THE STORY OF HOW BLOGGING FOUND ME
Blogging Found Me In A Very Serendipitous Way…
My initial title for this post was going to be How I Got Into Blogging as it's a story in answer to a question that I get asked a lot. But in truth, blogging found me - I didn't go looking for it. At least not consciously. I was actually looking for somewhere and something to write but I didn't ever feel there was any book material in my head at that point.
At school, English was my favourite subject and it was the only O Level I passed with ease. Which by the way, makes me really old - no GCSE's here! I was however notoriously bad at maths - I actually managed a U for Ungraded in my maths CSE. My actuary husband with the most clever mathematical brain I know is probably shaking his head right about now. Anyhoo, despite the horrendous maths background, I ended up working in finance for 90% of my career. Go figure. Or in my case perhaps it’s best not to.
When H was approaching school age, I took voluntary redundancy from my last finance role at Aviva Health after a fifteen year stint. If I'm honest I was heartbroken at the thought of not working every day with the women who had come to be my best friends and seen me through all life's major events so far.
I Made A Decision, Shut My Eyes & Took A Leap Of Faith
But it was the time when lots of firms were outsourcing to cut costs and the role that was left for me was one that would involve fairly regular business travel. With H so young and me being part time, that held no appeal whatsoever and it wasn't what I had returned to work for.
So I did what lots of people rapidly approaching forty do. I made a decision, shut my eyes and took a leap of faith into the unknown. There were tears, many moments of trepidation and the best last day in the office send off a girl could wish for. One that didn't just involve embarrassing old photos of me. These guys even managed to get their hands on some of my more horrendously memorable outfits and dressed up as various versions of me for the leaving presentation. I still don't know to this day how they managed it.
Even then it would seem style was calling from the background. Albeit a lot of questionable style…
Fast forward to January 2008 and I started working part time in an admin role for my brother-in-law Graham at the estate agent branch he was managing. The transition from a corporate giant to an office of five, one of whom was related by marriage was somewhat confusing to say the least!
Assuming The Moniker Of ThatGirl39 I Began Blogging Anonymously…
A few months in my admin work began to dry up, so having ticked off all the jobs for the day, I would sit in the office manning the phone and twiddling my thumbs. Surfing the internet one lunchtime I happened across a blog - oddly I don't even remember what it was about. On further investigation, I realised that you could set one of your own up on Blogger. For free. And so 39 & Counting was born. And I was hooked.
Once I'd worked through the office tasks each day, something akin to the following conversation would take place:
"Graham, I've done everything. There's nothing else to do."
"Write your blog then!"
"Are you sure that's okay??"
"Yes! I read a bit of it last night. The way you talk about Small Child's antics made me laugh - it's funny!"
"Cool! Okay then...I will!"
As the financial crash of summer 2008 hit, Graham eventually had to let me go and he too left in due course. So… redundant again just as the bottom fell out of property market. We joked that I had probably broken it. But in a way, I have him to partially thank for my initial foray into the beginnings of blogging - just don't tell him I said that!
And so on it went. I assumed the moniker of ThatGirl39 and began blogging anonymously, frantically updating 39 & Counting whenever I could. And ever so slowly, I began cottoning onto the fact that that a handful of people were reading it. And sometimes commenting! And there was a whole host of amazing blogs out there to read and enjoy - written by real people like me.
One of my first comments came from my friend Anna (or Banana as was her blog commenting handle). This was soon followed by a few lovely comments from anonymous folk and then Wendy Brandes...in New York!! And Tara Met Blog and Robin Anderson when she was Diary of A Yummy Mummy, all Stateside too. I was beside myself with joy and in awe that people on the other side of the pond were reading my ramblings!
With regular comment chats from the lovely Tara Cain (of Sticky Fingers fame) who then wrote From Dawn Till Rusk, I began to connect with lots of different bloggers from all over the world. Some were style bloggers and some were parent bloggers and some just wrote diary entry blogs in the most entertaining way. And I think Ella from Coco's Tea Party stopped by too, making me turn my attention to the fast growing fashion blogger tribe.
A year later I turned forty, closed down 39 & Counting with one final flourish of a post-birthday party high post and began Forty Not Out in May 2009. With the content primarily based in style blogging, August 2010 saw the launch of my online style advice service, The Online Stylist, that sat within the Forty Not Out blog. After eventually realising that the name Forty Not Out had more to do with cricket scores than it did with style, I switched the blog name over to The Online Stylist in January 2011.
With the arrival of Biscuit into our family in March 2013, I made a (good) decision to close down the style advice service and began focusing more on my first love, writing and producing content for the blog. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
There’s No Right Or Wrong Way To Start A Blog
So that's the potted history of how blogging found me. Just as I think there's no right or wrong way to actually write a blog, I also feel there's no right or wrong way to get started. Just your way. Doing things my way is also what lead me to eventually closing the Online Stylist chapter and beginning again here at simply START living.
If you're thinking of starting a blog and for whatever reason you’ve been telling yourself, you still haven’t - don't delay. Just start. It might be one of the best decisions you ever made!
Photography: Marlene Lee
Thanks to The Hambledon in Winchester for welcoming us in to shoot… and shop!