Friday, February 6, 2015

An Honest Chat About Blogging

I've been blogging for a really long time. Probably longer than it's been called "blogging".

I started circa 2001 on a site called Open Diary. I made an account there because Live Journal wouldn't let me in. (Yes, I am slightly old.) I wrote there faithfully until the site closed down permanently last year. My diary started out as a collection of entries I knew my internet-stalker enemies would read and be offended by, evolved into an assortment of surveys and glitter gif words I would make for people (via an extremely exclusive and respectable waiting list), and became the place where I spilled my guts as I navigated life as a young adult.

OD (as we lovingly called it) saw me through a long-distance relationship, college, engagement, marriage, TTC, and the start of motherhood. I made friends there that I still have today, and was able to document my life in a really meticulous way. I downloaded all of my entries before the site closed for good, and I sometimes open it up and search for keywords to remember when certain big life moments occurred.

When Matt and I were first married, I made the jump to Blogger to document the start of our marriage and life as parents for our family back home. We were living in Charlotte, NC and missed our family back home - it was a great way to share what we were up to and keep in touch with many people at once.


As I realized that having a blog-blog was much different from a self-contained journaling community, I experimented with other types of blogs. I filed myself into popular niches as I experimented with a scrapbooking blog and aspired to be the next My Pink Stamper, a Mom blog where I shared stories and confessions that I (at the time) thought were totally original and no one else was writing quite like I was (LOL.), a housewife blog where I honed and focused my domestic abilities and pretended I had my housewifery sh** together (LOL. LOL.), and finally settled into this blog where I refused to paint myself into any sort of box, despite knowing that would make it hard to find a specific genuine readership, and I just....blog life, and whatever comes to mind.

I feel more at home here (and committed) to this blog because it suits me so well. I'm free to write about my mental whims, have the freedom to let it evolve as I do, and I still document the big moments in our family life. I love telling our simple story. I love working with and sharing photos. I like playing with images on Picmonkey, and I love organizing my pages and labels and sorting the bits of my life into manageable pieces.

This blog is for me, and not so much for you.

I love that you're here (if you actually are), even though it sometimes scares me. I love the very rare moments when one of you reacts to something I've shared - the simplest comment gives me a quick shot of adrenaline. I love the few friendships I've made in the process - it is so priceless to find someone that gets me, even if they live on the other side of the country. And I really love creating pretty posts - it's like a digital, expanded scrapbook.

But blogging is more than sending my posts out for you to read, and it's more about the comments you sometimes leave me. It's more (much, much more) than the number of followers I have on Facebook, or GFC, or Bloglovin'. I mean, clearly...if it weren't, would I still be doing this with such low numbers? It's more than trying to get people to know the name of my blog and share it on their FB timelines or tweeting it to their friends. It's not about getting Pinned or featured on other sites (though those things are nice!).

It's about having a voice - somewhere, somehow. Even if it's a really small one. It's about having a way to organize my thoughts and clear my mind so I can be a better Mom, and having a tool to navigate my goals and dreams. It's a place to document our fast-paced lives when the moments would otherwise get confused and blend together.

It's about how I feel.

It's wonderful if you read along and relate. It's a thrilling thought to consider that anything I've said here has helped a single person get through a tough day of parenting, or figure out what to make for dinner, or what to do with that one naked wall in their family room. While those types of posts may be worded for the reader, they are still more for me than for you. Writing them helps me process and remember.

I've probably offended people, too. Or at least made them feel something negative, and that's one of my fears in blogging. I don't want to accidentally discourage people or inspire any level of guilt, but at the same time - I won't over-censor (not that any of my topics really call for it), and I share my honest thoughts and struggles with you at times. If you don't share the same thoughts and struggles - that's okay.

At the end of the day, writing is how I process life. It always has been. Whether I'm doing the writing myself, or taking in someone else's - that's how I navigate my life.

Last year, my blog hit an interesting crossroads. I'd struggled with the name of my blog for a long time. I named it Dainty Revelations after wanting to use synonyms for Little Secrets. I wanted it to be a collection of whatever came out of my head, sort of throwing back to my Open Diary days. It fit well enough, until I started getting a little attention and I realized how self-conscious I was about my name. It was cheesily thesaurus-y, and I felt like it suggested something totally different from what I presented. There were no actual secrets here. I knew I wanted to change it to something that fit my name instead, and narrowed it down to two options. And then....I sat on it. I had some partnerships coming up and I didn't want to confuse them, so I decided to wait on making the switch until they were completed.

Mistake.

The traffic I generated from those projects skyrocketed my stats. I surpassed 50,000 views per month, which I think is pretty respectable! I'd check my stats every day with my husband looking over my shoulder and he'd tell me how cool it was that I was collecting my own community of readers. The higher my stats climbed, the more twitchy and conflicted I became over changing my name. I would set a date to do it, and then push it back continually. One weekend, I had nothing in particular to do and felt motivated to pre-make some images that I'd need when I finally did change my name. I was so inspired by working with my new name that I decided to just DO it. I changed my URL, reserved the old one at a different blog so I could re-direct traffic, and applied to have my Facebook page changed. I added my new blog name to my Bloglovin' profile, and updated my Instagram name. I updated my URL on all my misc profiles, updated a ton of links and Pinterest pins.....and waited.

Every day, my stats fell. The numbers I watched climb in previous months shrank and shrank. I hurried to schedule a Giveaway, and that slowed things down for a couple weeks. I joined some promotional groups on Facebook and increased my social media numbers, but my blog stats were still falling. And falling. And falling.

And here I am.

I went from 50,000+ views to 5,000+ views. It was devastating. Every few days I look at my stats, hoping to see improvement, and then deflate when I don't see them budge.

I can't get anyone to work with me anymore because my stats are so bad. Which is SO utterly frustrating when just 2-3 months ago they would enthusiastically say YES at my first attempts at communication. The only way to improve things is, well.....time, endless promotion, and partnerships. I can't get the third piece of the puzzle in order without better stats, but I can't get better stats without partners. I can only hope that eventually, someone can appreciate me for more than my numbers and gives me a shot so I can open more doors.

It feels helpless most days. I sometimes wonder why I keep trying.

I was spoiled. I remind myself that I didn't start this blog for it to gain attention. In fact, I'd hoped it wouldn't. I didn't necessarily want it to be private, but I wanted to hide it from people I know IRL so that I could speak so freely and uncensored that I'd never have to worry about what I was saying. And now? Well, I'm pretty sure the only people who do read are people I know IRL! Even knowing that, I still don't share my posts on my personal Facebook timeline because I feel incredibly timid about coming off as, "Who does this girl think she is?"  I am entitled to my opinions and feelings, and I'm honest about them with myself, but it terrifies me to have those inner thoughts analyzed by people I normally hide them from. Because, again, I'm very self-conscious about that. This is the reason why I've never perused writing in the publishing sense. It is a bizarre and scary thought to me that members of my family, near and far, will have access to things and ideas from my brain that they would consider weird, or wrong, or offensive. And I've officially veered off of my point....

When this blog did get attention, I was used to seeing bigger numbers. A new bar had been set. I assumed people were appreciating what I had to say and how I was saying it. But.....where did those 45,000 readers go? I've covered my bases - it's incredibly easy to find me if you're searching through old links and googling my old name - I've made sure of it. Which tells me that I had 45,000 spammers reading me every month. Or at least, a collection spammers that visited me 45,000 times.

Those that are left are real. They might actually care what I say, or want to keep up with my family. Maybe my lists are helpful to them or help them find new books to read. I'm not really sure.

And, ya know, there's still a chance that my numbers just haven't caught up all the way. Maybe things aren't quite as bad as I think they are? But even if they're slightly better....why do I keep trying? Why do I schedule this task into my daily life if the traditional definition of payoff in the blogging world isn't happening?

Because, as Emily P Freeman said perfectly for me.....


And there's probably none (or very few of you) here reading this now. Even this post, as I spill my guts and tell you all of my reservations, fears, and disappointments and speak candidly about the struggle and purpose of blogging, it is most likely falling on deaf ears (er...a lack of eyes?). That should make this feel pointless - not worth it.

And yet it doesn't.

I'm not sure if I understand why yet. Even after a decade + 4 years of trying. Here I am, at my same meager level of exposure, sharing everything with equal parts hope it's seen and fear that it is.

I'm not going anywhere (not that it would cause any uproar if I did), and I'm not quitting or giving up - though I am trying to consolidate and focus the time I do spend here. I just wanted to share with you - my honest, remaining few - what I think each time I open the laptop and sit down to write. To let you know much time, thought, and effort goes into each one of my posts.

Is it like that for you? Do you struggle to balance effort, purpose, and pay-off?

I'd love to chat about it with you!

2 comments:

  1. wow - what a beautiful and painful post all in one! i found you through northeast bloggers network (thinking of joining as a new-to-northeast-er!), and am so happily surprised at the honest and raw truthfulness of your post. i've struggled with the balance between a strong sense of calling to write and someday speak, and the very-real-tendency to let "honest voice" give way to desire for affirmation and income and feel-good-ism. i haven't ever experienced that surge of excitement from a massive rush in traffic, but i am in awe when i discover that someone is not just reading, but taking to heart, being challenged by, or encouraged to hear something i've "spoken" through my blog. thank you so much!! nice to "meet" you. :) ~angela

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    1. I'm sorry my reply is coming so late - I have been meaning to respond to your comment for weeks! Thank you for much for writing - it's so nice to know that we aren't alone while we struggle! Definitely check out NE Bloggers!!! We'd love to have you! :) Nice to "meet" you too!

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