First quickly – Vero Profumo’s new Mito, coming in September. Green, floral, Sous le Vent turns hippie, completely with flowers in hair, weird – you’ll love it!! Notes citrus, magnoli, jasmine, galbanum, hyacinth, cypress and moss.
Rehashing last week’s “Who gets to Write About Perfume” isn’t where I’m heading, though I have to say it was fun to read. Engagement at that level and with such thoughtful people commenting is exhilarating – thanks to everyone who played and to Ari for bringing it up. My opinion now and forever will be – everyone gets a voice at this table through reviews, blogging, commenting, YouTube, and I’m happy for there to be 4 or 4,000.
What I hope everyone who read it took away is that there is room for every voice. Perfume Blogs can have 2 fans or 20,000, and it makes neither more valid, just more popular. If you haven’t read it, you should read Brian’s post at I Smell Therefore I am (a commenter referenced this, and thanks for doing so!). It is also thoughtful, and I found myself nodding in complete agreement with most or all of it. It could be my advancing years, but watching an arbitrary “smart blogger” Internet Sorting Hat Ceremony playing out about perfume (perfume! not world peace!) is equal parts weird and funny! It also makes me incredibly empathic about that stage of blogging, having been on both sides at one time.
Oh,also, also. Our linking policy. We didn’t really have one until recently because it’s one detail of life I just kind of ignore unless someone asks. If you have a perfume blog and want to be linked here, I’m happy to do that, just click the contact us at the top and send me your link. The only think I ask is that you post regularly, link back to us and have been blogging for at least three months. I don’t really care personally about some of those criteria, but I don’t like going through a bunch of links on someone’s sidebar and finding about 50% of them are dead. I will comb through our links monthly, and anything that’s not been updated in a month gets unlisted. I installed a new link thingie -> look over there to the right, down, down, down. There. See, it shows all the perfume blogs we link to and when they were last updated. If your link goes to 30 days since last update, it’s gone! But as long as you know my guidelines so nobody gets their feelings hurt, send me your perfume blog links. I’m thinking of adding a perfume blogger feature once a month. No, not reviewing perfume bloggers, just doing one or two and what their approach is, introducing them to our readers for more exposure. As I was mid-write on this, I decided I have not made enough time to go visit my OWN scented blogroll, clicked over to Ari’s post from last week and see she’s already reaching out, and it’s a great idea!
I’ve been perfume blogging for 7 years, blogging in general for 9. When I started, perfume bloggers were – Robin at Now Smell This, Marina at Perfume Smellin’ things, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin, and a few others that started around when I did that are no longer blogging – Katie, Cait, Ina and more! The perfume bloggers still here and actively blogging have continually reformulated their blogs and style – adding new writers, writing less, taking a long break, refraining from public snarks and criticism. I won’t pretend for a second that any of us haven’t felt any number of things that weren’t charitable or complained privately or otherwise about things that have been done or said over the years. What I think we all did pretty well was made sure there were no public fights and no public pretense of some superiority to any other blogger. We all just kept doing the work.
Some brilliant bloggers – if you didn’t read some of these people, you missed something really special – wrote for a while and then eventually quit, and all of them were solo blogs. If you are blogging on your own and have any intention of blogging beyond a couple of years, my best advice? Get a friend or two to start writing with/for you or get guest posters, collaborate with another blogger to post their content on your blog and yours on theirs – it will build your audience, give you fresh content, and keep you from burning out. Blogs survive if you have new content every day or at least five days a week – you build community and readership and stability. No one wants to click on a favorite blog day after day and find nothing new – they eventually stop visiting. When I was by myself – before the Darling Miss March pestered me so much that I asked her to start writing just so she’d stop e-mailing me every three hours – cranking out five blogs a week on perfume was exhausting. I couldn’t do it, and I admired the bloggers that did. I tried, sometimes did it, sometimes didn’t, but knew that was heading for a major crash and burn without reinforcements. Besides, I’m not that funny or entertaining even one day a week, keeping it up five days a week won’t happen – ask my ex-husbands.
March, Lee, Bryan, Anita, Ann, Tom, along with new and also brilliant, fun other writers in the last couple of months, provide those unique voices on the Posse. March and I, when we renamed it Perfume Posse, to reflect multi-authorship, really had no clue that we would ever find writing 2-3 times a week hard and would need more writers. When my enthusiasm was lagging at some point or life was so horrible in others, my co-writers kept on writing and entertained you and made you think when I could barely manage to put two sentences together. Friends don’t let other friends blog alone.
There are stages in blogging, whether about perfume or some other shared passion – could be wine, Bulldogs or Pez dispensers.
Stage One Egg
OMG, I LOVE perfume, I want to try everything and it’s all so wonderful, and man, how can I get more samples to try and I lovelovelove this and want to tell everyone how great it is, and hey, I need one of those perfume blogs (the actual trajectory of thought may vary, this was something close to my head back then!) Potential blogger may be misinformed about all the “free perfume loot” bloggers actually get. What they have in abundance is passion, and they want a place to express everything they are trying and feeling about it. What they lack, usually, unless they have been writing publicly in some other venue, is a concrete idea about their own style of approaching perfume writing. Style will start out differently for each one – technical, pure passion, humor, lyrical, feeling – and may stay in the same style or evolve. Each one, as they enter into writing about perfume, will be reaching out to find their unique voice. But they are an egg, still forming. They should be treated gently, encouraged.
I was an ugly little egg, speckled and unformed, which is not who I am in real life, but trying to write about perfume will drive you to madness if you do not figure out quickly how you want to talk about it. I tried to write like other people I read, at least until it became clear that, while emulation is flattering, it’s not pretty to read. Alyssa Harad has a great little segment (sorry, Alyssa, I’m talking about your book!) in Coming to My Senses that talks about her first forays into reading The Posse, which is hysterical. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but Alyssa’s brief story within her book reminded me of the things I already knew. Well, I’m not about to spoil it for you! Get a copy of the book when it’s released next month, and you’ll see for yourself!
By the time we hit the egg, we had found our voice – March and me – and it wasn’t really like anyone else’s – at least not then – but it was authentic, even if it was not always ladylike, poetic or genteel. We appealed to some readers, and others clicked little Red X. That’s what’s so nifty about the world – not everyone is gonna like you, and chances are the people that clicked the Red X aren’t people I’d spend time with in my real life, and they wouldn’t want to spend time with me.
Sometimes, though, if you push yourself a little, you find room for someone’s opinion of how to do things different from your own. Life should be a surprise, but only if you stop excluding everything/one that disagrees with you.
Get backup, and don’t worry about making everyone like you.
Stage Two Worm – Hey, got a few months of blogging, have some readers, I’m great
I’m thinking I might just be The.Next.Perfume.Critic.Genius. Watch out Chandler and Luca, I’m on your 6 and about to buzz your famous scented little heads with my hot perfume blogging action. What’s annoying about this perfume blogging = there are so many new perfume bloggers, not to mention those old-timer boring perfume blogs! Wow, won’t they ever stop? They are worse than a plague of uninformed locusts.
This stage? Ew, it’s kinda icky, and I went through it too briefly. The “exclusionary” phase. Keep the rabble out, protect our turf, except I went through it at a time when about five blogs were the entire turf available, so every new perfume blogger was, in theory, taking turf. Lucky for me, I’m fairly oblivious, really dislike drama that takes more time than a phone call with your best girlfriend, and I have the attention span of a gnat. Combined, I don’t get terribly anxious about how life works out, as did the other “older” blog sites, and we all just carried on, each continuing to develop our own unique voice, finding space for other writers on our blogs, expanding, carving out what we did best. Some blogs don’t make it past this stage, they just don’t hit their stride, lost passion for the subject or writing about it, didn’t have the energy to blog regularly.
The Posse? We know who we are, and we aren’t serious, never have been. Sometimes we will touch on deeply personal subjects, but we talk about that to express something about how a perfume makes us feel. We love perfume, but we will never pretend to be anything beyond huge fans. We used to be a lot snarkier, but that changed once we knew what a few ugly, but clever, negative remarks can do to an indie perfume line – you put the “mean” pin back in the grenade after you’ve seen Perfumer Body Parts blown to bits on their distribution channel.
We did some of our most inspired work in those years – Posse 101, 201, Drugstore Cowgirls, blind scent smelling with other blogs, and got links from The Financial Times, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc. This stage can be intoxicating and lead to an overdeveloped sense of your own importance, and it is usually the stage of a successful blog right before BlogDeath. In this stage, develop a sense of humility or it will be foisted upon you from somewhere that will probably be more public and painful. Learn to respect those new Eggs hatching, many of them will be more brilliant than you, and that is so damn awesome! They learned from you, from reading you and your peers, and then they did it better, smarter. If someone is emulating you? Feel flattered and just keep going.
Stage Three Pupa – What the hell happened, genius?
No inspiration, jaded, disillusioned, weary, and cranking out posts every week – 2, 3, 4, doesn’t matter – is turning into drudgery. I don’t have anything to say! I want to be left alone!!! This stage may come on naturally, or you may get tossed into the uninspired writing pile by personal life upheavals. For me, it was the latter. A divorce, some deep unhappiness in other areas of my life that I felt trapped in will suck all the enthusiasm you have out of you. Even getting down to writing less often – one or two times a week, was more than I could manage. March and Anita took things over, and I’m so glad they did. They kept everything all sparkly and shiny so you would notice less that depressed person over in the corner sobbing in their champagne. Well, okay, you noticed, but you politely averted your eyes. I am grateful.
Advice in this stage – shore up and call in even more backups because you will need them for the moment life smacks you between the eyes with a tragedy or difficulty that will take your head completely out of writing. Your blog must go on without you, or you need it to Die. Many bloggers elect BlogEradication, they get sporadic with posting, once a week, then skip a couple of weeks while on vacation, and then months go by, and if they think about blogging again, they come back to crickets because everyone who read them is gone.
This stage is the darkness, it is the lack of direction, the formless. The voice you thought you had seems trite or not authentic anymore – you changed, life changed, your attitude changed. You will either go in, sort it all out and find out who you turned into as a writer, or you’ll stop this pointless blog-xistence. You really don’t care anymore about all those damn upstarts with their shiny new WordPress blogs, you just wish they’d come write your blog post every day so you could ignore the blank pages.
I don’t know what the averages are, but I would speculate wildly and without any statistics to back me up except watching blogs die for 9 years that about 90% of blogs die in this stage. I still mourn some incredibly clever writers.
Stage Four Butterfly – You have inflicted your worst on your blog, and it survived!
One day you wake up and look around and go, hey! I love this writing thing, and I LOVE writing about perfume. Well, okay, love it some of the time. You don’t need a voice or a gimmick or angle. You are free to be you and try and help others if they want or ask for it. Of course, Patty defines “help” as talking them into writing for her blog for the, um … yeah! exposure! No, seriously, I love reading new perfume bloggers in all of their stages – well, except Stage Two hitting its zenith, nobody wants to see that – they bring life and enthusiasm to the subject, and if you listen and pay attention, you’ll find that little spark down inside of you that never went out, that loves perfume and wants to talk about it. Those little eggs and worms are what re-fuels us into falling in love with perfume over and over. It’s also good for readers – if your favorite blogs just aren’t getting you excited about any perfume at all, go find some new ones! Trust me, you’ll find some that will have a completely different approach that will probably get you interested again.
Advice? Just get there. It is a beautiful journey to write through the darkness, blind and uncaring, so turned inward on your own pain that you just want to fall on your blog and go out in a blaze of glory rather than keep writing. Okay, that part of the journey isn’t that beautiful, it’s really pretty miserable, but when you come out the other side? – And you will – the sun will be shining brighter than before, and you won’t care about blogging heirarchy or who is the smartest or most popular or has a mean Social Game that is completely kicking your ass on readership. You are just so damn happy to have this space to talk about something you love and some really kind, lovely, lively people to share with you in the conversation.
BTW, I am NOT criticizing any blogger out there. This is a really general observation about the stages I went through and observing others going through it from outside, not just in perfume blogging, but other kinds as well.
If you got to the end – yeah!!!! – let’s have cupcakes! Okay, can’t send those out, but I do have those new Guerlain things, the Desert whatevers? I haven’t reviewed them and may not. Oud’s not really my thing. One of them is refined, one is rosey, one is skanky. There, done. 🙂 But! Drop a comment, and if you’re inclined, share how reading blogs has helped or not in your perfume journey. Do you prefer a single voice on a blog, or is the MPD of a multi-person blog working better? I’ll give away three sets of those samples to commenters.