Is blogging only for the middle class?

 This is a topic that’s been playing on my mind for a while. I’ve been stuck between writing it, rewriting it and holding it on draft, just because I’ve never been absolutely sure of the right angle to take. However, I’ve never been one to shy away from a sensitive subject and these kind of frank and open conversational posts are my favourite to write, so having just returned from a trip to Paris, the timing and thought processes seemed to align perfectly to ask ‘is blogging only for the middle class’? 

When I refer to “middle class”, I’m referring to a certain level of wealth/certain status and background that facilitates blogging. Starting out and developing as a blogger is not cheap. I’m calling bullshit on the ‘you can just use your iPhone to take outfit pictures!’ because whilst it’s a perfect starting point (I used my iPhone for a long while), if you want to progress your blogging into a career, it’s not realistic. Even Instagram content is largely taken on wifi enabled cameras now, allowing high quality imagery and super sharp pics to be sent directly to the editing apps. Blogging comes at a cost, and that’s a real cost that comes from your pocket because ain’t nobody getting paid when they first start out.

In this zero bullshit zone, we also have to be honest about how much we spend on the latest “it” items to populate our feeds. As fashion bloggers we all have our own individual style, but when a cult product comes out, we all want it because we want to be seen in it – we aren’t immune to trends. The puffa jacket, for example. They’re everywhere. I have one. You have one. The next fashion blogger has one. They are wonderful pieces of clothing, and as much as we buy things because we love them, there is also the reminder in the back of our heads that we don’t want to be the last to be seen in them. We want to look like we know what we’re doing. (As a quick note here, I’m obviously not representing all fashion bloggers, I’m just being blunt about my personal experiences in order to give an honest opinion on the topic in hand.)

With all of the expensive tech in mind and the constant cycle of shopping, do bloggers have to come from fairly comfortable families in order to get going?

The answer is no, but it does help.




I come from a one-parent family and grew up in a council house. I got my first job just as I was turning 13, working on a burger van with my mum. I made teas, buttered rolls and took orders from truck drivers and dock workers. It was not glamorous and certainly wasn’t the quintessential way for a 13 year old to spend their Saturdays, but it meant that I could spend the rest of the weekend shopping in Primark with my hard earned £40, grabbing slogan tees that I loved.

Before I started blogging, I had saved up my wages and Christmas/birthday money to buy my first DSLR camera. It was a second hand Canon, and I used it to photograph my friends in a way that I was sure would catch the eyes of Vogue. Years passed and I sold it, saving up again to buy a Canon 40d. At 17 I started blogging, and despite having a good camera, took undeniably crap photos of myself posing in my garden (self-timer was king). At this stage I wasn’t really serious about blogging, so the hard work stopped and going off to uni, I desperately needed the cash. I sold the DSLR – probably spunking the money on getting pissed – and continued to think about what I really wanted to do with my life.

Unsurprisingly, I came back to blogging. I loved photography, I loved fashion and I loved showing those off, so it was natural that I fell back into it. At this point I was so strapped for cash and in such a shitty headspace that I could barely afford train tickets home, let alone a DSLR camera, so my willing ex-boyfriend would take snaps of me on his iPhone and I would add lens glare and funky effects with various apps (if you scroll way down my feed you will see some legendary examples!). When I started blogging again I was trying really hard, and I was frustrated that I was getting no recognition from brands or bloggers because the picture quality simply wasn’t up to scratch. I had no money, but I needed a camera to progress.

So I saved, and I worked, and I sacrificed, and eventually I got there and was able to buy a Canon 700D. Of course then, I needed to buy the 50mm lens, so I saved, and I worked, and I sacrificed. I had credit cards that haunted me (which have now been cleared, thank God) and a lot of overdraft notices, but I got there. At this point I feel it’s important to say that this is not a ‘look how hard I worked’ story, because I would have sacrificed that in an instant to have the advantages that others may have had. Working in Sainsburys did not build my character, it just made me hate retail (and middle managers). This is also not an attempt to demonise those who have had help from their family – who wouldn’t want that?! - it’s just an attempt to step back and be honest about how blogging and background are intertwined.

As I write this, I’m sitting next to my Gucci bag, writing on my MacBook Pro and ruminating on my recent trip to Paris, but let me be real with you – this is by far the set standard. As I’ve said before, I live with my grandparents in a shoebox room that is currently decorated red and lilac with odd brown furniture. It’s far from the Instagram dream. I’m also trying to save a deposit to rent, not buy (can’t afford it), and I don’t own a car or actually, even the laptop I’m typing on – it’s on finance. I come from a decidedly working class background, and my mum worked really hard when I was younger so that we could eat and maybe go to the cinema together. We never went on a foreign holiday - we went to Yorkshire. Travelling to Europe (Paris was paid for by Eurostar – I did pinch myself, it was amazing) and owning a Gucci bag are not indicative of the world I grew up in, and I still feel very strongly that I want to be honest about my background so that other girls growing up in council houses don’t feel less than when they see bloggers in the Maldives and in Range Rovers.

Bloggers work fucking hard to be able to carve out a well-paying career for themselves – I’m trying to do exactly that now, so I’m not disputing this on any level. However, I do feel like the advantages certain class backgrounds can bring are largely ignored and I myself get frustrated because I feel like to some degree, I don’t really see working class girls being represented. Maybe that’s because we aren’t as open about it – let’s be honest, a council house in a shitty area is hardly glamorous – but maybe it’s also because it takes longer for girls and guys who can’t rely on help from their family to climb the ladder.

This is an open thought process – something I’m still thinking about and reflecting on – so I would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences. Please comment down below or pop me a DM on Twitter or Instagram - @chloeplumstead – even if you think it’s all a load of shit, it’s intended to be a discussion piece, so let’s get talking!

14 comments

  1. This is really interesting, but I'm not sure I agree on every point. This may be because I am mostly a food/going out blogger and not a fashion or beauty blogger, which seems to demand a greater level of 'stuff' to write about, so you may, in turn, disagree with me too!

    For me, blogging has always been a hobby. (Full disclosure, I have a FT job that does me just fine.) I don't agree with people promoting brands for free when, for instance, the brand approaches the blogger and effectively uses them as cheap advertising. But I do think that the urge many bloggers have to 'make a career' out of their blog is unrealistic, and inevitably leads to crap sponsored content and the same shills to be found all over the blogosphere. Many blogs quickly go downhill, I find, when their writers go full-time or are suddenly 100% dependent on their collaborations to pay rent.

    Back to your point, which is effectively, do you need $$$ to blog? Yes and no. Like anything in life, it's easier when you've got a bankroll. But I disagree that it has to be expensive. When I started blogging six years ago, I loved it because I had no money and it was cheap. Nobody needs a Macbook Pro. Nobody needs Gucci handbags. Nobody needs a full Photoshop package (the GIMP is a free, open source image editing programme that works just as well), or a fancy camera. Admittedly, I'm not a fashion blogger, but if I were I'd accept that I'm never going to fit into that cookie-cutter, aspirational, luxury bracket. (Probably for the best - it's boring as hell!) I'd find it much more interesting writing about the bargains I found, reusing clothes I already own, think pieces (like this one!) and tips on updating a wardrobe inexpensively.

    So, ultimately, if you want to keep up with all the top bloggers and you don't have access to serous cash, I agree you're fucked. But you're probably fucked anyway, because your content will be unoriginal and boring. But if you just want to get yourself out there and be creative, then I think it's one of the most accessible hobbies there is. And if you write a genuine, original, interesting blog based on your own (hugely relatable) circumstances, then there's loads of potential to make money from sidebar ads and affiliate marketing (and carefully chosen sponsorships too).

    Just my two cents! Hope that wasn't too garbled, I'm writing this on my phone. :)

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  2. Interesting question. Although I don't blog about products so much and certainly don't have anything in the way of designer items I am aware of some of the things I do which are the product of my well-paid job in the city. I'm working class by background and I fear that because I don't talk about my work on my blog that it can come across that I live a very charmed life, when in actual fact I have worked incredibly hard to overcome all of the disadvantages that I've had compared with many of the people I trained with.

    It's interesting though that I've definitely seen some blog flourish purely because of the money they have behind them. Bloggers that don't need to work full-time, who can dedicate money each month to advertising on other blogs and lunching out with other bloggers have massive advantages over other bloggers that start out from the same point who can't afford that. But, that's life. It's just another area in which we have to work harder to just try and keep up.

    Lisa | Not Quite Enough

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  3. I found this interesting on the point that I feel like I can totally agree with you here. Sometimes I think it's also the people you know, if you can give the lavish life on social media whether you actually have it or not then the bigger bloggers out there then take interest. I am currently using some cheap camera I managed to scrape my pockets with to purchase waiting for the day to have a better quality camera for outstanding photos. Blogging doesn't come cheap and people that don't blog need to realise that it isn't easy as it's made out to look. I'd love to do the odd fashion posts but my camera isn't good enough to the standard that's already out there. It's all about the hard work you put in at the end of the day and if you can do that then hopefully the hard work will show.
    Thank you for sharing this post as I know you was unsure.


    www.taylorjane.co.uk

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  4. When you tweeted whether to post or not post this text I was immediately intrigued. I come from a fairly poor background too and always wanted to know what other bloggers think of this topic. It seems like no one really dares to talk about this at the moment - so thanks a lot for sharing it!

    I do agree that blogging is hard work and that nothing comes for free. Also, sure it's always easier to start when you're rich. Mostly because it gives you the benefit of time. When I started blogging I was still studying and working 2 jobs on the side in order to even buy food. Now I'm sitting here with my macbook. It's insane! But nothing came free for me. I saved a lot and I stioll pay off some of the things.

    Love, Kerstin
    http://www.missgetaway.com/

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  5. This is such a great post and I guess it's something that I've thought about but never really articulated it as a classist issue. I don't agree with you that taking everything on an iPhone is bullshit because every camera on the iPhone 6 and beyond has been incredible and definitely as good as some of the popular bloggers I follow and most of the time its all about how you edit and place the shot rather than your equipment. I've been using free editing software for four years and prefer it to Lightroom too!

    I do totally agree that blogging requires money and whilst sometimes I would buy a product just to review it I stopped doing that pretty quickly. Ironically the more you invest in your blog the more PR you get and therefore the cheaper it becomes.

    I feel like blogging could be expensive if you're frivolous with money and bad at budgeting and have the knowledge that your parents/whoever could bail you out of an overdraft if you needed them too - which is a middle class privlege. I think so long as you're savvy with money blogging doesnt have to be any more expensive than a hobby like video gaming.

    Abigail Alice x

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  6. I absolutely loved reading this post, mainly because I often ponder on this issue too, and I guess I have a lot of conflicting feelings about it!
    I'd say mainly, the way in which wealth affects blogging is how quickly you see growth in your blog. If you have money, as you say, it's easier to have high quality imagery, 'it' products that people are often attracted to seeing and make you an 'on trend' blogger etc, and so you begin at a level people expect from more established bloggers. You essentially begin one step ahead. I'd say this is all especially true in fashion blogging, in which imagery, I would argue, is the most important part of content. I think if you don't have access to this stuff, you have to work bloody hard to get your voice out in other ways i.e. really well written, captivating content, or some other USP.
    It's difficult because it's hard to not be completely doom and gloom for those who don't have that same privilege. Because as seen from your own story, it can of course be done. So I think I agree with your conclusion, that yes, money helps, but blogging isn't only for the middle class. Nonetheless I just think that without a doubt, blogging is 100% easier if you have money. But that's no surprise, because of course, everything in life is easier when you have money.
    I also think it depends on how you view blogging. If you're in it purely because it's a hobby and you're not particularly expecting a career out of it, then I think this whole issue is less important. And personally, I think that's how you have to look at it when you get into it, because it's such an oversaturated market that you never really know if you're going to 'make it'. I've always wanted to blog because I love fashion and writing and beautiful imagery, and so I wanted to create some too! I have no idea where it's going to go, and I like it that way because it keeps the pressure off.
    Thanks for writing this piece!

    whatevawears.blogspot.co.uk

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  7. Such a fab post girl - I've been thinking the same for months now. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and not good enough when everyone around you is buying designer goods and weekly hauls from ASOS big enough to fill my house. I'm also trying to save and so spend my money considerably less on clothes (it kills me!) so it's easy for me to feel out of the loop if i don't have that 'coveted handbag' or jumper! I totally agree that it's not necessary but I feel it would definitely give you a helping hand if you came from that kind of background. Over the last year I've spent so much more of my money on what have become my blogging essentials, cameras, lenses, laptops. It's boring but as you do it more you need to invest in certain things in order to progress, or at least that's how I felt! Love reading these honest and discussional posts x

    www.stylepetal.co.uk

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  8. Whilst I do mostly agree with this post and long for a camera where I can adjust aperture, I actually miss the days where people would post about more widely available (non-designer!) fashion in their bedrooms! I almost prefer seeing ootds on Instagrams like @brittanybathgate and @imkatty because they feel more real...! But at the same time, I get that things always progress and blogging is no different. It's great that there are hard working people making a decent living or boost of earnings from their blogs!
    Rose and Weston x

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  9. This is an issue something that's always been on the back of my mind. When bloggers like Danielle from We Wore What showcase their parent's houses in The Hamptons, you know they're from a well-off background and I can't help but think that they've got a very significant head start. Today, in fact, I got to hear from a 'successful' blogger and found out that both her parents are bankers, so they were able to finance her and her brothers entrepreneurial endeavours. Perhaps this is why, despite my love for it, I've become so disillusioned with mainstream blogging.
    Admittedly, I come from a middle class family - I didn't need to save up for my first DSLR, my MacBook, etc. but I am by no means willing or able to splurge on all the latest trends and product releases. When bloggers like yourself speak out about these issues, and even the recent resurgence of Primark hauls amongst established Youtubers is quite endearing and humbling.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts x

    Mel // izzipenelope

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  10. It really is true blogging is not cheap you spend a lot of money on it, and sometimes it goes unnoticed.

    So you have to make sure that when you spend that money you really are doing it for you and it really is something you will wear!

    NEW POST
    www.fashionnfreedom.blogspot.com

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  11. This was such an interesting post to read and not something I'd really thought about before! x

    http://emmaboughtwhat.blogspot.co.uk/

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  12. Definitely agree with you. Can definitely relate to this. I come from a working class family, never had the latest laptop or camera growing up, never went on a foreign holiday; we went to Yorkshire too or the Isle of Wight. But I always had a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and hand-me-down clothes to wear. Having a healthy bank balance is a great advantage to anyone in life who wants to get anywhere, as a blogger or not.

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  13. Nice read, as always, I'm glad you talked about this topic.

    As coming from a working class background, I don't feel really represented but I don't really feel the need to be.
    I'm 26, still leaving with my parents, still trying to fount out what I'll do.
    I started blogging back in 2010 but it lasted 2 months, I kinda felt ashamed to pose and post pictures of me for everyone to see. I've always loved fashion, since being little and seeing my mom and aunts with all their cool iridescent shirts, crochet jackets and burgundy lipsticks back in the 90s, I'm a big blog reader, since the begining, it's what I love to read and see and it's still inspiring to me.

    So, I went back to "blogging" (I have trouble calling me a "blogger", I'm more like someone who tries to blog lol) in 2013, the one I still update, stopped for a year in 2014 I think, then realized I missed it. Posting them or not, I'm always taking pics of my outfits. Seeing all those bloggers and instagrammers made me realize I was kinda boring next to them but I still enjoy it as a hobby.

    Most of the time, I don't feel pressure to post certain items (mostly because I often buy something that will post a year later) but it's hard wanting everything on every website but not being able to afford it. Same goes to travels and being able to go to dreamy places 5-6 times a year.
    Feeling like you could get attention thanks to this or that and it's partly true, it can help.
    I'm starting to get noticed by brands from Asia, it's a nice feeling, I'm proud even if I feel I don't deserve this (not enough readers or people who likes my style), I'd love to get recognized by bloggers I love too, that would mean so much more. So I have more pressure in this or the fact that I don't have important posts on important discussions on my blog. I used to love writing but I can't post something and feel like it's shit and that I'm so not legitimate.

    Your blog is an odd ball in a good way, it's unique, it's quirky, interesting and open for discussion, even if you may not reply to comments, I'm sure you read them and we, as readers, always get out of TLP with some sort of satisfaction like we learned something. Not to mention your unique style.
    xxxx

    (I'm too lazy to read my comment, so excuse my english)

    http://i-think-its-today.blogspot.com

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  14. I'm not going to lie, I've had nearly the exact same thoughts that you've had on this subject. I started blogging 7-years ago, but didn't completely dedicate it, mainly because of money. I'm the single mom of three daughters, two of which have grownup and left the house.

    When I started blogging, I had to use a digital elph point-and-shoot camera. I actually learned a lot from using it, and became pretty great with what I had, but there was always the thought that I would never be taken seriously because I didn't have a DSLR. I still don't, though my camera has significantly been upgraded.

    I haven't had a car in five-years and have been trying to continue with blogging, while also looking for a work-from-home job, and doing odd jobs on the side, like cleaning houses and doing people's tax paperwork. I even had a vintage store on Etsy for awhile. The thing is, if your dream is blogging, money does get in the way. It can be costly, if you want to be taken seriously.

    It's not anyone else's fault, but I have always felt inadequate because of my difficult financial position. I think there may be more bloggers like me and you, but a lot of us are afraid to admit how tough we have it, though I'm working on being more open.

    That being said, I'm really grateful you posted this. I think a lot of people don't see the "ugly" side of blogging. It's good to see people who aren't afraid to be real in the blogosphere :)

    ~Laurali Star

    www.lauralistarxo.com

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