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2012 has really been the year of change for blogging. When I look back five years to how it all began in the UK to where we are now, I am genuinely wistful for those days again. It was all SO simple!

BBB specifically has had an amazing year – in many ways it has been the best year, and yet in some it has been the worst. The blog broke, cost a fortune to put right, it’s on a new platform that I don’t really know how to use properly yet, I lost all my stats…argh! On the up though, it has proved that it is possible to be a pro-blogger without losing integrity and without selling your soul. I hate having to look for ads I’m proud to display every month (because I turn down things I don’t think are in keeping with the BBB message), I don’t like the competitiveness that’s emerged fully this year and I really don’t like a lot of the unkindness that I see in blogging world. But that said, more people are using blogging to express themselves, there are more creative and exciting blogs than ever and there is still a community of beauty bloggers that stick together through thick and thin.

New beauty bloggers have a really tough time but there’s room for everyone in blogging and everyone has something to bring to the party. Finding a point of difference is very difficult in a saturated arena but when you look at those that have achieved it, it’s down to tenacity, regularity and design, plus steering clear of blogger dramas and staying firm on your opinions. Offering views on beauty and products is one thing, but the extra dimension to your blog is you – so use it! Find your voice and stay strong. I feel it is incumbent upon established bloggers to mentor and help newer bloggers find their way.

I’ve seen an upshift in brands taking on ‘on-line experts’ to, ahem, ‘deal with’ bloggers. Some are fine, some are not. I can see why the PR offices are overwhelmed with blogger requests and events, but those who aren’t doing a great job of it are alienating both the bloggers and the brands. If I am to be specific; quite a few come with not only a knowledge of social media but an advanced sense of self-importance. Boring. With rare exceptions, I’ll always take the PR route if possible. As I said in a previous post, if I wanted to spend time with an excitable social media graduate with a budget that even swamps their student debt, I’ll holler.

While it is still the case that advertising on blogs is seen in the media world as second best to print, blogs are proving time and time again to be a more powerful and reliable source of beauty advice and purchase influencing. 2013 has to be the year that advertisers and brands start to appreciate their value and the year that bloggers stop feeling apologetic. I’ve heard some say they wish there was another word for blogging and that’s the kind of thing that makes my blood boil. Being proud of your blogger roots is vital; I have not seen anybody, yet, become bigger than their blog and without the physical blog that brings the recognition, there would be no rewards. An inflated sense of self is always the road to nowhere. I am immensely proud to call myself a blogger and I always will be.

One aspect of blogging that I see as entirely negative is the forming of cliques. You never need to follow the crowd to be a valuable asset to blogging. There is comfort to be drawn from being an accepted part of a clique or group, but this is where things get difficult. Needing to be part of an on-line group is opening yourself up to the crowd mentality and it can just as easily sway against you as for you. I’ve seen some of the cruellest behaviour ever from ‘flocks’ that acting alone, would probably never be so unkind. Being vilified on-line has caused untold misery and oh so easy to gang up on others from the safety of your sofa and laptop. If there is one thing I wish for blogging in 2013 is that this stops and that bloggers become brave enough to swim against the tide.

2012 has been the year of being swamped with beauty launches. I have never known a year so saturated with newness. On the one hand, this is great – it certainly keeps me in a job – but on the other, we’re in danger of being deafened by the noise. From a press and blogger point of view, it’s no joke trying to keep up with the mountain of releases and product that pile up every single month, and from a PR point of view – I have equally never known a time when they are so pressured. It’s a huge ask to get press time and even blogger time when there simply is no time left! I’d like to see next year more edited launches with clients easing off on the throttle when it comes to insisting on taking up press time. I’ve said before, but will reiterate, not everything needs a full-on launch. Sometimes, it’s the quiet and gentle approach that works best.

Finally, on a personal note, all the changes and ups and downs that happen in blogging world also happen at BBB. Last year passed in a blur; I feel I’ve worked harder than I ever have in my life to make the rewards happen. But, I’ve also had rejections aplenty, unreasonable demands, rude and difficult clients, variable relationships with PRs and emotional pressures that have made being a blogger in 2012 a melting pot of positives and negatives, with every other emotion in between.

I minded beyond measure when my blog broke; in fact before I’d discovered that it was actually physically broken, I was told to face the fact that less people wanted to read my blog and to get over it. That has sat on my shoulder since last summer and simmered away to boiling point (which happened when I walked into a lovely launch, inexplicably burst into tears and spent the next hour with the kindest of PR’s mopping me up in the lobby of a hotel; every time I thought the tears had dried, they came again… it was dreadful!). I lost sleep, lost weight and lost confidence while still having to keep an upbeat outward appearance. I’ve had to really think about the sacrifice/reward ratio that is going on with BBB. I’m also having to learn to be more honest about what I can and can’t do but ultimately, how could I ever wish it away? Never!

If I have to say it a million times, I don’t care, but if you don’t have a blog, you don’t know what a precious thing it is. It’s an absolute privilege, and not a right, that anyone comes by to read; not a day goes by when I don’t want to blog and I am grateful every single day to those who make BBB a success. That’s readers, PRs and advertisers who have been supportive beyond all measure and there is no better place than here to say thank you for it.

So, for 2013, I see a braver blogger; one who won’t be dazzled by a free lipstick but one who will blog beyond the freebies, who will use their blog to inform and guide and most of all to be an independent voice. We’re stronger than ever collectively, but it’s those who are strong independently that will get the most from the coming year.