My blog's birthday is coming up.

Every year, when I get the domain renewal notification, I think man, already? I've been writing in this space for almost four years! When I first started, all I knew was that I liked writing, I liked taking pictures, and I wanted to keep some sort of record of my life, and no social media platform fit my needs. I wanted to control how my layout looked and how my content appeared.

I remember the days I would come to this space and have to restrain myself from posting all the pictures in my camera roll. I would take all the pictures of all the things and let my camera do all the story telling. Things are different now in this sphere of the internet, and I know I'm not the only one who's noticed that blogging has really changed over the past few years.

I never used to tell people I have a blog. It wasn't a big secret, but it wasn't something I openly proclaimed. Now I just whip out my camera in public spaces, say "it's for the blog," and people instantly understand. So many people have blogs now, which is great for people like me who love to read snippets of the next person's life. It's not so great when all of the new blogs I come across focus more on aesthetics than substance.

Lately I've had a mishmash of thoughts in my head and posts in my drafts with nary a photo to accompany. I've turned into a big ball of opinions, but with the way blogging is set up these days, everything is expected to be cohesive and visually compelling, so you can grow your "audience" and sharpen your "brand." The marketing lingo has wholly consumed blogging culture.

There are unspoken rules on "the best days to post," rules on consistency, rules on what time of day to schedule a post, etc. And now, there are so many blogs about blogging that it's become harder and harder to find people who actually write about their life. I was browsing the Lifestyle section of Bloglovin' and all that kept popping up were dedicated posts on boosting your social media following, and how to make a press kit, and how to drive traffic to old posts, etc. There's definitely a time and place for this kind of content, but the fact that they're taking over my feed makes me just want to close my laptop.

I guess the whole point of this post is that I miss the days when you could really get to know a blogger through their blog, not just know what brands they're sponsored by. My bloglovin feed reads more like a magazine issue instead of a collection of journal entries, so I'm doing some early spring cleaning to whittle it down. Reading other people's personal stories, be it tales of victory or defeat, are what push me to share my own, and I just haven't felt much nudging as of late. I get that we all need to learn to motivate ourselves, but everyone benefits from a steady stream of inspiration, right?

I understand the idea of getting paid to do what you love, so I'm not knocking bloggers who partner with companies for sponsorship. I appreciate blogs who work with brands while still holding on to their authenticity. The ones who stay as loyal and true to the page as they were on day one. I'm sure it's a tough balancing act, but there are bloggers out there who walk that tightrope with the greatest of ease.

 /end rant