Google defines a blog as ‘a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.’
A seemingly clinical description for a ‘hobby’ that is earning people thousands of pounds a year and is fast becoming a platform for people to showcase their lifestyles through vibrant colours and entertaining quips.
Blogging is not an age-old art that our ancestors created yet it is not a new fan dangled idea either. The word blog was coined in the early 90s and started life as a variety of online diaries. Fast forward to the early 2000s and people were using their web presence to document their day-to-day lives through words and photography.
Nowadays fashion, food, lifestyle and parenting are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blogs and their vast spectrum of topics. The menagerie of online outlets for people’s opinions and thoughts is growing by the day and anyone can find something they are interested in if they look hard enough.
This lifestyle does not come without consequence. Zoe Sugg, a blogger and YouTuber who works under the pseudonym Zoella, has come under fire recently for using a ghostwriter when penning her book Girl Online. Regardless of this, she has been able to make her online ‘hobby’ a full time job and became part of the blogging brigade creating an online presence that is sweeping the nation.
Dorset’s blogging community is seemingly divided into two sectors. First are the beauty and lifestyle bloggers. They cover anything from London Fashion Week to their favourite restaurants with an abundance of photographs and exacerbated emotions. They tend to fit into a younger demographic and appeal to a teenage and young adult audience.
Scarlett Dixon, 21, a journalism student from Bournemouth fits into this category and her blog scarletlondon.com covers everything from travel to beauty products: “I started blogging in 2011” says Scarlett, “initially as a means of showcasing my writing online and standing as a digital portfolio to potential employers.”
On the other side, parent bloggers are overflowing in both Bournemouth and Poole, with a Bournemouth blogging community being set up by lifestyle mum blogger Laura, the owner of MaxandMummy.co.uk, something her fellow blogger Jeni, 33, author of Poolemama.blogspot.com, hopes to get involved in: “I have offered my services to help out the local Bournemouth Bloggers group on Facebook and twitter with Laura so may start helping her out in the not too distant future.”
While she hopes to be a part of the up and coming community, Jeni explains how difficult it can be to be a part of everything, “I would love to spend more time helping to or solely running a community” she said, “but just don’t have enough hours in the day to do so.” It isn’t hard to see why when you read her blog.
Being a mum to three boys who are all under eight must be a job in itself. Within her blog she includes children’s book reviews and day trips, with an affectionately written article on her families visit to a Harry Potter book evening which
looked so fantastic it made me want to put my coat on and head down to my nearest library. “The hardest part of blogging is actually being able to have the time to sit down and getting the many draft posts that are in my head down into words,” she said.
This is something reflected in all blogging avenues. Scarlet said: “The hardest part of blogging can be staying motivated - especially as the blogosphere is far more diverse and competitive than when I started.”
“The hardest part of blogging can be staying motivated - especially as the blogosphere is far more diverse and competitive than when I started.”
The lack of male lifestyle bloggers is evident when trawling through the mountains of blogs on offer, however Bournemouth blogger Aftab Pathan, a 20-year-old biochemistry student, fills this space perfectly.
His blog FreshandFearless.co.uk features everything from outfit post to reflections on day to day life. More recently he has been swiftly keeping us updates on the array of delectable restaurants he goes to, posting about Crumbs and Dollies cake shop which has my mouth watering as pictures of oozing cream and gleaming glazes appear pop up throughout the post. I cannot wait to to see what else Aftab has to offer.
“Through my four categories, I have been able to find myself.”
This reflects the views of many current bloggers as many found an outlet in writing and recording their feelings online. Complaints of anxiety ripple through the younger online community and through blogging, many are able to begin conquering their demons: “My blog has allowed me to discover myself as a person” says Aftab, “to come out of my shell and become completely different.”
People begin blogs for all different reasons. From wanting to express your feelings through an online outlet to simply wanting to meet new people blogging can be a different experience for everyone. I began blogging in September 2013 after the birth of my third son” says Jeni “I was on maternity leave and decided to give it a go. It was the best thing that I have ever done as it turned out to be a form of therapy for me to get things written down and keep my brain active whilst I was not at work, I think it stopped any depression that may of been lurking around.”
Everyone in these communities oozes friendliness and a genuine passion for what they are writing about. High quality photographs are smothered on each of their posts and I can’t help but notice how much information they divulge to their audience, a topic that can be controversial within the blogging lifestyle.
Scarlet says she posts around 60% of what goes on in her life saying: “It’s easy to think that someone over shares when they have a blog however, when it’s primarily a written and photographic site, it’s very easy to filter what’s being said.” On the other hand Aftab feels he has to keep something back in order to not showcase his entire life: “I have a limit as to how much I share but I like to give insights in parts of my life and share stories of my childhood that may inspire others.”
Jeni also sees it as a legitimate issue in regards to parent blogging saying: “This is a touchy subject at the moment for me as I have recently been torn as to how much to include on the blog” she goes on to say, “I like to involve my family in the blog but also like to have some things kept private.”
The opportunities available for bloggers varies dependent on the volume of people passing through their blogs. For Scarlett, her rants about the reality television show Made in Chelsea led her to an achievement she believes gave her a fan base and laid the foundations for success on ScarlettLondon.com.
“I began using it to slate the new, at the time, E4 show Made In Chelsea, which I described as fake and hard to relate to” she said, “The producers and cast invited me along to watch one of the episodes being filmed and had me grill Spencer and Caggie live on TV. The support from the cast and crew, who were growing in popularity as the weeks went on, helped me build an initial audience and set the tone for the blogs future. Made In Chelsea has grown on me!”
For parent blogger Jeni, the opportunities she has been given are very different. Alongside complimentary days out which she has blogged about in the past, she was able to test out cloth nappies, something she had wanted to do for a long time: “I was chosen along with 8 other bloggers in the country to try a £300 package of nappies!”
What come with the perks of blogging are the perils of time keeping and scheduling. Jeni began blogging in 2013 and has taught herself to plan correctly: “The general public don`t realise how log it takes to write down a post, edit and complete the graphics” she says, “I try to schedule a specific time of the day to try and get posts sorted but it doesn’t always go to plan, I often find myself tapping away on the Chrome book to get something done in the early hours of the morning.”
Scheduling also needs to fit round the jobs and prior engagements people have to contend with including studying, both Scarlet and Aftab are students at Bournemouth University, and jobs with Jeni not only having three young boys but also being a qualified Veterinary Nurse.
Being part of their specific blogging communities is a large part of both Aftab and Scarlett’s lives. Being a student who moved away from home, Aftab is able to use this to his advantage with London being a hive of activity in regards to events and blog networking: “Living in London has allowed me to meet so many other bloggers.”
Scarlet plays a significant role in bringing the blogging community together: “I run annual large scale blogger networking events in London - which I started doing about three years ago as a way of bringing the community together and making it a more friendly place to be ‘in real life’ rather than just online.”
While the real life meetings connect bloggers from around the country, and further with Scarlet befriending a blogger from Singapore, social networks also play a huge role in allowing people to find like minded writers: “I actively take part in blog chats on Twitter and also share other bloggers content with my readers to allow them to gain a greater and wider readership” says Aftab. Jeni also says she
So with such a variety of individuals ready to hand out bite sized chunks of their lives online, do they have any advice for budding bloggers dying to make a fortune from their opinions alone? “Don’t blog for fame and fortune, because it won’t work” advices Scarlett, “blog because you love something.” So maybe the swarms of young adults will not be building their retirement fund on writing about their feelings and thoughts just yet but it is definitely an interesting hobby for anyone who harbours a narcissistic streak and an interesting in writing. “It has been so much fun to do and I have managed to get two of my friends to start their own blogs” says Jeni; so maybe blogging is contageous after all.
Aftab’s parting comment was slightly more poetic: “Find your voice and write about what you enjoy writing about, not what others like reading about because after all, you have to be committed to it so you should write about something you are passionate about and not worry about your views. Just keep writing and you will soon see your readership form itself.”