I've been writing on the web since the days of Rocketmail, dial up and Geocities.
I wrote my first blog post in 1999. I literally built each blog post by HTML-ing them because free blogging platforms (ie Blogger) were not widely available yet. Back then, I sporadically chronicled my life in Perth as a Journalism student. But hard coding every blog post was tedious. As a result, I blogged very sporadically.
2004-2006: the oversharing years
I began to blog seriously around 2004. I started a blog on Typepad and called it "Messy Christian" after a book I read. Back then, I had the insane belief that even if I published a post on the world wide web, nobody's going to read it or find it.
Well, I was found by an influential Christian blogger who told everyone to read my first post. So, the next thing I knew, I was being read by thousands around the world.
Messy Christian came about because I was confused about my faith. Back then, I was afraid to talk about the issues that were bugging me about Christianity out loud, so I turned to writing instead.
I call this the "oversharing years". Back then, the Internet was new and shiny and not many understood the impact it'll have on personal lives. So, many blogs were like diaries, "tell alls". But many bloggers soon discovered the sting of chronicling lives on the Internet. People like dooce were fired because of a blog post. I, too, would quickly experience the pain of exposing yourself too much to the world.
I blogged anonymously as "MC" and wrote honestly (sometimes, brutally so) about life as a Christian. I exposed everything, warts and all. The blog was my safe haven - my "therapy" as I recovered from a bad church experience.
I made a lot of friends from all over the world! Some remain my steadfast friends till this day.
But one day, someone convinced me to "unmask" myself. What turned out to be a fun "expose" became something I regretted till this day.
So, what do you do when you put your name to your posts?
People will find you.
Blog life blurred into real life. Because I was so personal and frank about my life, it became really uncomfortable to me that colleagues and family were secretly reading it. Some took me to task for some of the things I wrote. Some even picked fights with me in real life! Relationships even fell apart.
I realised that everything published on the Internet can be found. (Like, duh.)
In a fit of pique, I closed it down.
But to be honest, I also closed down Messy Christian because I was getting bored with the topic I was writing about. By 2006 I was pretty comfortable with my faith and saw no reason to rehash old hurts again. I began writing about ghost stories. On a Christian blog, for goodness sakes.
PS: I'm slowly resurrecting some of my old posts (#FlashbackFriday). There were some good content there!
2009-2016: chronicling an adventure
After 2006, I was too busy with my journalism career to write what I thought were frivolous blog posts. But by 2009, I felt the urge to chronicle my migration journey after realising that there was just not much information for people like me: Those who are thinking of moving to Australia. Malaysia to Adelaide was born, and again, I hid behind a monicker: Susan Wanderlust. Still, I made a lot of friends - some whom I'm still in contact with!
I didn't blog as often as I should (life in Adelaide was just too insane!), but I treasure those posts because they were really clear chronicles of one of the most challenging and exciting times of my life.
But the blog died a natural death when I returned to Malaysia.
2012-present: the personal brand
About 2012, as I was making preparations to move to Adelaide, I realised that if I were to make it as a freelancer or to even snag a job in Australia, I have to have a portfolio website. I needed a "business centre", a place where I can showcase my work and demonstrate my skills.
When elizabethtai.com came about, I didn't really want to blog in it. Having been burnt by the Messy Christian years, I was afraid of accidentally committing a social media sin that would tar my career forever.
I was cautious. Overly so. I blogged bland posts about personal branding and writing. But a part of me died with each post.
I was in blog identity crisis mode and wondered if I should just not blog.
That's when I discovered the concept of a nicheless blog. I've always had an aversion to specialising - even as a journalist I was a generalist, writing about topics such as books, entertainment, science, fashion, the environment and social matters.
Blogging has been so fun ever since.
I'm no longer as "open" as I was when I was "MC" and deciding what to post can be a fine line, especially since your website now bears your name, but I've never been happier as a blogger!
What I love about Elizabethtai.com is its flexibility. I'm no longer confined into a niche or a topic. I'm allowed to change with the seasons - after all, the website is about me!
The Power of Blogging
Despite my ups and downs with blogging, I can 100% say that it has changed my life for the better.
- It's a kickass networking tool. I have made many, many friends.
- I've built my confidence as a writer and a person.
- I got numerous jobs because of it!
- I even got interviewed by the media!
- It has helped me work out my personal angst.
- It has allowed me to be a journalist eventhough I'm no longer officially one.
- It's my one-stop centre to showcase my skills and abilities
- In the future, it'll be an online shop where I can sell my books.
While I miss the personal, raw, honest days of blogging and dislike the marketing veneer that cover most of today's blogs, I am thankful for every blog post that I've read, written and kept.
How about you? When did you start blogging? Has your blogging style changed over the years?