I was originally planning on writing a post about day 2 of my Toyota adventure, in which I overcame obstacles and kicked some open-ocean kayaking ass but Fadra (my kayaking partner) did a pretty good intro on that for me. Then I was going to write about "doormatting in the name of friendship," something I'd had a great chat on twitter a couple of week ago with SFGirlbyBay and I've got it all drafted and everything but man, that one seems pretty damn heavy. So in the spirit of lightening the hell out of things, I thought I'd talk a little bit about something it seems like a few of us have been going through lately: to continue blogging or stop blogging, that is the question. I've never been a "big" blogger, even compared to a lot of the mommy blogger or lifestyle bloggers out there. I started YEARS ago in junior high when I had my first livejournal on my first honkin laptop, blogging because I was super duper angsty and loved to write. I guess some things don't really change a whole lot. That said, I went from LJ to myspace to blogspot to eventually wordpress but was never crazy serious about it, and companies were never super serious about advertising with me or sending me a whole bunch of stuff because a) I didn't have a fangirl following (which is the necessity to be a successful lifestyle blogger) and b) I didn't have a kid (kind of a prereq to be a successful mommy blogger, obviously). When I was in Boston, I kept blogging because I knew my friends and family at home were reading it to keep up with what I was doing and it still felt like a writing outlet.
Now, though...I guess I have a beef with the blogging "world" in general. I do it myself all the time, so I really don't really have room to criticize... but with platforms like Tumblr that have become so popular, it seems to me that SO often the popular bloggers who make careers out of their blogs can't write at all. Now, I worked my ass off to get an English degree at the top public university in the country (though you wouldn't know it by my typo-ridden posts, I know). But I'll be the first person to admit that it drives me absolutely BATSHIT INSANE when bloggers who couldn't put two coherent sentences together get book deals because they happen to be popular and not good writers (isn't that what writing a book is about? Or used to be, anyways?) and most of the time they're still just recycling mediocre post content! That, as someone who's wanted to publish a book for pretty much forever, makes me want to go all Exorcist, complete with the head 360 and pea soup nonsense. Point being, it's hard to feel like I belong in a world of "bloggers," when blogging used to be about writing original content of some quality, even if it was just teenage angsty quality, and now it's just recycling pictures you found on Pinterest (again, which I am guilty of).
ETA: I just had a comment thread over on Fadra's facebook page remind me, also, that success from blogging isn't just about how hard you work or how much you sacrifice. It's also - whether you like it or not- about who you know, marketability, and being in the right place in the right time. This ESPECIALLY applies to book deals. This isn't to say that there aren't some bloggers who can write and have books who completely deserve those deals: Erika from Redhead Writing is one of them (go get her book!) However, I still think that the vast majority of uber-successful bloggers who have crazy endorsement/sponsorship deals or major book deals didn't get there just because they were talented and worked hard. They also knew people, who knew people, were marketable, etc. For someone who's been writing and wanting to WRITE a book for years, that's really damn discouraging.
Moving on back to the guilt about not posting... that guilt is a huge part of my problem with blogging- I feel obligated to post, even if I'm only getting 30 hits a day. Granted, there are days that I do feel inspired and want to share something. But those days? Chances are I'll tweet or facebook the factoid/site because posting just takes so long and I don't have the time to invest an hour into putting together a post. I'll be perfectly honest. I've made money from... less than 5 sponsored posts. I've done a couple giveaways, done a few reviews, done a few awesome trades (that HAS been a big perk, but certainly due more in part to my social media presence than my blog reach, I'm sure), and been super fortunate to do the #toyotawomen experience. But part of me feels like my blog was probably the least "important" part about me- in terms of the numbers, it's the least significant compared to pinterest/instagram/klout/facebook/twitter. Maybe not LinkedIn, but really... it's Linkedin. I think I'm okay with that. ANYWAYS...
I've kept the blog going for a couple reasons. It's a great outlet. I miss writing- there's no way around it. I love to share design, and talk about design, and talk about designy things that aren't for WORK. Am I limited to what I can say on here? You bet your ass. (That's about as bad as it gets lately.) Once I relaunch my design site, I'd like to think that it will continue to be a good source of traffic over to my design portfolio, especially if I can continue to update my portfolio on a semiregular basis (which means yall have to keep hiring me, okay?) And of course, the GOOD people, I've meet have been amazing. I have to keep that in mind, like @maison21 reminded me, because the bad people I've met through social media/blogging have been some really super selfish assholes. It's like you take all the narcissism inherent in blogging and then you add a big heaping dose of crazy, and somehow I've managed to find those people. No more of THAT though, you hear, universe? But the good people I've meet have been REALLY freaking good.
I guess that brings me back to square one with blogging. I know for a fact that I won't be going to any HUGEMONGOUS blogging conferences like blogher again. After San Diego's oh-so-bad experience for me last year, I'm steering very clear. But I don't make money from my blog, so it makes sense not to spend money on a conference like that anyways. Plus, if I'm gonna go somewhere just to get drunk I'm gonna go to Vegas (you hear that, Amy? 25th bday- Vegas time!) Truly though, I've heard a lot of people debating quitting blogging, and it's interesting, because I DO think the "industry" is oversaturated and changing a lot. The people who stick it out and who end up being successful (aka make careers out of blogging alone) will be the ones who find the new ways to work with brands-- not just ads for $5 a month-- and who will treat their blogs as businesses, which may actually benefit me as a designer, because they'll learn that they need to invest not just in how they run their brand but how their brand looks-- which means a $50 DIY design from Etsy isn't going to cut it. (Yup, gotta hire a real designer to look like a real business!) So it's an interesting time. Where do I go from here? I don't honestly know. I'm not shutting down tomorrow...but a refocus might be in order here as well as in the business and the rest of my life. Yikes.
I'm curious to see if anyone else has been thinking about this as well or has heard similar "rumblings" from around your part of the community, or if things are still going the way they have been? Also, wow. Long post. Apologies for any typos ;)