WHERE I’M AT WITH BLOGGING

THE BLOGGING CLUB

Unbelievably I’m now in my eighth year of blogging, but I won’t bore you with the story of how it all started as I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It’s strange though to think back to my “What I Heart Today” days and how much things have changed since then. I’ll forever be grateful to those that encouraged me to start blogging in 2010 when no one else really was, and to myself for finally finding something I enjoyed and wanted to focus on. It was another world then; the Internet was still a bit scary and unknown, Twitter seemed like the most bizarre platform and the term ‘blogging’ was an alien concept to most.

Finding other like-minded people during those first two years was one of the most exciting times for me. It felt like we were part of a secret club, The Blogging Club, and we shared so much together. We taught each other how to work better, how to get the most out of our platforms and without realising it we taught the PR industry how to incorporate us into their world. We were so inexperienced and so unsure, but our personality types bonded us together. A group of independent, creative, self-motivated, business-savvy, forward-thinking young women who just knew we were onto something. It didn’t matter that our friends and family thought we had this weird side hobby, because we had each other to chat to online and to stand with awkwardly at events (when we were secretly freaking out inside).

The first five years were for trial and error and learning from our mistakes. There was no rule book, no one to look up to or follow, we just had to figure it out ourselves and we all made mistakes that felt like the end of the world (until the next post or video went live).

The transition from hobby to full-time job was intense because I personally felt I had so much to prove. I wanted friends and family to see blogging as a “proper job”, I wanted my new management to feel proud to have me on their roster and I wanted my viewers to feel like I was giving them more than I had been previously. Back then a blog post announcing that you’d quit your job to take on blogging full-time wasn’t received with encouragement and well wishes, it was like you’d announced that you’d murdered someone. People were scared of what would change and for some reason disappointed, it was all just a bit unknown. Quitting a job that you’d worked for years to get is terrifying, especially when you don’t even know yourself if the risk is worth taking.
Full-time blogging meant I needed to step up my game, I needed to prove myself to everyone. And so, began the intense self-employed years and oh man was I a strict boss! I’d be at my desk at 8.30am, lunch would be eaten one handed whilst editing a video with the other and I’d break for dinner before continuing work on the sofa whilst Rich watched TV in the evenings. There were daily blog posts, three videos a week, endless to-do lists, events every night, press trips – I think at one point I had content planned 5/6 months ahead. It was an amazing time where I genuinely felt like I was winning at life! I was quite swept up in it all and definitely had moments of feeling overwhelmed, but I was (and still am) aware of how amazing those years were and the incredible opportunities that came my way.


THE SECRET WAS OUT

I feel like 2016 was the year when blogging became mainstream. You could walk down the street vlogging and people wouldn’t be so shocked, or you could tell someone you’re a blogger and they wouldn’t say “a what?!”. I felt proud that our little industry that we all worked so hard to shape was getting recognition and I genuinely felt excited about all the new people joining the community. I’ve always felt like “the more the merrier”; everyone is unique and the bigger our industry becomes the more opportunities there will be to go around.

I did however start to feel different about my content and the way I work, probably just because I was growing up. I was only 22 when I started blogging and I’m now 30 – so much changes during those years! I started to feel like it was important to be more in the moment and that taking photos should capture a memory instead of being the reason for being there in the first place. Evenings and weekends with friends and family became more important to me and getting to know other bloggers wasn’t just about getting a selfie, not sharing the meet up actually made the friendship feel more authentic.

WHERE IT’S AT NOW

The world of blogging has changed every six months since I started, and we’ve had to constantly adapt. If I still had a CV I think it would be 10 pages long and double-sided by now. But in the last year I’ve seen the most change and for the first time I feel a bit like an outsider in an industry that felt so small before. I always said there’s room for everyone, and I want to believe there is, but there’s no denying how much harder it is to stand out now compared to in the early days. I’ve always said, make content that you love and that you’d want to read/watch/listen to and I think that’s more relevant now than ever before.

There are so many platforms it’s tricky to be good at everything; blogging, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Podcasts (and whatever else has come and gone along the way). Maybe now it’s more about focusing on the platforms that work best for you and bring you the most enjoyment?

It seems it’s no longer about proving you’re a one-man-band who can do everything but more about focusing on doing less, but better content. And when I say “better” I don’t mean fancy, swooping shots filmed on an expensive camera, I mean better suited to you and your audience. There is so much content online, too much maybe, that as viewers we have become more thoughtful about what we watch, what we read and how we spend our time on online. We used to watch every last video in our subscription box and like every photo on our Instagram feed, but as social media has become such a huge part of our lives we’re all more aware of how much time we spend consuming content online and are constantly trying to find a balance.

FINDING MY PLACE

So how has my focus shifted? Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed but, in the past, my two “main” platforms were always YouTube and my blog, with all my social channels just supporting them. But Instagram has become so much more than just a social platform, it’s editorial and it allows you to create in such an instant and engaging way. So much of what I do is about engagement and reading comments and messages from you guys is what stops me feeling lonely in this line of work. I think that’s what’s made me drift slightly from blogging, as much as I love it, often it can feel like you’re talking to no one.

I feel constant guilt over my lack of blogging because it’s my baby, the one that started it all but making it fit into my content routine always feels like a struggle. The quality of blogs has sky rocketed and I’ve found myself at a loss of what feels right to me. Booking in a weekly photographer to take multiple outfit photos in one day doesn’t feel right for me and I end up with an abundance of photos and nothing relevant to write alongside them. Snapping natural photos when I’m out and about never seems to happen either, maybe it’s the lack of photography friends or that need to be present in the moment, who knows. Gone are the days of taking flat lay photos of lipsticks, writing your thoughts and pressing “publish” and honestly, I’ve never really found my place since.

So… excuses aside, because really, I don’t have any that make sense. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to do with my blog and I’m not making any new re-branded promises. The new design is simply to make reading the content easier with just a very simple look, no frills. I want my blog to go back to being more of a hobby like it was before it became something I had to do, when it was something I wanted to do instead. I want this to be the platform where I don’t need or want to check the analytics, where I don’t have to worry about how good my writing is or what time people are most likely to read a post.

I’m always intrigued/nervous/excited to see how this industry will change and I think what’s important is to be open to it. I’m not stuck in a certain routine, I’m happy to give new things a go and I think that flexibility is key. So, let’s see what the second half of 2018 brings and as always I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Blog design by Smukkeberg.

Photos by Lydia Collins.

 

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