Mate, it’ll do a lot actually. If you’re me.
Allow me this indulgent retrospective if you will, please. It’s in parts both nostalgic and completely terrifying.
It was recently this blog’s 8th anniversary, and I’ve been thinking a lot at times about it and its evolution, and how much I’ve retreated to its simplicity in the last couple of years while the clamour of social media gets louder. I left Facebook in the dust (my personal page at least) just before Smalls was born in 2012 because I couldn’t believe how much negativity I was passively absorbing just scrolling through my feed so many times a day. I didn’t need to be that hyperconnected to folks and didn’t want to spend so much of my finite life time on social. Almost every time I’ve found myself scrolling since then I feel gross. After the cute baby photos and updates from friends it always ended up landing in human cesspool territory, especially since they brought in the update that not only showed you news items of pages you follow, but also the most popular comments underneath, from people I didn’t know and who didn’t share my views and were mostly fucking infuriating about it. After the recent “should we delete Facebook” global thought process, I went through my advertising options and saw they had pages and pages and years and years of my “interests” saved, even though I barely use the damn thing, so I unsaved every one. And unliked every page I’d ever liked bar a few and it took me HOURS.
End Facebook rant. Sorry, I wasn’t expecting that!
I still quite like my Facebook page though, I get a proper laugh from the folks who hang out there, it’s generally a pretty decent place to be, that and my book club/craft club/gang club Facebook groups. I still remember first ever starting my page and actually reaching all the people who had signed up to hear from me. We didn’t know how good we had it! We were all on Twitter at the time and almost abandoned it in droves for the FB community. Of which I once had 89 people in, heaven bless each and every one of you. Now I have quite a bit more than that, but Facebook does not show you my content. Ever. I’m lucky if it gets seen by 100 people and I often feel like I’m talking to myself, because nobody reads blogs any more. Maybe if you come up in their feed, readers MAY click over, but nobody is typing “www.theveggiemama.com” in their search bars any more and coming over to catch up on the latest.
I used to read these blogs religiously, and had them in my sidebar not only for ease of my own clicking (I also followed everyone in Google Reader and would read every post) but also so others could read them too.
I literally still read these blogs pretty much every day, the ones that are still around. I sign up by email these days (I do have a blog reader but never use it) or click over on the weekends over a cup of tea for my fill of interesting human lives and a bit of inspiration.
While social media has turned into a sharing tsunami after we all started these blogs, the main ones I read still blog in addition to being active on those platforms. Instagram may come and go (or it may not show you our content thanks to algorithms created “in our best interests” but now all I see is ads and something someone posted a week ago cheers for that mate) but we will probably still be here, in our original homes, kicking it old-school. At least I hope so.
Like I said, the more social media seems omnipotent and overwhelming, the more I come home to this blog and post a picture of something stupid and feel better. A dinosaur refusing to evolve perhaps? I more like the idea that I stand on a firm foundation and do what I love rather than be dictated to by modern trends. Trends I happily and eagerly explored when they first arrived, and presented some good memories and great opportunities, but trends I’ve had e-bloody-nough of, really, because they’ve evolved in a way I don’t totally want to.
Look at that! INSTAGRAM DIDN’T EXIST. You couldn’t reach me on Instagram because there was none! I can almost barely remember it.
Ah Stacey, but are you biting the hand that feeds you? Social media helped get you where you are, after all.
Thank you for your question, it’s a good one. I’ve pondered it many times myself. It’s like Sideshow Bob when he used TV to tell everyone how shit TV was. No, I don’t think I am. I enjoy social media on occasion and it has allowed me to do some amazing things. But it’s also hugely controlled by faceless folks, so I use it to my enjoyment and advantage, and I let the rest go.
Ok then, well are you bitter that everyone is just better on it than you?
Eight years ago I started a blog, blah blah blah, there’s a thousand posts on here about why I did that, and also a very large handful of those musing on why I continued to do so. There’s never been an answer for that, why I have a public blog where I write about the public parts of my life.
Eight years of everything I’ve eaten, the births of my children, my interests, my thoughts, my travels, my inspiration, my fears, and a good chunk of my struggle with writer’s block, partly due to the fear of public criticism which I saw happen to my blog friends day in and day out, and partly due to self-doubt that I was never gonna “make it” even though I was trying really hard.
I was an early adopter of monetising my blog, I thought it would be cool and a fun way to earn an income. “Why not give it a go?” was my mantra, you know, see where it might lead. And it was cool and exciting and gave me a project and a goal to work toward. I loved blogging and I fucking loved the community and being part of something, which is half the reason looking back over the years and coming back here when the world gets too noisy is so satisfying. I’m reminded of how this used to make me feel. And I felt good.
After I became a full-time professional blogger though, it became a lot harder and a lot more stressful. I did very truly have to worry about stats and engagement and growing my audience and providing value, otherwise nobody would want to work with me and that income dried up. It was a double-edged sword, because you were also supposed to pretend you didn’t care about that and you just blogged for the fun of it. Well, I blogged for both.
And as hard as I may have worked to ensure I made it and didn’t let that income dry up, dry up that income did. I tried every single strategy in the book to grow my audience and my numbers just would. not. budge. My blog representation kept smiling politely at me but neither they nor I could get any work coming in.
And as much as it sounds fantastic that you can work at home and get sent free shit and people pay you to write about cereal, it’s a hell of a lot harder than it looks, it requires more of me than I care to give, and there came a time when I just let it all go and went back to just hanging out here. I definitely do still work with brands as and when opportunities arise, but I long ago stopped hustling to make it happen. The world evolved too fast and too far for me and so I opted out. Perhaps I was never cut out for it anyway?
I remember thinking years ago when I shut up professional shop to just get back to my roots. It was a mantra I kept repeating as I wrote, “get back to my roots”, which was writing and food. And I wrote and I posted food and although nobody was reading it (except a handful who faithfully return no matter what – g’day Liz, Reannon and Tina!), here I am. Still doing it. It goes largely unnoticed and I’m at peace with that because I’m doing it for me. After all these years I’m still just doing it for me.
I have put countless hours into this web space. Made icons and badges and header photos and bio pages and hundreds of thousands of words and innumerable hours of photo editing and god knows what else and while some would see it as a waste of time because I never “made it” or that it was a hobby that never really went anywhere, it’s been an enlightening journey for me. At times completely brilliant and fulfilling, at times a millstone around my neck. What a relationship.
I will never forget the excitement that spurred me on in those early days, seeing this little collection of face cubes grow as people found my blog and signed up to hear more from me. From me! My shitty photos and my bad jokes and my self-indulgent personal blog drivel! The very bane of the internet’s existence, people promoting themselves! And the thrill I would feel when I found a blog I loved, my heart would hammer and I couldn’t click the “follow” button fast enough. Regular people just like me but who were doing things I liked, whose lives I found interesting, like a reality show but so much better.
Without a doubt, the community was the best. Other bloggers who felt very much like I did, coming together over the world wide web and occasionally in person. After these conferences and get-togethers and weaving in and out of each others’ lives, we all became real, true friends. I’ve watched their kids grow up, I’ve been privy to the biggest and smallest moments of their lives, and I literally could call them if I ever needed anything. And I do. I have.
So maybe I am still stuck in the past, digging firmly into this blog’s ground while people build empires on Snapchat. Snapchat doesn’t make me feel like anything is possible, though. Snapchat is fucking hilarious and I’ll forever wish I could use that OG text strap over my Instagram Stories, but this is home.
There’s no forgetting anything on this platform. Every single thing I’ve ever written is still here, available to view just as it was when I wrote it. I may not even feel that way any more, or would post anything like that ever again (pls refer to “internet-inducing self-doubt, above”), or use Zoolander quotes quite as much as I did, but it’s here. And I can look back on it at any time and laugh and be reminded of something I’ve forgotten, and get inspired to do it all again.
I love reading about how life was then, when we were less hyperconnected and all trying to get connected. A blog is where you went to share your mini thoughts, much like Twitter then became for us, and what Instagram is for us now. I had to announce here that I wouldn’t be posting for a week in case readers would think I’d died. There was nowhere else to keep up with everyone, you wouldn’t ensure your presence was felt over social because that just wasn’t the done thing. And I was tweeting while I was on my overseas trip, but on a different time zone to my friends so they wouldn’t see it. They wouldn’t see it! You had to be there AT THE TIME I WAS TWEETING or it wouldn’t be in your feed. What a time to be alive.
I started blogging in 2008 (ok you can finally have a link to it after all this time, here you go It’s called Confessions of a Nerd and well, they say write what you know), where I would go to share stuff. I don’t know, ‘express myself’? ‘have a creative outlet’? Whatever it was, I did it.
So here’s to another 8 years of creating topic labels after quotes from The Office, posting pictures that aren’t perfect, talking about myself for no other reason than I want to and that’s OK, flogging a dead horse, connecting with like-minded people, seeing where this whole thing takes me, and being grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Yours always wishing she could grow up to be The Pioneer Woman,
Veggie Mama xx