I think we can all agree that blogging has changed a lot over the past few years. Mostly, that’s a good thing. But I do occasionally miss the days of balancing your camera on a stack of books in your bedroom to take a photo of your latest charity shop purchase.
I’ve had this blog for around seven years, and had several other blog incarnations before that dating back to around 2004. If you’ve been blogging as long as I have, you’ll no doubt relate to a few of these.
You probably started out on Neopets
Yes, there were ‘pets’ you were supposed to look after but honestly, who actually cared about that? Neopets was all about the games, the guilds and making your user lookup look all fancy. Seriously, all the HTML and CSS skills I have today came from Neopets. Getting published in the Neopian Times for writing a sassy article about how to make your user lookup less ugly was probably the highlight of my life.
Geocities, Angelfire, Xanga and Tripod were a thing
Once you were confident that you were now an HTML expert (probably thanks to looking up tutorials on Lissa Explains it All), you no doubt started your own site. Mine was on Geocities, and I have a distinct memory of a classmate asking me for the URL so she could go home and sign the guestbook that evening. The site was probably filled with blinkies and pixel dolls. Remember those? OH GOD.
Then you progressed to message boards
I can’t actually remember the names of any message boards I was a member of, but they all had names like Oh Lovely MB or Destiny MB. They were mostly filled with American people, so you’d get super excited when you came across anyone from the UK – and if you found anyone Scottish you’d add them to MSN immediately.
You begged your parents for a self-hosted site
Getting your own domain name was a big deal. And also quite embarrassing because you had to explain to your confused parents that it was named after song lyrics. The main point of self-hosted sites circa 2005-ish was to change the layout as often as possible, update your blog daily with extremely exciting news about what had happened at school, and have cool hostees who would always comment on your posts.
Livejournal was everything
Around 2007 or so, you probably spent most of your internet time on Livejournal. As well as writing angsty journal entries on your own profile (friends only, comment to be added obvs), you’d also spend hours scrolling through your favourite communities. If you’re a female UK blogger who started blogging around 2009/2010, I can say with almost 100% certainty you were part of The High Street and OFF_HS.
You remember when blogging was a small community
Once you left Livejournal and tried to make it on your own (hosted on Blogger of course, unless you were one of the rare few who used Typepad) you would see the same people commenting on your posts again and again, and you would return the favour. This was before social media was really a big thing, so the only way to chat to your favourite blogger was to leave a comment on their blog. At that point there were really two levels of bloggers – super big inspiring fashion bloggers like Sea of Shoes or Style Bubble, and everyone else (aka ordinary girls like you sharing their Topshop and Primark outfits).
Your blog posts were pretty terrible
All your photos would be taken on a point and shoot camera, and you’d attempt to get your whole body in the frame by balancing the camera on a stack of objects as you didn’t have a tripod. Your posts would sometimes just be a couple of sentences long, and no doubt the title would be song lyrics or a pop culture reference. SEO wasn’t even a thought that crossed your mind, and the majority of your posts were pretty pointless – but somehow people loved them.
Your first press sample was a big deal
I distinctly remember the first thing I got sent to review on my blog – a pair of American flag denim shorts. It seemed like such a big deal at the time, but also kind of weird. Like, why are they sending me free stuff? Am I press now? How did they find me? Do they know that I’m actually really uncool and unfashionable in real life? You soon realise that brand collaborations often require a lot of effort and having to turn down things that aren’t right for you, but the first one was just like OMG SO EXCITING YES PLEASE SEND ME THINGS.
Organised meet ups came before brand events
Although you’d seen a few brand events happening in London there was 0% chance you were getting invited to any of them, and it was still a couple of years before they really became a thing in Edinburgh (or, I’m guessing, anywhere outside London). Instead, we organised our own events. The first one I went to was in Glasgow, just before Christmas 2011, and we met up for drinks, afternoon tea, a wander round the Christmas markets and then more drinks. I’m still really good friends with some of the people I met for the first time that day. A few meet-ups later, I decided to host my own one along with the help of some friends and we organised the Scottish bloggers Valentine’s speed dating extravaganza.
Your blog was a secret
Unlike nowadays when you put your blog on your CV, promote it all over Facebook and mention it to anyone who will listen, back when I started blogging it was very much a secret thing. Back then, blogging was still kind of nerdy and hardly anyone had heard of it, so trying to explain it to an outsider was pretty difficult. I used to wait until my flatmate went out so I could rush through and take outfit photos in the living room, and only came clean about having a blog when I started going to events and had to explain where all these random friends and goody bags were coming from.
Everyone was an amateur
Blogs are a lot more polished and professional than they used to be. Back in the day, even most of the ‘big’ blogs were pretty amateur in terms of how they looked and what the content was like. No one hired photographers or assistants. No one thought about buying photo props or heading outside to take outfit photos (well, maybe you’d do it in your garden if you were lucky). No one invested in a professionally made custom blog template and you just designed your logo yourself.
You appreciate how amazing blogs are now
Because you can remember how different blogs used to be, you can really appreciate how amazing they are now. It still blows my mind that people can make blogging their full time career, that blogs often offer better content than magazines and that blogging is now a well-known, recognised industry. As much as I miss the simplicity of old school blogging, I’m definitely glad we’ve worked out how to use our cameras properly and are providing incredible, amazing content for people across the world – as well as clinging on to the occasional pointless rambly “this is what I did at school today” style post.
When did you start blogging? Tell me I’m not the only one who has been blogging since the days of Neopets!