How Blogging Has Changed

“I miss blogging” I write in a blog post, on a blog that I’ve now written for over two years.

What I mean when I say this is that I miss the time when blogging was new(ish) and fun and you pretty much knew every other blogger like you would the people in your street., your next door neighbour or the guy at the local shop who you by your weekly rations of wine and savoury snacks from. You would see these girls at regular meet ups, you’d RT each other’s posts, comment religiously, text, chat, share content ideas, teach one another tricks of the techy trade but slowly and surely the pool of bloggers has filled more and more and is at risk of being filled by the bloggers of a new generation.

I’ve seen a few posts recently about how much blogging has changed, mainly from friends of my “old timers club” who reference two years ago as the “good old days” or “back in my day”.  Their posts have addressed the bug bears with blogging as it is today and despite feeling the icey grips temptation to quit the “blogging life” they continue to blog because they love it and it’s their creative outlet. Some people knit, we blog.

Where once upon a time you’d be merited based on your posts, your style of prose, originality of posts and pure wit and entertainment value, this day and age finds you wading through advice posts to find posts worthy of reading.  Posts telling you how to be original, how to gain more readers, how often to blog, how to how to how to.  I even saw one with the title… “Want to know my blogging secrets?” and I couldn’t help but guffaw at the fact that these secrets weren’t intact secrets if shared with the whole of  World Wide Web.

But why so many advice posts?  Easy: they’re good for traffic because everyone is absolutely desperate to find out HOW TO BE THE BEST.  

Unlike when I began blogging all those years ago, running a blog now is so much more than than just writing.  Granted, the running of a “successful blog” (how is successful defined?) looks good on the CV because you look like a multitasking robot goddess hero but the strains put on bloggers to maintain blogs nowadays is a full time job. Trying to understand the most complex of SEO algorithms that even the biggest SEO boffins can’t understand along with getting to grips with DA, PA, PR, Alexa Ranking, bounce rate, page views, how much to charge for sponsored posts, disclosure rules from ASA, no follow, do follow links and deadlines can be exhausting and all of that is ON TOP of editing photos, making your images big, sharp, bright, original and coming out with quality content that will make people on social media click and engage.

It can be demoralising when you’re trying to do your own thang and exist amongst a sea of girls who are doing the exact same thing as you and as much as you try to avoid the competitiveness of blogging and try tojust  ENJOY it and share in the successes of fellow bloggers, you can sometimes find yourself becoming victim to jealously and comparison.

You’re made to feel under pressure because your PR, DA, PA and the rest of the acronyms aren’t as up to scratch as another blogger who has the luxury of working a part time job and still lives with parents when you’re out of the house ten hours a day and can only take photographs at the weekend, and that’s IF it’s sunny. You find yourself wondering why you weren’t picked to work with brands you already have established relationships with.  You’re encouraged to post more, charge more, engage more, be more social, Pin, Stumble. It’s exhausting.

Ultimately you’re all fighting for the same bite of the same cherry and exchanging PR email addresses like they’re Pokemon cards (although it’s frowned upon) has become normal.  There’s now in between companies who promise to connect bloggers with brands if they do X, Y and Z, a million different Twitter chats using a million different hashtags (whatever happened to just using #bbloggers, #psbloggers, #fbloggers and #lbloggers) and this obsession for PR samples and opportunities is turning people into materialistic crazies who would sell their own nan to be on the distribution list for the latest Benefit mascara.

Instead of forging friendships with like minded bloggers I began to notice that people were purposely engaging and establishing friendships with the foundations based on readers, followers and subscribers rather than common interests.

“She has less followers than I do, why would I want to collaborate with her?”

It truly hit me just how calculating bloggers could be when, follow the demise of a “blogger friendship” I began to receive ping back notifications on my WordPress dashboard from a particular blog to inform me that my name and blog link had been removed from each post I had been mentioned in. Instead of “I spent the day with Charl *insert link blog to my link here*” it was replaced with “I spent the day with a blogger friend”. This coming from the same blogger who once made a point of messaging me to specifically ask me to link her blog in a post where I had mentioned her.  But this wasn’t just petty and immature “we’re not friends so I’m going to delete you from my phone” behaviour, this move stank of “if we’re not friends any more, I’m not going to give your blog any back links”. Did I return the pettiness? No, because I’d rather search for gifs of Taylor Swift on the Internet or watch paint dry than be so petty as to trawl my post history to make such amendments.

There’s definitely an art to blogging now, and it’s not just down to great content, amazing photos or TLC of crafting a blog that is representative of you. It’s down to being business minded, not being afraid to step on others, interject opportunities and piggy back on other peoples successes.  It’s all a numbers game.

It’s certainly gotten me down in the past and I’ve even considered stopping blogging entirely because I just don’t have that killer streak in me that wants to “one up” other people all the time.  Based on the number of other posts or tweets that I’ve read echoing these thoughts, it’s clear that it’s a common feeling amongst bloggers who’ve noticed this shift or change in blogging.  I even think that if I were to enter the blogging world as it is today, I’d stumble at the first hurdle and be trampled on by a stampede of success thirsty girls who smack of guru wannabe-itis.

But I don’t want to be Zoella, I don’t want to be Tanya Burr. I want to Charl.  Does that make me an aspirational failure or does it make me one of the many girls who blog purely because it’s cooler than knitting and not as energetic as running?  I blog because I enjoy writing and I like to have my own little part of the Internet.  I never wanted to work in SEO or receive snotty emails from a PR because my views aren’t as good as such and suches and my DA is 1 off their required number.  If through that I receive opportunities to work with brands that I love and to collaborate and to review the latest nail polish come up than that’s the cherry on the already amazing cake.

I find that when I put myself under pressure my creativity suffers and thus my blog suffers so it’s a massive Catch 22 situation.  

I’m going to begin approaching blogging with a pinch of chill the f*ck out juice, a dash of “just let it be” and a massive dollop of enjoy yourself.  

  • Wow I can’t believe someone would go to all that trouble to take your back links off! Insane.

  • I definitely think that blogging in general has become a lot less friendly over the years. The market now is extremely competitive, and the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to just keep up is insane. I think some people need to chill the f out – it’s dreadful when those you thought were ‘friends’ start cutting you off as you’re no longer useful to them (I am amazed at that girl and your back links!!) x

  • I recently finally started a blog after years of not getting round to it and I’ve been surprised at how strategic it seems to be! There do seem to be lots of people telling newbies what they should be doing, and I think if you were doing it for the wrong reason (immediate success rather than enjoyment then it would be overwhelming).

    But I just want my little corner of the internet where I can say my piece and reflect on my life.

    Here’s my thoughts on the experience so far, if you’re interested.
    https://thistattandtheother.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/my-blogging-experience-so-far/

  • Hayley Walker

    YES THIS SO MUCH. I am tired of the back stabbing, bitchy, lets drag another blogger down-ness. I feel so much pressure to join the 123098 chats a week and be constantly online – I forget most of these are young girls who are at uni or work part time, it’s just not attainable for me working 40 hours a week and living alone.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love being ‘good’ at blogging, but sometimes I feel like jacking it all in as it’s not worth receiving snide remarks from other bloggers or being put down. There is a specific group who are on the hunt to drag all and sundry down at the moment and that is not the community I remember.

    Hayley @ Tea Party Beauty

  • *Slow clap for this post*

    YES <3
    xxx

  • Sophie Neal

    I feel this post so much. SO MUCH.
    I know what you mean about missing blogging – it used to feel so easy and innocent. Although I have a successful blog, I feel like I’ve got there by being me, not anything I’m pretending to be. That’s how it should be! I’m so bored of seeing ‘how to blog’ posts, and had to stop myself when I felt like I should post one. For me, blogging is something I do and I enjoy it but I fall in and out of love with it when people feel the need to pull other people down and think they’re better. Comparison is the thief of joy! xx

    sophieetc.com

  • Catherine Lux

    I’ve been blogging for nearly 4 years now and totally get this whole post! I work in SEO and previously worked in PR, and I’ve seen both sides. I’ve had a few snotty emails from PRs when I was a newbie who straight up told me I wasn’t good enough, but then I’ve also had awful emails from bloggers. One of them isn’t even a ‘big’ blogger, but we offered her a very generous sponsor fee and she just replied with ‘not interested’ – no thanks for getting in touch or anything, just a plain ‘not interested’ – needless to say I haven’t contacted her again, even when we’ve had even bigger and better clients/budget that her blog would fit in well with.

    C x | Lux Life

  • Just going to delete any links I’ve ever made to you (jokes).

    Love this and it’s all so on point! Especially from a fellow ‘hobby blogger’ who works a full time job and then has to try and pull amazing photos out of her arse at weekends!

    Naomi

    Diamondsnpearls.co.uk

  • Elyse

    Thank You!
    I’ve had numerous blogs since 2009 and I would feel completely inadequate and just run away, but each year I’d come back again thinking maybe it would be different this time. It’s taken me quite a long time to realize that you can just be who you are and not worry too much about what other people are doing. What’s the point in making it a race against followers? It becomes cliquey like high school, but on a worldwide basis.

    Karma’s a B**** it’ll come back to bite people who think they’re better than someone else (at least that’s what I think…)

    http://www.thethingislemons.wordpress.com

  • LOVE THIS! I started blogging in 2008, completely different world back then – love how you describe it. I recently began a new site and blog and its crazy how different things are now just trying to gain traffic – I literally stopped blogging so I could figure out what was my purpose in it all. Truth is I know how to make a killer post, but I am not going to drive myself crazy over it. I am not going to treat it like its a second job. Oh well. I am going to hopefully connect with people that are truly interested in connecting, work with companies that I really like and adore or want to promote because they are tiny and people need to know about them, and share the truth. The rest of that crap is for the birds. Guess I am just not a full-time blogger. Oh well :) haha

  • Uju Asika

    Really enjoyed this post and I love your last line – especially the massive dollop of ‘enjoy yourself’ because that’s what it’s all about eh? If you’re not enjoying yourself, you can almost guarantee your readers aren’t either! I think there are still loads of good, genuine, decent people out there who blog and aren’t obsessed with the numbers and being all things to all PRs. It is easy to get swept away by the tidal wave of blogging requests, opportunities, changes etc, but it’s also fine to take a step back and focus on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Building a place that you love on the Internet and finding your own way to connect with people who share your passions. Everything else is gravy x

  • German Girl in London

    Thank you so much for your wonderfully written post. You ‘speak’ out of my mind. I have exactly the same situation, when I worry too much about traffic, more followers and DA etc. my creativity suffers. I am not the biggest writer, but I love writing. I love to connect with other bloggers and when I had a horrible time at the beginning of the year, my social network supported me where my friends in real life were too busy or couldn’t understand me. That itself is worth more to me than the money and ‘freebies’ I get out of blogging.

    Nadine x

    http://www.germangirlinlondon.co.uk

  • ha what a brilliant post. I find it hard to put into words, without getting a bit irate, how I feel about blogging now – I was just reading Kat’s post a minute ago (tales of a pale face) about how there isn’t a community anymore and there really isn’t. Maybe with some of the older time bloggers yes but LOADS have completely lost site of where and how they started and to think that someone who you thought was a friend has done that to you I think is really quite sad. I know removing a link might seem trivial to someone who doesn’t ‘know’ blogging but I for one would take it quite personally and I think I would find it hard to rise above and not say something about it directly to him/her.

    People want to be Zoella and Tanya Burr because they seem to make money doing something they apparently love. I just see it as a bunch of people controlled like puppets by a huge management company that only has one thing on their minds – making money. I despise how their ‘fan girls’ act, I think it’s pathetic and it’s absolutely nothing to do with ‘jealousy’ because to be quite frank I would rather shit in my hands and clap than act like a dickhead in a desperate attempt to be relatable to 13 year olds.

    – Was that really harsh? Maybe. But seriously, I love who I am, I know people probably don’t like me sometimes but so what, I can deal with not being liked, at least I can go to bed at night and know that I am 100% me 100% of the time on social media and on my blog

    Jade x
    Girl Up North | UK Lifestyle Blog

  • I’ve been doing some form of “blogging” since probably 2004. It’s changed so much. There are some things I like about blogging now, but you’re right about so much. I feel like so many bloggers are completely numbers driven. Being driven by number of hits and number of followers can really put a damper on the quality of writing. It’s sad. There are so many well written blogs with only a handful of followers and then there are blogs who post nothing but sponsor posts and linkups with thousands of followers.

    It can be disheartening, but it all comes down to just doing what you love and not sacrificing your own content just to be more “blog famous.”

    Great post!

  • This is absolutely wonderful and I know how you feel too. I’m a very much aprt time blogger but have still seen all of these changes running through and have even started panicking and comparing myself to other people.

    Recently I just thought fuck it though, this isn’t a numbers game or a popularity contest. If people like me then winner, if they don’t then I’m still enjoying myself by writing.

  • Krista McGarvie

    Absolutely love this post, you have a new fan and follower here! I am just about to enter the world of blogging as a natural progression from running online communities and advising and writing….. I’m brand new to the world and it can be daunting. Bloggers like you reassure me that this is what I want to do because I want to do it and have passion, not for any other reason :)

  • I could not agree more girl. When you do something for so so so long out of pure passion and love for the written word it does anger me seeing all these young girls just wanting to make money/get free stuff.
    But it’s those people that seem to get the recognition when there’s people like us, who’ve been doing it for years just plod on by.
    I suppose when we first started, I started about 4 1/2 years ago – blogging wasn’t on many peoples radar. It wasn’t “cool” then and now it’s just catapulted out the stratosphere with interest, but sadly (but also not all!) it’s for the wrong reasons.
    It was so good to meet you yesterday. You literally had me LOLING all day!
    Bee | QueenBeady.com xxx