|The original "Red Kitchen" in our teeny tiny little apartment|
(Also the first picture I ever uploaded to my blog)
Obviously I'm no expert, but I think reading several blogs for several hours for the past four years has given me some perspective on blogging. I've watched the gradual change that has occurred in the (craft and sewing) blog world that I follow closely.
Where there used to be a lot of text and a few okay pictures, there are now tons of fabulous, highly-edited and embellished pictures with very little text. Where there used to be a lot of big, thick, beefy paragraphs, there are now bullet points. Or at least a lot of spaces in between. Where there used to be a lot of bloggers who were always tripping over themselves about not being professionals, I now read women talk about blogging and creating in a serious way. This is their job now, whether they get paid or not, and they take it (and themselves) seriously.
I've definitely noticed those same changes in myself as a blogger. I look through my archives and just shake my head. "Honestly? People read this? How could they stand these pictures? How could I be so dorky?" But the truth is, the world of craft blogs (as least in my opinion) was a lot more amateur all around then compared to now. Back then most bloggers had dorky, tacky blog headers. We were wowed if they could get an image into their header. Now? Now even start-up blogs look super professional. (Though, to be perfectly honest, I'm still wowed by that.)
But the biggest change in the way that I blog hasn't been in the quality of the photos (though I do sincerely think/hope they have improved) or the way I present myself when I write professionally. The biggest change for me has been my audience.
Bryan and I got married in December of 2007. So 2008 was really our first year of marriage. 2008 was also a great year because we lived in the same college town as Bryan's older brother Chris and his wife Anna. None of us had kids yet. All of us were fairly newly married. We got together a lot to play games (three of us got whomping good at Settlers) and hang out and watch Enchanted. Everybody was busy with school and work and stuff, but we were young, child-less, and full of ourselves in a really funny way. Or at least we thought we were really funny.
It was somewhere around that time that Chris and Anna started blogs. Well, in my eyes at that time (and, let's be honest, still now) they are kind of some of the cool kids in the family. So Bryan and I followed suit and started our own blogs. These weren't family blogs, which I realize now looking back is unique. Just our own blogs for our own thoughts. We have a (private) family blog now where I post random pictures and videos of Olivia, but I'm so glad we didn't start out with a family blog. It would have made me feel like I could only post cutesy, nice things. But instead I had my own blog where I was free to write about what was in my head and Bryan was free to do the same on his blog.
Back then it was just a handful of the Lewis kids and in-laws that blogged. We hardly ever posted pictures. (I didn't even know how to upload photos into Blogger back then.) We just wrote regular paragraphs about all the things we thought about or did. A lot of it was really funny. And a huge part of the blogging experience then was the comments. I remember writing posts and then being so excited to read the three or four comments that the same three or four people wrote. As far as I was concerned, the blogging world was just a small, tight-knit group of funny siblings and in-laws leaving witty comments on each others blogs. It was a family affair. And even though none of us bothered to make our blogs private, it felt that way.
But collecting other blogs was inevitable. "Oh, you have a blog? I want to read it! Send me the link!" So I started reading other friends' blogs. And then one of my friends started sharing the occasional craft project. And then one day I noticed she had a blog roll (though I'm sure I didn't know that term back then) full of great craft and sewing blogs. I started visiting her blog daily so I could visit that list of craft and sewing blogs daily. I felt like I had struck gold. All of these craft and sewing projects for free! And updated frequently! And made by real people who explained things in regular terms! I was absolutely in heaven.
And, of course, if you give a girl creative blogs to follow, eventually she's going to make something. Which is exactly what happened. I saw the tutorial for these beanbags on Lil Blue Boo and decided to give them a try with some t-shirt sleeves that were left over from another project. I altered things some and made the beanbags my own way. And then I sheepishly shared a tutorial on how to make my version.
And then nothing happened.*
But whatevs. The world of craft and sewing blogs was great, but I still loved the tiny little blogging world of family friends.
But, over time, something funny started happening. Every now and then some random stranger would leave a comment on one of our (little group of bloggers) blogs. We would giggle and whisper across the internet, "Look! Some total stranger left a comment on your blog! You're FAMOUS!" It was a group victory and one that had us cracking up every time.
In the mean time, while I was picking up momentum in sewing my own little projects at home, I started posting about them more. I was terribly embarrassed by this. Partly because none of the other family blogging friends were into crafts or sewing. So it was kind of like walking into a room of football fanatics** and saying, "Look at this cute new fabric!" They were supportive, but they didn't really care. And I didn't expect them to. But for whatever reason, I kept at it anyway. This was around the time when I was pregnant with Olivia. And after she was born, the creating picked up even more. Because now I had a little something to make things for.
As always happens in life, one thing led to another and, gradually, my audience began to change. My embarrassing little tutorials were getting featured more and more on One Pretty Thing and I was starting to gain momentum in both my blog readership and the quality of my projects. Sometimes I wondered whether I was still "allowed" to write about the funny things that were in my head. I wondered if people who were coming here to read about crafts and sewing would think that some random funny thing I thought of was really worth their time.
Luckily, I never really made a decision one way or the other. I did blog about a lot of craft and sewing projects, but I couldn't completely put aside the random posts that my blog used to be made up of. Nor did I really want to. I never wanted to offer the illusion that I was some fabulous person living in a gorgeous apartment making things in all of the free time I swam in each day. I'm a regular person living a regular life. But it's a life that I love because of the people that are in it and the ways I'm able to--little by little--get to know myself better as I develop my talents each day.
Over time, all of my original family blogging friends stopped blogging. I can't tell you how sad I am about that. Especially since we don't have the luxury of living in the same city anymore (let alone the same state... or country), I miss reading all the interesting and funny things they have to say. They still have family blogs, but reading about family group activities is not the same thing as reading the voice of an individual that you've come to love and laugh with. Family blogs are great for keeping up to date on what's going on in each others' lives, but it doesn't give the feeling that you're all huddled under some tent made from blankets giggling about funny things you thought of. In some ways, it's almost the commenting on each others' blogs that I miss more than what we wrote to begin with.
Anyway, I definitely don't mean for this post to be sad or anything. (Though I wouldn't mind if it put the others in enough of a guilt trip that they dusted off their old blogs and re-joined the party. Come back! I miss you!) I was just thinking about all this and reflecting on how I've changed as a blogger in these past four years that I've been at it.
It seems like so many people in the craft/sewing blog world start their blogs now with that purpose in mind. Their first few posts are great sewing tutorials. They're already scouting for sponsors. Their headers look totally professional. But I had no such intentions when I started this blog. It was just little me living my little life and being a little bit arrogant about how funny I think I am sometimes.
I hope that's what it still is.
*This tutorial has been one of my top sources of traffic since I started gearing my blog more towards crafts and sewing and still gets frequent traffic. Sometimes you've just got to be patient and let things trickle down and through other mediums before it gets noticed.
**Except that none of these family blogging friends could give you the score of any sporting event ever.