10 November 2019


Polesden Lacey

And just like that, we arrive nine years later. When I first posted to this blog in November 2010, it began as a little something to complement my journalism degree, to produce my name in Google searches, and to explore my love for street style photography - as featured in my then-favourite blog, The Sartorialist. I'm very proud of how far I've come since then, from teaching myself photography to realising a sense of self-confidence I wouldn't have imagined at the age of eighteen.

But I must confess, I haven't been the most dedicated blogger since leaving university. I'd say my blog peaked in the spring of 2015, when I visited Paris Fashion Week for a second time and took my favourite photos to date. Later that year I moved to London and my focus shifted to enjoying other aspects of life. And while I should never disparage myself for wanting a more genuine social life outside press events (there is only so much small talk and canap├ęs a person can live on), or for focusing on a separate full-time career, I wish I had worked harder to find a balance that didn't leave me feeling guilty about posting infrequently, or feeling lost in the expanding bubble of social media.

My favourite period of blogging was definitely the earlier years, circa 2012, when I had an astonishing amount of free time to potter about with my camera, and a steady stream of event invitations and review opportunities to supplement my street style content. But there was considerably less pressure to be an "influencer", and for many bloggers, our individual online platforms were just a hobby. Instagram was in its formative years, and there wasn't the same emphasis as today to make it big on social media; the quality of our original content was the greatest indicator of our talent, not the number of followers we had. Blogger meets, too, were predominantly social events, where we would make new friends over a burger or a drink (a chilli-flavoured vodka shot in the case of Paige and I), then take each other's pictures in cute alleyways. I can't help but wonder, are blogger meets even a thing any more?

Polesden Lacey Polesden Lacey Polesden Lacey

Indeed much has changed since. Blogging has become a competitive industry, in which many of the individuals I befriended all those years ago now enjoy a full-time position creating content for the same websites they would post their musings and outfits-of-the-day. I can't deny I'm jealous at times; I plateaued some years ago at seven-hundred-and-something Instagram followers, and if I want to stay in this game, which I do, that figure simply doesn't reflect a blogger of nine years' experience. I'm having to accept that quantity is equally as important as quality, if not on my blog then certainly on my social channels, which serve as the face for the main product.

Because truthfully, I do miss the press invitations and review opportunities, even if my time is more constrained these days. There was a lifestyle I relished from being an active blogger, and it provided me with so much to shoot and to write about. The content that has continued successfully are my London Fashion Week features, as a consequence of having attended every season for seventeen seasons. Nevertheless I don't what that to be what this blog is only about, especially when you can see runway looks from hundreds of other media sources. (On a more personal level, London Fashion Week has lost its magic, and I'm contemplating whether I even attend next year.) I know I can write well and I know I can take great photos, but clearly what I've been lacking is motivation and - more importantly - direction.

Hence going forward, my new objective - unsurprisingly - is to achieve a more substantial readership and social following by my blog's tenth anniversary. Ten-thousand Instagram followers for ten years has a nice ring to it, but realistically, I'd be chuffed to reach one-thousand, provided I apply myself and post content that you, my readers, find the most engaging. I'm hesistant to say what that might be, because having written similar thoughts before, I know I tend to be overly ambitious and promise content I never get around to creating - YouTube series, say what? Yet if all goes swimmingly, I should like to post more about food, drink and travel, further explore my love for drag artistry, and hopefully I'll even find the time to return to street style photography.

In the meantime, I would like to thank my friends for supporting me and occasionally taking my picture where required (I may be asking more often from hereon), my mum for continually reminding me not to stress so much over a website that didn't make me any money (I often didn't listen, but she was always right), and every person who has read even one of my blog posts for making these past nine years all the worthwhile. Here's to one more, certainly not the last.

Polesden Lacey

Photos taken at Polesden Lacey, Surrey, by Paige Joanna Watts

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