Personal Bloggging ‘Then and Now’ – AllConsuming May 28, 2012 By Karen Andrews 16 Comments Hello! You are welcome to subscribe to my updates for free. Happy reading!I remember seeing Kim for the first time at the Aussie Bloggers Conference last year. She came up to the stage shortly after the ice-breaker session had started and we looked at each other and said “It’s you!” simultaneously. I always like those first few seconds of recognition, the putting together and reconciling of internet avatars and blogs to the person, sometimes years after you first started conversing. Kim has been blogging longer than I have, is a super cook, went to the same university I did, we both run when we can find the time and we’re both Sagittarians (best sign of the Zodiac, naturally). We’ve both been two-time finalists of the Best Australian Blogs Competition. She took the time to answer the below questions. Her blog can be found here; Twitter; Facebook. Thanks Kim! What first brought the concept of ‘blogging’ to your attention? Do you remember the circumstances? Or even the first few blogs you read? Back in 2003 I read an article in The Sydney Morning Herald talking about this new online diary phenomenon taking off in the US called “blogging”. It mentioned Heather Armstrong (Dooce) and another woman in Los Angeles whose blog I adored but she stopped about a year later citing difficulties with the whole baring her soul dilemma that blogging often presents. Why did you decide to start blogging yourself? At the time I was still in the grip of some pretty severe depression and doing the whole work/life struggle with two young kids, one of which had (still does!) significant special needs while the other was a non-sleeping screamer. As a journalist it was a pretty natural progression to want to write about what I was experiencing. At the time I didn’t really think about anyone else reading it or what would come of it, it was more a case of just getting it out of my head and keeping some sort of record of the time. I was shocked at just how bad my writing was and worse, how angry I was. Pure vitriol just spewed forth and it was alarming to say the least. I stepped away from it thinking perhaps it wasn’t for me. Fast forward a year or so and I was contracting in a new job when I mentioned the blogging concept to my boss. She had also tried her hand at it only to have similarly veined vitriol vent from her fingers. We decided to try blogging together, thinking perhaps that by doing so perhaps the vitriol would dilute. It did and Glamorouse was our world for the next 12-18 months. In the beginning, did you ever feel that what you were doing was ‘weird’ or on the fringes? Did you get any negative reactions? Oh my goodness did I ever. I told Chef what I was doing and he just dismissed it as ‘so self-indulgent’. He still doesn’t read my blog so you’ve got to give him points for tenacity. Even now people scoff at it and are genuinely surprised when I tell them about the popularity of and community in blogging. What were the best things about the Australian blogging community at the time? What were the worst things (if any)? In those early days one of the best things about the Australian blogging community was how close-knit it was while being quite diverse. Here we were in Sydney blogging about trying to juggle family and work but many of our readers were crafters from Melbourne. I firmly believe the blogging pioneers in Australia were crafters in Melbourne – it was such a dynamic, creative force years ago. The worst things were not really something we experienced but there was quite a bitchy component to it that we watched from the periphery. I think that is unavoidable when you get a small, intense creative group of people jostling for popularity. When you look back at those early days – from 2012′s perspective – is there anything you miss? That sense of being a part of something new and exciting. It was a feeling of being unique and on the cusp of something exciting, that we were all in on this big awesome secret. There was an innocence to it, a purity – popularity came solely off the quality of your writing not your ability to market and promote yourself. I miss that. In your opinion, is the blogging community better now… or just different? That’s a hard one. It is better in terms of the range of voices that are now being heard and the role blogging plays in giving a spotlight to things that have otherwise not been really openly discussed in mainstream media – for example talking about living with a disability or having a child with a disability, all aspects of mental health, death and grief. For me, being able to talk about those things and then have a conversation with people who have read it has been hugely beneficial. I don’t think any of us can ever dismiss the opportunity for people to be reassured they are not alone, it will get better or perhaps to try doing or responding to something a different way. But there is a different ‘vibe’ to blogging now, primarily a weird sense of an entitlement to popularity or sponsorships or earning money from your blog – but perhaps that is just exactly what I saw happening in 2005-06 when blogging exploded in the US now just happening on home soil. The rising influence of bloggers also has brought about a concurrent examination of money and power. Is there too much emphasis on the latter? Or is it justified? OH boy. That is a really big question. At the core of blogging is your voice, whether that comes through words, pictures, music, technology, food or craft. And for you to gain any sort of audience that comes back, your voice must be authentic. And what does every single company trying to sell us something want? To be seen as authentic, trust-worthy, on our side. It is therefore unavoidable that as blogging gains popularity certain sections of it will be courted by corporations wanting to promote their products and be associated with bloggers who have popularity and a clear brand in and of themselves. And as sure as the sun will rise, with money comes power. Is it justified? I don’t know, I just think it is unavoidable. Where do you see blogging headed? Is it in a direction you like? I think with any new phenomenon it will reach its peak and then plateau out. Other new mediums will appear and so the online world will evolve once more. Is it in a direction that I like? I don’t know, on the one hand I feel like a blogging pioneer and on the other I feel like I have totally missed the boat in terms of monetising my writing. The whole thing is a bit bittersweet for me at the moment. So what do I do, wail and shake my fists at the computer each time I see someone getting a sponsorship to an overseas event or a major partnership which I know I would have been perfect for or something I would have been awesome at? Yeah, I do that a lot. I hate the monetisation of personal journal blogging but that’s probably because I am a suburban voice wanting to monetise my blog but with no luck at doing so! It’s an unavoidable direction, so do you try and jump on the bandwagon or just wave as it passes by? Will you ever stop blogging? I’ll never stop blogging. Regardless of the direction blogging goes, irrespective of how overlooked I feel, I come back time and time again to why I started blogging in the first place – to create a written log of my life, to get all those words out of my head and to connect with others. There are people I know only through blogging who have been a part of my life for more than six years. I have never met some of them and maybe never will, but I view them as some of my closest friends and treasure their place in my life. While earning a living from my blog would be lovely and at this point in my life much needed, the reality of those friendships, that feeling of being connected is most important to me. * This is post one of the Personal Blogging ‘Then and Now’ Series. Read more about it here. Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews is the creator of Karen Andrews. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time). « Personal Blogging ‘Then and Now’ – A SeriesPersonal Blogging ‘Then and Now’ – Magnetoboldtoo »Comments edenland says May 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm Wow. This is the most in-depth and honest discussion of blogging in Australia .. that I’ve seen anywhere. The thought of money in blogging being synonymous with power – just wow. Love your take on craft bloggers being the pioneers, Kim. I’d say Melbourne food bloggers and Australian fashion bloggers are all pioneers, too. Bloody awesome piece, Karen. edenland recently posted..Raising Feminist Boys Reply Carli (@tinysavages) says May 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm Thanks for sharing with such honesty Kim (and Karen). Personal blogging and monetisation is so tricky. I have no idea what it will evolve into and call me idealistic but I think good writing will prevail in the end. Carli (@tinysavages) recently posted..Raspberry Cheesecake Slice Reply kim at allconsuming says May 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm Oh so do I Carli, so do I. kim at allconsuming recently posted..Recollections: primary school Reply Kathy says May 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm We’re of a generation, Kim – I started my first blog in February 2004 after being encouraged by a friend whose blog is one of the true ancients of the Australian blogosphere (Diary of an Average Australian – it’s a daily life / public transport activism blog). I was also a Dooce reader from before she got Dooced, which makes me feel terribly old sometimes. I think your analysis is insightful and spot-on. I agree that craft bloggers were pioneers, and I’d also agree with Eden that food bloggers were too (and still are, if you’re talking about building new kinds of online communities). I also believe that monetisation has changed the overall … feeling? vibe? … around blogging, in many ways. To me, the community is both less tight-knit and less light-hearted now that money is on the scene as a clear marker of “success”. Of course that’s not how everybody or even most bloggers measure their success, but there is no doubt that when some but not all bloggers can earn good part-time or even fulltime incomes from blogging, it changes the conversation. Competition, envy and stress rear their heads. That said, I think there are so many wonderful blogs around now and that the community is maturing ethically and philosophically in ways that are very encouraging to see. The fracturing into sub-communities based on interests is also an inevitable and not, I think, unhealthy result of so many more voices being heard. (I still miss the hobbyist, nerd-up sense that used to pervade blogging sometimes. There are days when I’d KILL for a good list meme to join in Kathy recently posted..Emerging Writers Festival Town Hall Conference Day 1: Fear is the mind-killer Reply kim at allconsuming says May 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm OH YES – remember the memes – so much fun! kim at allconsuming recently posted..Recollections: primary school Reply GirlClumsy says May 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm Totes get the bitterness regarding monetising. I started my blog in mid-2004. For the first three years it was primarily a travel blog, but even repurposed from 2007 on, that’s still a long time. All I’ve managed to do is score a free carpet – and I gave that to a reader, frightened I’d be accused of graft if I kept it. Oh, a few weeks ago I did get offered the opportunity to host a sponsored post. They would write the post, and I wasn’t to mention that I was paid for it. And the grand reward? $10. Yep. $10. I didn’t start out with the intention to blog for money, so I don’t lose sleep over it, but it still annoys me that I didn’t put any time in to learning more about this stuff so I’d be in a better position to capitalise on the monetisation when it did come. For a while, I thought the only actual way of making money through blogging was to run a blog instructing people how to make money through blogging. That’s no so much the case anymore. Sometimes I’d like to write more personal, anguished stuff, but I stop myself because my core readership doesn’t tend to respond so well to that. I’ve also had quite a pleasant life with no major catastrophes, so hearing a well-off white woman moan about her feelings doesn’t really seem to do it for people. A lot of the popular personal blogging does seem to have that element of suffering – parenting, depression, disability, relationship problems or childhood trauma. Of course, I’m not denying those people their right to a voice – it’s a great inspiration and allows people to bond and form friendships and that’s the great thing about the net. It also makes great reading. And popular reading. And reading appealing to sponsors. My garbled tales of politics, acting and clumsiness -not so much. At the end of the day, I am that well-off white woman so I guess I win at life, just behind a well off white male. But damnit if I wouldn’t like a free lipstick or something once in a while. GirlClumsy recently posted..More to Follow Reply kim at allconsuming says May 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm Exactly. Just throw some classy shit my way every now and then and decent recompense for my words and I’m a happy chook. But I do agree with Kathy, saying that it’s changed the vibe. So true. kim at allconsuming recently posted..Recollections: primary school Reply Deb @ Bright and Precious says May 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm Really enjoyed reading your perspective, Kim (and thanks Karen for asking the questions). The blogging climate in Australia at the moment fascinates me – especially in regards to personal blogging. I can sense things are about to change. Deb @ Bright and Precious recently posted..Tutu Days Reply Janine Fitzpatrick says May 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm As someone very new to blogging I find it really interesting to hear about the changes you have seen over the years. The monetizing stuff is obviously a difficult area at the moment – I wonder if blogging was a more male dominated arena whether there would be this level of concern? I remain a little conflicted over the whole issue- on one hand I think everyone deserves to be compensated for the time and effort they put into their blogs – on the other, once you do allow brands into your special place you do have certain requirements they will want met. I hope I can find a way to at least make my blog self-funded, and a platform for my writing and regard anything above that as a bonus. Thanks for sharing Kim. Janine Fitzpatrick recently posted..Monday Morning Photo Reply Fiona says May 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm As a blogger who’s just moved to Australia, I find this really interesting. I’m a relatively new blogger (1 year), so hearing the developments over the past few years is really interesting. So often, these discussions come back to monetizing. For me, I’m too scared of losing “control” of the blog to even consider monetizing it, although clearly those eager to make blogging a career have to work out how to do that. It’s also really interesting to see how the interaction between bloggers has changed. I’ve really struggled to find Aussie bloggers – it’s taken me a good few weeks to get a reading list of around 5 – am I just not looking in the right places? Fiona recently posted..[Challenge: Cake] Chocolate Ganache Tartlets Reply Marita says May 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm I hear you about the Melbourne Crafters, they were blogging evangelists back in the day. Reply kim at allconsuming says May 28, 2012 at 11:18 pm Weren’t they? And they really enriched – and still do – the online landscape. They are all generous to a fault with their knowledge and experience and so funny. All of them, so damn funny. kim at allconsuming recently posted..Recollections: primary school Reply Dorothy @ Singular Insanity says May 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm I did hear about blogging way back when It seemed very nerdy and self-indulgent, I mean who did those people think they were, posting themselves all over the internet?? And now look at me ! I think the discussion about monetisation is turning from whether to do it, to how to do it professionally and fairly. Not everyone will choose to do it, but those of us that do, want to feel that we’re being taken advantage of. Dorothy @ Singular Insanity recently posted..Is all blogging advice right for you? Reply Kirsten McCulloch says July 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm ” I don’t know, on the one hand I feel like a blogging pioneer and on the other I feel like I have totally missed the boat in terms of monetising my writing. The whole thing is a bit bittersweet for me at the moment.” I can relate to that. I first started blogging in January 2000, doing it all laboriously by hand in dreamweaver (actually at one point I was hand coding in notebook!). Eventually I moved over the typepad, importing a selection of the archives, and I still blog there about my kids (mostly). And then a few years ago I started my current blog at sustainablesububurbia.net. But I’ve never monetised any of them (beyond the occasional link to amazon or fishpond anyway). Sigh. Kirsten McCulloch recently posted..Kids ‘n’ Cleaning, Chore Cards and Family Fun Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Name * Email * Website Comment You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.