I Do Not Live In London

A question from Formspring:

Do you ever feel that your business is more difficult not living in London?

Other than “I am not a shop”, the phrase I use most often on a day-to-day basis is “I do not live in London”.

OK, actually it’s not: the phrase I use MOST often is, “Rubin, get out of the bathroom and stop licking the toilet seat!” But “I do not live in London,” is definitely in high rotation, and that’s because every week I get dozens of invitations to events in London, all sent by well-meaning people (most of whom work in public relations) who are absolutely astonished to learn that I don’t actually live in The City That Is the Centre of the World.

I’ve never really understood this. Sure, if I was running a magazine, say, I could understand the assumption that I must be based in London: most of the traditional media in this country IS based in London, after all. The whole point of blogging, though, is that it’s completely democratic: pretty much anyone, anywhere, can set up a blog, even those of us living “all the way up there in Scotland!” Does a non-London location make it harder to make a living out of blogging, though? Hmmm.

I think there are two ways of looking at this one. Personally, no, I don’t find that my location makes it more difficult to run my blogging business. What I don’t know is how much easier it would be if I WAS based in London. Undoubtedly, it would make a difference: I’d be able to accept all of those invitations, for one thing, which would possibly open the door to opportunities I just don’t know about right now. I’d be able to “network”. To “make connections” with people who could perhaps help my business in a variety of different ways. I’d be able to attend all of the press days and launches and fashion shows and oh, all kinds of other things. Here’s the thing, though:

I don’t want to.

It’s nothing personal, London. You’re a fascinating city, and I love to visit you from time to time. But the whole “attending events/networking/making important business connections” thing? It’s not for me. I know that will seem really strange to a lot of people, but the truth is, I’m a bit of a homebody at heart. I’m neither a mover nor a shaker, and the phrase “working the room” is enough to send chills down my spine. I’m shy. I’m a bit socially inept. I don’t enjoy making smalltalk with strangers, being schmoozed by PRs or answering the question, “So, what do you do?” over and over again. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things: they’re just not for me, and when I set up this business, I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a super-busy career woman, because I had long-since realised the error of that particular “ambition”. I did it so that I could hopefully make a reasonably good living doing something I enjoyed. Turns out that what I enjoy most is just writing, and being free to do that all day, without all of the associated other things that would be expected of me if I didn’t have my handy, “Whoops, I’d love to come to your [insert event here], but I can’t because I don’t live in London,” excuse at the ready.

Yeah, I’m pretty anti-social.

I’m not totally convinced that living somewhere else would make that much of a difference anyway, though. Sometimes, for instance, I think that being a bit of an outsider (which is what inevitably happens when you’re based a few hundred miles away from most of the rest of your industry) isn’t necessarily a bad thing for my blogs. It gives me a certain degree of freedom in terms of what I write, and how I write it, and I like that. I also like the lifestyle it allows me to have: I’ve spent a lot of time working in stressful jobs which made me utterly miserable, and now I really value the slower pace of life I get from not being right at the very centre of things all the time.  The only people who have expectations of me are my readers, and that’s no bad thing.

I wouldn’t change things, is what I think I’m trying to say here, although I WOULD change my location if I could. Just not to London…

P.S. If you want to ask a question, either leave it in the comments, type it into the box in the sidebar, or visit Formspring here.

Hi, I'm Amber. I'm a full-time fashion/shoe blogger from the UK, and this is the story of my life, my clothes, and the International Man of Mystery Next Door. You can read more from me at my other blogs, The Fashion Police and Shoeperwoman, and you can follow me on Bloglovin' here.

15 Comments

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    Louis Anthony Woodbine

    Enjoyed your thoughts very much… can’t agree with you more… Great blog… Lou
    .-= Louis Anthony Woodbine´s last blog ..Raspberries… =-.

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    Alex

    You’re one of my blogging heroines because you’ve worked out how to run a successful business without having to do all the schmoozey stuff that I don’t enjoy. I do presentations and events and stuff, and I like talking to the people who support us, but I cringe at salesy-type networking because, really, I’m not enjoying it. I don’t like being sold to, so I can’t sell.

    Also, “Personally, no, I don’t find that my location makes it more difficult to ruin my blogging business.” made me laugh because it is EXACTLY the kind of typo I would have made. :)

    You are far from ruined – you’re an inspiration!
    .-= Alex´s last blog ..Dogs Trust at the 1st Annual JustGiving Awards =-.

    • Reply February 24, 2010

      Amber

      Oh Lordy, how humiliating – I honestly checked this post about four times before I hit publish and STILL I make stupid mistakes! Aaargh!

      “I cringe at salesy-type networking because, really, I’m not enjoying it. I don’t like being sold to, so I can’t sell.”

      This is exactly how I feel: I don’t know, maybe if I was a bit younger I’d be more up for it, but I just don’t have the energy for those kind of events. It feels like I’m constantly having to put on an act (Perky! Dynamic! Other buzzwords!), and I find it all a bit of a strain. I just always wanted to be able to earn a living without having to do all of that stuff, and I must admit, living here gives me the perfect excuse! I read a lot of fashion and beauty blogs in particular (I don’t know if other industries are different), and it’s all “Went to this event, went to that event, tomorrow night is the X party and then after that the press day for Y brand,” and I feel exhausted just to read about it, and not in the least bit envious of those people, because I know I wouldn’t really enjoy that lifestyle. (And I always wonder how they manage to run their sites while attending so many events? It takes me all my time just to create content and do all of the admin stuff!)

      And thank you for your “inspiration” comment, by the way – that means a lot :)

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    lila

    amen to that sister

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    Karen

    “the phrase “working the room” is enough to send chills down my spine. I’m shy. I’m a bit socially inept. I don’t enjoy making smalltalk with strangers, being schmoozed by PRs or answering the question, “So, what do you do?” over and over again.”

    I could not agree more! I work in an office, and even occasional work gatherings for happy hour, or anything involving mingling with people I already spend too much time with makes me cringe. I hate it, and I’m just not good at it, which is probably why I hate it.

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    Amy

    As another homebody, I’d love to find a way to work from home. Networking and trying to sell one’s self is so tedious. Some of my friends have suggested finding a smaller business that would mean fewer interactions with people – but I’ve found the fewer employees, the more catty and personal people get in a work situation. It sounds like you have a nearly perfect work life – and I do enjoy reading the blogs that are a product of that!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Three Unrelated Videos that Make me Smile =-.

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    Rock Hyrax

    Unless you’re rich, living in London means fitting into a microscopic flat near the centre, or living 1-2 hours’ travel time away from the events those invitations are for. So living far from London not only gives you a good excuse to keep away from those desperate “networking” functions, but you also avoid the squishing into ever more crowded buses, tubes and trains.

    Working from home means you get control over your environment, the lack of which I think causes most tension in offices. And in your case you get to share your workplace with a dog! :-)

  • Reply February 24, 2010

    Nikki G

    Hurray for the homebodies! I am the worst at schmoozing and networking so I totally understand how you would not want to have to deal with that all the time. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blogs, and I am so envious of you. To be able to work from home, on my own terms – that would be ideal. However, I am stuck dealing with the public and having to kiss butt on a daily basis. :-(

  • Reply February 25, 2010

    Becky

    I feel your pain. I run an online women’s mag and invited to events on a regular basis. Upon hearing that I don’t live in London and am infact ‘only’ Somerset based you can almost hear the PR’s groan lol. I recently went to London for a few days to do some reviews etc and that was exhausting enough. Like some of the others who have commented and yourself, I choose to work from home and avoid all of the networking, parties and such as It’s just not the sort of person I am (I’m far too antisocial and would rather be curled up at home in my jammies with a good book or a bit of Jack Bauer on TV lol) so take comfort in the fact that it’s not just you who gets these emails! In fairness to the people who send them out, it’s an easy mistake to make that these days if you’re running a blog that is even marginally popular you’d be London based or nearby but I think that eventually more and more people will learn that you don’t HAVE to live a ‘high flying’ London lifestyle to run your own blog, website or business these days. xx

    • Reply February 25, 2010

      Amber

      I think sometimes they choose to err on the side of caution: I bet there are loads of people who’d complain if they WEREN’T invited, and be all “How dare you leave me out just because I’m not based in London!”, so the PRs probably feel like they can’t win. I should probably have clarified that it doesn’t annoy me to receive these invitations (it’s flattering to me to be invited anywhere, to be honest!) – the people who send them are just doing their jobs. I just don’t neccessarily agree that it’s a reasonable assumption that a successful blog must be written by a Londoner :)

  • Reply February 25, 2010

    Beth

    I think your blogs are inevitably made better by not living in London. No PR schmoozing = no obligation to anyone = freedom to right whatever the heck you like.

    As a reader, I’ve got to say, I really like that. I don’t want to read someone arse-kissing whichever brand. There are plenty of blogs and You Tubers who do that and a fresh, unbiased angle is so much nicer to read.

    Screw London, thats what I say. Although I do only live half an hour away from it and have to go there a bit for work.. :)
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – #1 =-.

  • Reply February 25, 2010

    Shoes not blues

    I actually think that the fact that you’re not part of that high-flying schmoozing-boozing fashion crowd in London makes your blogs far more interesting too read. As a matter of fact, a lot of bloggers that I used to follow have grown stale and uninteresting precisely because most of their blogs have turned into “Went to this event, went to that event, tomorrow night is the X party and then after that the press day for Y brand,” as you so succintly put it. That kind of blogging is booooooring. I want to read about clothes not somebody’s fairly monotonous working/ social life.

  • Reply February 27, 2010

    siany

    Oh no! I actually asked you the question about London! It wasn’t meant to cause offense (although I probably *do* think that London is the centre of the world sometimes). I asked because I was curious, not because I think your business is any worse off from not being in London. I’ve always wondered whether or not if things changes and I had to go home and move back in with my parents, would I still be able to run Domestic Sluttery from North Wales. Would I miss out on not doing the networking and shmoozing thing? That’s worked pretty well for me, I’m not sure how well I’d work without it.

    I certainly don’t think your websites suffer from not being London-based. You know I think they’re great. I was more curious about if you thought there were any drawbacks yourself. I hope you weren’t offended by yet another Londoner thinking that their little city was the centre of the internet :-)

    • Reply February 28, 2010

      Amber

      Oh God, no, I didn’t take it like that at all! I actually thought it was a really interesting question, and it’s something I’ve occasionally wondered about myself, which is why I decided to answer it here: it’s probably something that other non-London based bloggers wonder about too. I didn’t know who asked it, but I totally got that it was being asked out of genuine interest – am really sorry if the answer came across badly! The “city at the centre of the world” thing wasn’t supposed to be a dig at the person who asked the question either (it really didn’t sound like you thought that!), it’s just something a lot of the people I know who don’t live there tend to think about London. Sometimes the media does tend to present it is as if it’s the only city in the UK, and if you don’t live there, you can sometimes feel a little bit “forgotten”. Obviously there’s a very good reason for that (more people live in London than live in the whole of Scotland, for instance), but it’s really just a general feeling people (or some people) have from time to time, not something that was meant to indicate offence :)

      • Reply February 28, 2010

        siany

        Heh. So neither of us are offended by the other :-)
        .-= siany´s last blog ..Sunday by Cassia Beck =-.

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