the business of blogging
This is a long-winded post about my relationship with blogging and my feelings of jealousy, frustration, competition and confusion associated with it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the business of blogging, or blogging as a means to make money and not just as a creative outlet or hobby.
I constantly question why I devote so much time and energy into this blog. Two nights ago, I worked on Levi’s second 1st birthday party post for nearly two and a half hours, choosing and editing photos and writing and formatting the copy. The results? The post received two comments and two “likes” on Facebook. To say I was disheartened would be an understatement. In all honesty, I was hoping for more of a reaction from my readers.
But who is even reading Bunny & Dolly? And why are they reading it? What is it that I really have to say?
I assume that most of my readers are family members or real-life friends who want to know what’s happening with Levi. While Bunny & Dolly started as a pregnancy journal and evolved into a diary of my experiences as a new mom, it has also been a way for me keep friends and family in the loop. I’m terrible at calling, and mass emails aren’t really my style, but I still want to share photos and anecdotes with the people who live far away.
As a bonus, Bunny & Dolly has introduced me to a network of other first-time moms like Courtney, Emily and Ashley. The connections and, dare I say, friendships I’ve made through blogging have been invaluable to me. That said, I would love to turn my passion for blogging and writing into a profession. I would love to be paid for the time and energy I put into this blog or other online endeavors. I’ve been exploring ways to monetize Bunny & Dolly; you might have noticed the addition of sidebar ads and the occasional affiliate link. Still, I struggle to figure out how to get paid to do what I love most–and what I think I’m pretty good at doing. If you must know, affiliate advertising made me a whopping 32 cents last month.
I have daydreams about becoming a “mega blogger” like Emily, Camille, Liz, Liz’s sister-in-law Jordan, Nicole and Joy. Or like Ez, Victoria and Joanna. But, for the most part, they are all creative-types who write about fun things like creating runway looks for less, setting the perfect holiday table and hipster house tours. They are–or have become–lifestyle experts and get paid to share their knowledge via sponsorships, book deals and collaborations.
But me? I’m not an expert on anything, and I struggle all day long trying to figure out what I have to offer that would set me apart from other “mommy” or lifestyle blogs. I don’t cook or have recipes to share. D.I.Y. isn’t my style. I enjoy fashion, but I’m not a trendsetter. I appreciate a well-furnished home but don’t have a decorator’s eye. I like music, TV and movies, photography and travel but don’t know enough on any of those topics to write authoritatively on them. I don’t possess any sort of graphic design skills or the ability to create lust-worthy inspiration boards, and with a one-year-old at home, I certainly don’t have time to source products for frequent “my favorite things” posts.
So what do I know about? I know about being average and about living an imperfect life. But aren’t most of us living perfectly imperfect and average lives? What makes mine any more interesting and worth reading about?
Yet, I alternate between feeling discouraged and feeling motivated. I read blogs and take e-courses about how to become a successful blogger when I’m going through an optimistic phase, but mostly I think blogging success has less to do with strategy and more to do with luck. Luck and who you know, of course.
I recently learned that a very popular design blogger is publishing a handbook on blogging this fall. This book promises expert advice on creating and growing a blog for passion and profit.You know what I think? I think that this particular blogger, and most other bloggers out there, became successful because she was lucky. She was in the right place at the right time. I don’t believe that when she first started out, she had a formula or a plan for success. But now she is running a business based around being a blogger.
If I sound a little bitter, it’s because I am. In truth, I want her success and the successes of other big bloggers. I want to be something. I want to be somebody. I know I can be more than what and who I am right now, but I don’t know what I’m meant to do or who I’m meant to be. And I certainly don’t feel lucky.
Maybe I need to step away from the blog for a little while as I try to get my priorities straight. Yeah, right. Underneath it all, I consider myself a writer, and writers need to write. Writers also need readers, and although they may be reluctant to admit it, they need to know that they are being heard. Otherwise, they’d log their thoughts in an old-fashioned paper journal. So perhaps instead it’s time for me to start brainstorming Plan B because I’m afraid that Plan A has run its course.
PS: Sarah from Notes to Self wrote a thoughtful post yesterday also on the topic of the business of blogging. I encourage you to read it.
PPS: I probably should have mentioned that I’ve been blogging since 2007, so I’ve been trying to make a career out of this for a long time. I even started before some “professional bloggers” launched their blogs! You can see my original blog here.