Around this time last week I took part in a bloggers chat on Twitter. The topic was ‘Blogging Truths’ and the first question was “What is your unpopular blogging opinion?” A little apprehensively I typed in the answer “Unpopular blogging opinion? A disturbing number of blogs are fluffy, minimal, marble, pink + indistinguishable from one another #lbloggers”. I was expecting either a few curt responses or plain disinterest and a total lack of response at all. Instead I was pretty surprised with how many people actually liked it – and not just in the traditional social media sense.

Before entering the blogosphere I thought I was a pretty average woman, girl, twenty-something-female, what-have-you. And in many ways I still maintain I am. On the spectrum that is total pearl-wearing, small-dog-toting, lady-like girly-girl to  errrm… someone more like Brienne of Tarth, I think I’m a healthy mix and probably average out at about central on that spectrum. I quite enjoy pamper nights, tubs of B+J’s; slicking on a dark lipstick, pair of heels and going out dancing. But that said I’m also partial to muddy walks in wellies; to ale and whiskey and Star Wars. I like to think I could chop logs with an axe, drive a motorcycle one day and do pretty well with Bear Grylls in the wild. Maybe. If he brought an electric blanket.

Still being pretty “average” – not prescribing to stereotypes at either end of the scale – I kinda assumed most females, were reasonably similar to me in that sense. Y’know? I thought we all rolled our eyes at the fact there’ll always be that pink mobile phone model and that women’s events tend to revolve around cupcakes and cocktails. Yet my experience of the blogosphere has been much more Barbie than Brienne of Tarth. The overwhelming majority of  blogs I’ve stumbled across are a either candyfloss pink or monochrome grid affairs – perhaps with a little marble detailing?

To be quite honest, I feel like something of a misfit in the community. I can joke that I’m carving out my own niche here, but really it’s just got me thinking about the culture we’ve created for ourselves online; why it exists, what ideas it reinforces and what it communicates to the rest of the world. Cause blogs are a part of the media; circulation figures show they’re actually replacing women’s magazines. And sure, we were all sick of the celebrity shaming, diet tips and photo-shopped abs but what are we replacing those pages with?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments; what kind of ideas are you communicating? What kind of content are you creating? What kind of girl are you?

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  1. Reply

    Alyse (J.X.L.)

    18th January 2016

    I follow you on Twitter, saw that tweet and immediately thought, "How many times have I wanted to say the exact same thing?" I agree when you say "a pretty average woman," but I also think you're blog/aesthetic here is pretty unique from a lot of what I've seen. I've never considered On Serpentine Shores a "misfit," more just different.

    That being said, I also find a disturbing number of blogs indistinguishable. I took a several year hiatus from blogging, but I've lurked, watching the community grow and change. There is now definitely a common a) layout, b) photography/flat-lay style, c) style of prose, and d) products/brands. Sometimes, I swear I see the same photographs over and over. Despite all the homogeneity, it really seems like this is what all the popular blogs have in common. Herd mentality? I don't want to label myself as a "type of girl" (though I'm decidedly not the type that creates these fluffy blogs) and I certainly don't want to fit in. If anything, I think this sort of sameness just forces the rest of us to get creative and really figure out our own styles, you know?

    Well, that was an essay of a comment. Good, thoughtful post. I don't always comment, but I like what you write!

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you so much – tis such an encouragement to hear! I really find it remarkable how different (and homogeneous) the blogsphere has grown since I started. I guess it just concerns me there's no legitimate place for me in it now. But then like you said, maybe it just forces us to get creative and figure out our own styles! ^_^ Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it! xx

  2. Reply

    Celeste Marie

    19th January 2016

    That's actually one of the reasons why I really love your blog, because I don't really relate to the pink + marble + minimal blogs. It's just not really my aesthetic. However, I love your calm and natural words and your way to describe your world. And your photography is beautiful! I think it's okay not to fit in, because that makes the blogger stand out and find more people that would actually like them and not get lost in the sea.

    Peace & Love // Celestralite

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Awh! Celeste! Thank you so much! The way you describe my blog just fills me with joy! It makes me so so happy that's your experience of it!! xx

  3. Reply

    Sophie

    19th January 2016

    This was such a good read and so very true. I like to think I'm pretty average. Life isn't always pink coloured roses. I not fashionable but yet I like to wear nice clothes. I love to spend my money on lotions and potions but more often then not I forgot to use them. I'd love travelling the world but you're likely to see me wrapped in layers than on a bikini on the beach. I think there's room for everyone which is why blogging is so fab.
    Sophie
    x
    A Story of a Girl

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thanks Sophie! And you're so right, there really is room for us all here! xx

  4. Reply

    Olivia Bossert

    19th January 2016

    Yes to this. Everything about this. I'm never sure where I fit in in this blog world, but the more I get into it, the more I realise that I don't think it matters. If you've got something different, ultimately it will attract more readers… being the same as everyone else gets boring, very quickly!

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      That's so reassuring to hear! Cause you seem like someone who really is carving out your own niche and doing some amazing things online! xx

  5. Reply

    Mimmi

    19th January 2016

    This is so interesting. I completely agree with you that there is an insane number of blogs that are just full of white, marble, pink and general fluff. I do hope that all of those are genuinely true to who they are! I'd say I'm somewhere in between too. I do like white and grey interiors (I just can't help it!), but I'm also a massive nerd (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and so on…), a country girl at heart (yay for muddy walks!), and someone who only really wears jeans and jumpers/shirts. Oh and I love beer, but cocktails are a bit meh. I try to stay as true to myself as I can on my blog, and I hope it comes through.

    Mimmi xx
    Muted Mornings

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you Mimmi! I think your blog is beautiful and really expresses who you are. xx

  6. Reply

    Caroline Fisher

    19th January 2016

    I think it's really healthy being a mix of things. I like cupcakes, cocktails and city living, but sometimes I love being out in nature and surrounded by woods, rivers and trees. The excessive pinkness in some blogs is sometimes what I need as a break, but sometimes it does make me feel inferior. Sometimes it feels like a struggle finding blogs where they aren't constantly trying to sell you products or a certain lifestyle.

    Caroline

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Couldn't agree more! I think a lot of people struggle to know where they fit in the blogosphere or simply find blogs they like and identify with! xx

  7. Reply

    Sorcha MacK

    19th January 2016

    I've been really sparse with my blogging since I began because I've found it so difficult to nail down exactly what I wanted to share/portray. I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle of that spectrum with you – I grew up in the countryside and love it still, and though I live in the city now (sadly required for the type of work I've chosen) I'm more likely to be found in jeans and boots, hunting out parks and green spaces. But I do love a good cup of coffee and a red lipstick.

    I think I'm finally getting somewhere I want to go with the whole blogging thing by just ignoring the parts I don't like – such as putting my URL under every comment I leave, and promoting my posts 50 thousand times on social media (once or twice is surely enough?).

    The caveat I guess is that I never intend to blog professionally, I have a career I love that's separate, so I have a little more freedom than some to do whatever I want in the space.

    It's a work in progress, but fingers-crossed throughout this year the space will look a little more "me" and a little less generic.

    (P.S. I find the difference in your blog refreshing and it's one of the reasons it's so memorable to me in a sea of identikit sites.)

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you Sorcha! I barely blogged in my first 6 months because I didn't know what exactly to do and there was no one doing something I wanted to do too! And I really know how you feel – I'm starting to get more confident with my content, but I often just ignore the bits of the blogopshere that alienate me. xx

  8. Reply

    Eline

    19th January 2016

    It's something that naturally evolves over time I think. Newer bloggers copy what the popular bloggers are doing, because people seem to like that. And it is also why people start blogging in the first time. They see something they like and they want to do the same. And that is probably why we see so much of the same things over and over again. I love your blog, because you put your own personality in it and to be honest you seem like quite a normal girl haha. More bloggers should do that. Right now it makes you stand out, but it's not a misfit at all.

    Love, Eline
    http://www.elinesreturnticket.blogspot.com

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you Eline! My blog's identity has certainly evolved over time – sometimes wonder if it'll stop evolving and become more consistent! But I definitely agree with you. I think a lot of bloggers started blogging because they followed the likes of Zoella & co. Hopefully with time things will change and there'll be more variety. xx

  9. Reply

    Cherie Koh

    19th January 2016

    what a thought provoking post! here i am dropping a few lines after reading this in bed last night, getting super psyched with you putting pen to paper (well metaphorically at least) about what a sizeable amount of us feel… I definitely agree that trying to 'carve' yourself in an otherwise indistinguishable society is something of a hard, not to mention, slightly baffling move. Which is why when I found your blog I was like, YES I'M SO GLAD YOU EXIST and all hope is not lost 🙂 you and Sarah's blog are some of my absolute faves and gems of the community.

    For me personally, I've always loved incorporating travel and style in my posts – and then take on a more personable tone in writing because that's how I roll in real life! I love the weirdest things (cue: korean hip hop) and I think it's all just part of not being afraid of what you truly want to write 🙂

    I think you/we/whoeever's interested should start a more niche (??) blogging topics where we can truly relate on #reallifeprobs you know? Because it is!

    Aite this is becoming too long a comment hehehe.

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

  10. Reply

    Lisa S.

    19th January 2016

    I´d refer to myself as a pretty average woman too. I do love make up, heels and pamper nights but I like being a little childish too. I totally see where you´re coming from with the candyfloss blogging world. I´m unsure how I fit into that world as well. Yes, I do have the usual posts on my blog if I like to write them but I also try to talk about things not everyone talks about (sexuality, dangers of tampons, creative writing). I just want my blog to be a reflection of myself. I want me to be my niche. That´s why I like your blog so much. You are definitely your own niche and it´s so refreshing to read!
    xx Lisa | Following Lisa

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thank you Lisa! That's such a compliment! I think striving for your blog to be a true reflection of yourself is a great thing to work towards; a much better thing to aim for, than getting high stats at whatever cost! xx

  11. Reply

    Becki Explorer

    19th January 2016

    It's funny because individuality is so important to so many people but it can all fly out of the window when numbers are involved.

    For me I'm trying to document my time, I have a hard time remembering the good times so I felt as though I needed somewhere to put them where I could go back and remember. I can't say I know what identity I have as a blogger because I'm not sure what one I have as a person.

    The cookie cutter formula that seems to be the fashion for blogs is bloody boring and it's blogs like yours that I look for. Something a little more down to earth, thought provoking and inspiring.

    I've tried the whole pastel blog for size before now and I had to take it off – it was choking me and didn't fit right. For now I'm still finding my way because sometimes that's exactly what life is like. I don't think there's ever a definitive answer.

    B x

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      20th January 2016

      Thanks Beckie! Blogging's certainly a great way to capture memories. I know in my experience my blogging identity has evolved over time – may it's something you'll find it at some point 🙂 xx

  12. Reply

    BooksandBoardies

    23rd January 2016

    I very much second this! I've never what my friends have called a typical girl, I do like to get dressed up every now and again and I love nice clothes and make up and come on handbags 🙂 But I would never be able to lay claim to being a barbie girl. I just think I'm a normal average girl, my blog will never be filled with fashion as I pretty much have no clue on that score, but I will tell you about the books I loved, and the fact that I am superbly excited about the start of six nations Rugby!
    I think there is definitely an explosion of bubblegum pink blogs about the place, but I think there is a place for all of us out there, although much like you I don't think I've found the place I fit quite yet. x

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      12th February 2016

      It definitely seems to be a topic of conversation that a lot of people want to engage in! And I am so encouraged to hear I'm not alone int this! 😉 xx

  13. Reply

    Kate

    23rd January 2016

    Love the pics! Great outfit!
    xx

  14. Reply

    Abigail Snug

    23rd January 2016

    THIS! So, so, so this.
    In my first year of blogging I tried near enough everything to see where I fitted in to the blog world. I tried mimicking layouts, styles and photography for months before realising that my readers were about as ungenuine as me, because I wasn't being me at all. Weirdly enough, the 'popular' blogs I started reading after I started myself were the ones I lost interest in pretty quickly. The 4-5 blogs I loved in the first place are still my favourites, and not one of them has ever tried a marble flat-lay product backdrop! Why the hell should I?!
    I took a bit of a hiatus, not from blogging myself but from reading other blogs, and that really helped me refine the kind of content I wanted to create. My voice came back, my photography was less 'over-thought' and readers started popping up with something real to say, in other words, a connection was formed. Isn't that what it's all about? Essentially, being independent weirdos together.
    Love this post so much 🙂
    X

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      12th February 2016

      Wow thank you so much! It's so encouraging to know I'm not the only one and you're so right! It's definitely about connection and being independent weirdos together ;D xx

  15. Reply

    Minaali H.

    24th January 2016

    I'm still very new to this whole blogging business, but I'm beginning to see what you mean. In a way, it makes me glad that I spent time developing my personal aesthetic through Instagram before starting here. I hope that helps me remain genuine, like you seem to have done.

    This is probably not the point of the post at all, but I have to say you're incredibly beautiful. <3

    Minaali
    The Snap Narrative

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      12th February 2016

      Hehe thank you Minaali! I think you definitely got the point and I'll have to give your instagram a look in – always love it when I stumble across a blogger who's got their own, original sense of style and self xx

  16. Reply

    Unknown

    24th January 2016

    I'm the same type of girl as you and if something hadn't switched in my brain around the age of 14 I'd be exceptionally frugal, wear the same clothes every day and be happiest climbing trees. Funny thing is I AM probably still happiest stomping through the countryside in my sturdiest old boots, albeit with a slick of lipstick as standard. I do kind of wish sometimes that that switch had never occurred and that I didn't love throwing money away on beautiful yet disposable clothes and shoes and the like…but even though they can't beat an adventure in the wild world they do come pretty close for me!

  17. Reply

    Dixie

    26th January 2016

    You hit the nail on the head with this post. I feel exactly the same with blogosphere these days. I started my blog as an online journal to write about my life, thoughts, and ideas. Over the year it has evolved a bit but I struggled to keep writing posts that were genuinely me, as I thought it wouldn't bring much traffic. This is a reminder for me as well. Great post! 🙂

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      12th February 2016

      Ah thanks Dixi! Tis so nice to hear I'm not alone in this! I often wonder what the future of blogging will look like; whether it'll become more homogenous or whether they'll be demand for something a bit different again! xx

  18. Reply

    More MindfulYou

    3rd February 2016

    Your blog is beautiful.

    moremindfulyou.blogspot.com

    • Reply

      Alex Barker

      12th February 2016

      Thank you!! ^_^

  19. Reply

    The Forest Mermaid

    11th February 2016

    This is a very interesting post! I'm probably quite similar to you-I like clothes, although I'm less keen on the disposable nature of fashion, I love the outdoors and nature, I'm interested in museums and art galleries and travelling to different cities, and I do lots of crafts and artwork. My "aesthetic" is more Lord of the Rings meets mermaid than pink and marble. I do sometimes feel like I'm not fitting into the right niches, and that I might never be a popular blogger as a result. But I think it's important to be true to myself, and to present something other than what seems to be the norm. We need a whole spectrum of women online, just as there are in life.

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