Over lockdown, I fell into a blogging slump. I wasn’t ‘fresh out of ideas’ or facing ‘writer’s block’, I’m definitely not well-versed enough to experience any such disillusionment. In fact, my gen Z-esque worries arose from having too many ideas; wanting to wear too many hats and only having one, very large, very full, head. I was immersing myself in blog culture and content creation (a modern turn of phrase I’m still not sure if I love or loathe) to no end. It was like it was 2014 and the shelves of boots were stacked high with Zoella beauty products, and, I was like a Tasmanian devil, running rampage across the interweb, soaking up all the aesthetically pleasing pictures and chatty content I could find.
I had convinced myself, through a series of spiralling thoughts and panic-induced meltdowns, that as a soon to be graduate, graduating into, frankly, a colossal shitshow of an economy, I needed a blog. I needed to show I cared, to showcase my work ethic, and set myself apart from the other thousand carbon copy English students– not like any of them would have had the diamond idea of starting a blog! Oh no.
I’d watched Youtube video after Youtube video and read article after article on how to have a successful blog. A blog that people would actually want to read and engage with. Many of these blogging experts and entrepreneurs spent time insisting that people do still read blogs in this hyper-visual world of Instagram and Tik Tok– the verdict is still out on this one.
I’ve had blogs in the past, quite a few, and I cringe at the thought of them floating around out there in cyberspace, lonesome, with their spelling mistakes and poorly worded sentences (not much has changed there). None of them had managed to stand the test of time. They always fell short against education, boys, or more likely, Netflix binging. I’d always loved the idea of writing a blog, but I faced two key issues every time I would endeavour to put word to screen: confidence and perfectionism. Firstly, I lacked confidence. So much so, that every post I spent hours working on and agonising over would be deleted in a few short seconds. I’d conclude that it was too imperfect to put out into the world with my name behind. The pictures weren’t good enough, the text wasn’t engaging, the background wasn’t white enough (seriously, this one still gets to me every day on Instagram). Then it was bye-bye blog, and that all too familiar feeling of failure creeping in as I rapidly turned to the comfort of distraction which lay in the prospect of a new project venture.
I’d decided lockdown would bring with it the blog I had always dreamed of. After finishing university for the year and no longer being at my job (#relatable?), I had the free time to dedicate to blogging. All the videos of blogger experts and social media marketing moguls told me one thing: the most important thing is to have a niche. Blogging an overly saturated market, and you need to stand out and always be thinking about what you are offering to the reader.
I pondered over what my niche could be. What did I want to write about frequently? Two things sprung to mind: books and fashion. I thought them over. The two rarely go together, and two diverse subjects might not satisfy and keep my hypothetical reader engaged. I had to pick one. So, then came the tussle; I went back and forth between the two each week. I wasn’t reading enough for a book blog, but then my photographs weren’t high quality enough for a fashion blog.
I went from 5 ways to style, to The best books to read this summer, and back again. I loved writing both, but once published, the two didn’t seem to gel, and I felt dissatisfied. I was trying to write for others, but I wasn’t proud of the work I produced myself. Bite-sized content with ammeter pictures wasn’t what I had in mind for my big blogging journey, and I knew it wasn’t going to impress any employers that might encounter it in the future. I’d scan my favourite bloggers, those I had been inhaling during the lockdown. Doing this resulted in a deeper, more profound, disillusionment. I felt almost as divided as my writing; partly inspired by boss ass ladies writing and producing content for themselves, and part deflated; disappointed I couldn’t produce work as wonderful as theirs. As a private person, a ‘niche’ blog seemed to be the perfect fit; I could write for others without indulging in my personal thoughts and opinions. I wasn’t overly keen on putting myself out there, the confidence I lacked previously still governed me.
I began this blog as whatsyourdamage.blog, a homage to my favourite 80s film, Heathers. It was a way for me to distance the content from my personal life; an attempt to make it its own entity. I was so focused on writing for the reader that I tried to make sure I blended into the background.
At the time, I was posting frequently on Instagram. Not anything lengthy or wordy, but pictures I liked of clothes and books; sharing them with a little community of people passionate about the same things as me. I began posting every day, and through lockdown, it felt purposeful– even if in the grand scheme of things, it was futile. I started being proud of what I was putting out there, and I wanted to keep doing it. Writing has always been my first passion in life, before clothes and shoes, I loved to write. Somewhere along the way, in an ocean of SEO optimisation videos, and well-framed professional photographs, I forgot this.
I’ve decided to change the name of this blog to Jasmine Isabella. Jasmine Isabella is the handle of my Instagram, a place where I have gained confidence and been proud to voice a few thoughts and opinions on the world around me. I don’t have a big business plan, I’m not even sure what a growth strategy is, and my new niche is ‘nice things’. This blog will be home to my words and my thoughts on the nice things in life. These things might be the clothes I’m wearing, the books I’m reading, or maybe just thoughts on modern life (or, more likely, an unacceptable nostalgic infatuation with the past). I will be writing for myself, as well as the reader– probably just for anyone who’s listening.