When I started blogging 5 years ago, it was commonplace for posts of around 200 words accompanied by grainy iPhone imagery to garner a phat bundle of encouraging comments. Whether I was talking about the best bits I’d bought on sale from Boots or sharing an outfit post which comprised of 3 landscape photos taken against my grandparent’s garden fence, the “community” aspect of blogging was in its heyday. We all commented on everything, partly because we wanted to be super, extra nice to each other, but also because it was one of the best ways to get your name out there. The comment section of a blog post was the place to pop awf.
Nowadays, things are a little different. Technology moves at lightning speed, and alongside it, so has the way we consume digital data. Sounds a bit like jargon, right? But at the heart of it, it’s just the effect that new programmes and features have on the way we use our devices. We’re adapting - it’s normal.
Something that many of us who work in this industry (side note: for some reason the words ‘influencer’ or ‘industry’ make me feel very cringe, but for lack of a better replacement, I gotta use ‘em) discuss is the effect that “fast fashion” apps such as Instagram and Snapchat have had on the more traditional aspects of blogging. With the introduction of Instagram Stories, we’re able to absorb outfits, ideas and discussions in 10 seconds bites - no time to chew or digest, because within a flash, we’re onto the next one. It’s the baby food equivalent of a hearty, wholesome meal.
Quicker, faster, smaller - that’s the direction we’re heading in. And do you know what? What myself and many of my peers are feeling now is probably what our parents felt when texting came about and suddenly nobody emailed for lolz anymore. And this is probably what our grandparents felt when email was introduced and nobody penned a written letter. We’re not the first, and we won’t be the last (although the mind boggles as to what will be next for our children. Tap the side of your head and have a microchip send instant messages to anybody of your choosing? Black Mirror don’t watch dat).
Blogging isn’t what it used to be, and what it is now isn’t what it will be in another five years. Who knows - blogspot.co.uk might well feel like an antiquity by then. Things are changing, and that’s okay, but with that I’ve seen fewer and fewer blog posts being written every year. And it kind of makes me sad.
I’m not lamenting the “golden era” of blogging, because actually, none of us were making decent money back then and if I had to choose between living out of my grandparent’s spare bedroom or running my own business and having my beautiful (*cough*still rented*cough*) home, I know which I’d choose. I’m not looking to reverse the clock here, by any means.
What I do miss, however, is reading authentic, interesting, and diverse pieces of writing from women all over the globe. Blog posts are getting fewer and farther between because it’s less time-consuming to share your visual story on Instagram, and honestly? Brands aren’t that interested in articles anymore, so blog writing isn’t lucrative. It’s costly in every sense; time, money, and energy. I understand why people aren’t writing as much any more, but it’s just a bit shit that this brief spell of independent female expression seems to have passed.
I’ll hold my hands up - I romanticise the written word. My secret dream is to one day write a book and I think there’s such a value in connecting with people through words. We take for granted this uncensored access we have to thousands of readers across the world, without so much as a friend to question whether the hundredth mention of ‘shit’ is really necessary. When we’re writing for ourselves - from ourselves - we seize a unique opportunity to speak without limitation. There are no deadlines, no guidelines, no censorship or SEO buzzwords; if we want to spend 1000 words discussing the merits of tingly lube against the backdrop of cunnilingus, who’s to say no? Our voice and our choice is entirely our own.
That’s what I’m starting to miss. I love drawing inspiration from other writers, whether I find them in magazines or online, but the pool of resources is sadly growing ever and ever drier. The opinion pieces that divided opinion and motivated a scattering of thoughtful Quote Tweets are fewer and further between, and in their place? A shed-load of overpriced Lightroom Presets which turn every feed into a fusion of tangerine and turquoise.
There’s nothing wrong with no longer writing because it doesn’t make money. We all need to support ourselves, and why shouldn’t we want a bountiful bank? I like a bottle of wine from the second-to-top shelf as much as the next girl. But I feel like the thing that made blogging valuable to begin with - a medley of individual voices, sharing refreshing perspectives on all manner of topics, big or small - is being lost, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find that honest window into day-to-day life. To find those nuggets of expression which share the truth of being a 20-something year old woman, hesitantly seeking out some sort of life direction whilst desperately trying to not repeat the desk-vomit disaster of 2016. To find those retaliation pieces which push back at media outlets, crying ‘no, that isn’t what our life is like, this is’. To find something just plain old funny.
So here’s my plea: if writing feels like a fruitless task but you still have an itch to scratch, don’t stop just yet. I know it sometimes falls flat, I know it sometimes feels like it isn’t worth it, and I know that it’s likely more lucrative to shut up shop completely and move your a$$ to Instagram, but keep trucking. If you have something to say, say it. We can’t let our only source of entertaining writing come solely from ManRepeller.com, especially since it’s US-based so nobody ever mentions Greggs or the 3 for 2 gift deals that Boots do at Christmas. We can bin the gushing comments, forget about Twitter scheduling and say good riddance to any “Top 5 Tips” that include eating healthy and getting more sleep, but let’s keep the humour and the individuality and the free expression of womanhood that, at the core of it, is really quite special.
And hey, if it’s not for your own enjoyment, at least do it for my own selfish self-indulgence. I’m really running out of things to read over here.
For most of us, shimmying into our first crop top and beaming with pride that we’d finally been initiated into...