Nine years ago today I set up my blog. I feel like I have to mark each passing year with a blog post of some sort with a bit reflection on how much it’s all changed in the time and where I’m at and all that. A little re-wind to 2009 and blogging was a very new world, everyone doing it however they thought they should and sort of winging it as they went along. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s a different world and somehow I’m still here doing my thing!
There’s still a lot to love about the online world and blogging in 2018, but you do sometimes have to see the wood for the trees as such. There’s a lot of niggles and challenges in blogging/influencer world too. From the buying followers, copy-cat content, algorithm complaints, over-saturation, rules, blogger-envy yadda yadda yadda. The list of niggles and negatives goes on and on. But I don’t like to focus on the not-so-great side of blogging and I actually decided (right now, as I’m writing) that instead of focussing on blogging and what’s changed in nine years – as in all honesty, that’s been done to death – I thought I’d take a little look back at my own life and how much it’s changed over the nine years. Maybe a tad self-indulgent but hopefully maybe a little interesting for anyone who might be a little curious about the person behind the blog.
Back in 2009, my life was a different place. I was living in West London, in Chiswick in a lovely one bed flat with Ollie. We had met in late 2007 and at the point where I started my blog we had been living together since September 2008. Chiswick was a lovely place to live and I have loads of happy memories from living there. But I did maybe feel I was a bit ‘too young’ for the neighbourhood. I was in my early/mid twenties (24 to be precise) at this point and Chiswick was definitely more a yummy-mummy type place! But the best things about the area where an abundance of amazing places to eat and being walking distance from the river. I had left my all-girl flat share to move in with Ollie and as much as I was excited to live together – I did miss the girls and found the change harder than I thought I would. I still remember the drive over from my old place in Holloway in my little VW Polo filled to the brim, arriving in Chiswick and going into Ollie’s room (for a month I lived with him in his shared flat before our place became available) and sitting on the bed and bursting into tears. A little bit Monica in Friends style of ‘I have to live with a boy’ sobs…
When I started my blog I was working in PR in the property sector and working in Ealing. In was an interesting and challenging job, but not necessarily one that I felt a huge amount of love for. It taught me a hell of a lot but one of the reasons I started my blog was wanting a creative outlet away from my day job.
One of the most frequent questions I’m ever asked about my blog is why or how I decided to start it. It was on a quiet lunch break at work and I decided to set up my own blogspot address and start writing. It wasn’t a big thought process or complicated branding mission. It was just a bit of a whim, where I decided I wanted a space to write and decided that beauty would be my thing. I knew there were fashion blogs out there, mostly in a America as far as ‘known’ ones. But fashion was never really my thing (unless you count ripped jeans and a striped t-shirt with converse as fashion) but beauty was something I’d always been obsessed with. Ever since I worked in a coffee shop at 14 I’d spend all my Saturday job money in Boots on everything from shower gel to nail polish.
When I started my blog I liked to think of it as an online magazine. In my head, it was maybe something I could use to show a magazine as examples of my writing. I started it very much anonymously, I didn’t like the idea of my face and name being on there. I didn’t use my own photos, just stock images or pack shots of products. For me, it was all about what I was writing and sharing reviews. See, blogging was a totally different place back then!
I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into back then. I just wanted a creative outlet and liked the idea of running my own online magazine – no matter how amateur a shape it was in. When a few months in I was getting invites to events I didn’t really know what to expect. The first ever blog event I went to was for Illamasqua to see a new collection and watch Alex Box work her magic. I remember sitting there, feeling a bit out of my depth as I didn’t know anyone. I did chat to a few people sitting around me and loads of them where VERY excited that the Pixiwoo girls were there. I wasn’t really in the You Tube bubble at that point so didn’t realise what they meant! Alex Box was amazing, was doing make-up in a way I had never seen (lots of sharp lines, bold colours etc) in person. I remember after the main presentation two bloggers I spotted being very giggly whilst looking at the display of the new collection as they stuffed items into their bags… I was a bit shocked but they seemed to think that this was ok behaviour?! But then it was a bit of a learning game as to what events entailed and how was ok to behave. Well, I say that – but it’s been pretty clear to me it’s never been ok to just take products!
A couple of years into my blogging career and I had a change of actual career too. I switched from my job in property PR to a job in social media. In fact, the change came about through blogging in many ways. I had introduced social media to the company I was in and started using it daily for them as well as being active for my blog. It was then at a blog event I got chatting about how interested I was in social media and how it was growing and one thing led to another and next thing I knew I was interviewing then accepting a job within a Media Agency with a fairly fledgeling Social Media department but working with some amazing big name brands. It was a great company and had some brilliant and varied clients for the years I was working there. Alongside running the blog at a time that it was ALL about going to as many events as possible and doing as much as I could. This was the ‘big growth’ sort of phase of blogging for me in the 2010-2013 years. When I was seeing familiar faces at events, being sent lovely samples was the hight and occasionally there would be paid for work here and there. Which was always a bonus and never the aim. For me it was all about blogging as much as I could and covering as much as possible.
Then in around 2013 I felt something change a bit. More and more of my peers and other bloggers were starting to make it into a job. It started to get a lot of attention as a growing industry. It was in 2013 that I had a pinch-me moment and was invited on a trip to visit Mauritius and Reunion with LUX Resorts. It was definitely one of those ‘how has my blog brought me here’ moments. It was on this trip that I really started wondering if I could perhaps take the plunge and make by blog into my career. A couple of months of behind the scenes thinking and planning and later that year I handed my notice in at the Media Agency and from January 2014 I was officially a full time blogger and freelance social media consultant.
I’m now in my fifth year of working for myself, with four successful years under my belt. In that time life has changed SO much. In 2014 I got married and we got Monty. Both life highlights in their own way. Alongside my first year working freelance it was an interesting one. I generally wouldn’t recommend getting a puppy, planning a wedding and starting your own business in the same year. But also pleased that all in all – so far it’s worked out.
The years of working for myself have been a definite learning curve. I’ve worked with some amazing brands and absolutely loved so many of the projects I’ve been a part of. There have been some projects that have been not so great, but each and every one has taught me important lessons along the way. From learning to set boundaries, contracts up front, trusting instincts and to always keep learning (you can’t rest on your laurels in such a fast moving industry). I could write a whole post on these sorts of lessons – but I’ll save that for another time.
The next big life change was moving house. Taking me from central London life to suburban life. It was a huge change and definitely took some getting used to. Sure, I miss life in Angel and having all that London has on the doorstep. I miss having cabs right outside the door and being able to walk to Oxford Circus. But also, I love having space and a garden. Plus where we live I can still get to Oxford Circus in 45minutes, it’s not like I’ve moved to the sitcks. But it was a change – and sure, makes me feel like a bit of a fraud with my blog name ‘A Beauty Junkie in London’ … when technically, I’m not *in* London anymore. But then, life changes and hence the look back over nine years since I started.
The next big life moment on the cards is Baby Thorne. Due in a month and I have no doubt that this will be one of those big life changes that with no doubt will have an impact on here too. I feel like it’s another step that takes me a little further away from being able to really identify with my original blog name. In the same way as with MSN Chat names, you might think they’re perfect at the time but looking back now, you can cringe a bit.
I absolutely love the blog ‘journey’ I’ve been on so far. I always said starting the blog back in Feb 2009 was the best thing I ever did and I 100% stand by that. Sure, it has all gotten very serious over recent years. But it’s amazing that something built on the back of sparks of ideas and creative hobbies. Now it can be a viable career or just really rewarding hobby.
I truly love this little corner of the internet I’ve created. Sure, I’m not the biggest and I’m not a household name. But that was never my goal and certainly isn’t my intention now. I’m so happy that I have those familiar names that pop up in comments, or replies and DM’s. I appreciate each and every interaction so much. Because let’s face it, there’s a hell of a lot of ‘stuff’ online – for someone to spend time engaging with what I put out there isn’t a given. So it means a lot.
What does the future look like for these internet parts? Honestly, who knows. I love that I’ve really started to blend the beauty side with other bits I want to cover. I see that growing more and more. Yep, probably incorporating baby and family type content. I want to focus on four main topics: beauty, home, family and travel. Will A Beauty Junkie in London still go under the same name? I don’t know. If I had a firm idea for what I would change it to then I’d probably have already done so. In the meantime, it will continue as it is. Any bright ideas for a new name very welcome – I know I don’t want to change it to my name. I’d want something that fits now and in future (if that’s even possible?!) so the pressure is on to find something that fits AND is actually available across a URL plus social handles.
But until the time I find the new identity for Beauty Junkie London, I’ll keep going. Doing my thing in the way that I know is best for me. Is it perfect? No. Is it following the trends of blogging and social media content? Nope, probably not. But that’s the perk of being an OG blogger with 9 years experience behind me. Nine years down… bring on the next nine and beyond!
You can read my post about being an OG Blogger here: Here’s To The OG Blogger
As always, thank you SO much for your support and if you have read all 2000 words of ramble on this ninth anniversary post then you deserve a cocktail or at least a slice of cake.
All photography by www.bangonstyleblog.com