a place that I don’t necessarily hear much about, and I like their aesthetics. Trashy Fame is written by Fran and Geissi, two sisters from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Fran is an electrical engineer and Geissi is studying psychology. They blog fashion, beauty, local places and sights, and occasionally DIYs. Full disclosure – I can’t read this in the native Portuguese, so I have to rely on the sometimes janky Google translation. But even if I have trouble understanding all the details at times, the photos are still beautiful and their style still hits a casual, ever-so-slightly-hard edged note while still being flattering and put together.
Jessica of My Feet Will Lead Me is another blogger with a bit of an atypical personal experience – she became a very young widow when she lost her husband to melanoma. While the story of her experience with his cancer is still present in the archives, the blog currently is more a story about the person she is after experiencing that and coming out the other side so to speak. She focuses on travel, and her posts have a detailed, approachable, what-its-really-like style that can be really hard to find in a travel blog. She isn’t presenting a glammed up fantasy of travel: travel and adventure are cool enough as they really are. The places she covers may include the “standards” that you’ve heard recommended before, or they may be the less traveled path. As she says in here About page “My itineraries are about balancing the top highlights with off-the-beaten-path experiences.” That is, in my opinion, the sensible way to travel.
Onyine, who goes by Nina, blogs fashion and lifestyle out of Abuja, Nigeria. I think I’ve mentioned a time or two how much I love blogs that take me away to a different place, and this definitely checks that box for me. I think that in my part of the world, a lot of our ideas about places like Nigeria can be distorted by stereotypes and news reports of only the things that are sensational or awful enough to reach international news. Its fascinating to get a glimpse into a place through the thoughts of someone just living their real life there – I love seeing the slight differences in the fashion there and the personal touches she brings to her outfits, and the details I can see in the backgrounds of her outfit shots. Many of her outfits also include thrifted pieces, which means you’ll see looks you haven’t seen on everyone you follow on Instagram. But my favorite posts are her photo diaries, which really take you inside a place that she’s visited or spent the day. She also does another thing that I love in a blog: she WRITES – not just outfit descriptions or favorites lists, but about things, with complex opinions, the kind of posts that take time to write out. I also like how she starts every post with a song she’s listening to.
Can you really consider getting an ice cream cone settling? Ilana writes on travel and life, and seems like the kind of person who is never settling, because she’s too open to the magic that’s there for the taking. She’s gay, she’s into body positivity, she’s on an adventure with a huge grin. What I like about this blog is that she doesn’t just talk about body positivity – in fact she often doesn’t mention it at all. Instead, she writes detailed travel and lifestyle posts with tons of pictures, and just casually/deliberately doesn’t shy away from being in the pictures herself, totally unafraid to appear with hair and makeup undone or to appear all dolled up in outfits that the proverbial “they” might say shouldn’t be made in her size. She just assumes her place in the world as if she’s meant to do so – which I think is something that a lot of people, from a lot of places aspire to do. She frequently posts on breweries and brewery tours, and her travel posts are the kind I like (ie long and heavy reads). And she’s a good photographer – she’s another blog that I found by way of Instagram. She comes across as so open to people and really, everything-positive – she seems like the type of person who, for whatever you think makes you unappealing or defective, would tell you that you are still alright and can be happy. But she also does another thing that I like that I don’t see every day. She posts not only on experiences she enjoyed, but is also honest when she had a bad experience somewhere or wouldn’t recommend it. She’s not mean or spiteful about it, she isn’t doing negative as a blog party trick – she just lets you know if she legitimately saw flaws in a destination or experience. And I think that’s the counterbalance that makes me trust her joy for the places she loved.
This is a very new blog – it looks like she just started in June – and since then she’s lapsed a little bit. But, I thought that her start showed a lot of promise, and the photos on her Instagram are making me hope for more detailed posts on some of the places in them. So this nomination is my way of saying “Poke! Write more blogs please!” 🙂 Vixy’s early posts show us a little bit of Manchester, and a little bit of beauty and her Instagram shows a glimpse of the kind of sense of humor that causes one to photograph signs reading “Fuck the fucking fuckers”. So Vixy, if you’re listening.. please bottle that and put it in long form! I’ll be sitting here waiting for a big fat blog on Dismaland whenever you’re ready…
Suzanne from Berlin blogs mostly European travel, and, well, Berlin. She does both destination posts and general travel thoughts/tips posts as well, and all of her posts have this hard-to-define quality that gets you thinking about what your own opinion is on that thing – its the kind of blog that it is hard not to comment on. I enjoy the destination posts, esp because it seems that a German has a slightly different approach than someone from the US or the UK bloggers that I tend to follow and follow and follow. Even posts on places I’ve been to show me something a little different. But I think my favorite are the Berlin posts. Germany is one of the countries I’ve been to most repeatedly, but I haven’t been to Berlin, and she makes it look so appealing. Wunderlander also has the added feature of providing an opportunity to practice German – although you can set the site language to English, the German is there to provide a challenge if you need it.
Perhaps I’m having a bit of a Portuguese fetish – which is odd because I don’t at all read either the Portuguese or the Brazilian version of the language – but here’s my second blog pick in that language, this one from Lisbon. Sonia blogs lifestyle, food and recipes, the places she visits and events she attends. But really, the blog is an in-depth guide to Lisbon. You can really get a feel for the flavor of the city and what it has to offer, find bars or restaurants, or other things to do all from her posts. I haven’t been to Portugal, but when I go to check it off the list I will be stopping by this blog on the way to add to my destination list.
This site is allegedly about retail happening, mall reviews, and all other things related to the “shop” industry. But, its also about hilarious observations on unicorn beverages and serious salutes to the retail employees who are keeping the lights on (aka allowing people to acquire supplies) in Houston. (Seriously, its about time someone recognized the people who help in important but maybe unglamorous ways.) And there’s some trend/fashion commentary, and a little bit of personal experience. This is a reader’s blog – its not all about the pictures, its a lot about the words.
“When I’m not complaining, I sew.” This blog is, honestly, mostly complaining. But its funny, well done complaining about fashion that in many cases needed some complaining about it. And there are a lot of pictures. So in a way, its like visiting http://www.style.com, but more edited, and without all the cliched gushing about items that in a year or so are going to move to the same writers’ “what were we thinking” lists. This one breaks two blog rules for me: 1) I generally don’t like negative fashion criticism as it usually feels mean spirited and I think style is so so personal, and 2) I generally will not follow or read a blog that doesn’t use their own photos in the majority. But, the mean is funny in this one, and never crosses the line to just TOO mean in my opinion. And the photos are borrowed, but they are credited, and the content is the commentary – the photos are just the object of critique. Sometimes something isn’t what you think you’re into, but you really like it anyway.
Charlie Chatters is a fairly new blog, and a new discovery for me. Its mostly random musings, something I enjoy on subjects I’m interested in, but is hard to find with a google search. She even has some video game posts that aren’t news or reviews (why does everyone writing about games think they want to be a journalist? I just want to read your biased opinions and experiences and personal video game stories and shoot the shit about it you know?) There are also thoughts on books and some life thoughts, but I think my favorite post so far is on trying out a new thing – taking pictures in an abandoned building.
Do you know why I started following Elea Rose? Because she makes outfit posts that don’t always rely on gigantic heels – in fact most of the time she’s in flats. Since then she’s evolved into the Sustainable Style concept – which if you need it spelled out for you, means she’s focused on clothes that have less negative consequences and unseen costs to the environment, to the workers manufacturing them, ect. I do think its important to realize everything has a cost, and not treat clothes as if they are disposable, although my own contribution to sustainable fashion usually just consists of never getting rid of things and wearing them forever.. But, her site shows her own journey “from fast fashion to sustainable style” so there’s a lot of information on the process and how to start taking steps if you’d like to move in that direction. She also has been doing some shooting with film, which I quite enjoy.
Riley is a fellow blog-rule breaker, and that’s probably why I like her blog so much. Her blog probably shits on the rules even more than mine does, which is probably because, as it says on her About Me, she doesn’t want to be successful. Its hard to describe exactly what he blog is about, because its kind of about everything and random things and whatever is going on in her life, which is still kind of my idea of what the default for a blog should be but now we’ve reached this stage in evolution where everything is specific and organized and formulaic. But not Her Life on the Veg. She might be going on about dry shampoo, or love, or coffee, or blogging in coffee shops. Its always a bit random, and it always has the lack of fucks given tone of someone who does not give a rats ass about being successful.
This is another “reader’s blog”. Meaning there are a lot of words, and each post will give you the slower-burning kind of entertainment as you read through Susanna’s thoughts. Most of her posts are simply that – personal thought pieces. She’s a Finn who’s adopted the UK, and she covers a little of life, the universe, and everything from feminism to pockets to routine. Her posts are thoughtful and she’s careful with wording, and admits when she isn’t an expert in something (gasp!) and all around seems deliberate and wise and calm.
I’ll shortly be off to present Tiny Love Bug with the link to my post, but before I do, I’d like to beseech you to go take a look at my nominated blogs – I spent a lot of time picking them out for you. Let me know if you have any recommendations for me – its hard to find new blogs that are unique and that aren’t the “household name” bloggers. Also – if you’re one of the blogs I nominated.. I’d be interested to know how you think I did summarizing/pitching your blog – let me know in the comments, even if I sucked at it.