Here we go.
One of my goals for this year is to blog.
Ever since blogging became a thing (2008 maybe? 2009??), I have privately thought about scribbling stuff down and publishing words on my own little slice of internet. Over the years I have bought and then wastefully let expire numerous domain names, spent hours crafting perfect page layouts, designing signature logos, over analysing menu / widget positioning, plotting ‘my niche’ and ‘personal style’ for about half a dozen blogs that never got a sniff of a first post. Because all these initial ideas inevitably were gobbled up by the self-doubt monster and I’d drop everything in fear of being laughed at for contemplating I could ever run a blog.
Now, I’m thinking enough.
I’m older, a bit less prone to insecure wobbles, and if I don’t just fucking do it I never will.
I prodded my feelings as to why I feel compelled to write. I’m pretty sure my intentions aren’t vanity related, I genuinely don’t care if anybody reads this outside my close friends and family. Which instantly squashes concerns about facing the very real reality of producing something shit. It will be a massive achievement on its own if I manage to keep up a consistent posting momentum.
My current job offers me the opportunity to sometimes write small content pieces for a couple of websites, which is an aspect I really quite like, and I end up asking myself why I’m not writing for me seeing as I get a kick out of penning boring corporate blogs.
The answer always is I dunno, followed by a tiny pang of regret that I don’t write for myself, that I’m not taking the time to do something that clearly makes me happy (which is a bit nuts? ‘Cos YOLO and all that). So I’m rolling with it. No niche, no personal style and no fancy pants design stuff to begin with. This might be the only thing I’ll get out, but who knows?
The first blog I got into is City Girl (known back in the day as City Girl’s Fashion Box). The creator, Sarah, was someone I knew from drama classes at the local theatre. I think she started blogging to compliment her fashion-related degree and would post links to her site on Facebook. I can recall my teenage self thinking “wow this is like reading a magazine, BUT online!” (oh my tiny naive brain) and would eagerly wait for a new post to feature on her status each week.
I was fascinated by her life.
What she bought, where she was planning to go on holiday, what she bought for that holiday, the actual holiday snaps, I was just ready to know her thoughts and opinions on everything that mattered and was interesting to her. Which now I’m typing it out sounds like I had an unhealthy obsession with Sarah, I promise I didn’t….much. Stalker jokes aside, this first exposure to what blogging can be was a huge eye-opener, which eventually led me to discover more blogs, and not just those of the fashion / lifestyle variety. I found funny ones, sad ones, feminist ones, ones I loved to hate, DIY Craft-type ones and a bunch of others in between.
Throughout my marketing degree, internships and first big-girl job I’ve looked even deeper into the bloggersphere. I figured out pretty quick which of my then favourite bloggers were genuine (usually a rich mixture of post topics, written from passion, strong sense of identity) and which weren’t (same types of post dressed up with different pictures, robotic sentences and endless product reviews that every other blogger on their peer level was pushing for PR purposes). But now it’s not purely the content that I appreciate, since I’ve delved into the marketing world of all things web I enjoy looking at blog layouts, ease of site navigation, tone of voice, overall branding aesthetics and a bag of other digital bits. The planning side to blogging also appeals to me, I can honestly say that until I started managing the company blogs I thought post subjects and timings were pretty much pulled out of thin air on a please-yourself whim.
Just in case clarification is needed, they’re not.
Like a mini military operation, serious blogging requires; editorial calendars, idea pools, automatic scheduling, a zillion drafts and re-drafts, analysing data from previous posts and hours picking apart market-related forums to identify the correct topics to write about. This is a process I desperately cling to at work for my paltry contribution of material available on the internet, whether the zeal to keep myself that organised will transfer over to my personal blog is another matter all together.
I’ve also come to understand the best blogs are forever evolving and the majority start out as a less slick version of themselves. That when you come across a brilliantly designed blog with fabulous content and a witty rhythm of words, its creator has most likely worked bloody hard on refining every tiny little detail the end reader could possibly come across, usually by trial and error means and if they’re self teaching the ropes whilst going along it takes even longer to curate a strong site.
It does give me a bit of a boost knowing that I don’t have to have a firm direction for my own blog yet, I don’t even really have a name, just cobbled this together based on my Twitter handle. But I think it will be OK if I just ‘do’ and then all the fluffy surface will come in time.
These are a handful of blogs I check on the reg for different reasons –
City Girl : They say you never forget your first love… in this case blog. Every post is wonderfully written, relevant to my stage of life and stunningly beautiful.
PoppyD.com & Left Bank Manc* : Because their individual writing styles burst with personality, they have funny / smart things to say and I am admittedly nosey interested in their lives.
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A GIRL & Nesha Woolery : I keep going back to because A) these ladies are a huge resource of freelancing information B) they are living my eventual dream of working for myself C) their sites are pretty.
Dallas Shaw : Basically who I want to be when I grow up, I’ve been tracking her career since I was in 6th form and she recently followed me on twitter… no biggie (!!!)
I use Feedly on my work desktop and have the app on my phone, as it gathers the RSS feeds of blogs/sites I follow and puts them all in one place so I’m not forever bouncing over the internet checking to see if a new post is up. I can be pretty throwaway with organisation apps, vowing to religiously use them on one day but then getting bored and deleting them the next. However Feedly has stuck and I couldn’t be without it now.
*Left Bank Manc : start from the beginning September 2010 – and work your way forwards, you won’t be disappointed I promise.