Did you ever wish you could go back in time and experience things they way they used to be? The genius thing about living online is that you can – all your favourite blogs are there, archived forever. And they don’t just hang around for future humiliation (“OMG I can’t believe I wore/thought/said/wrote that?!”) Oh no, I really do think there’s a lot to be learnt from looking backwards at how other people have improved – particularly if you are struggling with how to to take your own blog to the next level.
Let me elaborate. Recently I wrote some tough love and advice for struggling bloggers, and one of the key points that people kept referring to was where I said,
“I think one of the biggest problems newer bloggers face these days is that they spend too much time looking at where they want to be, or looking sideways at what other bloggers are doing. By doing this not only will you constantly be comparing yourself and putting your own achievements down (I’m a big believer in celebrating the small things!) but you won’t be able to see the opportunities or ideas that are right in front of you.”
So I got thinking, instead of newer bloggers looking at each other, or at the more established blogs in their current form as a benchmark to success, maybe there could be some benefit to looking backwards at where these successful bloggers used to be. How about trying to analyse what they did to get from that point (where you are) to the point they are now (where, I assume, you want to be).
For my stalking research I looked at some of my favourites, both wedding and fashion/lifestyle blogs, starting about 2/3 years ago. I looked at stylemepretty.com, greenweddingshoes.com, galadarling.com and nubbytwiglet.com… and just for some added cringe factor I went right to the beginning of Rock n Roll Bride too. If you want to feel good about your own blog, go back to the first page of mine... oh boy I had no idea what I was doing! We’ve actually tidied the old posts up recently in terms of layout because when Gareth coded the new swanky pants gallery that we now use to display images, it screwed up the old posts something rotten!
(Note: if you want to go back in time on a blog, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click ‘back’ or ‘older entries’ – or whatever it is you click to get onto page 2 – then at the end of the permalink change the number ’2′ to whichever page number you wish to visit. It will take trial and error (and will depend on how many entries they’ve had) as to which number will take you back to your desired date).
Although each of the blogs I looked at were very different in terms of what topics they covered or what style they preferred, there were some striking similarities to how they’ve progressed over the years.
One of the first things I noticed was the change in writing style. For the most part, the earlier blog posts seemed full of new blogger excitement. Sure, the technicalities of the writing wasn’t always the best but the personality of each blogger came through in a totally endearing way. Everything they blogged was the best! thing! ever! Over time, particularly with the wedding blogs I looked at, this has been lost. Nowadays the bigger wedding blogs seem to be narrated by an anonymous voice. Unlike when I first started reading them, I now know very little about the blogger’s own personal tastes or even who the blogger is. In this way they’ve gone a lot more in the direction of how the wedding magazines publish content. While I don’t think this is necessarily a ‘bad’ thing in terms of how they run their businesses, I will personally always favour a blog in which the writer’s personality shines through. I want to know personal stuff (what they like, what they’ve been up to, what they’ve eaten for breakfast!) I want to invest interest in the blogger as well as the content of their blog.