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On the spending culture that has usurped the blog community.
As a confessed spendaholic and very-impulse buyer, something I'm often asked is 'How can I further my blog and write new content on a budget?'

When I started writing Daisybutter five years ago, I was a shiny new, naive, first year student at Uni. I didn't have enough money or loan to buy food - trust me, my budget for each semester was MINUS £173.86 - and I certainly didn't have money for multiple new outfits a week.

Something that presses on my mind whenever I get these emails from you guys is that there's a culture around hauling and spending money in order to 'run a blog'. Perhaps it stems from the popular haul videos from YouTube or the societal need for new things, new content and new-ness everywhere. I know that some of my most popular posts, analytics wise, are my interpretation of hauls. To put it simply: there is pressure to succeed – by spending. Or is there? Let's chat.

Haul Couture
Haul culture is worrying. I have a firm grasp on my spending despite what this blog portrays, but it hasn't always been this way. Somewhere along the blogging road, I also got caught up in haul culture. Whilst I was at University – an environment that some may say is very spend-limited – I began blogging and my blog began to flourish. In fact, when Daisybutter began it was awash with new things that I’d bought, things I’d seen on the catwalk, personal chatter and my overall opinion of things. But mostly pretty new things, let’s not lie. And when you’re a newbie blogger as I was then, you take inspiration from popular YouTube gurus (as they were then known) and more established bloggers who were seemingly raking in new things by the bag load.

What Next?
Last week BBC One ran a documentary on the Bangladesh factory disaster in 2013, one that could have been avoided with just a touch of responsibility. With thousands of factory workers killed and survivors exhausted both physically and mentally, the documentary turned to mention and briefly criticise the consumer-centric nature of our society today. (The documentary is available here on BBC iPlayer if you want to have a watch.)

Spending money for the sake of spending or for the sake of sharing is unhealthy. It’s unhealthy to revolve an inherent part of your life (i.e. the money you worked hard for) on frivolous and gratuitous sharing. I never want my readers – you guys – to feel like you “have” to spend money to create content. It’s hard to voice how I feel about the subject but I genuinely feel that any content and posts that I write about things that I’ve bought is just a bonus. I never buy a dress with the sole intention of sharing it on here in the same way that I don’t buy five eyeliners to compare. Make your life and interests and belongings and shiny-new-things work for your blog, not the other way round.

No New In? No Problem.
The idea that you can only run a successful blog if you always have new products to write about is a myth. No new in things? Try creating a post about revisited items, styling/using something in three ways, create complete capsule wardrobes or faux suitcases that your readers can read and then pack. Variety is the spice of life and often if you can’t afford to keep up your blog shopping lifestyle, chances are your readers can’t either. Myth debunked.
So now it’s time to turn the tables and swing the question back to you: What are your thoughts on shopping for your blog and the culture around hauling? Whatever do you think happened to shopping for fun as we do/will do on ASOS tonight/did so well? Comments below and we can have a ponder.

40 comments

  1. Hey Michelle,
    I thinking spending for the sole purpose for sharing on your blog isn't the ideal senario for your purse strings! I think it's hard not to want to compete when we're surrounding by influencial fashion and beauty bloggers constantly! I've just learnt to appreciate them and not let it affect my spending! I'm not really a big spender anyway, especially with a mortgage and bills to pay! I do spend my money on eating and going out though and I like to document that on the blog :)

    Hanh x | hanhabelle

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  2. You hit the nail on the head with the last point. Amen Mish! You don't start a blog with new things so why should you be given new things in order to continue it. You aren't awed anything by PR companies - it just an absolutely amazing perk that might come along once in a while.
    Sophie
    x

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  3. Michelle you are one of my favourite bloggers with these down to earth posts! You are so right! I personally have never been one for buying all new things so thankfully starting a blog hasn't encouraged me to do that. This It’s unhealthy to revolve an inherent part of your life (i.e. the money you worked hard for) on frivolous and gratuitous sharing. for me was just an excellent line!

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  4. In capitalism consumerism is rife and competition to keep prices down! This is a great post and I agree that it is okay to use products that have already been purchased a while ago! :D

    Emma Louise xx

    theemmalouise.blogspot.co.uk

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  5. Definitely - there is a weird sort of competitiveness around spending and it completely manifests when consumerism IS at the heart of beauty and fashion blogging. But my main point is that you should let your natural spending and shopping ways inform a blog and not the other way round.


    PS. I LOVE the food posts on your blog Hanh! Still need to go and try that lobster roll!

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  6. Thanks Sophie! It's so hard to communicate exactly how I feel towards the situation, I just felt compelled to write openly about it after reading so many emails from my readers asking me how I could "afford" to write my blog, when the reality is I just write about things that are happening anyway. I could talk all day about the subject!

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  7. Wow - thanks Sandra! That's so kind of you to say! Like I said to Sophie, I felt compelled to write it to dispel the thought to new bloggers that you "need" to buy things to run a blog. Daisybutter sits just alongside my everyday life and I'd write it regardless of if I go shopping or not! Thanks again for your comment.

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  8. Thank you Emma! It's fine to not spend money and still write a blog. I'd be writing Daisybutter even if I never bought another item again in my life. I'd 100% have more substantial topics to write about and discuss.

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  9. This was interesting, you've put into words what I feel about haul culture - I never understood how some people can afford to keep doing hauls for their blogs/channel, and I don't think people should feel pressured to do it for a successful blog. Not going to lie, I do love showing off things I bought on the blog/my readers seem to enjoy it, but I try not to buy things solely for that reason.

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  10. Thanks for your comment Jane. It's the one area of blogging that I find mystifying. The blogging world when I started blogging was much different to that of today where there seems to be an incessant need to keep buying for a blog. Don't get me wrong - talking about my own new purchases is always fun but even then I probably only talk about 15% of the things I actually buy! Petrol, twin packs of chocolate digestives and tortoise vitamins, anyone? ;)

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  11. I've slowly started realizing how much money it can be to blog if you want to have the beauty or fashion blog. This is especially if you are just beginning. I can remember want to haul my most recent purchases when all the Youtube gurus were and how much a needed to get what they had gotten. Now that I've realized all this I've gained a new perspective to change what I wanted to be as a beauty blog into a lifestyle blog, which is oh so much healthier as it's therapeutic to post snip-its and blurbs rather than a full on frivolous review of something you probably didn't really need.

    Great post, Michelle! Thanks for keeping it real.

    Carolyn | BLOG

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  12. This was a great post. I'm trying to change my attitudes to shopping and consuming. I'd rather wait and save a little than buy 20 things from Primark and end up seeing ten other girls walking around in it. I'm trying to blog about more personal experiences and life rather than products. The bloggers and youtubers who have so much stuff get 80% of it sent to them now. Seeing makeup storage videos on youtube makes me sick sometimes and how obscene our need to amass stuff is. I admire your openness, you have always been one of my favourite bloggers
    xxx

    Nina from little nomad

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  13. Thank you Nina! I'm more a saver for big things nowadays too actually. I feel much happier posting about experiences and everyday things than my outfit posts (which are 9/10 full of clothes I've owned for years!). It really terrifies me when I think back to when I loved amassing products and random things for the sheer thought of "being a blogger". Too kind of you Nina, that means the world! x

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  14. GREAT post. I admit I'm definitely caught up in "haul culture" and I'm often thinking "I should blog about that item" or "that would make for a pretty Instagram pic" but at the same time, I think my shopping is fuelled *because* I read blogs rather than *so* I can blog at all. I'm SO easily enabled to buy something and I guess because I have a blog, I may as well use it as an outlet to share with like-minded people seeing as my friends don't really care! With me I'd say it's a fine line because exaggeration aside, I genuinely think I have a psychological problem(!!) when it comes to shopping - I just happen to have a blog too, so it's like the perfect excuse for my own personal wanting to buy this stuff. Either way I always have "spend within your means" at the back of my mind. As long as I'm not going into debt a la Rebecca Bloomwood, I'm just going to indulge because as sad as it is to some, shopping really makes me happy!

    Jade | The Jade Aesthetic

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  15. Ahh yes, really amazing post! I've been on a bit of a budget ever since I first started my blog and while I've absolutely got carried away with buying things I didn't need on a few occasions, I don't think a consistent stream of new things means I'll be any happier or that my blog will be any better. I'm actually going the other way at the moment and making a point to part with things I don't use/wear because it's been making me feel a bit uneasy having lots of things that I don't appreciate enough! xx

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  16. Hannah Burrows31 July 2014 at 21:55

    Absolutely 100% agree with this post! I try my best not to be sucked into the whole buying things for the sake of buying it but sometimes it's hard.. You always want to be up to date on what's going on and say, everyone else is talking about something and owns something, you may automatically think "well why don't I have this? Should I get it?" I must admit I've felt that way even just reading other people's blogs, I feel like "oh no.. Maybe I need this miracle product too" when I know that's not how I should feel. Most of the time I'm really stubborn and don't buy things because I really get overwhelmed when I have too many products/things to choose from so I like to keep things to a minimum but sometimes I do go on an unnecessary shopping spree! Basically, I agree with what you are saying! xxx

    Blog This With Hannah

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  17. Hey, I may not be a student any more, but I STILL can't afford to buy new things. If I'm in a down mood, I can often think that this then reflects badly on my blog as it's presenting nothing new, but if I'm in a more positive frame of mind I really couldn't care less, as I put so much thought into each post that it's really like a brand new outfit, especially if I've styled everything differently. It's just how you look at it, but I think there's a lot more to blogging than having the in thing xx

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  18. That's why they call it retail therapy!

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  19. Thanks Michelle! Girl you got to try it, it's love at first bite :)

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  20. This is just what I needed to read Michelle! I've been worried about featuring products multiple times on my blog, I felt a bit lost with what to post but now I've started dabbling a bit into lifestyle I've fallen back in love with inventing new posts and writing again! x

    SophiesMakeupBlog

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  21. I agree with you Michelle! There definitely is a haul culture in the fashion & beauty blog world and especially on Youtube. My blog isn't built around hauls of new products so I never really had to consider spending money to buy things I don't necessarily need in order to write a few blog posts/get some followers. However, I'll often be reading a blog or watching a video and I'll catch myself feeling like I need to buy all those things, be it makeup or clothes. Sometimes it's hard to resist, but I have to remind myself that I don't have the budget for these purchases and also I don't actually need them.
    Overall I would say that you definitely don't need to spend a lot of money to blog (although I don't blog about fashion or beauty) but perhaps it is easier if you can afford to buy all those new products?

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  22. great post!!
    www.agoprime.it

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  23. very well written - it's a tricky one. obviously i'm not a beauty/fashion blogger so i don't feel like i worry about this at all, but i can see how it can become a problem - and it can be applied outside of the blogging world too. i've made many a frivolous purchase in the past that i could have definitely done without, and i do try to rein that in as much as i can now - and to invest in ethical products too. i think awareness is key. x

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  24. Ah, this is so spot on, Michelle! I used to blog pretty much solely about make-up and beauty and before long I realised that I didn't need 80% of the makeup I had, and I began to feel like I was just blogging and buying things to keep up with the blogs and it was horrible. Now I still have far too much makeup that I don't need or use, but after taking a little break from blogging I came back and started doing things that I found actually interesting and weren't just make-up.. and it feels so much better for me. Great post, I'm going to link to it in one of my posts if you don't mind! xx

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  25. This is such a great post Michelle, I completely agree with you. I have felt pressured to buy things to blog many, many times. Sometimes I think I should buy things as I need more content and have had to stop myself. I've also read that this image that bloggers create about having such 'perfect' lives and amazing products, clothes etc is contributing to people getting depression as they feel inadequate or left out. It's very worrying indeed! I must watch that documentary - I've heard it was interesting. Well done for writing such a well worded post about an important topic!

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches

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  26. I definitely thought this when I first started, and felt inadequate when I couldn't go and buy all the new releases to seemingly join in this mass blog review of the same products. I now see it as more interesting to review different products, whether they're new or shopping through your friends and reviewing their favourite items or rediscovering old favourites.
    I think it's all relative - if you can afford all the latest releases (completely seperate from being gifted them) then do it if you enjoy buying them all. Likewise, there's just as much interest sharing your interests and favourites without constantly restocking your stash!

    North of London - Beauty Blog

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  27. Thank you Jade! It's an interesting discussion, isn't it? On one hand, I like sharing some of the less cult products and things that I've found but on the other I'm cautious of buying things for the sake of it being blogworthy. I definitely have a shopping problem too! But I've reined it in within the last 2 years or so.

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  28. Thank you Jennie! You've completely hit the nail on the head. I think blogs are primarily an outlet of all the pretty, lovely things about our lives and it can be easy to forget that and slip into constant streams of new things with the thought that it'll make us happier and our blog better. I'm enjoying writing my blog MUCH more now that I don't shop as much (saving for grown-up life) because real life feels happier and more well-rounded, if that makes sense?

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  29. Thank you Hannah! It's really easy to fall into that way of thinking too. By their nature, blogs are really persuasive and engaging hahah.

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  30. That's such a great point Rebecca. It's easy to associate new things with blog post success, but I've recently found it's the way you approach the post and write/create it that makes the world of difference! Hard to explain... I've recently re-focused and found my little way of writing DB again and adore the blogging process.

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  31. Thanks Sophie! I think a little bit of lifestyle in any blog is key to staying fresh and relatable - it's what sets blogs apart from every other form of media out there!

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  32. I don't think it's harder or easier to blog with more money to be honest - as long as you're passionate about your blog, the content will come naturally! I really believe that blogs should sit nicely alongside your real life and since working that out, I've fallen straight back in love with my blog!

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  33. Thank you Miho - really interesting to hear your thoughts from another POV. It's so easy to be sucked in by marketing bumf right? Just trying to raise awareness that I - and many others - don't spend money FOR my blog, much the other way round in that I blog about everyday essentials and my daily lifestyle!

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  34. Thank you lovely! I definitely reached a point about 2 years ago where I was buying things all the time with the added excuse of 'I'm a blogger', which is completely ridiculous. Now that I've re-focused a little and have stepped away from the frenzy of it all, I can see things from a different perspective and almost advise newer bloggers that you don't have to buy things to make sure you always have blog post ideas.

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  35. PS. Of course you can link to it! Shall keep an eye out for your post (:

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  36. Thanks Lyndsay! I think that 'buying things so I have post ideas' is a really worrying way to approach blogging, especially as the community grows/doubles every day and gets more competitive. There's certainly a crazy image around bloggers recently - it's still such a new medium that we're all trying to make sense of it as we go along. Literally insane. Thanks for your lovely comment!

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  37. Ah I'm sorry to hear that Phoebe! I think it's really interesting to read about lesser-raved products - the rare few times that I write about a beauty product will simply be to share something that I think is out of the ordinary. There's certainly lots of fun to be had simply sharing interests and favourites!

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  38. This is a great point. I don't do and never did haul blog posts - there's always so much to write about and look at in the world, that I don't see a point in it, to be honest.
    I'm currently doing a 30 Wardrobe clearing challenge (here: http://www.hellothemushroom.com/2014/12/01/30-day-closet-clearing-challenge/)
    And I am planning on doing a de-haul post at the end. I think that might be a little bit more positive as it is all about learning to live with less!

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