I wanted to talk a bit more this week about the idea of "comparison." I touched on it briefly in last week's "Are we relevant?" and Mademoiselle Robot explored this idea completely last week, while I focused more on talking about creative powers. And you guessed it - this week the lady Robot is talking more about those creative powers. It's a bit of a switcheroo if you will. Off we go, and let me kick off with this statement: the biggest challenge as a blogger is staying relevant in a unique way. Inspiration can find itself anywhere and for most of us, these days, other blogs play a big part in that inspiration. But looking at other blogs can also be disheartening and sometimes drive us all to comparison insanity. So, let's explore...
When I first started FFG, I was pretty much one of the first fashion news sites in the UK that was putting out 10-20 pieces of content a day. But this wasn't an original thought. I was looking at people like Perez Hilton in the USA, digesting daily his massive amount of content and aiming to provide the same sort of service for those looking for fashion information. This was not an example of comparison and never could be as I was looking at a platform that would never be a competitor, simply a driving force for my own creativity. By default, I learned an important lesson early in my career. "Tis better to have inspiration than comparison." Since that point I have tried to digest blogs that compliment my creative side, not resemble it. In this day and age, that isn't easy to do. We now live in a world of blogging where being unique is downright difficult. Sometimes it feels like it's all been done, and ten times over.
I blame a lot of this non-original thought on the pressures that come with comparison. We have become a team of men and women that are ruled by numbers: followers on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. With the launch of every new social network, the masses scramble to be top dog with the most devotees following. How can one not be part of the comparison wheel? Well, first off I'll tell you it is possible. Don't believe me? Read my piece I wrote on turning off the numbers brain. If you are constantly looking sideways to see where your "competitors" are, you will completely lose sight of where you are. This is the truth. I have watched women fall because of these pressures and completely lose their way, and ultimately give up. If you measure success by comparison to others, you might as well hand in your keys to the kingdom now.
But here's a healthy way to use "comparison" to your advantage. Constantly compare yourself to yourself. Ok, sounds ridiculous, but this works. Be your own harshest critic and use your past self to improve your future. Be kind in your judgement but set your own goals. Rather than saying you want to have more followers than a friend, say I want to have more engaged followers than I used to have and actively go out and try to change that. It's possible, and it doesn't require you having ill will towards anyone else.
Now, I say all of this mostly because a lot of my friends are bloggers. And a lot of those bloggers have a hell of lot larger followings than me on a lot of social networks. Well, I could sit and stew about that and constantly look at their pages and try to mimic what they are doing to grow my audience in that way (and yes, I know dozens of people that do this regularly - they blatantly change their style to match the desaturated and white washed pictures that are successful on instagram at the moment), but surely it's better to keep these people as friends, support them creatively and find your own path to greatness? Maybe that's just my own naive mind speaking but I don't understand friendships that have an underlying tone of competition. And yes, I feel like any blog you read or follow these days should feel like someone that's your friend. Hell, even if you've never met the person in the flesh. This isn't Vogue. We're meant to be relatable - not untouchable. Anyone that's forgotten that along the way needs to check out now.
Ultimately, if you stop looking sideways you will never lose, as all you can ever do is improve if you're in the game of moving forward. Creativity doesn't have a losing streak. Sure there are ruts, but as long as you're creating, you're winning. What everyone else is doing, what companies they may be working with or how "successful" the world perceives them to be has absolutely nothing to do with you. That's the God's honest truth. You report to one person in this world and that's yourself. Do you want to be measured by comparison to others? Doubtful!
I'll leave you with few quotes I always like to remember when it comes to this topic. In fact, they've all been part of a bulletin board above my desk at one stage or another: