I love scrapbooking blogs.
In fact, I would say they are one of my favorite niche blogs to read. Over the past six months, as I've moved away from fashion and beauty blogging, I've followed more and more scrapbooking and organizing blogs and Instagram accounts. Maybe it's the baby, or maybe it's that I'm returning to my first favorite hobby. But either way, I've gotten into scrapbooking again for the first time in a long time.
However, there seems to be an overwhelming theme to most scrapbooking blogs (and organizing blogs, now that I think about it). What's that theme? Acquiring stuff.
Funny enough, this is one of the things that made me a little, well, exhausted with fashion blogs and then beauty blogs. The constant acquiring of new things: new tops and skirts and shorts and dresses and belts and purses; new foundations, powders, blushes, bronzers, lipsticks, blushes, eyeshadows, palettes, and nail polishes. It gets exhausting to even think about keeping up with the rate at which some bloggers just seem to acquire. Some stuff might come from sponsors, but it still seems like the bulk of what bloggers write about is... stuff they bought with their hard earned cash. And if you add up the totals at the end of the day, the numbers aren't pretty.
One beauty blogger that I follow spend about $500 in one week. In one week on random dupe purchases, multiples of products she already owned, and other random beauty supplies. She admitted in a video to owning over 50 bottles of lotion, but she'd still bought three new tubs of Body Shop body cream. She also admitted to owning an endless supply of lip scrubs and lip balms, but had bought five more of both in the same week. She just wanted to review them, she said, for us, her viewers and readers. But did she really? Or was the desire more for the product?
There is nothing wrong with acquiring things. My thought is if you like something and use it, you should buy it. But I've started to get very wary (and this might be because I'm an adult with bills to pay, who simply can't afford to drop the equivalent of a mortgage payment on lotion that I already own) of bloggers that seem to just spend, spend, spend. Bloggers can definitely make good money from blogging--but they can't make that much money.
It seems like a new way to showcase, and excuse, a shopping addiction. It also seems like a weird competition: who can review the newest thing first? Who can have the most products in the most pristine condition (because really when you have 20 different blushes, you can always photograph one looking pretty and new)?
That's why I stopped reading a lot of beauty and fashion bloggers.
I didn't expect to see the same kind of frivolous spending among scrapbooking bloggers, but I was wrong. At first, I didn't notice: as I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I ooohed and aaahed over the meticulously decorated and scrapped planners, the gorgeous Project Life pages, the books, the washi tape, the stickers. Then, I started to notice something. I started to keep count.
A popular trend among scrapbooking blogs is planners. Yes, planners. Those pre-dated little books you can buy in a variety of shapes, sizes, orientations with different timelines and what have you. Super popular among scrapbookers. From Filofaxes to Erin Condren planners, some people do some amazing things with them.
But as I started to do a counting experiment: in one Instagram account of one scrapbooking blogger, I counted 20 different planners. She owns 20 different planners... and scrapbooks in each. and. every. single. one. In her mind, each planners serves a different purpose: this one records her appointments; this one, she journals about her day (this is separate from her scrapbook journal and her visual journal and her Project Life scrapbook and... and...); this one, she uses just when she's camping; this one, for her kids; this one, to keep track of her expenses; this one, for another thing; this one, just because she likes it. It's exhausting. How can she keep up? I barely have time to write a paragraph in my journal!
That wasn't the end of it either: there seemed to be an endless list of things she'd bought "just to try." Scrapbooking subscription boxes. Piles of Midori folders. Different Filofaxes. Every single Project Life kit available. Sticker printers. Label makers. The Cricut machine. It wasn't just planners. It was everything. And then, finding different and creative ways to organize everything, which of course included buying more stuff: Ikea carts, Container store desks and shelves, and more.
I had unwittingly stumbled into the same kind of niche as before: the niche of purchasing new. Instead of focusing on scrapbooking and showing the pieces of art you can create in the simple space of a journal or planner, bloggers instead get caught in the trap of having something new to show off, to demonstrate, to review.
The fun thing about scrapbooking is that you can use basically anything to do it: pictures, washi tape, notebook paper, Sharpies, pressed flowers, leaves. You don't need to buy 100 different kinds of stickers. You don't need 27 different rolls of washi tape. You don't need all this stuff. In trying to hard to document life, you spend so much time doing it that it almost feels like you don't have much of a life to document. The most fun part of scrapbooking is doing it after a long period of not being able to. Those weekends of binge scrapbooking are so fun and relaxing!
And I felt like a lot of the blogs and Instagram accounts I had followed had lost that. They'd lost the simplicity and fun of scrapbooking from, well, scraps. That's why it's called scrapbooking! While I oohed and aahed over the pieces they created, something about them started to feel hollow. While they are creative and beautiful, they also seem a bit empty, a bit lacking. There is something overly processed about them, even though they're handmade. It's probably because I realize now that they aren't created just to create; they're created for the process of showing, of demonstrating, of reviewing another purchase. And that's a bit sad, isn't it?
I love Project Life and Simple Stories packs. I love them because they reduce a lot of the stuff you need and you can easily mix and match pieces and cards. I don't feel the need to buy a bunch of new packs when I want to start a new project. I ordered $20 worth of new stuff for my baby scrapbook (only because I'd simply run out of things for it). I keep my scrapbooking hoard to a minimum (and I try to keep it minimally organized). I'm proud of my scrapbooking hobby and my abilities in it (it's one of the simplest art forms to get into), but I worry about falling into the trap of acquisition, the siren call of wanting to try the newest planner, the newest pens, the new stickers or buttons or whatever.
I've set rules for myself. As much as I want to scrapbook in planners (because they do really look cool), something about that just seems to... time consuming. I only buy new pieces when I start a new album--and I only start a new album for a major life event. I have a scrapbook for my Disney vacation, my wedding, my honeymoon, the baby. I want to start a general (big) scrapbook for everyday bits and pieces: weekend trips, barbecues, documenting my pregnancy. Otherwise, I'll do a little scrapbooking in my journal, but nothing extreme, nothing too hardcore. I'll do listing challenges and make albums out of leftovers and bits and pieces. I won't go overboard. I won't order 30 different planners.
Ultimately, this is a sign of the problems with niche blogging. Ultimately, the niches begin to revolve more and more around competition, over who has what and who has reviewed what (and who reviewed it first). It becomes about acquisition. It doesn't matter the niche. It seems to happen everywhere. But that doesn't mean you should give in to it.