On Blogging: Taming an Unruly Blog

Ah, blogging about blogging.  The ultimate self indulgence.  I’ve had some of these thoughts in my head for a while but was really prompted by a couple of other bloggers’ posts on the subject that made me feel I should talk about it.  First, Grumbles and Grumbles and Grunts blogs about blogging in the top 5 ways this is going to be the most meta post ever. And the second, is Melanie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite who recently dropped the bomb shell that she is quitting blogging to find a better balance with her kids.  Clearly, this is something that weighs on many bloggers minds.  Here’s how it looks on mine:

Being a Mommy Blogger was a difficult transition for me. I started this blog as a true journal of my struggles with Infertility and to become part of the amazing community of IF bloggers.  I wrote how I was feeling and I commented on other bloggers posts to offer condolences and congratulations.  Then – BAM! – You’re a Mom.  Understandably, you lose a lot of blog friends.  It is the way it goes.  No woman wants to read how cute my kids is when they’ve just failed their 4th IVF cycle.

That’s ok.  I met another group of equally awesome bloggers in fellow moms.  Unfortunately, there is a much wider net of “types” of mom bloggers than their are IF bloggers (no one is like “sweet!  I’m infertile!  Now I can start a blog with advertising and bring in some extra income!”).

Annie at PhD in Parenting has a great post about the Typology of the Mommy Blogger which breaks down just how diverse this group is.  Finding my way is difficult for a number of reasons;

  1. I like my ego stroked. I can’t pretend that looking at my site stats doesn’t tickle me!  300 people a day read what I have to say?  Wow!  How could anyone deny enjoying that?
  2. I think I have valuable things to say. I really feel that parenting has went off track in our society and everyone out there with a voice for gentle parenting, natural parenting, and unconditional parenting is important.  Did you plan to cosleep when you were 16?  Breastfeed?  I don’t know if I did but I do know I needed to read about it for that light bulb to go off that I could do it differently than my mother had.
  3. My kid is freakin’ cute. I think the whole world needs to know that. 🙂

So, when my blog went from this completely closed loop of IF bloggers to a wider audience (with accolades!) how could I not feel pressure to do the next thing to be a Great Blogger?  Great Bloggers build their brand (by for example NOT changing their website look every 3 weeks, lol), they promote themselves, and most importantly, being a Great Blogger means commenting and writing for other peoples’ blogs.  It is time consuming when you add that to actually writing said blog.

And I’m certainly not against bloggers making money from blogging if that is what they want.  They deserve it: Mom Bloggers Deserve to Get Paid. I certainly don’t snub a blog because it has ads on it but I do think that it creates a moral quagmire (see here and here).  About once every quarter I find myself thinking, “I’m going to do ads and make some money” but I always back out for a few reasons;

  1. I don’t think it is possible to separate sponsorship from your writing. Even with the best of intentions, if I promote fuzzi bunz through a giveaway or ad space then how can I ever truly be unbiased in saying I love to use fuzzi bunz?
  2. I don’t want to have a perceived obligation to advertisers or readers. The fact is companies advertise with you because you can prove you have “reach” aka people read your blog.  I’m happy people read my blog but I feel that blogging in order to get people to read my blog would change how/what/when/ and how often I write.
  3. I hate the “every space is ad space” mentality of our society and this is one small space where I can control it as AD FREE.

Each blogger has to make their own decision on inclusion of Ads.  I don’t judge those who choose differently (although I avoid giveaways).  Regardless of where you come down on the ad issue there are some things that blogging should not be about.

Blogging should not be about guilt or martyrdom. I only posted 13 posts the last 4 months of 2010.  Worse yet, I didn’t Twitter, FB, or comment on any of my friends’ blogs.  This is the opposite of the Great Blogger – this is the Slacker Blogger.  Even without the perceived obligation to advertisers I still feel guilty when I am a Slacker Blogger.

Blogging should not be about quantity of posts alone. I see people post 5 days a week minimum even on Holidays and I wonder if they are really doing that out of pleasure or something else?  As a reader, I can’t keep up with their blogs anyway!  That’s too much!  Someone who posts this much either has poor quality posts, which I rarely see, or they are spending a LARGE amount of time on the computer!

So what should blogging be about?

The answer to that question is personal but I think there are some things it should have in common;

Blogging should be rewarding. I was going to say it should be “fun,” and it is for me, but there should be some emotional pay off for the blogger.  Maybe that is fun or friendship or even release of emotions as it was for me when I was an IF blogger.

Blogging should be stress free. Unless you are making this your living then you shouldn’t be worried about deadlines, word counts, and readership.  This makes it a job.  If you are losing sleep, not connecting with your spouse, or making your kids watch too much TV then blogging is creating stress in your life.  Or if, for example, you are lying in an ER bed feeling bad about not participating in a blog carnival…you might be a little too involved.

Blogging should enhance your life not hinder it. If one of your life goals is to spend time outside with your kids but blogging keeps you inside for hours then adjust your blogging to your life not the other way around.

If you, like me, Melanie, and Grumbles, are sometimes feeling overwhelmed by your blog I think there are some steps you can take to take back control.

How to Take Back Your Blog Life

  1. Know why you blog. What made you start your blog?  Do you want to make friends with other blog moms?  Or is it more about documenting your life?  It can be both, of course, but KNOW what your answers are and prioritize them.
    I started my blog to work through emotions.  Now, I do that as well as working through my own parenting philosophy.  My secondary reason would be the friendship with other bloggers.  Important, but also secondary.
  2. Know who your audience is. I don’t mean who is reading your blog I mean who you are writing for.
    I write for me.  I write for my daughter (this is her baby book).  I write for my husband (he isn’t going to read Playful Parenting but he’ll read my summary).  I write for my family (then when I do something weird as a parent they know I’ve thought it through even though it looks odd to them).  I write for other moms who need encouragement and resources about parenting in a way that might be different from their peers and parents.  That last one is important to me but also last on the list.  When I find myself writing only for my Google search audience I know I’m getting off track.
  3. Know your expectations. Do you expect to make money?  Do you expect to be well read?  Do you expect to communicate with family and friends?  Know what you expect because it will guide your strategy.  Few bloggers actually make money so if that is your expectation then you’ll need to research that side of blogging.
    I want to communicate with family and friends.  Then I want to be well read (a quite arbitrary term.  I’m happy to have people who enjoy my thoughts and ideas.)
  4. Do your answer to questions 1-3 mesh with what you are writing? Look back over your last few months of blog posts.  Are you blogging the way you intend most of the time?  Of course everyone posts off-type when the mood strikes but did you start your blog to work out your feelings and find you haven’t written a personal post in a year?  Did you plan to write for your child but have been frustrated because you haven’t gotten rich yet?
  5. Steer yourself back on track. Your answers can help you decide when, what, and how often to blog.  When you are blogging what your heart wants, when you can comfortably afford the time then blogging will be rewarding and not stressful.
  6. Re-evaluate. Of course there is nothing wrong with starting my blog as an IF blogger but deciding to go “big”.  The important thing is to know why you are blogging and not the blog controlling you.

Easier said than done, right?  I think what Melanie is doing is very brave!  She knows that cutting back is one of the hardest things to do!  Once you go big it can seem like failure to scale back.  If that is what you need to do then follow her example.  If not, I think self reflection can really help get you back in control of you unruly blog.

What do you blog for?

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8 thoughts on “On Blogging: Taming an Unruly Blog

  1. Thank you so much. I need to read this. I am thinking a lot about what I really want to do with my blog and FB page, and you helped clarify some things for me. Blessings!
    Dulce

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  2. I blog because i want to keep a record (much like i did when i did a paper journal) of my life with my hubby and what we do. I also like the interaction with other people.

    I read an eclectic range of different blogs because i enjoy hearing about the lives of other folks, but i also want to connect with other folks more. That has had very uneven results, but i enjoy reading about other folks, anyway.

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  3. When I read your blog via RSS, there are advertisements at the bottom of your posts. It felt ironic after reading about your “AD-FREE” space. I just thought you would want to know.

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    • Ha! Very ironic. Those are not ads that I place there or make any money from. I use a Google Service called Feedburner to publish my feed and of course Google puts ads everywhere. Hmmm, not sure how to get rid of that but thanks for the heads up because even if I can’t remove them I’d like to put a disclaimer on my feed.

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  4. Great post! Balance is definitely something I struggle with. I started my blog as an outlet to share my feelings about parenting and life. And that always included reviewing products that I liked. I never even knew about giveaways until I had been blogging for a bit and built up a following. I have been doing way more giveaways than I like, so I'm going to scale back on that starting next month, but for me to devote as much time as I do to my blog, I do feel like I need to make some money to make it worth my time.

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  5. Great post! Balance is definitely something I struggle with. I started my blog as an outlet to share my feelings about parenting and life. And that always included reviewing products that I liked. I never even knew about giveaways until I had been blogging for a bit and built up a following. I have been doing way more giveaways than I like, so I’m going to scale back on that starting next month, but for me to devote as much time as I do to my blog, I do feel like I need to make some money to make it worth my time.

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  6. I read your blog all the time and love it you’re a great writer and you blog is very well researched and thoughtful with that said. You had better enjoy while you can because once those boys come along bloging will be just a blip on the radar screen.

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  7. I started reading your site after I saw your post about Attachment Parenting, Attachment Theory and Being “Attached” I too started thinking about why I blog after reading Melanie’s post for the January Carnival. I think I’m still figuring that out though so I don’t want to make any claims as to why I blog. I think like most things in my life I’m too all over the place to make one decision and stick with it. I do know I started it as an outlet for my experiences but I feel like I want it to become something more. Thanks for the self reflection and I am now going to follow your feed on my dashboard.

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