Women are the leaders in the blogging industry, this is a fact. But what about boys? Why is there such a little number of male bloggers in Ireland, writing the things they wish to talk about?
The blogging industry is blooming nowadays, because youth likes popularity, and many bloggers really have great ideas and act as inspiration for fellow young people. Blogging and vlogging is mainstream now, and famous bloggers are almost equal to actors and singers.
For example, Suzanne Jackson, who runs the blog So Sue Me, is selling her own nail polishes in many stores and pharmacies around the country. A British blogger and vlogger Zoella has published her own book and has a wide collection of accessories for cosmetics. A beauty blogger Tanya Burr has recently showed up on the cover of Glamour magazine.
Closer to home, blogs such as that of former model Pippa O’Connor have resulted in sold-out pop-up shopsall over Ireland, while Roz Purcell’s food site Natural Born Feeder has led to a book deal for the ubiquitous glamourpuss.
Those are just the big guns, the names that almost everyone under 40 will have heard of. There are also legions of smaller blogs trying to capture the imaginations of twentysomethings, mummies, lifestyle junkies and make-up addicts — with hundreds of women blogging in an effort to make a living, or at least conduct a glamorous lifestyle. Money is generated through sponsored posts, collaborations and so-called click-throughs from photo-posts of new outfits, and there are lots of Irish women earning both an income and style kudos through social media.
But where are all the men? There appears to be a dearth of boy bloggers in Ireland. Of those that exist, many have now diversified their careers to the point where their blog is no longer the day job.
Music writer Nialler9’s website is still a must-visit but it has morphed into a more conventional media outlet, while its founder, Niall Byrne, broadcasts on TXFM radio and DJs at corporate events.
Darren Kennedy started out with helpmystyle.ie and he is now an international stylist and television presenter with his own line of suits made in collaboration with Louis Copeland. Donal Skehan’s food blog, meanwhile, has manifested into books and television shows in Ireland, Britain and America, and he is now a vlogger for Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel. But scratch the surface and you will find a whole new layer of wannabe bloggerati in Ireland patiently toiling away and hoping to fill the shoes of their predecessors, who have now stepped towards the relative security of the “establishment”.
Jamie Tuohy, 21, started blogging more than five years ago when he moved from Co Clare to Dublin to attend Trinity College. “Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was a vanity project on a platform that a naive, young me saw as being very en vogue at the time,” Tuohy says.
“Consequently, it was a god-awful mishmash of absolutely everything, with posts that varied from fashion and celebrity to opinion and theatre reviews. It was hilariously undefined, but it did become a space for me to write about whatever I liked. Eventually I found my niche and settled on writing about pop culture, and people seemed to like it.”
Tuohy is an MPhil student at Trinity College and believes that his blog offers him an outlet. He also contributes to high-profile Irish websites and his college newspaper. “My days are spent thinking about theatre in a very academic sense and my writing centres around serious topics, so it’s nice to be able to unwind and write a list such as reasons why Twink and Linda Martin would be gas on a night out.”
Tuohy is fairly certain he knows why there are fewer male bloggers than female ones. “The most successful blogs in Ireland are undoubtedly fashion and beauty-oriented, and women nearly always write these,” he says. “I think it’s simply a case of supply and demand: the main readers of blogs are young girls, so female bloggers are canny enough to capitalise on that appetite for exclusively female content, such as daily outfit posts or hair and make-up tutorials.”
Tuohy reckons men may be more reluctant to blog because they see it as a largely feminine pursuit. “Perhaps in Ireland, men see blogging as a totally feminised field. They could be afraid that they’d be compromising on their masculinity, which is ridiculous.”
James Butler, 26, agrees with Tuohy. The Trinity College graduate from Malahide, Dublin, was a fashion contributor at MFI magazine when he started his own blog, Jus de James, and he is now one of a handful of Irish men committed to blogging in a similar way to his female peers.
“I suppose some Irish men have been that little bit behind when it comes to acquainting themselves with their personal style,” says Butler. “But I think the whole idea of self-promotion is something that can be tricky in Ireland for both men and women. I guess it all comes back to the idea of having ‘notions’ about oneself and the begrudgery that can create.”
Butler also describes himself as an actor and presenter, and says his blog has led to broader opportunities. “Jus de James came about from my friends nagging at me to start my own blog, considering I was posting my outfits daily on Instagram. It was a way of expressing my own personal style and interests. But it’s led to a regular styling slot on Ireland AM and has helped boost my profile in terms of fashion writing and TV appearances,” he says.
“Social media, of course, plays a huge part, too. The likes of Snapchat and Instagram allow you to be present even if you can’t blog as regularly as you’d like.”
Social media is a key tool in any blogger’s arsenal, so much so that some are even bypassing the traditional blog or YouTube channel in favour of only using social networking platforms.
James Kavanagh, 26, works in PR by day but in his spare time he is JamesKava, a Snapchat superstar. The format means that the short videos in his “story” expire after 24 hours, but it keeps his content fresh. “When Snapchat arrived a few years ago, I hated it. I didn’t see the point in posting content that just disappeared,” he says. “But a few months ago it seemed to have a renaissance so I gave in and signed up. Now I love that content disappears — that keeps me motivated to stay entertaining.
“If someone recommends me to a friend as someone to follow, they don’t have an archive to look back on. I’m met with JamesKava virgins every day — I’ve got to show them I’m worth it.”
Kavanagh has even set up a Facebook page containing his favourite Snapchat video, to lure the curious into following him on the app. His content is mostly humour-based but also chronicles his life as a guy about town in Dublin.
He parodies other bloggers with faux-tutorials, frightens his boyfriend, William, for laughs and also gives his own hot takes on life as a twentysomething. Kavanagh eschewed a traditional blog because “Snapchat is just really easy to manage. And I’m a bit lazy so it’s easier than a website. I also love interacting with people”.
The people he is talking about range from teenage girls to women in their thirties, judging by the replies Kavanagh receives. However, his aim is to raise his own personal profile rather than to profit from being an online star. “My dream is to open a cafe with William, so if I manage to garner a bigger audience and then retain it, I can get them to all come into the cafe and buy our food,” he says.
When it comes to blogging, Kavanagh sees that a change is happening among men, albeit slowly. “As Irish men grow to care more about their appearance and are into self-improvement, we’re seeing a rise in male bloggers, and that’s great. But I think there aren’t enough readers yet to monetise a male-focused blog to the same extent as a female one.”
Timi Ogunyemi also has a large female audience on his site, iamtimi.com. “Whatever that means, I’ll take it,” he says, laughing. Born in Lagos, Ogunyemimoved to Ireland in 2002 and now lives with his girlfriend, Karli, in Dublin.
“I’m currently playing with photography so my blog revolves mostly around the beauty that is in the mundane of everyday Dublin, and also a good bit of fashion and lifestyle,” he says. “There’s also a lot on what’s fun and happening in Dublin, from new street art to new places to eat and drink. I wouldn’t ever tell anyone what to wear or what to do, but I do like to share some of my eccentricities with anyone brave enough to read them.”
Ogunyemi agrees that female bloggers are more dominant in cyberspace and says this is perhaps because many male bloggers refuse to self-promote or step into the spotlight in the first place.
“People think about fashion and beauty when they think about bloggers. They don’t think that a blogger could write about movies, music, aviation . . . basically anything,” Ogunyemi says. “So while there actually are a large number of male bloggers in Ireland, they may not be so prominent or they may not even be thought of as bloggers.
“Also a lot of women in Ireland actually use information from other female bloggers to inform their buying decisions, whereas quite a few male bloggers I know don’t even show their faces in their blogs. Female bloggers have also always supported each other too. There are communities of female bloggers who meet up regularly. I’m setting one up for guys at the moment.”
Louise O’Reilly is a well-established Irish blogger and her site, Style Me Curvy, has even received international acclaim. “To have a blog it’s imperative to choose topics you’re passionate about because the man-hours that go into it are more than you would expect,” she says.
“I find in the blogosphere there are lot of male cooking blogs, sports and photography blogs, but it appears that there is huge disparity within the fashion sector. It’s not just in Ireland this applies, it’s similar in most countries. I often get asked by publicists in the US and UK to recommend good male bloggers.”
Blogger Leanne Woodfull of Thunder & Threads says there is a gap in the market for men who want to blog about style. “Unfortunately I think there’s still an odd stigma surrounding not only blogging but male blogging. I think men are apprehensive to start off, as they’re small fish in a gigantic pond and they’re scared of what others will think, since fashion is generally associated with women,” she says.
“I also think the comparative lack of clothing choices for men on the high street and online can put them off starting a fashion blog as they feel there’s a poor selection anyway. I do think it’s changing, though, and Ireland has seen a handful of male bloggers come to the forefront this year. Hopefully more guys are encouraged to start as there’s a huge gap in the industry.”
So while male lifestyle blogging is on the up, it’s still vastly in the minority. Yet if current trends continue, we might begin to see more and more men starting fashion, grooming and travel blogs, and eventually more PRs seeking to benefit from their target audiences.
For Tuohy, it poses no problem that women are dominating the blogosphere. “Fair play to them. Men already unfairly dominate enough industries, so if blogging is one area where men are scarce, then I’m happy for women to take the lead.”