Wednesday, 23 July 2014

BLOGGING: 5 Years of Thoughts About the Blogsphere

Blogging

During that little blog break, I did a bit of thinking (not a lot because it hurts) about the whole blogging malarkey in general. What creeped into my mind? Well, everything from wondering if it was time to call it quits on blogging, why blogging is celebrated as being such a fun and loving community when on the other hand it can be as bitchy as a playground, to the role and position of blogging within my life.

As someone who is in her late 20's, out of her depth at times in another country, a wife, now with the chores of keeping up a house, with bills to pay, things to explore and working for myself, it's hard to balance everything and run a blog - which is why for me at least, this will always be just a hobby - one of many.  Yet July rolling out marks the 5th year of this space. A space to share my experiences the good and the bad. From being a student to being a Yorkshire lass in Michigan. Over five years you start to notice things. 

Like all the drama of the last couple of months, be it people bitching about each other on certain forums to twitter. Then on the other hand people declare with glee the sense of community. Not that I want to be a Debbie Downer, but there's no balance. It just doesn't sit right - if there was a super tight community, why would we then take to shamming and tearing each other apart? Agreed not everyone does this, but we always seem to find fault with each other - love hating big or small blogs, those who undertake sponsorship, those how do or do not comment, return comments and the like.

While blog chats can be a great source for networking, sharing ideas and meeting like minded people. Sometimes they all seem to be telling you to blog a certain way - you have to be in it for the money, you have to have a fancy camera, you have to be do, this, that and never ever this. Blogging seems to be full of far too many rules, especially for what is for many, a hobby. With pretty much a three week break from blog chats, I can't say I've missed them, in fact I've grown a little cynical about them.

There's too many follows for follows, too many unfollows when you don't return the favor (especially on twitter), too many comments purely left to spam a link. Where has the sharing, the commenting, the sense of pride we have in ourselves and the wider blogsphere gone? We always seem to pit ourselves against each other - the big verses the small blogger, those who accept advertising and those who don't, the younger verses the older blogger, the hobbyist verses the professional.

Blogging shouldn't and for me won't be about blogging x amount of times a week, it's not about begging for followers to meet a milestone, undisclosed sponsored posts and the like. Don't get me wrong I love blogging, I love the friends I've made through it, I love having my space to type and share - but like I mentioned previously, blogging for me is just a hobby, like cross stitching, crochet, gardening, collecting vintage stuff.

What about you? What keeps you blogging? What are you loves and hates about the blogsphere?

40 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more. I've been blogging for just two years and the community is quite competative. I'm blogging for me and if anyone reads it that's just a bonus. I love typing away and it's what keeps me going. I have a family, an home to run. I love blogging and I'd love to form a career out of it, but this is an hobby too and I'm happy with that x

    Kate | A British Sparkle

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    1. It's certainly got a lot more competitive in the last couple of years - I guess it's only natural when the internet is getting saturated with bloggers and more and more people want to get in on money making or being a known face. I agree too - i'd love to be a more known blogger, but I don't blog to just become one, it's just part of me and my hobbies.

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  2. This is such a great post. I love blogging as a way to not only share a little bit of my life with some like-minded people but also as a way to keep a record of what's going on in my world for myself (and to store my recipes!). I like that blogging can bring people together, be an inspiration and a lot of fun. But, like you, I don't like how bitchy it can be and how elitist it can feel sometimes, especially as a small-time blogger. There shouldn't be so much pressure to conform when the best thing about blogging is seeing how different and interesting everyone is.

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    1. Agreed with you about the recipes - i've gone back many a time to double check a recipe because I've forgotten my paper version lol.

      But I agree, I wish we'd celebrate more about how different we all are, our lives and experiences rather than trying to fit each other into a certain style or manner of blogging.

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  3. Exactly this!
    I haven't been blogging for very long (nearly a whole year - high five?) and somewhere in the middle I felt myself drawn to the dark side. Not massively, just a little bit preoccupied with who was looking and when and why etc.
    I gave myself a little talking to, along the lines of this whole post actually, and you know what? It's SO much more fun when you write about the things that you love in the way that you love to write, when you genuinely connect with like minded people and when you spread a bit of love around instead of the griping and bitching and 'you must do it like this'!

    So I came out of the dark side and the thing that keeps me blogging is both of these things: writing about the good stuff and chatting to delightful people who I maybe have stuff in common with (hey there you!)

    M x Life Outside London

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    1. Yey for leaving the dark side! I think that's why so many blogs stop and start within a year. You can get so entrenched with watching stats, and poking them every day and noticing what is or what isn't happening that in the end, the stats is the only thing you focus on. Saying that I know i'm guilty of having the old stat poke every now and again but I know my stats aren't the reason why i'm blogging!

      But certainly finding those like minded people and building up those friendships and following their story is worth it all!

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  4. I completely agree. It's such a strange place and not really something I was aware of when I got started (almost a year ago now! time flies!). I just wanted a hobby, I needed a hobby and I remember on day how much fun this used to be when I was a teenager and I just thought I'd try. I'm just here for the fun, for the sharing, the witty humour and having other people to chat to about my interests. I'm not here for the money (what money?!), followers or any of the other things I *should* be here for.

    I agree with the chats. I just feel a little too tired for them. It's hard to find a good conversation in between the constand bombarding of rules and expectations. I think I said something in a previous chat about success, something like "success is making myself happy and giving myself somewhere to share with others and just have fun", then someone says "that's a good way of putting it", huh?! that's the only way of putting it. What else would I be here for...

    Cynical, a little. But while I'm still having fun and there are still people to facepalm to in the chats I might continue to stalk them :)

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    1. Eh money? That's never come why way either. To be honest I think, at least for me if money was getting involved it would change the way I was writing to fit someone else's exceptions. I certainly don't remember blogging being this playground like at the beginning, it's certainly being a recent ish thing in the last couple of years - I guess it's a reflection of how popular it is and it gets all pushy shovey.

      Sometimes it feels like blogging for fun is like a no go - like why would you just wanna blog for fun?!

      I'm glad i'm not the only cynical one - I thought it was starting to reflect my age!

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    2. I should also learn to reread my replies before posting them. Excuse my terrible spelling!

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  5. Very interesting post - I've been thinking about a lot of these things too, worrying that my blog doesn't fit, that I don't post enough etc. I've actually gone off most of the big blog chats lately as they often feel too competitive. But actually I started blogging for fun and that's when I enjoy it - not worrying about all the other stuff! Thanks for reminding me of this! :)

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    1. You're very welcome! Sometimes it's so hard to keep up with blog chats because they move so fast - which doesn't help with the questions and structure, perhaps that's why they seem to get a little catty, that and topics seem to be increasing geared to blogging being something professional rather than just a hobby.

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  6. Absolutely! You've nailed it. Fantastic post!
    There seems to be a lot of bitching and rules that comes with blogging. The truth is I blog for my love of writing and the enjoyment that comes from documenting my life and thoughts, whatever that may be. The community can be great when it isn't backstabbing, begging for follows and telling each other the do's and don'ts of blogging. It can be ridiculously competitive especially concerning beauty and fashion bloggers but I'm pleased to say I haven't really experienced too much of that with my wee blog. It's absolutely fantastic to "meet" lots of like-minded people. I'm lucky enough to have made some awesome friends in my year and a bit blogging too which is always nice too!
    Debi x

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    1. I got told in a chat once, what was the point of having an online blog if you're just documenting your life when you might as well just keep a journal .... sigh. It's like a never ending battle to prove yourself sometimes. I'm not sure why or how this mindset started!

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    2. What?! That's the stupidest thing ever. Do people not realise how much effort it takes to write a journal, have they seen my handwriting?! There's no point recording a memory I can't read one week later... Plus where would I put all my photos, I'm not going to pay to have them printed because I'm cheap like that.

      Recording our life together was my sole reason for starting. I guess these people have a life of beuaty reviews and making mood boards. phfft, people.

      (Totally stalking the comment right now)

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    3. Same - the small things and the large things. Actually having it online keeps me blogging, I'm sure I would have given up with a journal by now, plus m handwriting is like spider sprawl and yeah, photographs never get developed with me either!

      Sad to say it was a beauty blogger that said that too ...

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    4. Absolutely! Plus with writing a journal you can't quickly backspace and delete something. Instead you end up with a page full of scribbled out words or (ugh!) tipex. No thank you! Plus, as Kerry says, where would we put our photos? They're far too expensive to be printing out all the time although I think I'll have to do a wee bit of that with my wedding photos - if there are any nice ones!
      It's fun to have a blog to document my life as well as have a cheeky little snoop into yours and other people's ;)
      Debi x

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  7. I really liked this post and thought it was very thought provoking. I think the concept of blogging is interesting and always have done. Even though I've been through a handful of blogs in my time, I always like having a space to call my own. I do however try and blog three times a week, purely because I like to be consistent, but I don't force my posts and I don't check stats. The main reason I wanted to write a comment on this post was about the Twitter chat you mentioned. I used to partake in them but then I stopped because I couldn't believe the two-faced remarks from some bloggers. I actually participated in a chat for the first time in months on Sunday and at the end I expressed that I would check out everyones blogs if they sent me a link. I commented on over 30 blogs , with actual thoughtful comments rather than "great post, check out my blog" and it took me a couple of hours. Only one commented person commented back and I think that says a lot. On the whole I really like blogging for myself, but I'm in a love-hate relationship with the community.

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    1. It's def a love hate relationship with me too - especially with the chats which seem to bring out the worst in people at times. Shame about all your commenting - that shows something doesn't it. I've stopped sending out my links in chats I will be honest, they don't seem to gain me any followers and there's nothing worse then asking for them and getting a tonne of generic "here's my link" tweets in reply. I took part in a chat - the first in three weeks, and after doing all this thinking and having this time away from them, it was hard to get back into the flow because it all seemed so silly in the grand old scheme of things.

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  8. I totally agree with you. For me blogging is just a hobby too and it's not necessarily just about sharing with others, but also my personal space where I can write about the things I do, I love or sometimes hate. I love taking notes about the books I read, the films I watch, the recipes I try, but my blog offers me a great place to keep them all together and to save some trees - my paper notes always get lost anyway. I have days when I randomly reread my own blog posts and I love doing that. It's so nice to remind myself of an old recipe I forgot about or to just look at the pictures from a simple walk in the park a couple of years ago.

    I stopped participating to the chats too. I might still join one from time to time, because some are fun and that's how I discovered many blogs that I follow now (including yours). But I got bored with the "blogging rules". Why can't we all just blog how we want? I am also bored about the big blogs drama. I don't think someone is a "bad person" just because they have a big blog and get some opportunities because of it. I am also bored with some "small blogs" begging for followers because they want to become a big blog and get freebies and other things. I prefer bloggers that blog for themselves, if they get some money out of it it's okay, if not, that's okay too!

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    1. Oh I love looking back on old blog posts too - I was tidying up old posts a couple of months ago (something that I need to finish - ya know killing old links and photographs that no longer loaded) and it's great to look back and see what was going on. It's weird because you read things and you see where you've come in life and it's so strange at times.

      The whole big verses small blogger is a bug bear of mine - first because when does someone really become "big" and this whole notion that big bloggers don't do this (say comment etc) and smaller bloggers always do - when it effects bloggers of all sizes and styles.

      Sadly I think a lot of it comes down to jealously which is a shame. I'm all for bloggers blogging for themselves, writing about what they love rather than what they think their audience might want to read. Even if I don't necessarily like everything they enjoy but they are keeping it real for themselves which is a biggie for me.

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    2. Ha, I should check my old posts too. I hate when photographs die like that and it bugs.

      It's probably jealousy. I am pretty sure that "big bloggers" comment too, if they get thousands of comments they'll probably not reply to all but that's because they have a life (and blog posts to write). Sometimes people should just take a step back and try to understand the person before judging.

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    3. And sometimes some comments are had to reply to - especially if they are short and I find that even with my own blog so I can't imagine how hard it is to keep up with comments and tweets if you have thousands of followers and a load of interactions daily.

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  9. Great post. I have been thinking such similar things lately and I have been becoming a little disillusioned with blogging. I love writing and taking photos but it really is just a hobby. I am a wife and a mother and love cooking and arts and crafts amongst so many other things. Right now I am lucky because I have the time to blog on maternity leave, but once I go back to my 60 hour working week I really don't know how I will possibly find the time to blog or make videos because any free time I have will be spent with my baby girl and family and friends. x

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    1. Blog breaks help me a lot when I become super disillusioned although sometimes I wonder one day if I have a break i'll never come back. It's hard to juggle life and blogging - even though I work from home and I'm easily tempted to blog I do try and write in bulk on a Sunday, just to get it all sorted and done for the week before. Scheduling for me is a big helper, but like you say, family and enjoying life always comes first.

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  10. I appreciate your honest thoughts here. I'm relatively new to blogging, and so far I've mostly found people being warm and positive and welcoming, although maybe those are the sorts of people I'm more likely to become "blogging friends" with anyways. I'm sorry that you've experienced some of the darker sides, but happy you've continued regardless. Blogging should be fun, first and foremost!

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

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    1. Ah they creep in every now and again in blog chats, but I don't often let them phase me too often, twitter doesn't help at times.

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  11. I just started doing the chats and I noticed this one girl who drops her link every five minutes. That was a bit annoying (okay, a lot annoying...) I love to comment on people's blogs, and I do leave my link but I always try and leave a thoughtful comment, not just "great post!" And I never ask them to check my blog out, I just leave it there and let them decide if they want to click it or not. :) What keeps ME blogging is that I love it! I love writing, I love commenting, I love making outfits and photographing stuff. It's so much fun. What I like most about blogging is all the people I've met, sooo many nice people and way more friends then I thought I'd ever make! :)

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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    1. Yeah agreed on that being annoying - it's okay dropping your links at the end but constantly throughout - that seems more of an excuse for link dropping then chatting. See I like how you leave your link - sometimes I see comments that have more characters in all the links they are leaving that the actual comment - haha maybe i'm just annoyed by silly things lol.

      Blogging has certainly been a great way for me to make friends - especially with moving countries and finding out who my "real" friends were after I moved. It's nice to have the regular posters and people on twitter just to go to for a chat.

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  12. When I first started out I participated in blog chats on twitter and thought they were a great way to get to know people, I've since stopped, and admittedly don't even use twitter that much! I hate all these blog rules people set out, what happened to just blog to blog?

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    1. It feels like we can't, or even shouldn't be happy just blogging - that we need to be in it for a load of stats, or followers, or money or things.

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  13. I'm with you on that one! For me, it's a hobby too. I started it when I came to the States simply to keep me a little busy. Yes, I enjoy it and yes I want my page view numbers to grow but if they don't, I'm really not that bothered. Like I said, it's a hobby, I enjoy writing and that's what I get to do. I don't have any demands on how many posts I do a week, if I miss a week that's all fine by me! I just blog to blog!

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    1. I try and do 3 posts a week - while I achieve it most weeks, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I won't be loosing sleep over it that's for sure! It's so true though, if my writing, or my adventures or whatever else gets people reading and enjoying what I type out about my life that's great!

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  14. I am so glad I have stumbled across this post (and your blog). I started my blog over a year ago and after three months stopped (because i didn't really know what I was doing) and then started it again at the beginning of this year. I love it but I have sometimes felt myself being drawn into the dark side with monitoring stats and the like and getting worried other blogs are getting more followers than me. It's stupid. I blog to document my life, I tried keeping a journal and it didn't work, so a blog is a wonderful alternative, especially as it is a way to focus my love of photography. I have come across some wonderful people because of blogging and as soon I stopped getting caught up in the competitive side of things it all became a lot more enjoyable. Yes it is nice to have new readers but I don't obsess over it anymore. Happy blogging! :)

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    1. Even i'll admit to still poking my stats - about i've noticed since my break i've certainly been looking less and less. One of the reasons I fist started to blog was to have a space to put my photographs (although many of them have since become dead links for whatever reason) and writing about random things and it was great that for whatever reason people started commenting and following along.

      This competitive side certainly wasn't around back five years ago, or perhaps because twitter wasn't a big thing there wasn't the chat and there wasn't this whole blogging space like there is now. Blogging wasn't really a cool thing in those days and without all that pressure I really loved it. I think if I was starting a blog now, and reading all the "advice" in chats, this space would be very different.

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  15. Such a great post to really make us think, and reassess, why we blog! I don't have a fancy camera or cute kiddos to blog about, but I've found blogging to be really great to keep family up to date on our day-to-day activities. Since we don't live by our family, sometimes the little treasures of life get lost in the moments of catching up... the point of my blog is to (hopefully) stay connected a little better and share those quieter moments of life.

    SO happy to have found your blog :) :) I am from Michigan, and love reading other blogs from the area!

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    1. The pressure i've felt at times about not having a fancy camera really gets to me at times - I know it shouldn't and my camera does what I want it to do and I can work it rather well on manual, but the constant stream of need this and have to get that gets draining after a while!

      Glad to meet a Michigander!

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  16. I've been blogging on and off for over 5 years, I took a big break around the time that I got married and for about a year after, and when I came back to it I was shocked at how much things had changed. Lots of new people doing it just for free stuff, review after review about things that seem totally at odds with their about page and the way they try to portray themselves, self promotion spamming on social media, and the desperate pleas for more followers. Don't get me wrong, I love blogging, creating things and writing about my thoughts, sharing my life, and I do put links to some posts on instagram and twitter, and I love getting comments and new followers but this whole follow for follow thing is odd, what if I don't like your blog and you don't like mine... why would we follow each other?! I blog for me first and foremost, it gives me motivation to get off my butt and do the things I want to do, develop recipes, try new crafts, improve my photography, talk about things that I have no where else to say them. I've been to a few blogger meetups recently because i wanted to meet other bloggers, and it was lovely to meet new people, but I found it hard to write about, especially with the expectation that we had to review the goody bags. I'm not saying I wouldn't go to one again, but I'll chose more carefully and I think I'd rather pay to go and be free to just enjoy it rather than worry about what i was going to say. After all this is a hobby not a job.

    Gosh sorry about the long comment, but your post struck a chord with me, It was great to see someone else writing something with similar views. x

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    1. No sorrys for long comments needed here!

      It amazes me a little that people start blogs just for free things. I'm sure if that was me i'd either get bored or surely not enjoy it half as much. I often find sponsored posts often seem a little forced and with a constant stream of them upon a blog, it's hard to read and find a bloggers voice and personality because it's so geared to selling a product.

      Even five years in comments and getting new followers still excites me - it lets me know my blogs heading in the right direction and the like, the thrill is still there. I'm just happy so many people enjoy reading my rambles!

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  17. I've done my current blog for a little over 5 years now. I had a previous blog that I did for a couple of years before that. My first attempt at a blog was my version of political commentary and I got burnt out. Not so much because I didn't enjoy politics but because I am tired of the current state of politics. It seems that it's become a game of us and them and not we. So I started to use a blog to showcase my photography. I don't follow any sort of rules because it is a hobby for me (expensive at times) and I don't really pay attention to the advice of people when it comes to camera equipment.
    Yes, having a fancy camera helps when it comes to photography but you still have to know what you are doing behind the camera. A fancy camera isn't going to help you with composition, subject matter, etc. It just means that if you are aware of those things, you are more likely to get a nicer picture. If you are clueless about those things, it doesn't matter what kind of camera you have...your picture will suck.
    Anyway, keep at it. I do enjoy reading your blog.

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  18. Great post! I've stopped taking part in blog chats lately as they do seem to be full of people saying 'do this, do that'... also, the blogging world is so cliquey sometimes! x

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