Ok, I started blogging in 2012 and I started because I was procrastinating from university essays, as you do and at the time I was constantly watching beauty 'gurus' on youtube, most of which had blogs so I thought I'd give it a go as I was already writing and earning Amazon vouchers on review websites such as Dooyoo and Ciao so a blog was a natural progression for me. At first it was all about writing beauty reviews, you can go back through my reviews to see my earliest and most cringing posts *they are all very cringingly embarrassing, especially the photo quality!*.
For the first two years of blogging I had absolutely no idea what to do, I didn't even know there was a blogging community five years ago, SEO was a completely foreign concept to me and I was studying at university full time so I didn't put nearly as much time, energy or effort into my blog then as I do now. I feel as though blogging five years ago was such a unknown concept to everyone, even bloggers as it was so new and it definitely wasn't viewed by brands or the media as a useful tool for advertising or promotion as it is now.
My first brand collaboration was such an exciting prospect and I know it was around the time that my blog turned two years ago or just after. It was squealing out loud level exciting about collaborating with a brand for the first time and no I didn't think I'd be the next Zoella, mainly as Zoella wasn't the mega youtuber back then as she is now and secondly as that wasn't my aim. My main aim at that time was graduating with the best grade I could, which I did, if you're wondering *go me!*.
It's only in the past two years that I've taken my blog seriously and considered it as a kind of business, albeit a very small one. I've been buying my own domain name every year since, I put so much time and effort not just into my blog but in learning and reading about all of the other aspects that make up blogging, contrary to popular and ignorant beliefs, it's not all taking pretty pictures and writing about lipsticks but it's learning to use a DSLR which isn't easy, it's learning how to network, communicate with brands/PRs, learning to use social media to your advantage and making your blog stand out in a sea of blogs. It's also about writing skills, how to edit photos, connecting with other bloggers and readers, working with brands and trying to unravel the complexity of SEO, blog analytics and everything else non-bloggers don't have a clue about.
I think even in the five years that I've been blogging, it has changed so much that it's almost unrecognisable from what it once started as and bloggers who have been doing this longer than me will probably agree. I think the change from wholesome, raw and unedited *kind of* writing and thoughts to a more brand orientated, view count obsessed and numbers game style of blogging has it's bad points and good points too. Blogging will always have to change, as any industry does and whether you like the changes or you think it has ruined blogging, that's your opinion but what I think is that the brand focused side of blogging has opened the door to a new and exciting media, one that's more human compared to older print media that is just a faceless and expensive glossy magazine.
I am so grateful for the amazing opportunities, products and emails I've had from super lovely PRs and I'm really proud of my little blog which has grown so much in five years - I had no idea when I started that I will have worked with Harrods, Newlook, Boots, Debenhams, House of Fraser and so many other incredible brands! There are so many amazing blogger opportunities out there now, which can be a double edged sword but I think it's amazing how many brands and the media are finally looking to bloggers although there are still some that mock blogging as the new media on the block that isn't as formal, structured or traditional as other forms of established media. Blogging is such a fast pace, dynamic new media that I think the world is finally recognising, although I still have moments where I have to explain what a blog is to people...
There are so many options for bloggers to connect with brands and have amazing opportunities and if they come your way why not take them! I'm all for bloggers working with brands and earning money, as long as bloggers are clear and honest about it. One of my current favourite sites for great blogging opportunities is definitely The Lifestyle Blogger UK website which has such an easy, no-fuss way of allowing brands to connect with bloggers and for bloggers to apply for amazing campaigns with brands such as Superdrug; definitely check out their site!
Have long have you been blogging? What are the main changes you've noticed in the blogging world? What do you think about the more brand focused nature of blogging now or is that not what you've experienced?