Quietly Ponder Our Oddness
I read an interesting article on IFB about what constitutes reader engagement on your blog. The writer pointed out that as blog authors we measure most of our reader engagement by the amount of comments we receive on our blogs.
She goes on to say that reader engagement actually goes far beyond comments and, in reality, a visit to your blog is, in itself, engagement. The feedback we receive on other social media channels which relate to our blogs, such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, all count as engagement too.
All her points were entirely valid. I had to examine why I get so down about the lack of comment engagement on our blog, even though my other channels, well mostly Instagram, is positively thriving with engagement yet still, in my head, it doesn't count as much as the engagement that happens on the blog itself.
I pondered this all last night and asked myself why comments are so important to me.
At it's most base level it's validation; validation that spending countless hours taking outfit photos, researching, seeking content and interviewing designers is paying off, not in monetary terms because we do this all for free - rare in the blog landscape nowadays - but more to know that it's appreciated and enjoyed. If I were to be even more reductive than that - it's about give and take. We give readers content and in return we receive feedback and engagement.
Then I started to think about why we don't receive as many comments and engagement as other blogs, particularly the blogs dedicated to personal style alone, rather than rich content, which seem to garner hundreds of comments, in some instances. I wondered if the problem is actually written content. Do readers in reality prefer nice images and just a couple of words, and that's why a simple image on Instagram garners more engagement than a written article? But even when I do personal style posts, which out of the ten posts we do a week here on KOS, only one is dedicated to personal style, so clearly a tiny percentage, it still doesn't garner comments, unlike other blogs.
Considering this, I had a little ephinany. I realised that it was a simple matter of mass appeal. And we don't have it.
When you look at the blogs which attract the most comments, including the ones that go beyond just personal style, they still tend to have mass appeal; the average woman or man can entirely relate to those bloggers, the way they dress and the things that interest them. You are unlikely to see outfits or designers which challenge convention, but rather you'll see chic, elegant girls with style which is, at it's heart, easy to relate to or understand. I realised that was the difference. Both Marie and I have no interest whatsoever in looking chic or elegant, nor featuring artists or designers who cite this as their end game either.
Personally, my clothing is a creative expression, as arsey as that may sound. I'm a creative person and my clothing is simply an extension of this. As a graphic designer, I create and make things all day long, and clothing for me is like graphic design for my body, which is why I revel so much in colour, texture , pattern and print, even when it's loud or abrasive or when it's difficult to find the obvious beauty within it. Simply put, the things I write about and the clothes I wear will never have mass appeal, ergo, will never attract that much engagement.
The more mainstream bloggers will walk down the street and look beautifully turned out in the latest Celine this or that, but they will never know the feeling of being stared at by confused onlookers, laughed at or chided. They will never know what it's like to have to make sure you have in your wardrobe at least one huge, long black coat to cover up a particularly outlandish outfit, because some days you just don't have the energy to deal with people's reaction to your sartorial oddness.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
If that means sacrificing blog engagement, then so be it, because we will always seek out those designers and creatives who, if you were lucky enough to own their work, would create and thrive on such a reaction.
Thinking further about comments, the times I have discussed my woes about lack of reader engagement on here, a few readers did talk about the quality of comments as being more important than the quantity. Some people expressed to me that they felt they didn't have anything of value to add to the discussion, or didn't have a thought that went much beyond "that's cool". I said I was OK with that because that reaction is, none the less, still authentic. But the other day I read a meaty post written by Susie Bubble, who seriously questioned the ethics of desiring objects/fashion which have nefarious connotations or backgrounds, in this instance customised denim jackets by Tony Alamo, who is an incarcerated cult leader, convicted sex offender, child molester and rapist. I was quite literally astounded and angered by the comments, with gems such as, "WOW. I would wear americana one or Beverly Hills, I mean right now!". Clearly, no-one had actually read the article and instead used comment space for shameless self promotion. Susie had clearly researched this, took time to write several hundred words on the subject and yet no-one bothered their arse to read it. It was shocking.
Reading that made me realise that most of the comments on the mainstream blogs (which I don't consider Style Bubble to be, in spite of her following, incidentally) are most likely in aid of similar self promotion and that the few we do get, aren't.
So, for the like minded people out there who are not interested in the Chanel Boy bag, then maybe this is the place for you and it's ok that together we ponder the outer fringes of creativity and style, quietly and internally.