The Road To The Beauty Blog Awards
For this weeks blog post I'm going to tell you about The Beauty Blog Awards and what life has been like since I've started to grow my profile as a social media influencer. I still feel a little weird referring to myself in those terms but if I've learned anything in the last two weeks, it's that I really do have a following online and people really are invested in my life.
This all really began in 2015 when I got a part-time job in Brown Thomas. I started posting pictures on Instagram of the outfits I was wearing to work and by early 2016 my following had grown from around 300 to 3000. In the summer of 2016, I started writing Man About Town in what used to be the Chronicle (now The Leader) and things really took off from there. I started getting more modelling work and big brands started contacting me wanting to work with me. Last year I started judging heats of Miss Ireland and I won Model Of The Year at the Hi Style Awards.
Throughout all this period I really hated when people would refer to me as a ‘Blogger' or an ‘Influencer'. In my mind, I was neither of these things. I wrote a newspaper article, not a blog and I felt there was a stigma attached to these terms in that if you attached yourself to either of these terms you were guilty of buying into the hype and you could be accused of having those dreaded notions.
Earlier this year I arrived at a major crossroads in my life. My father Sean, who was my best friend and my inspiration, passed away somewhat suddenly. In the weeks that followed, I took a break from writing Man About Town and stopped posting on Social Media. I considered not going back to either of these things as my heart hadn't been in it for a while and now that it was broken I felt that I couldn't justify the time and effort.
When my mother passed away in 2013 I wrote a eulogy for my sister to deliver at the funeral. She was struggling to compose something that captured how she felt so I offered to help her. She described her feelings to me and I then put those feelings into words that she could connect with. I take no credit for this as these were her words and her feelings, I simply wrote them down for her and she did an amazing job bringing those words to life. We did agree at this time that whenever the day arrived that someone would have to deliver a eulogy for our father that it would be me taking to the podium.
Sadly, that day arrived much sooner than we'd have ever hoped or expected but when it did I poured my heart into what I wrote and even though it was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do, I felt that I did my Dad proud. In the weeks that followed I received dozens of messages, emails and hand-written letters from people who'd been at the funeral telling me how my words had moved them. This, along with the support of my family and close friends was what inspired me to go back to writing and posting, only now I felt that I needed to take things up a level so I launched a website and started writing blogs about everything from washing clothes to dating to dealing with grief and rejection.
My mojo returned in a way and I guess because I was writing from the heart instead of telling people what to wear and what not to wear, more and more people started to take notice of what I was saying. So technically I became a blogger but I still daren't call myself an Influencer.
About a month ago a received word that I'd been nominated for The Beauty Blog Awards as Best Male Influencer and The Blog Awards Ireland for Best Lifestyle Blog. Now the latter hasn't happened yet and they are judged rather than voted on so I'm still cautiously optimistic that I have a chance there but the Beauty Blog Awards were voted on in an online poll that was whittled down from a long list to a short list to a list of finalists. When I made the long list I was very pleased with myself as I was in the company of names like James Patrice, James Kavanagh and Darren Kennedy but that's as far as I expected it to go because as I've mentioned a time or two, I've never allowed myself to think that I belong in that conversation. I did ask people to vote for me but I was genuinely shocked when I was included in the shortlist. I continued to canvas for votes online and people that I knew (and some that I didn't know) started to campaign for me and ask their followers to vote for me. Some even made my voting link the link on their homepage. With this support, I made the list of finalists, which I'd never have dreamed possible. More and more people started following me and more and more started to champion my cause.
The Beauty Blog Awards took place last Thursday night and Dublin and the winner of Best Male Influencer was Patrick... Mungovan. Not McLoughney. I didn't win.
In all honesty, I was extremely disappointed that I didn't win. Not because I thought I would win or that I deserved to win, more that I felt that I had let down all the people that had gotten behind me and supported me and had made it their goal to help me succeed. I still feel that way even though I know that not one of the people who helped me or supported me or voted for me would say that I let them down.
In the days that have passed I've had a chance to reflect and while I'm still a little disappointed, I can now see all of the positives to be taken from these recent events. In the weeks leading up to the Beauty Blog Awards I was a special guest at the relaunch of Shaw's Department Store in The Crescent where I met the beautiful Holly Carpenter for the first time, I was a guest at the Miss Ireland Finals and I was a VIP guest at the Littlewoods AW18 season launch sitting from row with Pippa O'Connor and Lisa Jordan. I'm still very hesitant to refer to myself as an Influencer as I don't want to start getting carried away with myself but what I have learned in the last few weeks is that there's a big difference between having followers and having a following.
Anyone can start a social media account and put up pictures of their bum or their abs and get likes. Anyone can have followers; you can buy them and be really popular in Sao Paulo. But it takes a lot more than that to have a following, for that you need to sit at a laptop and write a blog, edit a blog, edit a YouTube video or run a YouTube channel etc. and people need to be invested in you. It takes work but the support I've felt in the last few weeks and especially the last few days has shown that it's all worth it. Again, to all the people who've supported me and helped me, I'm sorry I couldn't get this one over the line but I won't give up. As Jordan Belfort famously said in the Wolf Of Wall St... "I'm not f**king leaving..... the show goes on". Thank you.