Impostor syndrome in the blogosphere

Jess Wilby wearing Dorothy Perkins in Manchester Spinningfields for
Here’s me pretending to be a proper blogger. Do I fit in yet?

I do love this Dorothy Perkins dress, but it’s not really me is it? I don’t even wear dresses! I wear jeans. Every damn day. Topshop Joni super high-waisted, the perfect height for hiding my fupa. But I’m not allowed to admit that because I’m desperately trying to be more body-posi.

I felt like a complete phoney looking back at this shoot. It’s not me, it’s an act of what I assume bloggers should be so that I can finally feel like one of the gang. Do you ever feel like that? Perhaps not only with blogging, but IRL too. There’s something that sticks with us long after we’ve left our teens and that’s the need to ‘fit in’. Whether it’s the blogosphere, the workplace or even in a new friendship group – feeling like an outsider sucks.

But you know what the secret is? Everyone feels like and outsider on the inside.

I don’t know anyone who is 100% confident in any situation. The cliche ‘fake it til you make it’ attitude is actually how most of us get by in life. Ask an adult and they’ll tell you that they make it up as they go along. However, knowing that everyone feels like this still hasn’t exactly helped me get over my impostor syndrome.

Despite running Philocalist for 2 years and blogging on other sites since the age of 15, I don’t ‘feel like a blogger’ and I certainly don’t feel like I fit in. I have this lingering complex from when I organised my last shambles blogger event. A little niggle that tells me ‘this isn’t your crowd’.

At the risk of repeating myself from previous posts, I believe you make your own opportunities. I’m the type of gal who says you can literally be anything you want – including a blogger – if you graft for it. Working hard on blog content and perfecting your craft is something that overtime we could all do, but trying to assimilate into the blogging community is much, much harder. I’ve got to the point where I’ve realised there’s only so much you can do to muscle your way into a community before you realise the doors are closed for someone like you.

I can’t afford brunch 3 times a week to post on instagram, so instead I’ll mock tweet about having marmite on toast for tea and nutella on toast for pudding (#StayPoorStayHumble). I’m not an aspirational blogger for readers, nor am I a person to be seen with for fellow bloggers.

I’m an impostor. A boring girl in blogger clothing.

Being a real blogger isn’t on the cards for me, but I’m almost at peace with it. As long as I can still write & create content that I actually enjoy making. If you’ve made it to this part of the blog post, please know that I’d trade 1000 followers for you. Someone who actually reads my shit. I’m not here to be top blogger, but maybe I’ll stick around just incase someone read through this and though ‘well shit, I’m living off toast for dinner too!’

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  1. July 31, 2017 / 9:15 am

    So sorry you feel this way! I absolutely loved hanging out with you when we met, because you’re totally genuine and I find that sometimes not all bloggers are (but have met loads of lovely ones too so I feel quite bad about saying that!). I say stay away from the cliche blogger gangs and stay you! But then, I don’t and won’t ever fit in those gangs either, I’m not cool and I don’t even own “blogger clothes” (hell, right now I am living in PJs and maternity leggings in my newborn bubble, v far away from blogworthy outfits!). I also feel like I will never be a ”real’ blogger, but I totally love writing and posting, and until I don’t anymore I’m just going to keep doing it. And if you blog, then you’re a blogger…simples! Sending a hug and always reading your posts, Anna xx

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      July 31, 2017 / 10:19 am

      Oh Anna you’re way too lovely! It’s an awkward one isn’t it, cause I think everyone gets like this sometimes and it’s hard to talk about without polarising anyone. I hope I don’t come across as a ‘not like the other gals’ kind of person haha! Living in PJs sounds like absolute bliss if I’m honest! Especially since you’re spending time with your new best friend. Hope you’re adjust well and enjoying motherhood :)! Sending buckets of love & good vibes to you.

  2. July 31, 2017 / 9:49 am

    Well in my opinion the dress looks gorgeous on you! If you wear jeans everyday than post pics of that. There’s definitely nothing more frustrating in my opinion that bloggers who aren’t truly themselves. I’m still a uni student and I do enjoy the occasional brunch. But I can definitely relate to you about not being able to eat ‘instagrammably’ all the time. Keep doing what you’re doing and creating content that you love and is truly you and people will relate more 🙂

  3. July 31, 2017 / 10:57 am

    This is such a great article! I guess a lot of people feel this way, feeling the pressure of ‘fit’ in the blogosphere.
    I hate cliche blogs that only share the perfect, pink side of life. I’m a human being. I need you to be genuine and show me that you are a human being as well and you have your own demons. I don’t need to see you bragging about your perfect life. We all dream about that perfect life anyway.

  4. Alice
    July 31, 2017 / 11:16 am

    This dress is gorgie on you! I feel like an imposter commenting, but you work so hard for everything you have achieved and where you are and you’ve got to do what’s right for you! Who cares if you don’t think you’re a stereotypical blogger or whatever as long as you’re writing the content you care about and you’re happy it doesn’t matter xx

  5. Hannah Gets Hench
    July 31, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    100% you need to wear this dress more often, I love it! And the shots are beautiful. I constantly feel like an impostor, but its the people who don’t fit in who are always the most interesting. You don’t want to be a basic bitch!! If you changed I would be very sad indeed.

    P.S. solved the pigeon murder mystery yet? 😉

    Hannah x

  6. July 31, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    This is such a refreshing article! I often feel like an impostor in the blogging world- I haven’t been blogging for very long, and find it quite difficult to immerse myself in the community. Here’s to pjs and marmite toast. I’d take that over brunch any day!

    Sarah Catherine x

  7. July 31, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    Love this because it’s so true! There is absolutely a blogger “type” that we feel we have to mold ourselves into, when in fact, some of my favorite blogs are the ones that go against that type and who are true to themselves. Thank you for your honesty – loved reading this. So refreshing.


  8. July 31, 2017 / 1:40 pm

    Toast for dinner? That’s pretty much my every day life at the moment… Especially since our daughter was born!

    But I know what you mean… Even as a dad blogger, I feel like there’s a pull to behave and write a ceratin way… But I really don’t like that…

  9. July 31, 2017 / 1:49 pm

    I thought this post was so insightful and it really spoke to me. There’s definitely a lot of cliche surrounding the behaviours bloggers are supposed to adopt. I love that you’re shattering this, because the truth is most of those people are more than a little fake and may not have the right motives for doing stuff. The best thing any blogger can do is to be true to themselves. I’ve actually given up reading quite a few blogs because they are either so samey that if you’ve read one, you e read them all OR they just read like a PR robot. I value originality of content and of writing, and I think the most important thing is finding someone who has an authentic voice and who clearly writes for the love of it, no matter the other benefits. You are doing exactly that so big kudos and big love to you for an inspiring piece!

  10. July 31, 2017 / 2:59 pm

    Again: I bloody love this dress, it looks great on you. Wear it more! Well, if you feel comfortable doing so…

    I’ve been blogging for, um, 18 years, which means I’ve been able to watch as blog-land has grown and developed. The bloggers you describe aren’t my crowd either, but the way I see it I was here first so I’m not really that arsed about fitting in, if I’m honest. I spent a big chunk of my life trying to fit in with the crowd and my blog was the first place where I could truly be myself. It helped me to meet so many like-minded people, too.

    Those are the blogs I love: the ones written by people who are unashamedly, unapologetically, them. I’ve just found your blog today, but you strike me as a great writer who approaches her blog with authenticity and humour, exactly the sort of blog I like to read!

    Lis / last year’s girl x

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      August 1, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Lis, if I can be half the writer you are by the time I’ve spent 18 years blogging online, that will surely be an achievement! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my lil blog. Hopefully I can reach the point where I don’t feel the need to fit in anymore, after ten years I guess I was here before some as well haha.

  11. Joanna
    July 31, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    I don’t know if you have attended Traverse17 but there was a very interesting discussion about the impostor syndrome. It is normal to feel like this but also to see the value you are bringing to the community and to your readers. We might not be perfect but we are blogging because we are very knowledgeable in a particular field and we want to share our expertise with our followers.

  12. Robyn
    July 31, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post! this sums up exactly how I (and a lot of other bloggers) feel! Blogging is almost like how we want our lives to be, how we want others to see us but that isn’t the truth! I completely get what you mean! I feel like a huge fake and that’s okay because we are all huge fakes together!
    Robyn //

  13. July 31, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    Adored this post TBH. You’re so so right with what your saying. I’ve often found myself doing stuff purely for my blog and later thinking, was that actually me?

    For the record I think you look great in the dress x

    Iamfoxxtailz | alternative style diary

  14. July 31, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    This is such an honest post, and I’m with you – I often feel like a blogger imposter, I am just me – nothing special and very boring.

  15. July 31, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    Thanks for this post Jess. I love it! When I first started blogging, I tried really hard to fit in and often I felt just as you described. It is confusing because I love writing and thought all bloggers will be the same. But no, we all blog for different reasons. I found mine and now I am happier that ever. True that I tweaked what I was doing and now it is kind of a magazine – having lovely contributors that share what they love and know best with me-. I feel better being behind the lens. It means for me more freedom and that I get to choose when I want to dress up or stay comfy at home. Also this opened to other perspectives and topics. What I like about blogging is blogging… the rest is just distractions. Keep true to yourself and find your tribe. It is out there… maybe in this list of comments.

  16. July 31, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    You aren’t a boring girl in blogger clothing – you’re a fucking hero.
    Finally somebody actually said it. Thank you.

  17. July 31, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    You should wear dresses more often as you look lovely in them! It’s such a pretty dress too. I’m not a real blogger yet either and I’m fine with that. These things take time! Even if I don’t make it, I still enjoy blogging!

  18. July 31, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    I don’t see why you don’t wear dresses it looks perfectly fine on you. I think that many feel they don’t fit in I know I don’t but then why do we need to as long as we enjoy what we do.

  19. July 31, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    I guess you just wrote the truth! We all are trying to fit in somewhere and definitely, in the blogosphere (god, how pretentious this word sounds!) everything is fast and we all are questioning if we are doing well, doing enough, are respectable enough… It’s hard but we love it. I love the honesty of this post 🙂

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      August 1, 2017 / 2:04 pm

      Oh my gosh I agree, I did feel silly writing blogosphere but ‘community’ and ‘industry’ felt just as bizarre for me to write because I feel so on the outside. Like I just imagined someone reading this and thinking ‘what does she know about the industry, she isn’t a proper blogger’. You’re so right, despite the hardships blogging is a true labor of love.

  20. July 31, 2017 / 10:48 pm

    Ahh I’m so sorry that you feel this way. I felt the same when I first started out, especially at my first blogging conference, but I did go on to make some lovely friends who hold my hand when I’m lacking confidence! You look amazing by the way.

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      August 1, 2017 / 2:02 pm

      Is it something you’ve adjusted too now that you’re not a newbie? I’m just curious because I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years now and the feeling just isn’t budging haha. Would love some tips if you have any. Maybe I’m just a massive softee!

  21. August 1, 2017 / 1:46 am

    I know you say that dresses are not you but I think that you look absolutely gorgeous in your dress. Being a blogger means that we are often labelled by expectations that determine how we should and shouldn’t act. It is exhausting and sometimes we feel the pressure to conform. But we shouldn’t, being bloggers should allow us to retain our own unique voice and point of view even if it means that we lose friends along the way. You are brilliant, never forget that x

  22. August 1, 2017 / 11:22 am

    I feel exactly as you do, I feel like I do things which are seen as right in the blogging world but they aren’t always me. I visit places because they look good and I don’t always know why I do. I’m not much of a fancy dress wearing but I have to admit I do love the one you’re wearing x

  23. August 1, 2017 / 11:50 am

    I think there’s room for every type of blogger. Yes pretty clothes and beautiful brunches are lovely- but like you said they cost a lot and that lifestyle isn’t realistic to maintain. So I also love seeing real pictures. The marmite on toast and a cuppa- because that’s where I’m at right now too 😉

  24. August 1, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    This is my first time coming to your blog and let me tell you, I plan to return. As a fashion blogger, this really spoke to me and was a harsh reality check for me to remember to always stay true to me. I’m totally with you ! I can’t afford to go to these fancy brunch spots or get professional shots every day, so I’m trying To work with what I got. I feel like authenticity in the fashion Blogger world is fading. And this post is a great reminder for me to come back to. Stay true to you! Thank you!

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      August 1, 2017 / 1:58 pm

      Thanks Leah, that’s so kind of you to say. It’s mad that this blog has resonated with so many people. Blogging can really be a bit lonely can’t it? Working with what you’ve got is honestly the best attitude to have – resourceful people will always reach their goals and the rewards will be all the more sweeter.

  25. August 1, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    I think at some point, all bloggers will feel that way, especially if you’re a newbie. But we need to continue and move forward. We just have to find what we’re really passionate about. Thank you for this honest post. This is what blogging is about, to express yourself.

  26. August 1, 2017 / 5:49 pm

    I think we all feel the same from time to time! And for what it’s worth, I think you look amazing in the dress! xxx

  27. August 1, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    ive never really thought about this but then again, i prefer to show my true self rather than trying to fit in and blend in with the rest. loved this post!

  28. August 1, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    I feel the exact same way, I certainly don’t feel like I fit in and sometimes I feel that goes against me, but in reality that makes me a good blogger, I’m different to the trend.

  29. August 2, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    if you can write fantastically like this then you’re almost there thing is so wanting to be on the top when we’re not appreciating what we have achieved and done what we have so far!
    body shapes and colours help confidence in finding the outfit that you should feel comfortable in I’ve been thinking of going for a consultation for stylish clothes.

    keep up the good work 🙂

  30. Sarah Ann
    August 2, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    I think the dress looks beautiful on you but I can totally relate to how you feel because I feel entirely the same way sometimes. Recently, I’ve decided just to ‘bugger it’ and blog about the topics I want to and be the person I am. Whether I fit it or not…it doesn’t matter to me anymore.

  31. August 2, 2017 / 9:32 pm

    As long as you enjoy blogging and have fun, I wouldn’t worry about anything else. What is a “proper blogger” anyway? 🙂

  32. August 3, 2017 / 7:38 am

    Just be YOU! When I started my blog I tried to be a beauty and fashion blogger, but it wasn’t me and I wasn’t passionate about it. That’s all deleted now and I blog about my lifestyle and actual interests – natural beauty, family, healthy living, home, garden, opinions, etc. I’ve never felt more passionate about my blog and I find it so easy to write! Just be honest and write in your real voice is my advice 🙂

  33. August 3, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    That dress looks amazing on you, but I know what you mean about feeling like an imposter. I feel like that whenever I attend an event!

  34. August 4, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Oh this is my 1000000% I’ve always felt like an imposter in this community and I’ve realized this is the main reason I get so frustrated by it all. I’m going to be embracing all my not so bloggery ways from now on lol! X

  35. August 4, 2017 / 11:34 pm

    Aww, bless.The key here is that the content you blog about is enjoyable! Carry on, I am sure there are lots who will read your blog. Love the dress by the way, you rock it!

  36. Laura H
    August 5, 2017 / 4:41 am

    I always feel like this too!! I’ve been blogging for 6.5 years but I still feel like this >.<

  37. August 5, 2017 / 6:17 am

    Love this! Who knew there was a blogging community? I just do it for fun. Your dress is gorgeous! And that’s a perk of blogging right? To try things you otherwise might not??

  38. August 9, 2017 / 4:32 am

    Firstly writing an article like this needs a lot of courage. Thank you for saying it out loud what you feel. I personally feel blogging is not about fitting in, there a lot of bloggers who wear the exact same dresses, the exact same trends and end up looking like sheep. Blogging is about staying true to your style.
    Loads of love from India

  39. August 17, 2017 / 5:52 am

    I love this post! I feel like so many bloggers are unrealistic about their lifestyle and so much of it is unattainable. One of the things I always write about it is how a lot of the clothing I wear is stuff I’ve had in my closet for years and I just find fresh ways to wear it now. I try my best to make sure my blogging is authentic and not trying to be a copy of something else because, honestly, I enjoy bloggers more when I can see truth and reality in their posts.

  40. August 17, 2017 / 7:10 am

    I adore this post! You definitely don’t need to fit into that “clique” to be a real blogger. Love your content and I think this is an awesome niche market you can lead in! Just genuine, be yourself, do what you love bloggerdome!

    August 18, 2017 / 4:18 am

    I can’t make it brunches either and even if I do I feel like I can’t fake false interest in other people’s lives or fake laughters that’s usually what happens in blogger meets.

  42. August 19, 2017 / 7:35 am

    Great post. I’ve been blogging for over four years, my blog is aspirational at times, I can afford plenty of brunches…..but I still often feel like an imposter.

    Love the dress on you, you look stunning. I do get what you mean though. There’s been so many times previously that I’ve done outfit shots and thought “that’s not me”. I bet you look ace in jeans. Have a fab weekend.

  43. September 15, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    Just found your blog and fell in love. I get what you expressed and i want to tell you that i would rather see your photos wearing jeans and eating nutella on toast everyday rather than pushing you to be fake in any way! You got a new sub! ❤️

  44. September 16, 2017 / 3:19 am

    I loved this article. I started blogging couple of month ago, because I had information I needed to share )you know when people ask you something over and over much easier to just create a blog and reffer them to it. I was very confident until I started getting into bloggers society. Even that I’ve met several very valuable and totally kind and legit bloggers, You have no idea how happy I am to know that I am not alone feeling like this. And it is not that I am a looser or a blogger freak but that what I feel
    Is very common.

  45. September 16, 2017 / 11:38 am

    You are my new hero Everything you said was so true. I think a lot of us bloggers feel we have to “fit in” even though none of us are the exact same. I like writing and showing my personality in my blog post which is usually me thinking I’m funny when I’m really not

    Danielle xx

  46. October 9, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    I love this post! Thanks for sharing. This is something I can definitely identify with – as do most of my blogger pals! But you are definitely a ‘proper’ blogger and owning it.

  47. March 13, 2018 / 10:56 am

    Love this post – I embrace how I don’t fit in with it all on my blog which I think is my niche! I’m a fashion blogger from a council estate that won’t hide away from that fact, we need more reality in the blogosphere and I’m here for it! ❤️

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      March 13, 2018 / 12:31 pm

      I hear you gal!
      I researched the post because I feel like I’m in a total blogging lull. It isn’t the words that cause an issue, it’s having to take photos and pose. I flipping hate that aspect of blogging. I feel like a total phoney. I thought reposting this might reignite my ‘fuck it, I’ll do it my way’ attitude.

  48. March 13, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    I love this post – also, the dress is lovely! – but I completely understand where you’re coming from! When I first started blogging, all the bloggers in my country had been doing it for ages, could afford the crazy high-end items or to buy new makeup daily – but me? I was earning minimum wage, had a baby, just got married and there was no way I could excessively spend on makeup and beauty products. At the time, I entered loads of competitions, signed up to every reviewing platform and slowly built up my blog reviews to be included on media-lists. It’s years later now, and I can afford to keep with the Joneses but it’s not me – it’s not practical. It’s okay to be you! Embrace you! You’re more relatable that way.

  49. Kitty
    March 14, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    There’s thousands of blogs we can go to for the “it” bag and brunch snaps and whatnot, but what’s really great about bloggers who don’t fit the blogger Mould is that it’s unique and genuine and relatable and that’s way better than a daily dose of how great someone else’s life looks though a lens. And thats why I come back to your blog every time.

    Ps I had toast for 2 meals today and microwave rice for the third so….

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      March 15, 2018 / 11:42 am

      Kitty, this is the nicest blog comment ever. Thank you so much for stopping by, I really needed that pick me up.