Any time someone asks me about blogging (and whether or not I like it) I always answer with, “Yeah, of course I like it! If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it.” While that’s true, if I’m being honest there is some stuff about blogging that I just really really don’t like. In fact, at times it’s frustrated me to the point where I’ve thought about just quitting and going back to just living normal life. I’m not quitting but let’s be honest…sometimes blogging just sucks.
The #AuthenticLife That’s SO Not Authentic
I absolutely can’t stand the #authenticlife #authentic or #nofilter hashtags. I especially can’t handle it when it’s so evident that it’s entirely staged and/or filtered. This is typically the pressure on Instagram but it happens on Twitter and Facebook too. So many feeds are full of nothing but perfectly manicured hands on a keyboard, an impeccably decorated home office with the cleanest desk you’ve ever seen in your life, hands wrapped around a coffee mug with precision foam art, or some other artsy photo that is just not a picture that 90% of the world would actually take on a regular day.
Do you know what my IG is full of? It’s mostly pictures of my dogs. Sometimes I post a selfie or pic of me and my husband. Sometimes I’ll post a quote. If I buy myself something new (like the new winter boots I just bought) I’ll share that too. The pictures are taken on my iPhone. They are crappy quality (I’m not a photog, #noapologies). Sometimes I try to filter but that makes them look worse because I don’t understand filters and photography so, whatever. There was a period of time (for about a week) where I thought, “Oh! I can do the staged I-live-a-perfect-life photos too. It just takes planning.” I scrapped that idea quickly. It’s too much. I don’t want to connect with people over fake photos that I stress for an hour about taking. Can’t deal with my poorly lit, sometimes fuzzy, not overly awesome IG photos? Don’t follow me there, ok? The pressure to #liveauthentic in a totally not authentic way is overwhelming and I’m 100% over it.
The “You’re Judged by Your Following” Perception
This is really annoying. I hear bloggers saying, “But so-and-so only has _____ followers in Twitter” or a blogging friend is upset because she was turned away from participating in a group giveaway because she didn’t have enough followers. It’s ridiculous. Yeah, we get crazy excited when we hit benchmarks and it makes you feel good when people connect with you on various networks but feeling like we have to be the most popular thing ever on every single network is daunting.
Every blogging Facebook group I’m in has these constant follow-for-follow threads. Sometimes there are hundreds of bloggers participating in these threads. They will follow you if you follow them so hundreds of people follow each other (then instantly hide each other) so no one really connects, no one really cares, and it’s a bunch of fake popularity that there is this immense pressure to keep up. Oh, let’s not forget that you’re supposed to grow constantly because if you are stagnant for a month then that also means that you are suddenly a terrible blogger and no one likes you anymore.
You Need a “Niche”
THIS. This one has been the thorn in my side since I first started this blog (as Forever Ashley) in 2014. I started a blog to write, to share, to inspire, to encourage, and to just be. It was fun. I wrote about my marriage, my life, my dogs, my faith, my home, etc. I wrote about good stuff and bad stuff. I wrote about fun times I had and things that pissed me off. It was fun…until it wasn’t.
Suddenly, I needed a “niche.” Everyone talks about it. Everyone writes about it. Everyone shoves it down your throat as THE most important thing you’ll do as a blogger. You start to feel like you just can’t be a blogger if you don’t have a niche. I stressed. I felt overwhelmed. I felt like an epic failure. I freaked out thinking that I had to write about one thing and one thing only. So…I wrote about my marriage and my faith. That was it. Only, I was miserable.
I missed writing about career, and home, and blogging, and other stuff so I rebranded. I picked a new theme, new colors, new branding, and I changed so I could be more general, less personal, and more “successful.” I had a niche…so apparently I was blogging “correctly” even though I was suddenly feeling miserable. I hated my blog. I went back-and-forth over my “niche.” I started asking other, bigger, more successful bloggers how to define my niche.
- I was told not to blog about my faith because it would alienate people, so I stopped. Only, I felt like I wasn’t being me because my faith is a huge part of who I am.
- I was told to stop being so personal and sharing my husband, my dogs, and my life because I wasn’t teaching in those posts and they didn’t help grow my blog.
- I was told to stop writing about Atlanta because people who lived in other cities wouldn’t connect and would stop reading.
By the time everything was stripped away from me I was left with blogging about blogging. UGH. Listen, I love sharing blogging tips, things I’ve learned, and mistakes I’ve made so that others can learn from my practice but to blog about blogging every single day? NO, THANK YOU.
So, then I was told to post less often. If I can’t write about blogging every day then I should only post once a week, or twice a week. So, that’s what I did. Do you know what happened? I started thinking about starting yet another blog so I had a place where I could write about me, my life, and the cool stuff I enjoy. Doing that would have basically taken me back to where I was when I first started THIS blog. Ultimately, this is what I learned – I don’t care about a niche.
You Have to Earn an Income or It’s Pointless
Yeah, so about that… I went to, and graduated, from college because I had a passion for a career that I wanted to pursue. It had nothing to do with graphic design (which I suck at) or web development (also, totally not my thing) or anything else “creative”. I moved to Atlanta to pursue my career. I work 50+ hours per week at my career, in an office, surrounded by other professionals. I earn a full-time income from my career and I have 0 interest in earning a full-time income from my blog. To be honest…I don’t trust it.
Blogging today isn’t what it was 2 years ago, or 5 years ago, or 10 years ago. I don’t think it even existed 20 years ago unless we’re considering crap like OpenDiary or GeoCities blogs. I definitely don’t trust it enough that I would give up a career I’ve spent 10 years building just so I could sit at home and blog. There’s a big difference between being a business with a blog, and being a blog. Businesses should have blogs, it’s good for SEO, but to think that a fun lifestyle blog is my full-time job…never. I love writing about my faith. I fully intend to write a few devotional books and faith-based self-empowerment books (it is what the degree I worked so hard to earn taught me after all). I’ve even thought about a faith-based eCourse, but a career? From my blog? No. And that doesn’t mean that my blog is pointless or that I’m a failure. It just means I have different intentions for this site.
I do monetize my site. I do sponsored posts sometimes (like this one) and it feels good to cover my hosting fees and make a little extra cash to save up to help us buy a house soon or go visit my brother in London. It feels equally nice to have a post unexpectedly go viral (like this one about the struggle to conceive) and know that people are relating to your struggle. But it’s not about the money. It’s simply about a love of writing…at least…it was in the beginning. I want it to be that way again.
So…Why Keep Doing it?
I love to write. I love to share, to encourage, to inspire, and to connect. I love people (social sciences major…remember?) and I love connecting with people online. The more I write about my life the more other people share their lives with me. I’ve received emails from people asking me about my faith (which is awesome BTW!). Sometimes people are also believers, sometimes they aren’t, but it’s all good because I’ve never had anyone be mean about my beliefs and I’ve likewise never been mean about their skepticism. I’ve had people write me to talk about marriage, ask blogging questions, or ask about whether or not I think a chiweenie would be a good fit for their family (note: they demand a lot of attention!). I’ve made tons of good online friends. I’ve made a few IRL friends. It’s fun, but honestly, I’m really over the blogging pressure.
Can I just go back to blogging #authenticlife and just being real with everyone (crappy Instagram photos and all)?