One of my freelance roles involves advising brands about bloggers and helping them make connections with them, so you'll often find me snooping about on Twitter looking for general trends, feelings and chatter in the blogosphere. Not that the Twitter-using bloggers are not representative of all lifestyle, fashion, beauty, fitness, book, food (etc, etc) bloggers in the UK, but it's a great place to get involved in the blogging community and seeing what's what. It's also really interesting to look at the blogging goals and objectives for the coming year that bloggers are posting around this time, and I've read many posts of this ilk over the past few weeks. I distinctly remember last year that most people were prioritising wanting to work with more brands and go to brand events as their main goals, and interestingly this year I've seen more bloggers putting emphasis on wanting to connect with other bloggers and make friends. I've heard several bloggers say things like "Thank god for blogging, as how else do you make friends as an adult?", and that through blogging they've found their closest friends. There truly is a fantastic community of bloggers in the UK, and more bloggers than ever are organising nationwide meetups and social events for fellow bloggers, plus there's an abundance of weekly Twitter chats for some online networking.
Every now and then I'll see a blogger tweet that they wish they were part of a blogging crew, or making half-jokes about feeling like an outsider. The blogging industry is growing and developing all the time in the UK, and as much as it excites me from a business perspective that the commercial side is taking off and becoming more regulated, it doesn't surprise me that in another way it's all coming back to the desire to build connections with others. Yet even in a thriving community it's easy to feel like an outsider. Just like in any situation where groups of people are put together or come together, be it school, community groups, or the workplace, it's human nature to want to feel part of the group, and it's also natural for cliques to form and for certain people to be the most popular. Cliques have a bad rep for being formed of people who see themselves as superior, but in sociological studies it's thought that cliques are often formed not through feelings of superiority, but through low self-esteem; people who are feeling insecure in a certain situation look for others who feel the same way and they stick together, then use the strength of the group to build their self-esteem. This makes sense when you think of how daunting it can be for a blogger to arrive at an event alone, or to start joining online chats when everyone else seems to know each other. Of course they're going to seek out people feeling the same way and form friendships and collectives this way. This doesn't mean that cliques are necessarily a bad thing, they're just humans socially organising themselves, but when you're not in a clique you might feel left out.
If you're a new blogger, or a blogger who has just started joining in Twitter chats, I'd say try not to see the blogger friendship groups that exist as cliques, but rather as friendly collectives you just don't know that well yet. Of course there are groups that are so tight now you're not going to be able to rock up to their Sunday brunches or be invited to their cocktail nights and Whatsapp chats just like that, but don't feel like this excludes you from the whole blogging community. Of course people who have been blogging longer are going to have established blogger friends, but they started out in the same way and had to go through the process of joining Twitter chats, attending meetups and events, and shyly introducing themselves before hoping to god someone chatted with them. If you remember that (in sociological terms) a lot of these friendship groups formed through feelings of insecurity it might help alleviate some of your concerns, rather than telling yourself you're an outsider destined never to have a blogger posse. As with any friendship, it's best not to force it, I've had some false starts with blogger friendships myself, and if you join in as much as possible (but stay relaxed about it all), genuine ones will form eventually. If you find other bloggers who feel the same way as you, start connecting with them and make your own group. Not only will you have a genuine bond, and the fun that only us bloggers know how to have (am I right?) that you could end up being the blogger squad that people wan to join. In the meantime, join collectives like Girl Gang that encourage positivity and making connections, find a meetup in your area (e.g. London bloggers yours is here) and get chatting on Twitter (here's the weekly chat calendar). It really is a generally warm and positive community, one of the best things about being a UK blogger at the moment, so hopefully you won't feel like an outsider for long.