For the first time in Epiphany’s little life so far, I’ve decided to keep the fragrance on the shelf and talk about the reasons why I write a blog and in particular, a perfume blog. I read a very thought provoking piece by Nafia at ‘Confessions of a Creative’ about whether bloggers are selling out for free bottles of perfume and it really got me thinking. Why do I write? Why do I write about perfume? What do I expect to get from it?
I have always tried to be as honest and thought provoking as I can be within these pages, I strive to stir memories, inspire beauty and cause emotional reactions with the words I choose. These are the things that move me and therefor it is all I have to give. This is not a blog where I pretend to be someone else. This is really me. In the short time that I’ve been writing here, Epiphany has evolved to become extremely important to me and I feel both proud and a little shy and protective of how much of myself I seem to pour (sometimes unintentionally) into my writing. Perfume is a medium in which it is impossible to be anything but emotional and I am a highly emotional creature. It is for this reason that I chose perfume as a subject. But how did it all start for me?….
What I used to think about blogs.
I will confess to arriving late into the land of blogging. For a long time I didn’t really understand what the purpose of a blog was. The ones I came across by accident from google searches were invariably either totally obscure, badly written or little more than online diaries. I didn’t get it. Why would you want to publish your deepest darkest thoughts for a million strangers to stumble across? It’s difficult when you don’t understand the concept of a blog to understand it’s content. Time passed and suddenly, everyone and their mother had a blog. I turned my head for a second and when I looked back the Internet was riddled with perfectly designed pages, overflowing with artfully shot interiors and beautiful people. The idilic family unit, holidays in the campervan, the latest fashions/ vintage finds effortlessly hung upon the trendy young clothes hangers of London and New York. Girls and boys with great hair and cool tattoos posing through the filtered lenses of Instagram. It struck me as terribly narcissistic yet I couldn’t help but be fascinated by this peek into people’s lives.
Everyone is a photographer nowadays, with the magic of iPhone and photo apps. Everyone is fashionable, now that it’s cool to wear your grannie’s wedding dress down the pub. Anyone can film a makeup tutorial and put it on YouTube. Not everyone can do it well, but the point is that anyone can have a go. And they do. A blog is suddenly an essential tool to becoming a successful…. whatever you want to be. To stand out in this ocean of hopeful creative types the idea is to build your brand. Build it consistently, rigorously, professionally, beautifully. Make a living being fabulous and showing everyone else how to be fabulous too. if you’d like to see the perfect example of this check out A Beautiful Mess. This is an astronomically successful beauty/lifestyle blog where gorgeous people are gorgeous all day long. Sickening and satisfying all at once. I sure don’t like the feeling of jealous envy that visiting these types of blogs leaves me with, yet I love looking at all the pretty things…. What a weird contradiction. The blogs with more written content are no less intimidating. Here you are touting yourself as ‘knowledgable’ as well! Keeping your mouth shut and looking pretty is a skill, but voicing your own knowledge and opinions without coming across as a complete tool is far more difficult when you can’t fully express intonation and tone.
I believe that it is very rare these days to find a blogger with no agenda. Gone are the days when writing a blog was akin to keeping a diary. (Although I do have to say that I’ve never fully agreed with that analogy; if you publish something on the Internet, someone, somewhere is going to read it. A diary is private surely?) Blogs nowadays are used for showcasing yourself, your talent and your product. They are about growing your audience and sharing your opinions. If your agenda is simply to meet and chat to like minded people about a common subject, your blog is still representing you and the expectation of the viewer is higher today than ever before. Even if the subject matter is deemed more important than the presentation, it is a fact that well presented blogs are more frequented. If you have something to say you want people to visit right?
I know I sound like some sort of self help guide for new bloggers. That’s because it’s how I was introduced to the world of blogging. It’s all very useful information and stuff that should definitely be implemented- once you have your content sorted. I knew that I needed to write, and I thought that having a blog would probably be a good starting block, but I was daunted and put off by the sheer number of them out there. How could I stand out? Where should I even start?
So what’s my agenda? Why perfume?
Before I started Epiphany I had another blog, totally unrelated to perfume and more akin to many thousands of ‘crafty young mum’ blogs that are around these days. I started it because I was on maternity leave and totally re-assessing what I wanted from life. Up until I had my daughter I was in the rut of working hard to live a little, not really achieving great things, complaining about it but doing nothing to change it.
I realised that I had talent going to waste and there was no better time to make the most of it than when you have nine months off and an angelically easy baby. I’d started to make a lot of stuff while I was pregnant and so my first blog was all about the stuff that I was making. I was hoping to build up a little business making pretty things to earn a bit of extra money. I hoped my blog would bring in new customers. I also included little posts about my ‘thoughts’ and these were the ones I found myself writing more and more of. The crafting became a bit tedious, I was running out of things to photograph and I really didn’t want to end up with a ‘look at my cute baby’ blog (that’s what Facebook is for!) All I knew was that I had re-awoken a passion for writing and I wanted to do it all the time. I didn’t have any ideas for a book, I’m not a particularly good poet, I’m not the right sort of person to be a journalist….so what the hell was I going to write about?!
I have always loved perfume and I worked in one of the most scented environments in retail for quite a while. It’s been an ongoing private love affair that has lasted most of my life, but until I worked for Lush I didn’t seek out other people with similar passions or investigate the wealth of knowledge there is out there. I was always preoccupied with something else, or thought that my emotional reactions to fragrance were somehow invalid or strange. Lush, whilst being an exhausting place to work, certainly got my juices flowing when it came to scent and I started to look outside the mainstream market for perfume that would satisfy my cravings. I never, ever thought I could write about it though, not until I stumbled across the most beautiful piece of writing by The Silver Fox, about a perfume I had never heard of. I was so thrilled by the imagery and emotion of his writing that I went on the hunt for that perfume (Mito, Vero Profumo btw) and discovered that some perfumeries will send you samples for a couple of pounds. I was thrilled and when my parcel arrived I spent hours with my nose attached to my wrist, understanding and exploring all the nuances and twists of the fragrance like I never had before.
It all just seemed to click into place. Here was something that I could write about. The subject matter already existed and fascinated me, it provoked a hugely emotional reaction that allowed me to write creatively and emotionally whilst remaining grounded in the process of reviewing the fragrance. I’ve never been good with a blank sheet of paper and with fragrance writing I feel I’ve already been given the story, in scent form, I just have to express it in writing as sympathetically and truthfully as possible.
I enjoy every review I write because it takes me on a journey. I enjoy creating the imagery and using the vocabulary to really bring the scent to life. I know very little about the perfume world, I am learning every day and I know that it is something that I want to be a part of. I’m not sure how yet, I think I will just keep writing and learning and talking to as many different people as I can. I read a lot of perfume blogs for inspiration, keep up to date with all the latest launches and generally make sure that I am becoming as knowledgable as possible.
So my agenda is this: I want to keep writing about scent, that much is for sure. I do not know enough yet and I want to keep learning. I also know that I want to turn this in the direction of a career. I need this to be something. Something that I can feel proud to tell my daughter about. I want this to be how I earn money. I don’t want to earn it through advertising on my blog. I don’t want to be buried under free bottles of perfume with no money for food. I want to be respected as a writer. The only way I can think of achieving this is to keep going and see where it takes me.
I feel totally uninspired by writing bad reviews, so if I really don’t like a perfume I won’t write about it. I do not see what benefit there is from writing a piece that is viciously scathing. As a reader I always want to know why I will enjoy something, not why I will hate it. I am as truthful about the perfume as I can be, whilst retaining it’s dignity for those who will undoubtably love it. Besides, who the hell am I to tell you why something is rubbish? Only the most highly respected perfumers and critics are in a position to do that and still the ultimate choice is yours. If I don’t have anything good to say I won’t say it. I’ll only offer as much constructive criticism as I feel my knowledge will allow.
I will not feel pressured to write good reviews by being sent lovely bottles of perfume. There is no denying that it is very nice to receive presents in the post, and I am always surprised and grateful that brands are so generous. I try to only approach companies that I am genuinely interested in so that it’s fairly certain that I will have some good things to say when the free stuff arrives, thus avoiding awkward guilt and feelings of ingratitude and maintaining my ‘no sell out’ policy. I should add here that for some bloggers a decent career can be formed from writing good reviews. It is a talent to create beautiful imagery for a perfume and convince people that they will love it. I would just much rather see them working directly for the company they are gushing about. If I am interested in sampling a fragrance I will seek it out and buy it for myself. That is why I love Bloom perfumery so much. I am only a tiny way into discovering all the perfumes that they stock and I am always so thrilled to be able to purchase samples sizes. It makes this whole blog possible for me.
I will always strive to learn more and I will try never to get too big for my boots.
I feel like I have genuinely discovered my future within the scented veils of perfume writing. I have had the opportunity to chat with some pretty amazing people already and I discover more fascinating avenues to explore every day. I want to always approach my writing with as much enthusiasm and enjoyment as I do now. Perfume will never fail to thrill me and I hope I never run out of words.
So there you have it. That is why I write a perfume blog, and will continue to write a perfume blog. It’s probably the same story that lots of other bloggers would tell too, you have to be passionate about something to write about it continually. I feel like my journey has only just started really, I’m so excited to see where I might end up…