The Evolution of Blogging
I started blogging in November 2008, almost ten years ago. That's an entire decade of writing and sharing photographs on the internet. Back then, the blogging world was a very different place.
When I began my first blog, Kisses & Cross Stitches, I was obsessed with the Swedish bloggers that I had recently discovered. I loved to admire their photographs and read about their day to day lives, daydreaming about a life in the Swedish countryside and taking inspiration from how they dressed. I loved vintage shoes and dresses, always worn with white tights, and wished that I could get away with dying my hair white. Sandra Beijer was my heroine, Susie Lau wrote my bible and The Cherry Blossom Girl clogged up my desktop with all of her photos that I saved.
This was pre-Instagram and pre-Pinterest. Rather than pinning my favourite images, I would save them on my computer and share inspiration blog posts themed around specific subjects or highlighting a photographer that I loved. I would read blogs every day, post on my own a couple of times a week, and comment on almost everything I read. Likewise, I received dozens of comments on my own blog posts. I made friends on the other side of the world, in Australia and America. I'd delight over the beautiful photographs (often shot on film) that other bloggers posted, and I loved reading about other people's daily lives.
Many of the blogs that I used to obsessively read are now gone or are very infrequently updated. Capture the Castle, Discotheque Confusion, Daydream Lily, The Snail & the Cyclops, Young Shields, Hannah & Landon, Ringo Have a Banana, La Mignonette, A Minute Away from Snowing, So Much to Tell You ... these are the ones that I remember, but there were many, many more. It feels strange to have nostalgia for something that is so relatively recent, but I miss those good old days of blogging.
There was nothing editorial about blogging back then. Half of the blogs that I loved would share their own photos and the others were like mine, sharing day-to-day musings accompanied by beautiful photography that we had discovered via other blogs or Flickr. There was no hoo-ha about copyright - we were simply curating the images that inspired us and sharing them with our own audience. I'd credit each image and link back to the photographer's website. It was basically Pinterest, before Pinterest was a twinkle in a developer's eye.
Nowadays, blogging has hit the mainstream and every girl who wants her five minutes of fame seems to have a blog. The blogging world is no longer a space to inspire others, a place to share the work of your fellow creatives or somewhere where you can make friends online - it's evolved into a competitive environment where people make money. Back in the day, the only way that we made a profit was by hosting banners on our sidebars for brands that we loved that were early adapters. Now, affiliate marketing and sponsored posts have gone viral.
Yes, there are plenty of bloggers out there who still blog in the old way that I love. Tania is one of them, sharing beautiful photos of her day-to-day life alongside more content-focused posts. And yes, there is definitely still a community. People still read and comment on blog posts, especially other bloggers. But the reading and commenting has definitely declined - the general public seem to prefer a quick scroll through Instagram to actually investing in reading a blog post.
It seems as if people's tastes have shifted over the years. Back when I started blogging, when it was a relatively small community, we all seemed to be interested in the same things. Everyone loved Sofia Coppola films, Lina Scheynius's photography, Carven's debut collection, film photography, Chanel handbags and Jeffrey Campbell's Lita shoes. There was a hazy, dreamlike feel to the photography and we all loved to reiterate that 'dreamy' aesthetic through our words. These common interests gave us something to chat about, and most of us blogged about what ever topic was interesting to us that day. There weren't really separate worlds of fashion bloggers, interiors bloggers, lifestyle bloggers and so on.
Fast forward ten years and the majority of popular blogs are like pages from a glossy magazine. Designer clothes, jet set press trips, minuscule outfits and trips to Coachella. There are a handful of bloggers that I absolutely love, who have their own distinct aesthetic and share genuinely interesting content that I can't wait to read - but truth be told, I've mostly fallen out of love with the blogging world. I'm sick of the homogenized content that basically equates to 'look at me and what I'm wearing' with very little substance. There just aren't that many people writing about things that I'm interested in.
The other issue, probably the main one for me, is that nothing is realistic. I know that I can't afford those clothes or those trips, and I guess that most of the readers of these popular blogs can't either. Bloggers have changed from being people who were inspirational to people who are more like celebrities. They are the new It girls, rather than people that you can relate to. I have my own little community of bloggers and Instagrammers who I consider friends and whose content inspires me, and there are a few 'super' bloggers that I can definitely relate to, but for the most part, I might as well be watching The Hills.
Blogging has changed, but we have the power to continue to change it. We can share outfits that are affordable and easy to replicate, talk about trips to realistic destinations where we don't stay in luxury hotels, and talk about things that spark conversation. We don't have to share editorial content every time we blog; we can share little glimpses into our daily lives and the things that inspire us. We can make blogging fun again.
Photos of me by Dave Rowe