The last few years have been a real journey for me in terms of writing.
In 2014, I decided to scratch a life-long ‘writing itch’ by starting a blog (called ‘Inkluded’). Three years later, the site reached the awesome milestone of 1 million hits and went on to win its first industry award. Now, a few months later, after taking a mini blogging break, I have come to the conclusion that the blog will close permanently in 2018.
As a digital marketer and huge tattoo enthusiast, I had very high standards for my blogging endeavours from day one. Creating a brand that people could connect with and find online was super important, as well as positioning the website as a source of reliability in the industry. Trustworthy companies grown from individual passions are few and far between in the tattoo world and I wanted my blog to fill that gap.
The next few years were a complete blast. I was dedicated to my blog more than anything else in my life. I gave every penny in my pocket and inch of my skin to immersing myself in the tattoo world. I made some amazing friends and memories and collected an incredible collection of permanent artworks that I cherish every day and will cherish forever.
Many other bloggers out there will understand what I mean when I say that – a blog can start to have a mind of its own. I was very proud to have created something from scratch that people enjoyed accessing, but that also meant that there became no room at all for imperfection. When a blog becomes influential, there’s a pressure on the owner to get it right. As I’d set such high standards for myself and my brand, I was unable to deal with any inevitable negative comments about the site itself, my writing style, my opinions or my community.
I created my brand with an initial aim for it to become the responsible parent, or best friend, of the tattoo industry. A brand that could support and represent the unbelievably talented and passionate tattoo community of the UK. But often, my responsibility would fail. At busy times, I couldn’t keep up with the site and the understandable needs of its followers.
Sometimes, my passionate and quickly-written editorial (much like this!) would be written from the heart, rather than from the head. Packed with emotion and expletives it would sit uneasily amongst other more formal and informative blog entries. My philosophical ramblings didn’t give the brand that responsible status that the readers desired and deserved. Most importantly, like many other perfectionist bloggers, I would beat myself up about these things.
That perfectionist – she kept me awake at night. How could I have more thoroughly fact-checked an aftercare article? How could I better manage the uncontrollable inbox of press releases and editorial requests? Should the tone of the blog be neutral, or represent me as a collector? Could it ever do both? Could I get through my ‘Tattooists I Want To Interview’ list (which still sits at 179 people, and growing)? How could I give all of these incredibly talented and selfless artists the coverage they so deserved?
For months, I made changes to attempt to answer these questions: new strategies, new brand visions, new logos, new social handles. But I never reached a happy solution.
What had started out as me idly blabbering on about why I loved tattoos had clearly grown into something much bigger. My blog was a now a news company, with a day-to-day management like any other large brand. This was great! But hurt my head a little, as admittedly I wasn’t a company. I was just… me.
As a blogger, I want to be able to be imperfect. Contrary to any ‘how to blog’ guides that you might read online, it shouldn’t matter if you don’t follow the rules. I don’t want to force myself to follow any guidelines or public expectations, and as the following of my blog has grown, I’ve realised that this is now impossible, especially as an unpaid hobby.
Having taken a few months to step back from my blog, unexpected creative writing is flowing out of me. I appear to have opened some sort of floodgate of words that cannot be contained. I think what is perhaps happening, is that I’ve spent so long writing for an audience with their desires in mind, that there are backlogs of thoughts in my head that are longing to come out.
Tattoos are still my life. I’ll continue to tell you all how much they shape my life, on this new blog and on the other tattoo channels that I write for – as an enthusiast, never an expert.
I might regret writing these words. I haven’t quite explained adequately what I was trying to communicate. I may re-open my tattoo blog at a later date. I could completely change my mind about all of the above in just a matter of days and end up contradicting myself completely…
But, guess what, that’s OK! This is just a snapshot of my brain. I am human, I make mistakes, and I am not perfect. That is what I want blogging to celebrate for me.