Monday, 13 April 2015

It would be crazy of me to write about anything other than 'blogging' as the topic for the second instalment of my 'Alphablog' series. 'A is for Anxiety' was the first in this series of posts in which I write about a topic relative to my life for every letter of the alphabet.

I have been blogging for years, and The Blonde is by no means my first blog, only the first blog that I have really put my everything into! Extremely cliche, I know, but it really is my space on the Internet to write about whatever I want to write about, and I couldn't be more pleased with how far I have come with it.

I started The Blonde on Sunday 21st July, 2013, twelve days before I boarded a plane to begin a new chapter of my life in Doha, Qatar. As I explain in my very first post, I started this blog so that my family and friends could keep up to date with my adventures in the desert. Almost two years on, it has certainly been serving its purpose, and it gives me the biggest rush of pride and happiness when my family and friends tell me that they love reading my blog. Their continual support for me and my blog has been amazing.

Particularly in the past year, since I began sharing my blog outside of the comfort of my family and friends and promoting my blog on social media,  my readership has expanded to so many countries around the world. It is an amazing feeling to receive an email from somebody I have never met, from a country I have never visited (and even countries that I have!) saying that they read and enjoy my blog.

Going back to that very first post that I wrote, I also said that I wanted to document my life here in Doha so that anyone looking to move to the Middle East could read about what life is like here from the perspective of somebody who has made the move themselves. I have received so many lovely emails from people who are looking to move to Doha and have stumbled across my blog, and said that it has helped them to really get a feel for the country or put them at ease about their move. It really makes my day to hear that!

When I was first offered my job out here, I tried looking online and only found one or two Doha blogs, which I know helped to reassure me enormously, and it was great to see snippets of the country that I would soon be calling 'home'. Now, there are so many great Doha blogs written by lovely expat bloggers - many of whom I have now had the pleasure to meet! - that give such a good insight into life here in this tiny Middle Eastern city, and I feel so happy to be a part of this ever growing expat blogging community.

Not only do I feel a sense of pride in how my blog is received by other people, but I feel a sense of pride for myself, for the time, energy and money that I have invested to bring my hobby to life. And it really is a hobby. For some, their blog is their job, and that is amazing. What a dream for your hobby to become your source of income. For me, I maintain and write my blog on top of a full time job which is demanding both inside and outside of the office, a second blog, as well as a relationship that means the world to me, family and friends across the globe that I want to always be in touch with, and a social life here in Doha with my friends....sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day for everything, and very often it is my blogging hobby that falls by the wayside. But that's okay.

(This is where most of my blogging takes place - love these beautiful sheets from Kylie Minogue's bedding range! My canvas says 'When I fall in love / It will be forever', because I'm a hopeless romantic!)

Whilst I try my best to, I don't put pressure on myself to post regularly - the most regular I aim for is my weekly Doha Diaries posts, and anyone who follows my blog will know that they are never on time!! Some people thrive on working to a blogging schedule (I salute you and your epic organisation!) but that just wouldn't work for me at all, so I blog when it is the right time for me to blog, and don't beat myself up if I just can't find the time to put fingers to keyboard.

Similarly, I don't put pressure on myself to carve out a genre for my blog. I call it a 'lifestyle' blog, because it incorporates all elements of my life, from the way I spend my days, to the books I read, to the friendships I have, the date nights I go on,  to the makeup I wear, to my travels, to the food I eat (lots of that!) I write about whatever I want to write about, because at the end of the day, it is my blog, and I and I alone control its content. I have had people try to dictate to me about my blog in the past, only to be met with the very firm resolution that I will not change my style of writing for anybody. There are hundreds of thousands of bloggers in the world, and room for each and every one of them. I won't be the first Doha blogger to write about my experience with a hotel/spa/restaurant in this tiny city, and I certainly won't be the last - but that won't stop me writing about it, and why should it? The same goes across all genres of blogging. My favourite beauty bloggers are always writing about the same products, or the same PR event, and it doesn't make their blog any less of their own work - I for one enjoy reading more than one opinion about something.

I am very protective over my blog due to all of the hard work that I put in to it, as any blogger will understand, and as would anybody who has ever invested a lot of themselves into something. Inevitably, putting content out on to the Internet for the world to see is going to lead people to form opinions, positively or negatively, and that's more than okay. It's life. I take the constructive criticism on board, and embrace the positive feedback, but dismiss anything destructive. As with all elements of my life, I don't want or need negativity through my blog.

Blogging for me, is a very positive thing, and by and large only good things come out of it. Blogging is my escape - it is a chance to unwind, switch off, learn about new people, discover new places in the world, and read about the latest beauty products, usually curled up in bed with a cup of tea in hand. Blogs are informative, interesting and inspiring - Matt and I are planning a trip to the Maldives this year, and right now one of my favourite bloggers Rose (aka The Londoner) is teasing her readers with post after post (after post, after post!) about her holiday at one particular Maldives resort - now I have a little insight into what to look for in a resort, all thanks to a blog I love reading. No tedious trawling through Trip Advisor for me!

I am completely addicted to beauty blogs (Buy Now, Blog Later being the absolute Bible.)
I think the days of celebrity endorsements being the key to product sales are long gone, and beauty bloggers are the new experts. I touched upon this in my Marketing dissertation for my Masters (way back in 2010, can't believe it was that long ago!) and it's amazing to see just how influential bloggers have become. I have rushed out to purchase products completely off the back of reviews I have read on blogs (Oribe dry texturising spray, I am looking at you), and I'm nowhere near alone in this. It is no wonder that bloggers are able to generate an income from their blogs, with some companies paying thousands upon thousands of pounds for a product mention/review/video from a high profile blogger.

I am a small fish in a big pond, but my blogging journey so far has certainly not been without it's fair share of opportunities. I have been invited to some brilliant events, been gifted some amazing products, and dined at some lovely restaurants, all off the back of my little space on the Internet. Of course that is a great feeling - but it isn't what blogging is all about, not by a long shot, at least for me.

For me, my blog is successful because it is something I've built from scratch, and something that brings me happiness and pride. It is successful every time my mum texts me to tell me she loved my most recent post, or when my dad mails me to say he's enjoyed a post but spotted a spelling mistake (he wants it to be the best that it can be, too!) It is successful when I receive an email from someone I've never met telling me they enjoy reading my blog, or that they are looking forward to their upcoming move to Doha because it looks like quite a fun place to live. It is successful because I have the continual support of my family, friends, and my boyfriend - despite the fact that to this day he still doesn't 'get' blogging ("Why do you want to read about what someone you don't know gets up to in a day?!") - and that drives me to continue with my little hobby called blogging :)

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