February 03, 2017

The Story Of How Blogging Found Me

How blogging found me

Blogging Found Me In A Very Serendipitous Way…

My initial title for this post was going to be How I Got Into Blogging as it’s a question I get asked a heck of a lot. But really, I think blogging found me – I didn’t go looking for it. At least not consciously.

I was actually looking for somewhere and something to write but I didn’t think there was any book material in my head at that point. At school my favourite subject was English. I passed my O Level – which by the way, makes me really old – no GCSE’s here!

I was however notoriously bad at maths. I actually managed a U for Ungraded in my maths CSE – yep…couldn’t even get anywhere near O Level level! My Actuary husband with the most clever mathematical brain I know is probably shaking his head right about now.

Anyhoo, despite the horrendous maths history, I ended up working in finance for 90% of my career. Go figure. Or in my case, don’t.

When Holly was approaching four, I took voluntary redundancy from my last finance role at Aviva Health after a fifteen year stint. If I’m honest I was heartbroken at the thought of not working every day with the women who had come to be my best friends and seen me though all life’s major events so far.

Online Stylist wearing grey layers

Neatly folded sweaters and spring hyacinths

I made a decision, shut my eyes & took a leap of faith…

But it was the time when lots of firms were outsourcing and the role that left for me was one that would involve some fairly regular business travel. With H so young and me being part time, that held no appeal and it wasn’t what I had returned to work for.

So I did what lots of people rapidly approaching forty do. I made a decision, shut my eyes and took a leap of faith into the unknown. There were tears, many moments of trepidation and the best last day in the office send off a girl could wish for.

One that didn’t just involve embarrassing old photos of me. These guys even managed to get their hands on some of my more  horrendous memorable outfits. And dressed up as various versions of me for the leaving presentation. I still don’t know to this day how they managed it.

Even then it would seem fashion was calling from the background. Albeit some questionable fashion…

Snapping a shoefie gucci shearling mules

Fast forward to January 2008 and I started working part time in an admin role for my brother in law at the estate agent branch he was then managing. The transition from a corporate giant to an office of five, one of whom was related by marriage was confusing to say the least!

Oddly enough that admin job popped into my head recently when the headlines about women being forced to wear heels etc surfaced again. I would hasten to add this wasn’t the case here but throughout the various branches, there was a definite sexist vibe I hadn’t encountered before and a definite predilection for employing blondes. I was brunette at the time.

I would hasten to add my brother in law was not included in that. He too left in due course. But not before he had to let me go that summer. Yep – redundant again just as the bottom fell out of property market. We joked that I had probably broken it.

But in a way, I have him to partially thank for my initial foray into the beginnings of blogging. But don’t tell him I said that!

As the work was beginning to dry up, having ticked off all the jobs for the day, I would sit in the office manning the phone and twiddling my thumbs.

time spent browsing in a book shop

Get Your Sh*t Together book by Sarah Knight

Assuming the moniker of ThatGirl39 I began blogging anonymously…

Surfing the internets one lunchtime I happened across a blog – oddly I don’t even remember what it was about. On further investigation, I realised that you could set one of your own up on Blogger. For free. And so 39 & Counting was born.

And I was hooked.

Once I’d worked through the office tasks for the day, the following conversation would take place:

“Graham, I’ve done everything. There’s nothing else to do.”
“Write your blog then!”
“Are you sure that’s okay??”
“Yes! I read a bit of it last night. The way you talk about Small Child’s antics made me laugh – it’s funny!”
“Cool! Okay then…I will!”

And so on it went. I assumed the moniker of ThatGirl39 and began blogging anonymously, frantically updating 39 & Counting whenever I could. And ever so slowly, I began cottoning onto the fact that that a handful of people were reading it. And sometimes commenting!

And there was a whole host of amazing blogs out there to read and enjoy – written by real people like me.

One of my first comments came from my friend Anna (or Banana as was her blog commenting name!). This was soon followed by a few lovely comments from anonymous folk and then Wendy Brandes…in New York!! And Tara Met Blog and Robin Anderson when she was Diary of A Yummy Mummy, both Stateside too.

I was beside myself with joy!

shopping for armfuls of pink peonies

Shopping for Instagram props

With regular comment chats from the lovely Tara Cain (of Sticky Fingers fame) who then wrote From Dawn Till Rusk, I began to connect with lots of different bloggers from all over the world.

Some were style bloggers and some were parent bloggers and some just wrote diary entriy blogs in the most amazing and entertaining ways. And I think Ella from Coco’s Tea Party stopped by too, making me turn my attention to the ever growing fashion blogger tribe.

A year later I turned forty, closed down 39 & Counting with one final flourish of a post-birthday party high post and began Forty Not Out in May 2009 with this post. Eeek – the oldies are SO cringe-worthy!

August 2010 saw the launch of my style advice service, The Online Stylist that sat within Forty Not Out. After eventually realising FNO’s cricket score connotations were far too prevalent, I switched the blog name over to The Online Stylist in January 2011. 

With the arrival of Biscuit into our family in March 2013, I made a (good) decision to close down the style advice service and began focusing more on my first love, writing the blog.

window shopping in Winchester

Shopping for covetable pieces at The Hambledon

There’s no right or wrong way to start a blog…

And that’s my potted history of how blogging found me. Just as I think there’s no right or wrong way to blog, I also feel there’s no right or wrong way to get started. Just your way.

So if you’re thinking of starting a blog – don’t delay. Just start!

Style Notes: Sunglasses – Celiné | Lips – Charlotte Tilbury in Tell Laura | Coat – Fenn Wright Manson c/o | Scarf – COS : similar at ASOS |  Jumper – H&M : Similar at Topshop | Cashmere Wrist Warmers – hush | Nails – Essie in Wicked |  Bag – Jaeger | Coated Skinny Jeans – Next : Similar at ASOS | Shearling loafers – Steal: Jessica Buurman or Spree: Gucci


Photography: Marlene Lee

Thanks to The Hambledon, Winchester for welcoming us in to shoot…and shop!

16 comments on “The Story Of How Blogging Found Me”

  1. Loved this post and the pictures of you are gorgeous.
    The only trouble is you cost me a fortune,I just love your style.
    Off to log onto the Jessica Buurman site!

  2. The 40th Birthday dress will stay in my mind forever! I found you at 39 And Counting and the day I did, I scolled back and read every post you’d ever written! Loved those early blogging days and the friendships we had back then. x

    1. Ah that dress Sharron – it was responsible for a lot of things! The early blogging days were lots of fun – such an adventure that you never really know where its going to take you next. But I think we’re all doing pretty good!
      Amanda xx

  3. I look forward to reading your blog daily and your fashion updates. Your style is beautiful and your pictures have encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone. Approaching 55 I bought a beautiful black culotte suit and felt fabulous wearing it. A new heading for me would read Never too old! Carolyn

    1. Thank you so much Carolyn for stopping by to let me know – that is wonderful to hear! I was just saying to someone yesterday that style should be about having fun and never being afraid to try something new. So I’m thrilled that you went for a culotte suit and totally agree that no numbers should be attached to style!
      Amanda xx

  4. So lovely to read the potted history. Thank you for taking the time to put new followers (like me) in the picture! Having some context is great. I love reading your blog.

  5. I loved reading this! As I think I’ve mentioned before, I found you at forty not out, in early 2010 when I was looking for inspiration and positivity around my own 40th birthday. I always found you very real and relatable, and was slightly spooked when I discovered our (identical looking at the time) daughters shared a birthday. Oddly, I’ve just discovered from this post that our husbands do almost the same job and maybe even for the same company (my husband’s head office in in Bournemouth – Liverpool Victoria?)
    In recent years you’ve become so incredibly accomplished and stylish – the embodiment of your title! The fact that you seem to get so much joy from what you do remains an inspiration to this day. Perhaps one day soon I’ll do something that makes my soul sing….

    1. Argh – our similarities just keep on coming Sharon! Yes – LV is where my husband works – how funny! Truly a parallel universe!
      Thank you so much for your heartfelt words of encouragement – the thought of sitting here each day creating something new in Style World is the very best.
      I hope you find that too – although it might just find you when you least expect it!
      Amanda xx

  6. I really enjoyed reading your post and I also look forward to receiving updates on your blog. The photos are just beautiful. I also notice that your hair is a little darker at the top (kind of ombre effect) – this is exactly what I want to do with mine. What did you ask your hairdresser to achieve this look? Thanks again for your wonderful blog!!

    1. Aw thank you Nicole! So glad you enjoy the updates!
      Sadly the hair currently is not intentional – just some badly needed root and grey hair covering needed! I do have balayage at the salon and my colourist paints two different shades on freehand. One is more the colour of my own hair and one lighter I think. Its done by Kat at George Northwood – she is a genius!
      Amanda xx

  7. Oh my goodness, I remember all of this so well!
    I think with blogging you make some incredible friendships that you never forget. You may not speak for ages, but those first connections stay with you and you have a warm place in your heart for them.
    You are one of those people my friend x

  8. Yours was one of the first blogs I ever read and inspired me to start blogging. I’ve kind of gone the other way to you, starting with a style blog and moving to a mum blog. Love your blog 🙂 xxx

    1. Hey Lovely Emily!
      Aw thank you – and you too. Our blogs go way back – remember the LFW trips?!?
      Congrats on your next blogging chapter too! I’ve seen lots of bloggers do the reverse and I think its great. You need to blog for wherever you are on your life journey I think. It always feels more authentic that way.
      Lots of love and hope your gorgeous boy is doing well!
      Amanda xx

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