On Blogging Seriously (and Being Seriously Overwhelmed)
I’ve wanted to blog seriously for years. Honestly, 10+ years ago when I first discovered bloggers like Alicia Paulson of Posy Gets Cozy and Jane Brocket of Yarnstorm it quickly instilled in me a nagging want. To be a blogger. To take this seriously. To make this world of creativity a serious part of how I lived my life and made my living.
But there was always something holding me back. Lack of time, lack of inspiration, lack of money, lack of my own space, an overabundance of fear… the excuses were and are many. First I was in college and had classes and trying to graduate a year early to keep me distracted. Then I started grad school, which was so difficult, but so rewarding. Then they hired me fresh out of my MA to teach. Teaching college at age 23… talk about a challenge. Jesus. I still don’t know how I got through those first couple years. But somehow I did, and somehow I found my footing. Admittedly after a lot of stumbling (my apologies and thanks to the students who had to grin and bear it with me in those early days – I learned just as much from you as you hopefully learned from me), but I managed.
And through it all I guess I could say I blogged. Never seriously. Never for money. And certainly never consistently.
But now here I am. I’m 30 years old, I’ve been teaching college courses for seven years, and I’ve made the decision to get over my fears and stop half-assing this blogging thing. I don’t want it to be an intermittent hobby anymore. I want it to be a real outlet. Best case scenario, maybe even as a way to help support myself and support my teaching habit without having to have four other jobs (because as rewarding as teaching may be, as an adjunct, it does not pay the bills).
But oh, the prospect is overwhelming. Because oh, the blogging world has changed. And I’ve changed too. And I’m not entirely sure where to start with beginning to grow a blog anymore. I knew where to go, how to start in 2007. I knew how, but I put it off. And now I worry I’ve put it off too long, because in 2017 I feel like I’m wandering in a new, unfamiliar world.
In some ways it’s a world that’s better suited to what I originally wanted to do. I never wanted to run a niche blog. I’m too all over the place with my interests to be able to do that and still keep the joy in it. And so this designation of “lifestyle blogging” that has surfaced at some point in the last 10 years actually fits what I originally envisioned for my blog better than the blogging world of 2007 did. But it’s also left it significantly more complicated, and significantly more intimidating.
Because blogging has somehow at once become more personal, and less personal, and I don’t really know how to navigate that. How much personal sharing is too much? How little is too little? How do I share enough to engage my readers, let them get to know me, while still maintaining levels of privacy that I’m comfortable with – given my career in education and the realities of having grown up at a time where the internet was still very much the “wild wild west?” How do I keep my voice and my passion for the things I love, while still appealing to the kind of audience I need to actually make a go of this? How do I avoid just creating content that is already out there, already everywhere… content that looks just like everyone else’s? How do I adapt to the formulas that have proven to work, while still staying me? While still staying unique?
There’s so much to do, with so little left unsaid in the blogosphere, and it’s hard to even know where to start.
It’s really hard not to get paralyzed in the face of this brave new blogging world. It’s really hard to not feel hopeless about the prospect of getting anywhere. To avoid the little voice that keeps creeping in and telling me that I’m not interesting enough or creative enough to make this work. But I’m trying to stay determined. And I’m trying to do the only thing I can in the face of such a seemingly overwhelming task: keep writing.
So here goes nothing.
Do any of you struggle with feeling overwhelmed by what blogging has transformed into? Overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to be successful, overwhelmed over what advice to take? How do you manage it?
This post is spot on, Maggie! I feel the same way. I love to write, and it’s been amazing to discover an actual forum through blogging to reach a real audience. That being said, just “loving to write” is not enough to legitimately grow a blog. The technical aspects — leveraging social media, learning SEO — make me want to curl up in the fetal position.
I’ve contemplated what it means to be a successful blogger — and the funny thing is that success can be described in a multitude of ways. I don’t want to sacrifice my real life or my emotional equilibrium to be “successful” on the screen. Just not worth it.
I hope you find the answers to all the nuanced questions you so adeptly bring up in this post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re not alone in thinking them!
Thanks! The technical parts make me want to run away screaming sometimes, that’s for sure. But I feel like this effort is going to be valuable for me, “traditionally” successful or not, if only to give me a place to use a creative outlet again. Sometimes that part of me tries a little too hard to get lost in the midst of the chaos of the semester!
Courtney A. Casto
Yay! Niche-less bloggers unite! It’s ok to be all over the place and I think it’s part of the process of finding your blog voice. I keep coming back to more serious topics even though I kind of don’t want to! Maybe my blog voice is more serious than I originally thought?
You ask such good questions and I think they will get answered along the way as you fine tune the line of what getting personal and oversharing means to you. Take your own advice and just keep writing!
<3 Thanks for the encouragement! I fully intend to just keep writing. I got so out of the habit of expressing myself this way when I refocused (a couple times, admittedly) in college and I really missed having it as an outlet.
P.S. - I love your serious posts. They always resonate with me <333