I wrote some of this post, ironically, after I said I need to take a short break from blogging. I was writing again pretty much immediately after pressing publish. I got this amazing comment on my blog, after that post. It spoke to me:
"This is just my opinion, so take it for what it is worth.
Content does not always have to be "research, back linking, proofing, social media promotion" - I'm reading *your* blog, and it is ok to be you. Not some content producing robot. It is ok to just post a photo and/or a quick thought, or a link to something you read which you found interesting.. a memory, a this is what I did today, a recipe you love..
"bloggers are being encouraged to"
And who exactly made that person king of blogging? :) I think "problogging" can be a great thing at times. Sometimes, it can put massive amounts of pressure on people to be a certain way or produce posts which totally and completely bypass the reason we - their readers - loved them in the first place.
I find this seems to happen a lot after "conferences" where people are told all kinds of wonderful things and then they want to come home and put all this stuff they were told into action, and in the process they lose the one thing which most of their readers loved about their blog - themselves. :(
"I want each blog post to move a reader."
And wouldn't that be an exhausting blog to read, not to menton write - for every single post to move your readers. It is ok to move people on an irregular basis. It is ok for moving people to come as a surprise to your people, and not be an expectation for every single post written. I think you want to move people once a week at most, otherwise you'll burn out your readers as well as yourself. :)
Just be you. I like you, for who you are, not the "content" you produce and twist yourself into pretzels to create. Pretzels can be fine, they can be awesome, but if you have them each and every day, you crave icecream, or a macaron, or a cat photo. :)
Do your own thing. Be who you *are* - not who someone else says you should be, not someone you are "encouraged" to be. That is the reason I subscribed to your blog, and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way."
Thank you so much Snoskred. That comment! I needed it! I get you and agree with you and this is what I wanted to read. Somehow I may have lost myself in shaping the direction of my blog. Somehow I've made myself busier!
I do feel the pressure to write, to perform, and like everything I do in life, I'm a perfectionist. I write for me - and so my theory about perfection vs excellence means I strive for perfection rather than excellence. It's silly isn't it? Feeling the most pressure from ourselves.
I came back from Problogger with so many good ideas. I've already been filling up a notepad, talking to people who can bring these ideas to life. Funnily, many of those don't involve actual blogging. Those ideas are all about blogging, but use the blog as a springboard. And so while I want to focus on building those projects - all will be revealed soon - I need to just be. And I've enjoyed taking some time out, reducing that pressure to have something on the blog every second day.
A blog conference always leads to heightened inspiration - the content coupled with being in the presence of like minded people really does make you realise your potential. But there is overwhelm - of the crowds, the wonderful inspiring speakers, the ideas that you come back with, and also the experience of being away for a weekend. If there was a scale of overwhelm, I'd say this type is at the good end. I'd much rather be overwhelmed with excitement and inspiration than anxiety, fear and idea blockages - but I acknowledge that for many, these conferences might leave them feeling all of those things on the not so great end of the scale. When I got back from Problogger, I did notice bloggers wonder if they fit in; if they're doing it right. The ever lovely Pip Lincolne has some nice advice about how to overcome the overwhelm.
After blog conferences there's a danger of comparing ourselves to each other. The thing for me is that I keep comparing myself to what I've already done and want to do more. I compare myself to my last achievement and want to do more, do better. This is blogger burnout.
While blogging hasn't stopped being fun, the pressure to produce a post - or content as it's known in the industry - is tiring. For now, this isn't a full time job. I've been looking to decrease my day job hours so I can do more of this amazing writing and speaking career. I don't want to just be producing content, because that seems robotic. I want to keep it interesting and topical and continue to educate. But as my dear commenter said, it is ok to move people on an irregular basis.
This isn't a whinge about the sheer volume of wonderful opportunities that have come my way because of blogging. But the input definitely doesn't match the output. I did some invoices in bulk recently and the money I've made in projects away from my blog was more than 10 times the amount I've made through ads and sponsored posts here. It is hard work.
I've also found recently I've began to temper myself more online. The more of a following I have, the more conscious I am about what I'm saying, how I'm presenting myself online. There have been times I've been questioned for having an opinion on experiences and issues - because there's the belief my opinion contradicts my appearance activism.
I don't style my life online, but I am focused on what I write here - trying to ensure I set a good example, that don't contradict what I stand for, and knowing that what I do write may be scrutinised and criticised. But sometimes I will have an opinion that doesn't seem like 'me' - the online Carly that readers are used to seeing online - and that is ok. Please don't be disappointed. Hell, I commented on our Prime Minister's budgie smugglers recently and was hauled over the coals for not being true to my appearance activism work - I was told I was body shaming him. I wasn't.
I read an article about whether personal blogging can survive monetisation and this paragraph resonated with me the most:
"Most of all, when you blog about yourself, you’re putting YOU out there for strangers to judge. Most 99% of the time it’s good. But there will be times when people will judge, say they don’t like what you’re doing, or what you’re wearing and you will have to be tough enough to live with that judgement."
You do have to be tough. It's funny how out of a bajillion lovely comments, the not so nice ones stick.
There are opinions I'd love to share but, for many reasons, I can't. Having an opinion has cost me friends. And truthfully, I'm devastated. Having an online opinion is probably harder than in 'real life' opinions because there's no body language or fluid back and forth conversation for the intention to be interpreted clearly. And it seems that it's more difficult to clear the air in person when communication with them is mostly online. And the worst is when people who don't ordinarily contact me do so just to disagree. I'm all for differing opinions but if a differing opinion is all you're going to offer, then I'm going to feel hurt.
I've recently seen some commentary about blogging (and other issues) online that has caused some heated words. Looking at these examples, and also experiences I've had, I wonder whether we are able to ever ask questions about blogging/bloggers' behaviour/social media online or is this something to ask in person? Does this commentary get more dramatic online because of:
-the chance of misinterpretation
- the length of question and answer
- the pack mentality of the replies
- replying in the heat of the moment
- the ease of typing something compared to talking in person?
I don't know. I do think conversations aboutblogging issues, online behaviour and etiquette need to be had - the more transparently the better, but I question whether having them online all the time is the right platform. (I saw this post about that topic on Facebook - must listen to the podcast soon.)
We're making this blogging business up as we go along. That's how new it is. Sure, there are many experts providing us great advice. But the great thing about blogging and having our own blogs is that it can be anything we want it to be. It's ok to slow down or change direction or only post on Sundays.
Me? I've got to keep telling myself that it's ok not to go at full speed with everything I do. It's ok to let some of the day-to-day posts creep back into this blog. And it's ok not to be liked by everyone. It's good to find myself.