Age & Blogging
The response to my post questioning whether there was ageism in blogging was amazing. It inspired some women to write their own blog posts and prompted a lot of responses both on twitter, facebook, instagram and in the post comments.
[My follow up post was going to go in a different direction but once I started typing the following post came out of my fingers. So I'll be writing more about this in the coming weeks. It's a big topic.]
My original post was written to try and make sense of my thoughts because I'd been thinking about age for a while. It started when I realised, whilst writing my e-course, that I'd been blogging now for eleven years. Since 2007 way before blogging became a profession. Then my thoughts snowballed as I flicked through a blogging industry magazine and noticed that each time they profiled someone they'd record their age along with their blogging stats. The oldest person I found was 32 but most were in their twenties.
And I get this. I get why they've mentioned their age. Some of them have achieved so much in such a young age. I don't think I would've been brave enough to leave my more traditional office-based job for a freelance writing/blogging/influencer career when I was in my twenties. I'm full of admiration.
As well as blogging for over a decade I've also been reading blogs for the same period of time. And I've found what I look for in a good blog has changed. Whereas previously I was looking to catch up on how many words a writer had written in their novel-in-progress now I'm more interested in a wider range of subjects.
And I find I enjoy those written by the millennial generation. They aren't afraid to speak their mind (obviously I'm generalising massively here) they seem fearless and aesthetically their blogs are slick, easy to read, well laid out and lovely to look at. You're drawn in by one post then start clicking around to read more. You're hungry for their content and stories so follow them everywhere on social media. They are inspiring. I'm thinking Emma Gannon, Sara Tasker of Me & Orla, Laura-Jane Williams, Wanderluce, Hayley Hall.
Gorgeous, gorgeous blogs with interesting and well-written posts on specific subjects with a beginning, middle and an end. Inspiring, aspirational, wonderful photography and all overlaid with a huge dose of professionalism. They're like mini-magazines but in a more intimate way. You feel you're being spoken to directly.
In the last few years those blogs are where I've got my inspiration from and have helped form the blog I have today.
In the ageism post I also mentioned I'd had mentoring from two people younger than me. One considerably younger. The first is Sara Tasker of Me & Orla and the other is Jen Carrington. Jen is young but oh so wise.
These two people were incredibly important to me because they got me out of my 'old blogging mindset'.
Huh? What do I mean by that?
Well, my older blogs were basic. Yes, they were the in thing at the time I set them up but they'd become dated. Readers online are becoming more and more visual. And if you come to a dated blog design well, I'm sorry to say, but readers will be put off. (Again, a big generalisation here.)
My previous blog posts were more a collection of what I'd been up to. They didn't give the reader anything. They didn't inspire or tell a story or help a reader perform a task. They were utterly self-conscious and stilted. AND they didn't set my soul alight either when writing them.
I was stuck in this old blogging mindset because I'd started blogging so early. I was around when people poured scorn on 'professional bloggers', laughing at the term 'entrepreneur'. When it was seen as unseemly to earn money from writing or blogging - or even, God forbid, to promote yourself or your blog post on social media.
So whilst I was scared of making changes the blogging landscape changed. And for some time I was left behind. I was outdated. Until, that is, I started an Instagram account and found Sara then, later, Jen.
So having learnt from the generation below mine I began exploring some more in this newer, fresher landscape. Age was never a factor in deciding whether to follow a blog or not. Indeed just this morning I've followed a blogger but, thinking back, I've no idea what her age was. Having said that I do enjoy stories from women from my stage of life. Past the baby stage (if they've had children) and now on to the stage where their children are older and so they're regaining their freedom. Maybe questioning where the last decade disappeared to (underneath the nappies and the feeds and the sleepless nights) and starting to rediscover their creativity. Wanting to pursue unrealised dreams.
Xanthe Berkeley is another person who has inspired me and has shaped me as an online creative. Look at her site and her Instagram account. She's so creative and has made an amazing career out of making films for brands as well as herself. She also has a brilliant online course, too (which I've taken and can highly recommend.) It never occurred to me that Xanthe was in her forties. Why would it? I was following her for her creativity and inspiration. It wasn't until she commented on twitter in response to my ageism blog post that I found she was in the same decade as me.
Then there is Trona of AyeLined, Miss Magpie, Judy Heminsley of All Things Bright & Good (who recently wrote a post about Women over 50 - a new lifestage) Vanessa of The Simpson Sisters, Louise Tilbrook, Sage on Earth, Humphrey & Grace, Louise Maidment (who wrote On being 40 in business - not a boss babe) and Amanda Start from The Online Stylist. This is just a small number of women who responded via Twitter to the ageism post who have a beautiful online presence.
Two of the three sisters from Oooh Have You Seen are over forty. They said that they felt there was a bias towards the twenty-something in Instagram and online generally but this reflected the advertising industry as a whole.
Which goes with the point I was clumsily trying to make in my previous post. (My thoughts form as I write!) It's not the bloggers who are ageist. I know there are older women (and yes, older men) out there writing and blogging. But it's the blogging industry and even more so, the influencer industry that has a problem with age. (I won't even go down the route of beauty blogging and how creams for mature women are being advertised by people younger than me!) This isn't just constrained to the blogging industry - it's an age-old (pun intended) issue.
So when I ask if us slightly older bloggers 'have fallen off a cliff' I'm saying - look at these amazing, mature bloggers, writing brilliant content with wonderful photography. Shouldn't they be represented in your magazine, too?
I know I've not even mentioned the comments from the last blog post. Thank you so much for all of them and I'm sorry I haven't replied to each one individually - please know I appreciate them all. This is such a big topic I feel I've only just skimmed the surface. I'm looking forward to addressing more of your comments and observations in future posts.
Do you dream of having a blog of your own? Would you love an online space to write and create? Are you putting off starting a blog because you don't know where to begin and how to make it yours? Or, perhaps, you feel you're too old?! (If it's the latter then don't! - we need more mature voices.)
In May I'll be re-launching my online blogging for creativity course, called Sowing Stories.
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