Relatability and The Blogger: How Accessible Should Bloggers Be?

Designer bags, jet set holidays, high tech equipment and blow dries on tap – sometimes the life of a blogger can seem a world away from your own.

Just how relatable a blogger should be has been somewhat of a hot topic lately. From girls I know receiving negative comments on their channels about their change of content or choice of focus, to Marissa Carter, the CEO of Cocoa Brown Tan, stating that there is “absolutely no authenticity left in the [blogging] industry” in a recent interview, the moves of a blogger are under more scrutiny than ever.

To quote the almighty Frank Ocean, “I see both sides like Chanel”. Even as a blogger myself, I too have felt that pang of disgruntled jealousy as a fashionista I adore swans off to Paris with the latest Gucci on their arm and a new Net-A-Porter haul now uploading on their channel. I get that it feels like a million miles away from your own life, and I can respect and admire other women in the industry but also not follow their work because I don’t feel any synergy with my own day-to-day.

I also understand how frustrating it is to have £30 in your bank account and then see a YouTuber declaring that a pair of £300 jeans are a wise investment, and “not that expensive” if we’re judging by cost-per-wear. In the same vein, I’ve also been the other side. I have a few expensive bags that I’m rarely seen without, but in the same breath will try and embody the type of girl I feel I am – the meme-sending mate, the one that tries to be a bit funny, the girl you would want to get shit-faced on a bottle of cheap wine with. I understand that on some levels, those two elements conflict, and I understand how some people may feel that having gone from promoting Boohoo and MissPap to sporting Sandro and Gucci, that I’ve somehow lost my relatability.

I feel like there are two types of approaches to blogging. The relatable, and the aspirational. 

The relatable is the internet’s big sister, brimming with invaluable life advice, honesty and a wicked sense of humour. Relatable confesses to buying Primark pants because they haven’t got any clean pairs left, and relatable is the girl you feel you know without having ever met her. The aspirational is the #bodygoals, designer lusting and drone-flying Maldives tour. Aspirational has the perfect tan, the perfect hair, the perfect home – she is the girl you want to be, but would feel painfully uncool around.

 This is something that brands recognise, too. Relatable gets the high-street gigs, aspirational gets the big budget holidays. I’m not saying these two are mutually exclusive – rather that relatable and aspirational are two ends of a spectrum, and if you take a look at your favourite blogger, you’ll probably be able to roughly guess whereabouts they fall.

Take me, for example. I’m not a 5’11 bronzed goddess with cheekbones sharp enough to cut a quality Edam – instead I’m short, chubby and I don’t look good in candid shots. That plops me solidly down in relatable (because who tf looks good when somebody takes an unexpected shot of them). On the other hand, I do love luxury fashion, editorial-inspired photography and an expensive cocktail. That edges me up towards aspirational.

Blazer – Topshop (sold out, ASOS here)
Shirt – ASOS
Jeans – Topshop
Shoes – ASOS (now on sale!)
Bag – Gucci
Scarf – Zara

The truth is, I’m very often conflicted when it comes down to defining my own identity. Which one do I want to be? Which impression do I want to give? Do I want people to feel connected to me through my writing, or do I want people to take my style seriously? The difficulty lies in the fact that I obviously want both, and I imagine that reading this, you might be thinking, “well then just aim for both, duh”.

Of course, it’s not really that easy. Whether you recognise it or not, we gravitate towards different blogs for different reasons. In some cases the photography and styling is what we’re after, and thus the writing is secondary. In others, the written content is the star of the show and the photography is there just to act as a feature image. And if you’re known for one thing, as soon as you start to move in the other direction, your audience can become pissed off. Suddenly you’re no longer relatable to them – you’re not providing what you unintentionally promised and your change of direction almost feels like an insult. Do you even care anymore?

Being relatable as a blogger is such a multi-layered and interwoven ambition. Speaking for myself, I’ve started moving in an aspirational direction because naturally, as I’ve left university, started my own business and moved into the professional workplace, I earned more money. I love clothes, and so I’ve spent some of that money on luxury items and equipment to document it all in a style I like. I know that that isn’t everybody’s situation and so I may no longer be as relatable as when I was binging on Primark between seminars, but it is my situation, and I am being truthful.

This is a case for a lot of bloggers whose platforms have become successful, and as such they are more able to indulge in more expensive items or trips or lifestyles. What is problematic for the readers and audience, however, is that the traffic that has allowed these bloggers to do so has come from them watching and enjoying the original content that they found relatable – that they could identify with. This in turn, however, boxes bloggers in. Are we only allowed to create one type of content for the rest of our lives, for fear of alienating our audience? Can we expect them to grow along with us? Can we even ask?

It’s rare that I don’t have a unifying final thought to pull a post together, but I really feel like the issue of relatability and blogging continues to be an open book. On the one hand I don’t think bloggers owe anyone anything; it’s our life, our time, and our creativity – we should have the freedom to do with it what we wish. Nobody forces an audience to engage, and so if you feel that you can no longer identify with someone or feel that their ethos has changed, then simply move on. On the other hand, I do understand the frustration of bearing witness to a lifestyle that is so far removed from your own, when you feel like the person behind it once represented you.

On some level, we all look for ourselves in bloggers, whether we’re trying to see the person we want to be or the person that we are. No matter where you stand in terms of this debate, the important thing is to make sure you vocalise it respectfully – a 5 second impulse comment can easily do more damage than it’s worth. We all got achey breaky hearts, after all.

Let me know what you guys think below or come and find me over on Twitter or Instagram – I’m intrigued to hear your thoughts on this one!

(Photography: Liv Blankson)
  • Love the honesty of this post. Bloggers should be able to grow their style and approach to their blog with their success without feeling guilt or as though they owe their readers! I personally do read blogs less as they become more 'aspirational' due to not being able to afford the lifestyle myself but this doesn't mean I've lost any respect or like of the blogger and I know this isn't the case for everyone.

    Kirsty xx |

  • This is such a big topic in the blogosphere right now, and definitely something I often think about, actually I'm currently trying to write a post on it right now. I'm pretty much in the same position as you in seeing both sides of the coin. I myself love luxe goods and know that if I had the money to, I would buy far more, and let's not pretend that most of us would love to have a taste of this 'aspirational' lifestyle. Yet, I also completely understand why people get frustrated when they see individuals who previously promoted more high street, attainable brands and felt like 'one of us' to go on to live this 'luxe' lifestyle that suddenly feels completely unrelatable. I think that bloggers should be able to 'grow' in that way, and shouldn't feel like they're not able to if they can afford to, but I think what I'd like to see more of is bloggers recognising that they have changed and live a much more privileged lifestyle, and also that this isn't the 'norm'. I see a lot of luxe hauls with 3 different designer bags being bought in 1 month without any admission that this isn't just what the average person can do, and I do find that kind of thing quite alienating. I don't know, I have so many conflicting opinions – it's a tricky topic! Thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts.

  • I've read so many posts recently about relatability but this is by far the best as you have given your opinions on both sides! Bloggers should do the content they enjoy doing and it should matter if it's high street or designer pieces they show
    Laura x

  • This is a brilliant post Chloe. I think it's a hard line but as you said as you grow and mature, naturally you can afford pieces which you couldn't before. I think as long as the blogger is being genuine and creating content they enjoy there will always be an audience there for that.

    Also, this outfit is gorgeous.

    Allie | Rush + Teal

  • You explained this perfectly! I wish there wasn't such a divide between the two, but there is for some reason! I know that I'm definitely more of your 'Girl Next Door' at the moment, but I sometimes wonder whether in the future, I could be one of these people who's jetting off on holidays every week! Who knows?! I think we've all just got to go with the flow and be ourselves. Our readers should want to read our blogs for 'us' as people and not like we're some inanimate objects that just display a Gucci handbag or pair of Topshop boots! xxx

  • Such a tricky subject. Which I feel you've really written well.
    I agree and appreciate two sides to the coin. I have fallen out of love with a few bloggers blogs due to their justified success and then change in lifestyle and where they shop. However, if I had the ability to, o course I'd buy a designer bag of dreams. I have however kept with a few bloggers who a little more flashy, as they do delve back now and then to 'their roots' of ASOS / Miss Guided etc.
    I think it's great that bloggers have been able to grow themselves and earn what some have/do and that they're making the most of their lives at the moment, as you never know when it could all be taken from you. With that in mind, I'd hope that apart from designer lifestyles that money is being spent wisely on down payments to houses etc for example. That would be smart.
    As for a comment above, sadly we do read blogs to be nosey, to aspire, to wish list for pay day. You;ll never know the blogger behind the blog unless you know them in real life.


  • This is such a great post, something I've been thinking about myself recently. I completely get and agree with everything you're saying, I really think it's all about balance. And I think in a way someone even as big/successful as Zoella has got it right… she could afford all the designer handbags she pleases, I'm sure gets offered a world of holidays etc but she's always still in Primark, ASOS etc.
    I think it's great to see the odd designer bag and LOVE seeing bloggers do so well, but I think it's kinda like you said – when a blogger see a pair of a few hundred pound 5 inch stiletto heels as an everyday throw on shoe it does make you raise an eyebrow…!
    Laura | x

  • Hi Chloe,

    I've been reading your blog for a few months now (found via Hannah Gale!) and thought I would leave a comment. I admire your blog for both the writing and your style, but it's the writing that keeps me coming back! You deal with a lot of important/interesting issues and express yourself really well. I think combining style and think pieces works for you, and that you don't necessarily need to commit to one or the other.

    I also agree with other comments that bloggers should be able to grow and talk about aspects of their lives that have changed, whether that be the ability to afford designer goods, or go on sponsored trips, without being judged. The success that a blogger achieves is an achievement that they shouldn't have to diminish. As long as a blogger is being true to themselves, that will shine through and readers will see that 🙂

  • This was so interesting Chloe and as always so well written!

    I think really, neither party has any obligation to the other, but neither side should judge the other for that choice either. The blogger has no obligation to stay the 'relatable'/'girl next door' type and talk New Look and Rimmel if their lifestyle has changed – naturally as people's incomes or opportunities grow they will find themselves buying or doing things that may be out of reach for your average reader, but there's no need for them to pretend otherwise. That success is a great achievement and a result of hard work after all! Similarly though there's no obligation for a reader to keep following a blogger if they don't find their posts relatable or enjoyable anymore…there's nothing to say they 'should' continue reading and there shouldn't be a problem if they don't.

    Basically, as long as a blogger is being true to themselves wherever they're at in their life/career, there will probably be an audience for it – that audience might just change slightly to reflect the subject matter, and that's fine 🙂

    Thanks for another great read, I love how your outfit photos are always so spot on but you combine them with genuinely interesting writing!

    Sophie xxx

  • wow this is so true hun!

  • Interesting post.

    For me, relatable is not about what they do with their lives (because each and every life is SO different, being relatable on that is not what I expect) but rather engage with the readers/followers and what they write about, how they write, be raw… Liking the comments or even responding when there's enough time to do so. That's important and sometimes it lacks.

    If someone can have the means to travel, buy Gucci bags, and grow their business, hell yes they should and everyone should be happy for them. I've watched your blog grow and I'm glad about it even if I don't know you irl.

    For me, you're both in the relatable and aspirational categories, you look gorgeous, your blog is clever and well writen, I can relate to most topics and thought pieces, you have a cool attitude and great style, you seem genuine and nice, I'm more likely to be inspired by girls like you than stunning tan ladies. But sure, I love to follow those, they always have pretty pics but I don't feel connected to them, I'll only keep up because the content is nice and relate is not what I want when I go there. Sometimes, we just like to see nice things, like on magazines. Blogging is a wonderful thing because of all the different shapes it takes. And, as you've said, we're free to unfollow, move on if something doesn't meet our interest anymore.

    Being true to who you are (/who you've become) is the most important thing in blogging (or every aspect of life in fact).

  • This post… 👏🏻 You've done such an amazing job with how you put everything. I can't think of what else to write except, well done.

  • Loved this post !
    I feel like I fall under both categories. I do want that aspirational lifestyle however I will still happily say that I will happily pop into Primark to stock up on fluffy pyjamas.
    Sometimes you can be inbetween and happy about it.
    I don't blog in the same style that I used to a year ago and thats okay
    Hope x


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