Things that have changed about blogging

Do you remember the good old days of geocities? Maybe someday horizontal bars and waterfall java applets will the plaid bellbottoms and doilies of technology.

My very first ever official “web presence” was in the mid-nineties, probably 1996. I created a Geocities account and set about learning HTML and then later JavaScript and CSS. It wasn’t a blog, but I filled it with page after tacky page of what I knew about the things that interested me: crafts, Tarot, runes, astrology, cooking, modern parenting, etc. There was no social network as we knew it. Instead, you searched through the Geocities database through the “neighborhoods” created by interest, or by using keywords in the search field. In those days, additions to search engines like Yahoo were user driven – I remember being enchanted with access to over 200 aromatherapy sites and thinking that was just fabulous. I was equally thrilled to be able to update the database with sites that Yahoo or Alta Vista didn’t have.

How things have changed!!

A lot of other things have changed, too. I was thinking about this when it dawned on me that I have been building webpages now for twenty farking years. Wow. I had accounts at Geocities, FortuneCity, Angelfire (come to think of it, I still have an account there), Xanga, and who knows how many others. Here are some of the things that I have noticed are different about blogging:

  1. The name. The first blog I ever owned was at Xanga and it was called a weblog. It was really simple and straightforward, you needed to know HTML to really jazz up your pages, and you had to pay for the privilege of having photos. Thank the gods it is no longer called a weblog!!! I can’t imagine calling myself a weblogger. There was no social sharing as we know it, there were individual bloggers in the community. If they liked you, they added you and your posts showed up in their dashboard newsfeed. Individual bloggers with HTML savvy would create their own blogrolls in the sidebars and show off everyone that they were linking to. It was a big deal when another blogger linked to you, especially if they were a popular blogger on the site. Blogging etiquette started to emerge.
  2. Coding. I haven’t coded – truly coded – a blog in years. YEARS. By this I mean making a pot of coffee, rolling up my sleeves, and pulling an all-nighter in front of the computer as I sifted line by line through my java trying with bloodshot, tired eyes to see where I went wrong and why my sidebar was gone. These days most websites are point and click. No knowledge of coding is needed. 99.9% of the time this is a good thing.
  3. Traffic. These days I am actively building my blog and its traffic. I guest blog, take classes in social media, blogging, and selling online. My goal is to be able to support myself as an indie designer. I remember the days when I was absolutely thrilled that my Xanga blogroll had about 60 blogs in it and I averaged about 20 comments to a post. It was like being in a charming, quaint cyberneighborhood that I could spend all day in, visiting neighbors and sometimes I did. Nowadays there are Better Blogger Books everywhere and everyone has a course that will teach you to “leverage your blogging presence” for maximum profit. Suddenly it sucks that I only get a few hundred hits to my site every day and I rip my hair out trying to make my presence known. Well…ok…maybe that was an exaggeration. I’m not ripping my hair out, but if I ever do I have a bag of hair extensions all ready to go.
  4. Comments. Back in the day we were all thrilled when the day came that we got, like, 50 comments on our weblog entries. Even better was when people were having conversations in the comments thread. You were totally one of the cool webloggers if people started having arguments in the comments thread. Oooooooh. The drama, the cattiness – you couldn’t not look and every one of you that made those sanctimonious “I just want everyone to get along, I don’t know why this stuff happens on my blog” – you lie!!!! You lied like cheap rugs, every one of you!!!! You all loved it, and you know it. These days hardly anyone comments on my blog anymore. I worried about this incessantly until I started taking classes in blogging and realized that people aren’t commenting in droves on a lot of blogs anymore. They’re commenting on Facebook or showing their support by pinning or curating.
  5. Twitter isn’t the big deal that it used to be. I still tweet, don’t get me wrong. My followers list grows every day and it’s over 800 now. I realize this isn’t massive compared to some other designers but it’s better than a kick in the bum, eh? I still do like Twitter, and I enjoy engaging there but I don’t get most of my traffic from there anymore. I get traffic from Pinterest, Google searches, and guest blogging. Not Twitter. All of my articles and patterns are shared, and there is a core of tweeps that I like to keep up with, but with the life span of a tweet being, like, 20 seconds, it’s not the best method of social sharing or self-promotion out there.
  6. Its ok to make money blogging. When monetization first came out, I remember the community at Xanga and other places being divided right down the middle. Some bloggers, like antisoccermom, embraced the idea and loaded their blogs with as much monetization as they could hold without sinking. Others bloggers that I followed couldn’t possibly comprehend why they should make money from their (insert foofy frilly adjectives here) pursuit of the blogged word. Both sides argued passionately and gave us all juicy stuff to read in the comments sections. I was in the middle. I used to give the side eye to my friends that argued about their noble pursuits being tainted with money, but I didn’t have the cahones to tell people to click those adlinks – I still remember antisoccermom getting after people in her blog posts – “You aren’t clicking them enough!!! You’re supposed to make me money!!!!” And you know what? They did!!! These days it’s not a matter of if you are going to monetize your blog, other bloggers will simply ask you why you aren’t, like as if you hit your head on the way to Google Adsense and forgot where it was.
  7. We are ok sharing way more about ourselves. I remember when no one would say where they lived, how old they were, what they looked like – we were all grand enigmas shrouded in weird little user names and goofy avatars. Blogging opened this up by opening us up. Those bloggers that were raw and open about their lives tended to be the most popular, because they were relatable. When social networking came along, it became de rigeur to be known by your own name because a lot of these sites insist upon it; the idea now being that you want to be found and you want to be known.
  8. Blogging started to change how we view photographs and photography. Nowadays the average 14 year old has about 10,000 selfies on Instagram and Facebook. Bloggers were among the first to plaster the internet with pictures of themselves, their DIY projects, and pets. Since those medieval times of the early 2000s, smart phones and apps have changed the way we display ourselves. No more stiff poses with red eye in front of the camera. That won’t do. Now everyone has at least half a dozen weird angle selfies, one bathroom in a bar shot, one looking down the table at the whole damned family at Red Lobster shot, a hundred photos of their meals, pictures of things on the ground with their toes in the bottom edge, up close shots of the texture of their sofa collaged with their kids, a flower in the garden, and a cupcake – you get the idea. Now there are photoblogs and sites like Instagram that communicate strictly with visuals.
  9. Sharing is a huge deal. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if blogs go the way of the dodo bird  because of interconnected smart phone apps like Instagram and I’m saying this as someone who loves blogging. I stopped blogging regularly around 2004 and then picked it up again when I started blogging crochet patterns in 2008. I worried about how I would share my work and how people would see it because there were no more web rings, blog rings, or neighborhood style blogging communities. I didn’t see how my little Blogger blog could be seen by anyone, anywhere. I had some serious catching up to do and I learned quickly as people found me left, right, and centre on Google when they searched for crocheted socks. I didn’t share a lot at first because I didn’t understand. I thought I would get in trouble for posting someone else’s things somewhere. When I first learned how to read my site stats and found out that for one month, 70% of my traffic came from a craft forum in Japan that was using one of my sock patterns for a CAL, I was excited and freaked out all at once. I didn’t know how I felt about that. It was weird. For about five minutes I wanted to take down my blog and hide everything. Then I got over myself and told one of my girlfriends, “Yeah. I’m pretty big in Japan.” hahaha

That’s what I can think of, off the top of my head. So have you noticed any changes in blogging over the years?


One Reply to “Things that have changed about blogging”

  1. So much of this sounds familiar! I had geocities pages too, along with fortunecity, angelfire, iwarp, and tripod.
    I taught myself some basics of html but never really delved into java too much or page frames. I can relate to so much you wrote about. I started on the Internet in 1992-93 with a compuserve account.
    Thanks for the memory jog! 🙂

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