For my 10th blogging year anniversary, I shared my 10 for 10 Special blog post where I invited folks to make requests and/or ask questions. I promised to respond/reply to the first 10 folks. And, through that post, my good and long-time online friend Kari asked:
"In your very first days of blogging in 1999, how did it differ from what your blog about in the present day? Was it more like a diary or somewhere to share your art maybe?"
And, in connection with my web history, RogerAD asked if I had a screenshot of my Geocities site.
So, I decided to answer two questions/requests in one post.
Unfortunately, however, I didn't have a clue how to take screenshots back in those days. So, no, I don't have a Geocities site screenshot. 🙁 However, I'm pretty sure I have a back-up of the HTML of my old sites in a floppy disk (! --- do you still remember 'em?!) somewhere. But, I don't even have a computer that has a floppy disk drive anymore. And, yeah, Wayback Machine didn't really archive my earliest sites. Too bad, eh? 😉
The earliest screenshot I found of my site was this one from 2002:
It was powered by Movable Type, one of the first blogging/CMS platforms I've ever tried. But, we'll get to that later. Maybe.
To answer Kari's question...
Well, my site has always reflected where I am at any given time of my life.
In 1999, when I first started on the web, my very first site on Geocities was focused on writing. Yes, I was mostly writing about writing, and sharing my short stories and poetry. I had a mishmash of other interests too, but I found that the most popular part of it was my writing stuff. So, I decided to do a 'spin-off' site and that became eWriteLife (formerly known as The Write Life, which I hosted on a Freeservers site). It's through my writing site where I first found the joy of connecting with online communities.
I was also 'blogging' at the time in a small section on my site where I posted little things that I found interesting. A bit later, I started to do more journalling type things.
At the end of 1999, I got married and moved to a new country (Singapore). In 2000, I expanded my web writing and began exploring buying my own domain names. ShaiCoggins.com is the first domain name I bought. You can see on my WhoIs data that I purchased it on the 24th of August 2000. At the time, I did not buy my own hosting account yet. Instead, I just pointed the domain to my old Geocities account. I believe it took me a year before I decided to purchase my own hosting.
In any case, in 2000, ShaiCoggins.com became an online portfolio thing, trying to showcase my writing as that was my main focus at the time. Especially after landing a number of freelancing gigs then - About.com (still a Primedia company back then, not a NY Times company), Suite101.com (back when they paid writers upfront), and even later on, finding print jobs like Elle Magazine (Singapore).
At the same time, I was developing my interest in art. I started taking private watercolour tuition and attending a variety of art workshops. So, my blog was slowly incorporating pieces I was doing from my art lessons. And yes, my travels.
In 2001, the Dot Com world crashed and a lot of my online writing gigs were wiped out.
Strangely, even though I was doing my Masters' in Psychology at the time, my jobs were mostly media/writing related. But, thanks to that Dot Com Crash (bye bye Web 1.0!), I turned to psychology as a profession. I started taking on psychology consultancy roles, which ended up with me landing a job as a psychologist in a nonprofit organisation for people with intellectual disabilities in Singapore.
And, when I can't write, I usually express myself visually.
So, I painted. A LOT.
With my apartment beginning to fill with artwork (and rising costs for art materials!), I ventured in to selling art online. Hence, as you can see in the above screenshot, my site became an online art portfolio. My main avenue for art selling was eBay. You can still see my eBay Art Gallery/Account, if you wish. 🙂 I don't sell anything there anymore and my page is probably all messed up and such by now. But yeah, there's my proof that my art DID sell around the world. And, I have a 100% Positive Feedback (from about 146 recorded sales). And, I did manage to get a few non-eBay sales too from exhibits, an open studio visit, direct from my website, etc. It was fun times. I stopped selling art shortly after I arrived in Australia. I think I last sold my art officially in 2005.
Anyway, in one of my earlier blog incarnations, I called it "All Mixed Up" -
Back then, I blogged a lot more openly. I talked about my day-to-day life. I wrote about what I saw, what I felt, what I dreamt of... I blogged about hopes and fears, disappointments and triumphs...
Over the years, however, I've learned to pull back a little.
I was even tempted to pull back on the personal blogging altogether due to my increasing presence on the web and a few other reasons. That's why you won't find a lot of my older archives.
You see, I realised that due to my work online, it got a bit tougher to be too personal.
But then, I realised that I can't completely abandon personal blogging... So, I continue here at Studio Notes. After all, this is me. This is where I started.
Sure, my approach to blogging has definitely changed from how it was back in 1999/2000. My life has transformed a lot since then too - from being a single girl, to finding love online, to getting engaged, then married, then having my first child, to now being a mum of two young kids... And, from my solo writing ventures to finding small writing gigs (where I got paid in cheques that I couldn't even cash at the time!), to finding cool and well-paid writing gigs (including getting my first book published), to selling art, and to co-founding an online media business that received multi-million dollar funding and receiving all sorts of press and awards...
Through this site, I have shared my exciting moves to new countries, the births of my children, the loss of my father, my thrilling travels and the people I meet, new personal and professional directions, my adventures in learning how to drive or paint or dance, dreams and friends that I made and lost, my obsessions-of-the-moment...
Yes, the last 10+ years of my life online has been full. I learned a lot, hurt a lot, lost a lot, loved a lot, and gained a lot. And yes, I wrote a heck of a LOT. 🙂
In any case, I just hope that even though I couldn't quite fulfill RogerAD's request, I managed to answer Kari's question in my very long-winded way of blogging. 😉