You may remember that back in January I launched a new blog series called The Rise of the Blogger. This was all to do with celebrating what makes us bloggers special - to move away from the negativity of blogging and stop comparing ourselves and our blogs to the bigger more sucessful bloggers.
The truth is, we're all pretty damn successful in our own way and that just because we don't earn thousands of money from YouTube or have our own book deals (one day!), it doesn't mean we're not doing well.
It's a series that also focuses on all the lovely bloggers that started out around the same time as me and who's blogs I still follow religiously now. One of these bloggers in particular is Cat from What Cat Says. She might have been blogging a tad longer then some of us, meaning she was already blogging when I started out, but she started blogging for the same reason as me - which was because of university.
I've come to love her blog because she is super stylish but down to earth as well. She's just a really lovely girl who actually blogs about things obtainable - for example, I hate sitting down and watching vlogs of bloggers huge shopping hauls filled with staple pieces from designer brands. Cat isn't like that (and I don't mean that in a bad way!) - she's relatable to the majority of us and when I see her fashion posts I do actually think 'yeah, I could buy that and try that look out' etc.
So I'm super happy to include her in this series!
So I'm super happy to include her in this series!
Let’s focus on the very beginning, when you first launched your blog.
What made you want to go into blogging? Were you reading any other blogs at the time? Was there anything in particular that pushed you to take the plunge and actually create the blog, rather than just thinking about it?
I was first told about blogs at university and we were asked to make a blog to document our art work. It didn't take at first, because it wasn't something I wanted to do but after finding out that blogging was a thing people were doing to document things and finding a few bloggers on twitter I started reading blogs and wanted to write my own. I remember the first blogger I ever read was The Notebook Doodles and she drew the most gorgeous typography and is still going but on Instagram now. I liked that she used it as a way to express herself and just share her work and inspired, I decided to launch my own blog just for myself. It began as a personal blog to express anything I wanted to when I felt like it, and then it soon developed into a lifestyle blog, and eventually being inspired by so many other bloggers through twitter and other blogs I integrated a fashion element as I always loved fashion and found my blog was a great outlet to share and document my style!
Is there a story behind the name you chose?
My blog was originally called 'Something Said' because at the time it was just a place to for me to express myself. I wasn't ever really attached to the name and when I really got into blogging I decided to change it. I don't know how it came to mind really but I knew I wanted my own name in my new blog name so I could have a personal element to my blog and eventually decided to call it 'What Cat Says'. I wanted my blog to be diverse and I didn't like the idea of tying it down to a particular blog category like a fashion or beauty blog. I wanted it to be a name that would allow me to be flexible and allow me to transition between categories if that would ever happen again.I love my blog name now and I don't think I'd change it again (unless I came up with an amazing new blog name).
Do you remember your first posts? What were they about?
I can't remember any of them but I do remember writing things about feelings I had at the time and things that were happening in life. There were a couple of art posts in there too. I don't dare look back because I know they'll make me cringe!
Did you ever think you’d still be blogging five years on?
I didn't even give it a thought back then because it didn't ever cross my mind. I love blogging and now I worry where it will end up and think oh gosh, could I be blogging still in five years? Will I be too old for it? And then I remember I'm being stupid and I can't ever be too old and I shouldn't be worrying about any of that because I don't think I could imagine what I would be doing for fun instead if I'm not blogging! It's such an amazing community and it makes me happy. I wouldn't ever give it up!
Do you feel like your blog is still the blog you wanted it to be five years ago – are you still covering the same content you’d wanted to when you set it up?
It's completely different. I care for it so much more now so it's very different in terms of what I wanted it to be then and what I wanted it to become after I became more serious about it. I think I'm kind of still covering the same in terms of life diary and lifestyle posts but I wouldn't say it's exactly the same.
How much do you personally think the blog has changed over the years? Are you happy with its progress? Do you feel like you’ve done what you wanted to do?
I think it's completely changed. If I could see my blog 5 years ago vs today's blog I can imagine I'd feel a sense of nostalgia as well as cringe a little! Now, my blog layout is more sophisticated I'd say, the content is very different and my photography will have improved greatly. I'd definitely say it slowly improved year after year and right now I'd say it's exactly where I want it to be. I'm working really hard on it this year because I've made it a goal for the year, but I couldn't be happier with the blog that I have and how far I've come.
Can you see any major differences when comparing your first few posts to your most recent ones – if looking at them, what would you say?
I've just taken a look back on those posts (even though I said I wouldn't) and I'd say that the way I write has improved. I think I used to try to hard to say something meaningful back then, and I don't think I was a very happy person either. Now I write as if I'm speaking to my readers and I also use so much punctuation. Gosh - the days when I thought it was cool to not use capital letters... I also now use all my own photography rather than trawling through the internet to find something fitting and then linking it back.
Looking back on them I realise it was more of a personal diary. I wrote about shopping trips and things I bought but never photographed them to show off on the blog. My favourite blog post is among the first though. I wrote about my favourite hot chocolate ever and I like reading back on that one because it's a memory I enjoy and am really fond of. I think I'd like to be more spontaneous like this sometimes. Write about little things like that - I think they make great posts. I think sometimes I get too sucked in by asking myself "who would read that!?"
One of Cat's favourite photographs from a holiday to Zante
What are some of your proudest moments of blogging so far?
I was really proud of myself this month when I hit 600 BlogLovin followers because I'd only had 510 at the start of the year and I decided I would work hard to improve my blog and maybe reach a milestone of followers by the end of the year. It's not the most important thing to me, but I wanted to see I could improve my blog's content, photography and my own social interaction and if in turn it would broaden my blog reading audience.
I also was really proud of myself when I was reached out to for my first ever brand collaboration. I felt proud because I was so happy that someone liked me and my blog enough to ask me to collaborate with them on a blog post!
I also loved being on MSN Lifestyle's homepage for having an awesome outfit in 2013. I felt like that was a really cool 5 minutes of fame moment for me.
- Oh the days of MSN!
..and some of your toughest?
My first blogging event was tough I'll admit. As much as I loved being there I felt like the girl no one knew and super awkward and really scared too. I finally got chatting to a few bloggers and felt better but I felt like it was a tough thing to go through.
Also I've gone through a few rough patches where I wasn't blogging and though not blogging was making me unhappy, I also felt like I didn't have anything to blog about and felt like my blog wasn't doing well at all. It was all a learning curve though. All I needed was a work/social/life balance that didn't exist at the time.
Have there been any points where you’ve just wanted to give up? If so, what made you carry on?
Yeah. Last year, work and life was getting too much and I felt like I had no time for myself. I thought about it and I didn't like it - the thought of finishing up with blogging alone scared me and I knew I didn't really want to quit - I was just finding it hard to have the time to blog and do it happily. Just taking it slow and blogging the only ideas I had at the time got me through it as well as just letting the storm pass before building myself back up again!
What have been some of your favourite brands to work with and some of your favourite opportunities?
I loved my first brand collaboration which was with Sperry Top-Sider. I got to review the most amazing pair of leather boots and I STILL have them to this day though I need to get them re-heeled now from wearing them out completely. I also loved working with M&S, ASDA and Glamorous! I've worked with a few other great ones too, but I can't remember them from the top of my head!
Have you ever had to deal with any particularly tough brands or had any problems working with a company?
I have but they've only been about poor communication skills and ones that ask if you could write about them in a blog post for free. Now I'm not one of those bloggers who will only blog for payment or gifting because I'm consistently posting about brands that I'm loving because I genuinely love them. But I think it's a little rude to ask for a feature without any sort of incentive.
I've also had problems with brands that ask for a certain amount of words because I have struggled to write 600 words for certain posts and I've always thought that it's not about how much writing is there but that it's more about the quality of the writing. I feel embarrassed by the couple of these that I've done because I don't feel they're true to my thoughts. I've learnt from it and won't be accepting these again.
Are there any blog posts or campaigns you’re particularly proud of?
I'm particularly proud of my most popular post where I reviewed L'Oreal's Wild Ombré kit because it's been so popular and as mentioned before I love looking back on my hot chocolate post. I don't know of any others really - I haven't got any particulars that stand out for me.
What do you think you’ve learned from running a blog for this long – have you improved your photography skills or taught yourself HTML for example?
Running a blog I've learned that it takes effort and time to build up a great following and that it's a community! It's all about being social too - you can't expect people to read your blog and follow you if you don't reply and socialise yourself. I've improved my photography quality by reading lots of hints and tips and trying out new things but I've completely given up on the idea of HTML. I'm still learning and I hope 2016 can be my year of learning in terms of all the technicals of blogging (i.e. linking, social stats and html).
What do you think about your blogs presence among some of the other big bloggers – are you happy with its success? Do you ever find yourself thinking about your blog compared to other blogs launched around the same time as yours?
I'm always comparing myself to others and I can't help it, it's a natural thing I think and I can't help that it does make me wonder if I'm doing something wrong sometimes but it doesn't ever bother me that the successes are different. I'm actually quite proud of those people and look up to them as bloggers! Though my blog hasn't bought me a career or as many opportunities as it has to some, I still love blogging just as much. If my blog is to boom one day, my time will come. But if it stays the way it is, I won't be upset and I don't think it'll make me any more or less happy with it than I am now.
How do you feel blogging has changed overall since you began? Do you feel like it’s hit its peak, that there’s no room left for anymore ‘famous’ bloggers? Do you feel like blogging is going to calm down a bit now and focus more on what blogging was about when it first began as opposed to gaining followers, getting Instagram famous etc? Or do you feel like blogging as a whole is still quite new and that there’s still a lot more phenomenon to come?
I feel like now blogging is a trend but it varies over so many different platforms. I think people think now it's a good way to become internet famous and 'get free stuff'. I wish people would stop thinking that because it's not all fame and free stuff. It's a community of people who love the same things, and like talking about the same things and relating to each other. That's what made me fall in love with blogging - it was the people, the community and getting to write about whatever I wanted to. I don't know if it's hit a peak or not but I think through 2014-15 there was a big boom in blogs and it might have calmed down now but I wouldn't be 100% sure. I feel it's all moved over to youtube now if I'm honest.
I think blogging for the new generation is a hot instagram account worthy of thousands of followers and youtube channel hitting the 10,000+ mark. I think the focus on blogs isn't as strong because instagram and youtube is so much more accessible but blogs are sort of a support to a youtube channel or instagram.
Do you still think you’ll be blogging in five years’ time?
As much as I think I'll be too old at that point and I'll be saying it's my blog's 10th anniversary, I'll still be blogging. I love this community, writing, photographing and creating content and I don't want to leave it any time soon. I'd miss you bloggers all too much! There's always something to blog about no matter how old you are :)
What do you see next for your blog – what are your short term and long term hopes and plans for it?
Next I see my short-term goals being reached. I see new ideas being brought to life and more adventures documented on my blog. I see a good year ahead of me. Long term I hope my blog brings me more opportunities and that I love it just as much as I always have.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Nope! Just a big thank you for letting me be a part of your project! I loved answering all of these questions and I look forward to reading everyone's answers! <3