Last week, I received the amazing news that I had been shortlisted for Richard Bailey’s Best PR Blog of 2017 along with three other amazing student PR bloggers. For achieving a spot in the top four, Richard suggested that we tell our story of why we blog.
A few weeks back, I wrote a blog post about why you should blog for your future, but this week I’m writing about why and how I started blogging. I should probably have titled this post ‘The Troubled Tales and Failures of a Wannabe Blogger’.
Back to the embarrassing teen years
Ok so I have a little confession to make. ‘Little’ might not be the correct word to use here… I have a little but really quite big confession to make.
I’M A HUGE ONE DIRECTION FAN
There, I said it. It’s out in the open. You can all judge me accordingly.
Back in 2010 (I had to Google this and almost fainted – seven years ago?!) when One Direction first sang Torn at the judges houses round of The X Factor, I liked them a little (please don’t forget that I was 13 at the time). When they first walked out onto the stage of the first live show, singing Viva la Vida, and the camera zoomed into Niall Horan’s cheeky grin and twinkling eyes, I was caught hook, line, and sinker.
To put it lightly, I was obsessed. I lived and breathed One Direction. I had Twitter accounts, Tumblr pages, Instagrams, all dedicated to them. To this day I still have over 15,000 pictures of them (mostly Niall) saved on my laptop. I’m going to say the reason I still have them is that I’m a hoarder, but really I just can’t let go.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with my blog, but it has everything to do with my blog. I was the first person (that I know of) from my age group at school, on Twitter, and no one had even heard of Tumblr. “It’s too confusing”, “Why do you keep talking about a cup?”, “What on earth is a fandom?”.
I belonged to this wonderful community called the 1D Family. Oh how I am cringing. I made so many friends, joined in so many conversations and had such a passion for the band. I was only in my early teens but I was on Tumblr 24/7 trying to increase my following and create amazing content that my followers would want to see and read. I was blogging.
And so it began
From my 1D days, I started reading more and more blogs mainly about fashion, travel and lifestyle. I had started to consider a career in music journalism (I just wanted to meet One Direction), or journalism of any kind. I wanted to be at festivals interviewing bands, attending concerts for free and be best friends with musicians.
So I started a music blog.
I was also a huge Kodaline fan, and at the time they weren’t that big. I wrote about them and other alternative bands that I would listen to. Never did I mention that I listened to One Direction, that wouldn’t be very ‘cool’ of me.
Did I stick to the blog? No. I may have had a great love for music of every genre and studied the subject at GCSE and A Level, but writing about it just didn’t excite me.
So did my blogging experience end there? Of course not.
Onto the next blogs
I was now 15. Shopping in Primark, New Look and NV. The days of neon outfits, hairbands and Dream Matte Mousse. Did I have any form of fashion sense? Well, I certainly thought so.
I always said that I would be able to express my fashion style if I could afford it. However, I was not an heiress and Chanel and Valentino were a little (astronomical) way out of my price range.
Instead, I started reviewing beauty products; taking pictures of half empty bottles with the flash turned on. Abysmal. I thought I was great, giving everyone an insight to my beauty regime. Then I got severe acne, and that idea went out the window along with the ‘How I Keep My Skin Clear’ post I had been planning.
Bear in mind that these blogs were all created using the Blogger platform, had no ‘theme’ whatsoever and it was such a poor attempt, I’m thrilled they’re wiped from the internet. I couldn’t get my head around Blogger, thank God for WordPress!
The links were published on Google+ (I know?! Who even uses that??) as I was too afraid of what people would think. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t go public with it.
I also started using a website that was almost like having your own magazine, when I saw a feature about it in Cosmo. I would say this was my first form of publishing my work and having readers, as people would comment, ‘heart’ and re-post my articles. I wrote about Valentino, jelly sandals (they made a comeback) and festival attire. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the website, but wish I could as it would show a very early portfolio of my work. I could also see how my writing has improved. I’ll keep looking.
So was that to be the end of my blogging and writing career as I know it? Or did I persevere? Well you’re reading this now, so you already know the answer.
Before I talk about this blog, I still have more pre Orlagh Claire blogs to talk about.
Oh yes, there’s more.
Blog number 5
Before I get to blog number five, I’ll talk briefly about the summer before I went to uni. The summer of 2015. I kept a journal for this entire Summer. I have no idea why I did, but I had a gut feeling that I needed to make note of every detail. I had tried and failed many a time at journal-ing (just as I had tried and failed with my blogs) but something about this journal was different. I would write, and write and keep writing. Jotting down what happened, my emotions, my thoughts and what I was going to do.
It was such a therapeutic experience, but it’s also amazing to look back on those inputs and go back to that time. Reading them starts a movie in my mind and I can play out every scene just as it’s written.
That was the summer I found my love for writing.
I had never really paid much attention to the writing part before. When I was blogging, I didn’t think of it like that. I just wanted to talk about things that interested me, not because I liked to write. I hated English classes at school, comprehensions being the bane of my life. I was good at it, but I had no love for it.
At the end of that summer, I moved to university and wanted to keep writing. I still couldn’t fight the itch that I needed to blog and for people to read my writing and join in the conversation with me. I started to think about what I could possibly blog about. Music? No. Fashion? My style was improving but nothing to the standards of the main fashion bloggers at time. Beauty? I was still post Roaccutane, so that was a touchy subject.
Then the idea came to me; I’ll start a cooking blog for students.
I had no idea how to cook so I thought I’d have hundreds of readers and try out lots of recipes and be a Michelin star chef by the end of the year.
How wrong I was. I lived off beans on toast, cereal and pot noodles for the first four months. Not one post ever appeared on that ‘Save the Student’ blog. But to make up for that, I now have a published cookbook for that exact reason. Who would have thought?
Then there was The Fake Blonde
We’re getting close to the end of my blogging nightmare, I promise. I dyed my hair platinum blonde from a dark, almost black – as you can see here – so I aptly named my blog to suit this. I had no idea what I was going to write about but I still wanted to write.
I published posts about moving to Liverpool, my battle with acne and dyeing my hair. These were personal posts (well the first two) and that’s when I found my voice. I took my writing seriously because I was being very open and raw, and I felt quite vulnerable that I was putting myself out there like that.
Then the readers started coming and I finally reached 10 views! People started to comment and thank me and I knew then that to be a successful blogger, I had to stick to what I know. And that was me.
I wrote about what I was feeling and thinking, just as I had with my journal and it worked. I enjoyed it. But I knew I couldn’t write about myself forever, I mean who would want to read that??
And so, along came Orlagh Claire.
Time to get serious
I knew I had found my voice, and I just felt ready. Lucky number 7 maybe? I had a good feeling that this time, this blog was going to be different. So I went for it. I bought my domain name, found myself a host and got to work on my blog. I read so many PR blogs for inspiration and gathered ideas for blog posts. What I feared most was not knowing what to write about next, and what’s a blog with no content?
Special mention to Laura Bradley and Lauren Old – I spent a lot of time reading your blogs last summer!
I have another little confession to make. I kind of… fell onto #BestPRBlogs by accident. I didn’t know it existed. From the lack of content from my university, I hope that is understandable. I will admit that I lived under a PR student rock.
I happened to post my first official Orlagh Claire blog post in the same week that #BestPRBlogs started and I also happened to tweet out the link with #PRStudent attached. And the rest, they say, is history.
I made it!
So here we are now, 22 posts on #BestPRBlogs later and I’m in the top four. With my train-wreck of a blogging history, did I ever imagine I would end up here? Absolutely not.
I’m so glad I persisted and maybe the timing wasn’t right back then, but I know it definitely is now. I’ve achieved so much since that first post back in September and am so thankful to everyone that ever took the time to read any of my (mostly long-winded) posts.
My mind-set has took a complete U-turn and as a woman I feel so empowered to make a difference in this world. I read #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso over Christmas and it was just the motivation that I needed. This was the inspiration behind my #GirlBossMonday series, which I hope to continue for as long as possible – until I am a #GirlBoss myself some day! A special mention must go out to my #GirlBosses that allowed me to delve into their pasts and thoughts to showcase them for the strong entrepreneurial women they are today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
To the future
As many of you will know, I’m starting my placement year in June and will be working full-time in London. I still aim to keep this blog going as best I can, although, you may see a few changes along the way.
There’s a certain type of blogger I’ve always wanted to be and I hope that this next year brings me the opportunities to allow me to be that blogger. Onwards and upwards!
Richard, you spoke of me as a ‘storyteller’ – I hope this was a story worth reading. If only my 2,000 word essays were this easy to write.
Oh, and expect to see a book hitting the shelves all about ‘that summer’ in the next ten years, when I eventually find the time to start writing it!
Richard Bailey says
I won’t say it again – though it’s so true (OK, I will: you are a storyteller).
What I’d like to say is that you sound like the ideal learner – simultaneously old and young! Young enough to have crushes, to be experimental, to make mistakes. Old enough to see the pattern and discern the big picture.
In a word… wonderful!
Thank you Richard! And I want to thank you for running this competition. If it wasn’t for your weekly rankings, I may not have stuck to blogging like I would have wanted and Orlagh Claire may have been another failed attempt. I now have the routine of publishing twice a week, and hopefully in the future this will increase!
It’s great to see so much talent around the UK and further from students studying different but similar degrees. I love hearing yours and other’s critiques on my writing, so even when this competition is over, please let me know your thoughts on anything I write in the future!