It’s Friday, time for Friend Friday! this week the questions are all about looking back over the time we’ve spent blogging.
How has your blog changed over the months/years you’ve been blogging?
I’ve been blogging since December 2008, so coming up for two years! Scary biscuits!
Looking back over my archives, I’m surprised actually how little has changed. I’ve just looked back over my archives and surprisingly I’m actually pretty happy with what is going on, even right at the beginning! Which is nice.
A few things that have changed:
– Content. I made a conscious decision from the start that this blog wouldn’t be a themed blog, but an assortment of lots of different things I like. As such, it’s changed emphasis quite a bit, although there’s a core of outfit posts that have stayed consistent. I used to post lots about my knitting, but I’ve also gone through periods where I haven’t knit anything for weeks and months, so that comes and goes. I used to also do some series, like flickr faves, and library corner (where I showcased coffee table books) that I now don’t do any more. I stopped mainly because other things became more important, and there was no space, rather than because they didn’t work. At the moment, I am going through a phase where I’m really interested in photography, and I just started doing the Friend Friday series (obviously!).
– Formatting. I changed my layout to three columns. Then I changed it back to two. I designed link buttons, then I switched to horizontal tabs. I’ve gone through a number of header designs. My photos are bigger now. Again, I’m not sure that the changes I made necessarily make things *better* in an objective way but what you see now is what I like right now.
– Frequency. I started doing daily posts in September 2009, which was a bit of a turning point for me. When you commit to that, it automatically makes you take things a bit more seriously.
What was one thing you did wrong in the beginning and how have you changed that?
Like I said, I’m not sure I did anything hugely wrong, but I stopped doing posts on music after I asked for feedback and a few people said that that was what they enjoyed least. To be honest, I knew they weren’t really up to standard myself. For some reason, I’m finding it harder to put my love for music into words than I do my love for clothes or design.
I also learned to chill out about posting my outfits chronologically and always reporting everything I did and took pictures of. I used to talk more about my daily activities and my private life (within limits, it was never a proper personal blog), but actually people aren’t really looking for a record of my life. I still talk about things that happen to me if they’re interesting, but I’m less completist now.
When you visit a blog what’s the greatest turn off? The thing that make you close a tab?
Poor photography, an over-busy background and layout and music playing when you open the page are the main things.
How did you find your voice?
Trial and error, and experience. Though actually, I think my voice was pretty strong from the start, maybe because I was older (27) when I started blogging. I’m quite a confident person with strong opinions on loads of stuff, quite a bit of writing experience helping me to express these opinions clearly, and I had developed a strong personal style (and outfit photography skills) through years of involvement in the wardrobe remix group on flickr before I started blogging. My attitude was always that I would do what I like and hopefully people would be interested. This is not to say I don’t listen to feedback, but it honestly never occurred to me to do kinds of posts that are generally popular but aren’t ‘me’.
If you had three pieces of advice to give to a new blogger what would those be?
1. Write what you want to read.
This relates to what I said above in relation to voice. As far as I see it, there is no point in trying to blog about what you think will be popular if it’s not something that you’re personally interested in. There are so many people out there interested in so many different things out there that even if you tried to work out what people wanted, you’d never get a clear answer. The only thing you can ever truly know is what you yourself think. So my advice would be to think about the kinds of things you like as a reader, the topics and types of posts that work for you, and then try to produce a blog that you would like to read based on that.
For example, I have always enjoyed reading ‘think pieces’, posts where the blogger takes on a big or difficult issue and really thinks it through properly. These kinds of posts are fairly rare because, as I know now, they aren’t easy and they can be extremely labour intensive to write. So I decided that that would be what I would focus on, and they’ve become the ‘arguments and musings’ series. They’re consistently the posts that get the most visits and comments, and sometimes they stimulate discussion on other blogs, which is exciting! These kind of posts is what makes my blog stand out from other lifestyle and fashion blogs. And I LOVE doing them just for the satisfaction of thinking something through properly. Even if I didn’t get a single comment, I would still do them!
2. Good photography
There’s no denying this. If you’re an outfit blogger, badly lit, badly frames photos, cluttered backgrounds etc are a huge turn off. Invest the time in skilling yourself up in photo editing and the principles of photography. There are numerous advice posts on how to take good photos out there that will help you. And just in case you’re thinking ‘Oh but I don’t have an SLR’, honestly, you do not need to spend big money. My camera is a point and shoot that cost less than £200 (Canon PowerShot SX200 IS) and I have no intention of upgrading any time soon. I achieve (mostly) good looking pictures by taking full advantage of the manual features my camera does have and editing virtually all my photos. I also do my outfit posts myself with a tripod. You definitely do not need a photographer boyfriend/husband/friend either.
3. Make friends!
Find likeminded blogs that you admire and make friends with the blogger via comments. Most people will visit the blog of any new commenter, I know I do. Commenting thoughtfully is the single best way of getting yourself noticed and its really fun! The fashion blogging community is incredibly supportive and I know I sound like a broken record, but being part of that community is just about the best thing about blogging.
A slight note of caution though. Obviously getting yourself noticed is only going to help you grow if you have the content to keep people interested once they’ve noticed you. So don’t scrimp on the time spent writing! My time is pretty limited, what with a demanding full time job and a wedding to plan, and my approach has always been to spend as long on the posts as I need to and only then going out commenting and reading. One of the reasons I’ve not joined Twitter is because I just don’t have the time for another social network, and if I did, I know my blogging output would suffer.
Did you find these tips helpful? Do you agree/disagree with any of them?
Visit Modly Chic for the round-up of this week’s posts!