Welcome to the first interview of the second batch of Blogletters interviews! The last week was a break between batches, in order to let readers catch up and me to set up everything for batch two. I have some very interesting people to feature in the next few weeks, so get ready for it!
Today, I’m interviewing Janet who has been blogging for several years and has much to say.
Hello! I’m Janet, a twenty-something blogger from the South West of England. I write about all sorts of different things, but mostly books, travel and lifestyle content!
Hi Janet! What inspired you to start a blog? What was your idea of blogging when you started?
So, I like to consider myself a bit of a blogging veteran, starting up an account ten years ago! I had a couple of friends at school who had starting using this site called WordPress, and as I already enjoyed reading and writing so much, I thought I’d give it a go too! Safe to say that ten years down the line, I’m the only one of my friends who still keeps it up regularly! Since I began my blog, my inspirations have changed, but one thing has always remained the same, and that’s the fact I just like to write about whatever I’m interested in! My blog posts have ranged from book and movie reviews, to travel posts, and university guidance, to just my general thoughts and feelings on things going on around the world.
You’ve been blogging for a whopping 9 years! Do you think the blogging discourse has changed in all this time?
I definitely think it has. I don’t remember following any “famous” bloggers back when I started; I just followed my group of school friends who had blogs, and that was the fun of it! One had a creative writing blog, one had a photography blog, and it was nice to have a common interest. I think nowadays, people start blogging to become some kind of influencer, and I suppose that comes with views and followers, no matter your intention when you start. However, I think as I’ve grown, my taste has changed, in terms of what blogs I read, and what posts I like to write. I look back on my very first post, I think it was about my cat, or the rain, or something mundane, and cringe because I’d never write about that now! But at the time, I didn’t care so much. These days, I think people do care about the way their blog looks or how they come across in their writing. I do have to say, that with the rise of AD’s and #Gifted posts, some blogs and bloggers I follow seem to only write sponsored content which you never saw or heard about then. I was only 13 when I started my blog and had no interest in making money… but now with the amount of sponsored content I see on a lot of blogs, I wonder how much of their blogging experience is purely for the fun of it, and how much of it is seen as an easy payment.
Your blog doesn’t fall into any specific niche. How has your experience been with blogging without boundaries? Would you stick to one niche if you could start over?
There have absolutely been struggles doing it this way; I think if I did start all over again with a specific niche, I’m not really sure what it would be though, so I’m glad I’ve kept my options open. I have had many a time when I wanted to start from scratch, on a new platform, but I’ve grown so attached to the space I’ve made on my corner of the internet. I think if I started a blog at the age of 23, I probably would have more of a focus on traveling, as I am an ESL teacher, and travel is something I am so passionate about. I spent five months living and working in Thailand, up until Coronavirus came and ruined everyone’s plans, and I now have more travel plans later this month (if all goes smoothly!) so I definitely have a lot to say on this topic. However, as we’ve all seen with this pandemic, plans change at the drop of a hat, and if my blog was travel specific, I think I would have run out of blog post ideas by now! I would say that blogging without boundaries has really helped me out in terms of blogging through the pandemic, but even at that I find myself in a blogging slump every so often, which is completely normal, by the way!
How would you describe your blogger identity? Has it changed over the years?
Oooh interesting question… In all honesty, I think my blogger identity has grown with me, so I think in some ways, everything has changed over the years. In saying that, I think my content has remained the same, but my actual writing style has (hopefully!) improved, and I’ve tried to make it more refined as I’ve got older, and have tried to make it more “me”.
In terms of my blogger identity, I suppose it makes sense to talk about my blog name, as that is what everyone sees when they first click onto my blog. When I first started my blog, I just used the title “janetisawesomerthanyou” because 13-year-old-me couldn’t think of anything better, and I just thought it was funny. I think that’s a good summary of how I saw my blog at the time… somewhere that was only for myself, so it didn’t matter if anything I wrote was silly, because I didn’t think anyone would actually read it! I later changed the name to “South African Nutter” because I wanted my South African heritage to be a part of my blog, but I still wanted it to be a fun space, and I didn’t want a name that would mean having to put all of my content into one specific box, such as beauty or lifestyle or what have you. I just thought, this blog is about me, so I want a name that’s about me!
Then a few years ago, I changed it to “The Storyteller”, as I felt that it was just more appropriate to what I was writing about at the time. I felt that “The Storyteller” was very open, and it meant I could write about all of my travel stories, as well as my university experiences, and for me it just suited my blog. Maybe I’ll change it again in the future… I’m not sure yet. But for now, I think this title definitely suits me and my blog as things stand at the moment.
And finally, in terms of my blogger voice, I think as I’ve grown up I’ve become more open and honest with my posts and my audience. I think this really started when I was going through my A-levels, university open days and then results day. I wanted to share my experience with people, in case anyone was going through the same struggles as I was. Since then, I’ve shared many more of my experiences online, from starting university, to my first love and heartbreak, to general advice, to graduating, and life after university. Before I chose to write about these parts of my life, I always felt on the fence about writing about me because I was still uncertain about the people who sat behind their screens, reading such personal things that I could share. However, I think I’ve found a balance of sharing important information that is relevant to other people’s lives, and making sure I’m not sharing too much! It’s definitely taken some time to figure it out, but I’m definitely more confident in my blogging voice/style now than I was say, six years ago.
You’ve also been a YouTuber for 6 years. What are your thoughts on blogs vs YouTube?
Youtube is a whole other thing in itself! I sometimes find I prefer the process of making a Youtube video more than I do writing a blog post… but my blog posts always seem to be more successful than my Youtube! I’ve always had the mindset that I’m just doing these things for fun, and that numbers don’t count, however it’s hard to ignore it sometimes. With YouTube, not only do you have the subscriber count and the likes button, but also the amount of views a video gets… with blogging, it’s just the likes and followers you really have to keep an eye on! It makes it feel like it’s one less thing to worry about! Personally, I’ve never had an issue with the whole “follow for follow” thing as a blogger, as much as I’ve experienced it on Youtube which is always a pain, but I think it’s also become so normalised on Youtube now, which is frustrating, to say the least! I have found that sometimes I battle with deciding whether something should be a blog post or a Youtube video, but recently I’ve decided, who cares if it’s on both platforms? People who follow my blog may not follow my Youtube, and vice versa, so really I’m just allowing more people to hear what I have to say! More work for me? Sure! But as I said, I’ve always done these things for the fun of it, and I really do enjoy the different elements of creativity both platforms allow me to have.
If you could go back and change a part of your blog/blogging journey, what would it be?
Sometimes I just wish I had gone to events, or bitten the bullet and met up with bloggers sooner! I remember seeing one called the Annual Bloggers Bash, or something like that, and I told myself that when I went to university I would go, because I could easily get to London, and meet some of the people that I followed! However I was so nervous and felt like I’d be the youngest person in the room and that people would judge me or ask me why I was there, or something else would happen so I just didn’t go… Since then, I have met a few blogging friends who are absolutely wonderful, and we have a group chat and everything! So if anything, I wish I was able to do all of these things sooner than I actually did.
Is your online persona different from your real life self? If yes, how are they different and why do you think the change exists?
I’m inclined to say I’m exactly the same as I appear online. I think it’s always easy to be a bit of a keyboard warrior, and say things you may not say out loud- and that could be about anything! My mum started following my blog several years into my blogging “career” (not that I get paid for anything!) and I remember feeling like my blog was the last place I had that was really mine, and I could say whatever I wanted without my family asking questions. However, I think it’s made me be more open generally, and not worry so much about what people might think. I’ve always tried to be supportive in other people’s comments sections, as well as sharing posts that are worth sharing, and really bigging other bloggers up that deserve it! But I think there is always an element of keeping your boundaries and privacy close to you. I’m sure in the past I may have slightly overshared things happening in my personal life, but looking back on it I don’t regret any of those posts. Things like when I was going through my first break up, or when I didn’t get a place at university, or my experience with my A-level exams are all things I know a lot of other young people will also go through, so I hope that something can be taken away from my possible over-sharing!
What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of blogging?
I love the community, and reading/learning about what other people get up to, what they enjoy, where they like to go on holiday, what their favourite books are… essentially, I’m super nosy, and blogging is a great way to deal with that!
In terms of my least favourite, I think sometimes people let numbers and stats get to their heads, and it can lead them to think they are maybe better than those who consider blogging just a hobby. Luckily I’ve never had to deal with this personally, but I’m aware that it happens.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers, especially if they’re blogging in multiple categories?
I decided on this too late, but if you want to blog about a variety of topics, try and think of maybe three things you’d like to talk most about. Obviously, if there’s a topic you want to talk about that doesn’t come under those three categories, you can still talk about it- it’s your blog, you can talk about whatever you like! For me, I’ve decided to write posts mostly on books, travel, and lifestyle, as these are the three categories I write about the most! But take your time in finding your niche, and don’t feel pressured into just staying within one category if your heart is telling you to branch out.
Which bloggers inspire you?
A friend of mine, Rosie Abigail, only started blogging within the last year, and although she’s relatively new to the scene, her blog posts are just the MOST beautiful, the most aesthetic, and so well written! I highly recommend checking her out, because she really does have a post for everyone!
Another friend of mine, who inspires me daily, is Victoria, and she has recently come back onto the blogging scene! Her blog is mostly about bookish things, so if that’s up your alley then definitely check out her blog! I had the great pleasure of meeting her in Bangkok earlier this year, while we were both on our travels, and it was just a fantastic weekend!
Thank you for doing this interview, Janet!
Personally, I think readers who enjoy my blog and content would really like Janet’s as well. She also blogs in multiple categories, has posts for everyone, and also talks about life to satisfy all the nosy people. I highly recommend checking out her blog.
If you want to check out the rest of the Blogletters interviews, here is a list of them all!
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Are you excited that Blogletters is back? What about this interview interested you the most? Do you prefer blogging in one niche or multiple niches? Tell us in the comments!