I wrote a post the other day which seems to have hit a nerve with a few people. It was about blogs being filled with filler posts, rather than actual content. Some people agreed with me; others, not so much.
In the post, I mentioned that I had met a lady at an event, who seemed a little put out about there being so many new blogs springing up. If I remember correctly, her blog had been running for six or seven years. When asked, I mentioned that this blog was two years old. The response was something along the lines of there being so many new blogs, it was hard to keep up with who was whom. I didn’t mention that I’d never heard of her blog, and that in light of this conversation I wasn’t about to go and check it out. I also didn’t mention my other blog, which has been in existence since around 2000.
Perhaps I am in the minority, but I love that there are so many blogs around these days. When I first started blogging, very few of my RL (real life) friends knew what it was, or why one would bother. These were the days before people got publishing deals from their blogs, before sponsored posts, before product reviews for bloggers. We all just wrote about what was going on in our lives, and followed each other. I met several people through that blog who I still consider to be my friends today. I named my daughter after one of them.
I love this blog. It helped me to find both my voice and my confidence after a particularly traumatic period in my life. I have met lots of like-minded people through the blogging community, and several who are completely not like-minded at all, but I like and respect nonetheless. I have learned things I have been able to translate into a business and a reasonable income for myself. I have also been very lucky to have received opportunities through this blog that I would never ordinarily have had – most recently, going on This Morning to talk to Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden about my breakdown. They would never have known about me, if it weren’t for this blog.
This blog is not as successful as some. I’m not at any dizzying heights on any charts; I’m not very sociable at events; I don’t make millions out of it. Then again, I suppose it depends on your definition of “success.” If your version of success involves getting a free holiday in exchange for writing about how great the holiday company is, then crack on. If your idea of success is to get as many sponsored posts as possible, go right ahead. If you picture success as helping to raise awareness of a charity or medical condition, by all means do so. For me, this blog has meant I’m often called upon to discuss parenting subjects on local and national radio. It’s allowed me to write about things I had never talked about. I’ve (hopefully) improved my writing ability, and gained work writing for others because of that. And yes, I get some free stuff too. I consider this blog to be successful because it’s taken me in a direction I had always thought about going in.
Just lately, several people have asked me for advice about blogging: how to get started; whether they should bother with it; whether they had anything worth blogging about. These were people wanting to blog about different subjects, not just parenting (though the more I think about it, the less I identify myself as a “parent blogger” any way). My answer was always the same: do it.
My old blog is mostly cringeworthy when I look back at it – hence the fact I’ve not linked to it anywhere in this post. In 2007 I came under great pressure from a boyfriend to delete it entirely, as he didn’t like for me to have any online presence at all. I compromised by changing the name of it, but refused to delete it. Aside from mining it for content from time to time, it serves as a record of my life. It hasn’t been the most interesting life; nothing ground-breaking occurred in the time I was updating it regularly, but I don’t think it needs to be.
A lot of people worry about setting up a blog because they think nobody will be interested in what they have to say. Who cares? Even if the only people reading it are your cousin in Australia or your nosy neighbour, I still say go ahead and do it if you want to.
These days if you want to research your family tree, you go back a couple of generations and often after a certain point all the information you have is birth, death and marriage dates. You might know a man’s profession, as recorded on such documents, but that’s about it. You don’t know what they liked to do in their spare time, how they got on with their family, whether anyone in their family suffered with something someone in your family is suffering with right now. Ours is probably the first generation recording details of our lives as a matter of course.
Obviously, back in ye olden days, people did keep diaries – but not everyone did. A lot of people would have been illiterate, so really the only diaries are those of people wealthy enough to have learned to read and write. And of those, I should imagine only a percentage kept a diary on a regular basis.
My dad died ten years ago, and I barely knew him. I find out little bits of information about him from time to time, and occasionally it occurs to me how much like him both of my brothers are in their own ways, but still, I don’t know a great deal about him as a person. He didn’t keep a diary; my nan died before he did and I suppose one of his brothers or sister has photos of him as a child. I have a couple of photos from before he met my mum, but nothing much. A few stories of him riding his trike down the stairs as a toddler, or going to Butlins with a woman he was engaged to before he met my mum. He was not the sort of person to keep a diary, but you can bet your arse that if the technology had been available in their day, both my nan and my auntie would have recorded every tiny detail.
These days, if you have access to the internet – and most of us do – you can blog about whatever crosses your mind. Post a million photos of your offspring. Write in detail about what you ate for tea last night. Photograph your child’s doodles on the wall before you wash them off. It might be boring to a lot of people, but in a hundred years’ time, our descendants won’t have to scrape about at local libraries and registry offices, trying to fill in the gaps of their ancestry.
Whilst I might not find your blog particularly interesting, I would hope that you’re not writing for me. And in the same way as I find it interesting to find out how people lived their day to day lives a hundred or two hundred years ago, a hundred or two hundred years from now, people will find these blogs and have a record better than any official document, of how we live our lives, what we’re interested in, what’s important to us.
These days, there are loads of resources to tell you how to start a successful blog, how to monetise your blog, how to get rich through your blog. Yes, you can do all of those things if you want – but you don’t have to. You can just write a blog that gets 50 hits a week, about your love for collecting bobble heads, if you like. You can write about your past, exorcise your demons. You can document your training for a marathon. You can write about how much you dislike it when your husband snores. Set up a Tumblr and post a bunch of photos from your life. It doesn’t matter to me what you blog about – only to you.
So what are you waiting for? Go do some writing. Or take some photos. Or create a graphic. Start the blog you always wanted to start. You don’t need an instruction manual, or approval or permission or membership. It doesn’t need to cost you a penny more than you already pay for your internet connection. And you might just find that someone, somewhere, is interested in what you have to say.