On blogging, and how I’m probably doing it wrong

 |  Interwebs

As we rapidly approach the 13th anniversary of me owning jemjabella.co.uk and my 15th year of blogging, I can’t help but think about how blogging (both my own, and on a wider scale) has changed over the years.

15 years ago it wasn’t uncommon for people to write blog posts thousands of words long. Blogs were in effect journals, diaries, a real look into people’s lives. And people read those entries, and replied: tons of comments per entry.

old blog 2005
My blog, as captured by the way back machine, Dec 2005

Slowly, slowly that changed. Blogs became less about the personal and more a collection of quick thoughts, pics, memes, links, quotes – truly the “web log” – and this in turn became tumblr, which is a vast and scary beast I’ve never been able to get to grips with.

Circa April 2006; shame the WBM didn't capture the header image
Circa April 2006; shame the WBM didn’t capture the header image

Those who didn’t adopt tumblr have seen the blogging landscape change in other ways. From paragraph upon paragraph of text (some of us still take this approach, cough cough) to lists and clickbait titles; sparse photography — in part because of bandwidth issues and slow connections — to blogs that feature more pictures in one entry than I feature in a year; “vlogging” seems to have hit a new high; beauty and “lifestyle” (what even is this?) bloggers dominate blog link lists. Comments became “likes”, “shares”, “thumbs up” – a lot less effort and easier to do en masse.

August 2006 (one of my favourite old layouts)
August 2006 (one of my favourite old layouts)

I have always defended my “blogging for myself” position and remained firmly stuck in my ways but it’s no secret that my once vast audience and “e-fame” buggered off ooooh… about 5 years ago when I stopped blogging about interesting things and started blogging about children. I miss the days of variety, controversy, geeking-outtery (I think I just made that word up) and not just blogging about myself and my mental health. I want to start taking more pictures, talking more about the things I like and the places I go, not just how heavy I lifted or how much cake I ate this week.

Layout before this one, 2010
Layout before this one, 2010

Of course… I say this, but it’s likely nothing will change long term: I’ll probably be a bit more enthusiastic with photos for a week or two, wax lyrical about something that sounds vaguely lifestyle-y, but the reality is I’ll always be that boring blogger with the 800 word blog posts and 1 photo every 6 months.

I think I’m ok with that.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

9 comments so far

  1. Hev said:

    I don’t think I have changed the way I blog since I started. I use it as a way to let everyone know what is going on, what I have accomplished, & my journal. Then, again, I don’t care if I get followers or comments. It isn’t a big deal to me. I love each & every one I have & get, but even if I didn’t get any I would still blog.

    I don’t have a problem with they way you blog. I have remained here & plan to stay here, lol. You don’t get rid of me that easy.

  2. Aisling said:

    I think lifestyle blogs are the new personal blog. They’re mainly about the things you do and enjoy, just a little more organized. I would call myself a lifestyle blogger. Even my posts on travel and food are lifestyle-ish.

    At first I resisted this new blog world, and I still do in many ways because stuff like ad revenue and sponsorship has never mattered to me and never will, but I do enjoy having to put in more effort to stand out. And the community is so much bigger now. Plus it’s still doing what it’s always done for me, which is allowing me to make friends with similar interests. Thanks to blogging becoming more “mainstream” there are lots of events and whatnot that bridge the gap between online and IRL, and I love it. :D

    I also think taking this new approach to blogging makes me say yes to more things, which has helped my anxiety. I’m not saying I do things JUST for the blog, and I definitely don’t fake my way through stuff just because I think it will make a good entry, but sometimes the difference between lying in bed for 18 hours and going to check out an event in the city really does come down to “I can take pictures and write about it.”

  3. Catherine said:

    Blogging has definitely changed. I feel like its become a lot more instant and more visual. For those of use still stuck with slow internet even in 2015 the latter is a bit of an unfortunate change XD Tumblr definitely seemed to be part of this (I don’t understand it either), although its probably also to do with an overall culture shift where more people are using the internet and for lack of better wording, the internet is very cluttered and therefore its become less personal. No one wants to spend a lot of time on just one site anymore – with casual browsing being more popular. bloggers themselves want to stand out of the crowd and become popular, which has always meant doing certain things. These days its that lifestyle blogging thing probably, though I don’t get that either. (I got left behind in about 2007)

    I don’t particularly mind. I keep on blogging like I always have because I don’t care about popularity and it amuses me having something accessible by anyone, but yet totally inaccessible because its so lost amongst the many. A lot of my favourite bloggers are still around and writing, even if nots as long, and I still enjoy hearing about their lives.

    Its definitely a decision a blogger needs to make these days though – either you choose to do your thing, and give up on having an audience, or you have to follow a certain style (and of course, have lots of pretty pictures of pretty things) to attract readers (and sponsors. Lets not forget the free stuff.)

  4. Susanne said:

    Yep, blogging has changed a lot and I don’t like the changes. I love to see photos, but I also like reading good 800 word posts.
    I’ve always blogged my own way too. Been rambling around a lot between domains but I always enjoy writing about what’s going on in life, etc. I don’t really care about being popular, I just enjoy sharing, and I sort of like to create the kind of blog that I would like to read.

  5. Clem said:

    Yeah, blogging has changed. That’s why I phased out my old blog – because I was posting all the “this is what I did today” sort of stuff on Tumblr and Twitter, and it seemed stupid to rehash it all on my “main” blog. So now I have more of a niche focus, which works for me. I still enjoy reading personal blogs, too, and I do miss the days when people blogged for the love of it rather than for sponsorships and whatnot. (Not that people don’t still do that, but it’s not as common.)

    Also, I remember almost all of those layouts! I think I remember when you did a post on Jemjabella’s 5th anniversary, actually – can’t believe it’s been so long since then. Wow.