“Why am I doing this?”
This is the way the pep-talks about blogging fatigue start between Me, Myself and I. One of us has been a bit cynical and out of sorts lately, but I won’t point any fingers.
I’ve been blogging since 2008, and it’s been a fun journey. By fun, I mean satisfying. Not the jolly, belly-laughing kind of fun. Or the “Far Out! Look at my stats skyrocket” kind of fun. It definitely hasn’t been the “Whoopee! I’m rolling in cash” kind of fun. Just good ol’ satisfying.
Blogging is hard work, but good work. I learn heaps. I polish my writing. I have a reason to write, which is really important for someone like me who likes to have a project or seven on the go.
In practice, blogging is a lot like looking after a puppy. As in, it’s full on. Actually, it’s more like minding one of those insane Tamagotchi™ digital pets. Can anyone out there in the blogosphere give me an AMEN? (There’s a fun blog post idea there for anyone who has the drive to knock it into shape! You’re welcome.)
So, yeah, lately I’ve noticed these little burbles of discontent around my blogging. The number of posts on both blogs has dwindled, taking last year’s steady flow to this year’s drip, drip…drip. Apparently, my blogging get-up-and-go got up and went south for the season.
Me, Myself or I (not naming names) is battling a bout of blogging fatigue.
Why is the satisfaction lagging for Me? (Oops! I named names. Sorry, Me).
I (the counsellor in our little trio) got Gestalt with this question, and here is what I came up with. There are a few things at play.
I preach it all the time: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” As a school counsellor (who really shouldn’t preach), I witness the misery that comparison wreaks in the lives of young people as they struggle to accept themselves in a world bombarded by impossible standards and photoshopped images.
For a little player in the blogosphere, forty hits a day sounds all right. Until I hear about the blogger (writing the same kind of posts as I am) who got 4000.
And then there are the “Like” buttons at the bottom of the post. Thank you to all my regular readers who click the Like button. You guys are awesome; please don’t stop clicking that button. It makes me smile. But when I go to read other blogs and stumble upon a post about pre-war potholders with 189 likes? Seriously?
I start wondering…maybe the Cosmos is trying to tell me the children’s literature and books and love of words I write about are not as meaningful as potholders. Do you see what I mean about comparison ripping off my joy?
In my defence, I’m not consciously comparing myself to high-flying bloggers (or even low-flying, pre-war potholder posters). It’s a side-effect of skilling-up on the Net. In my efforts to learn to write better and blog smarter, I have to wade through so much tedious horn blowing. So many of the voices out there are touting enormous incomes, huge followings, and viral pieces as the only hallmarks of blogging success.
Satisfaction doesn’t get a headline–at least not an SEO-ed one.
If you catch yourself feeling frustrated about blogging, check to see if you are comparing yourself to unrealistic standards or trends. Instead, try comparing your present track record with your past one. Celebrate improvement and strategise about everything else.
What makes a blog or its blogger a success? The Internet screams this answer: Making big bucks and having a huge following.
That isn’t why I started blogging. I just wanted to carve out a space and a reason to write. Even now, I don’t covet the ephemeral fame of a viral blog post. (Of course, I wouldn’t poo-poo it if it happened…) And I don’t have the time to find and wheedle sponsors. I toyed with affiliate programs, but they are not my cup of tea. And I’ve heard the income they generate will barely pay for said cuppa.
After defining what I wanted Spilling Ink to become, I set some specific goals for 2014. One way to achieve my goals was to post at least once a week. I did it for a year. I posted regularly, and no matter what anyone says, that is a feat. Hats off to the bloggers who come up with fresh ideas and crisp content day after day. I hired a blogging coach, and refined my efforts. Seeing the steady growth in number of hits and my blogging skill at the end of the year was satisfying.
Here’s one thing I discovered about blogging in the above exercise of 2014. Trying to carve out a space for your blog is a bit like trying to build a sandcastle with dry sand. It doesn’t hold no matter how fast you scoop.
Make up your own definition of success for your blog, and set some SMART goals to reach your success. S=specific, M=measurable, A=attainable, R=relevant, and T=timely. If success means your blog generates money, go for it. Learn everything you can. If you’re after satisfaction, join me. And remember to keep your eyes on your prize–not someone else’s.
“Why AM I doing this?” That’s still the question. Here’s the answer: Not for the original why of 2008/9.
Way back then, I was kick-starting a writing habit. And I mean kick-starting in the pre-crowdsourcing sense of the word, the physical, grunting way you kick a rusty old motorcycle into motion. The blog I cut my teeth on, Consonance, and the next one, Unlocking the Attic, gave me a reason to write regularly. I’ve come a long way since that first post on language learning. Some of my early posts on the old sites make me cringe. But others make me smile, cackle, and even tear up.
Blogging worked! Now, seven years later, I have not only an established writing habit, I also have a fledgling writing career. My writing and I HAVE come a long way, baby! I’ve guest-blogged, written for online magazines, and been published in print magazines. My fiction has placed in and won competitions. I’ve written four novel manuscripts, and I have a New York literary agent working on selling one of them. I even have to use an application to keep track of my numerous submissions. Heck, now a days, I’m a bona fide, certified author. I’ve got the rejection letters–and a few of the other sort, the acceptances and paychecks–to prove it! Yay!
Blogging helped get me here, and I intend to use it to keep me moving along my writing journey.
Refine not only your blog’s focus but your personal writing goals. Revisit them regularly, and don’t be afraid to re-refine those goals! Things change–you grow and the market does too.
It seems to Me (and I and Myself agree) that I have to figure out what blogging needs to do for me in 2015 and beyond. I know it has something to do with my author platform. And if that isn’t a shifty beast, I don’t know what is.
While I figure that out, here’s hoping this post has rebooted my blogging mojo and fired you up too.
Over to You
If you’re battling blogging fatigue, you have my commiseration. It sucks to lose the joi d’écrire–the joy of writing. I hope you tap back into that joy quickly. Trust that it’s still there; it’s just masked by weariness and disillusionment. To reëmerge, it needs you to rest and refresh your soul.
For practical steps, I recommend the Problogger series Declaring War on Blogging Apathy by Darren Rowse.
If his suggestions don’t give you relief, dig deeper to the level of motivations. I suggest you ask yourself a few tough questions. Try to figure out when and where your mojo lost its oomph. If you’re comparing your success to the success of others, try defining your own!
Best of luck!
Creative Commons Image Credits
Two Bloggers, after Norman Rockwell by Mike Licht
Comparison is the thief of all joy #chalkgram by Kyle Steed
A Pompeian Beauty Blogging, after Rafaele Giannetti by Mike Licht
Romeo, Romeo, WTF Romeo? after Wm Powell Firth by Mike Licht
My daughter took the shot of Huckleberry, who’s much bigger now.
Blogger’s Note: This post, like many of my posts, has been edited after publishing. In this instance, I amended the content when my mojo finally came home.