Thursday, February 21, 2019

My Thoughts On Blogging

This is a post I’ve been sitting on for a while, not exactly positive of how to put my thoughts into words. I realize that is an awfully dramatic start to a blog post, but I don’t mean it to be! I’ve just come to realize over time that each person’s blogging experience is going to be different and I am ok with that.

Let’s rewind a bit. I started this blog during the holiday season my junior year of high school as a creative outlet. Had Pinterest become more popular sooner my blog may not exist because I wholeheartedly believe that would have felt like enough of an outlet for me (granted I joined when it was invite only, and my friends thought I was crazy when I would explain the site to them). Granted, all of this was before blogging was actually cool and more “normal” like it is now. To that notion, I didn’t tell anyone but my parents and my best friend about my blog for the first 6 or so months and even after that I was selective and secretive about who knew. I was terrified that suddenly if people knew that I had a blog, they would choose to make fun of me. I was still in high school after all and a small high school at that that it would have made me having a blog a bigger deal than it needed to be had people found out. In the time I found between homework, soccer practice and games, cross country, and the following year applying to college it was my perfect escape. A place I was able to write about whatever I wanted to talk about without really thinking other people were reading my thoughts. 

Fast forward to college, and I knew going in as a freshman that I didn’t want to be known as the girl with the blog. It’s funny how the smallest things can define you in the beginning as everyone is trying to get to know one another. I hadn’t even told my roommate that I had a blog despite her admitting years later that she had discovered it on her own and read back through all of the posts. Over time as I gained traction, I felt more comfortable sharing this part of my life with other’s which even led to some of them reading what I write each day (which is fine as long as I’m not in the room as they do, ha). 

If I am honest, most of the time as I am writing I don’t necessarily think about other people reading it. While I know they are out there (thank you to those that comment and google analytics for confirming this), it doesn’t always feel like the number of people reading represents the amount of time spent working on the blog. Fortunately, I still blog more for myself than others because I enjoy the creativity it allows me, but despite knowing not to invest myself in the numbers game, it can be hard not to notice. 

Remember how I said I started blogging when it was weird? Now if someone finds out, I have a blog they start naming off all the other people they know that have created one as well (sometimes with a bit of an eye roll). While it’s awesome that so many people have discovered the joys that come from a place to express yourself online, the fact that it is somewhat trendy and normalized to have a blog often leads to a bit less respect (or at least more suspicion) for the work that goes into keeping it up. Most of the time that doesn’t bother me until I start to think about blogs and “influencers” who have been doing this for a much shorter amount of time yet have grown exponentially faster. 

You’ll hear people over and over again say not to compare yourself to other’s, but as humans, it is part of our instinct. Whether it’s the number of people that visit my site or followers on Instagram, my reach hasn’t grown nearly as fast as many other people’s. There’s not necessarily a cause to this although juggling blogging along with school, extracurriculars, and for the past two years, a full-time job makes it so that I definitely don’t have as much time to work on my blog as some people who work on their blog full time. Something I have come to terms with though is that I would much rather have a smaller number of page views or Instagram likes if it means that the people viewing my content found me organically.

Loop Giveaways
There are so many ways now for bloggers to grow their influence in ways that aren’t always the most honest which has become my biggest frustration with the social media side of blogging. In the beginning, the purpose of a blog was more to find someone you can relate to or who is going through a similar life stage as you than it was about constantly sharing sales in hopes of making more commission. Maybe if blogging was my full-time job (which I don’t foresee happening because I love structure way too much to work for myself) I’d think differently but paying to be part of a giveaway in which you are just another of 40 required follows for someone to win a dream trip, designer bag, or $1000 cash doesn’t seem fulfilling to me. Especially since so often the people that follow for the sake of the prize are likely to unfollow you after the fact. 

I am constantly getting emails from platforms that host this sort of giveaway on a weekly basis that ask me to buy in so that I can gain the x number of followers they promise. In my opinion, that’s not making me any more relatable or helpful to readers/followers going against my purpose with blogging. I’m not saying to unfollow people who do these sorts of giveaways but wish instead that it wasn’t so prevalent. 

Social Media
Aside from just Instagram, promoting my posts (and in turn myself) on social media is something that I’ve always found to be a bit weird. Sometimes I am hesitant about talking to others about my blog for fear that they will look at it and view me as narcissistic. Now, with my job involving working on social media for a brand outside of my own, I’ve found that I don’t necessarily enjoy spending as much time curating posts to highlight the content I’ve created (stunting my own growth, I know). I feel awkward when talking to myself on Instagram stories even though I know that it is something y’all enjoy, I’ve been terrible at remembering to promote blog posts on my Facebook page (who wants to do this for me?), and I go through phases of being good at pinning images to Pinterest before forgetting to do that a week later. The good thing I’ve realized about all of this (and I guess myself too) is that as long as I am posting things that I am interested in, I’ll keep it up, but when I feel forced to make a to-do list out of my hobby, that’s when it feels less enjoyable. 

What I Want to Do More Of:
On the note of posting things I’m interested in, I’ve realized that there are a lot of blog and Instagram posts I’ve done in the past that I did because I felt like I was “supposed” to. Instead, moving forward, I want to share more about what I am doing in the here, and now that would be helpful to y'all. I’ve always prided myself on trying to include a genuine mix of helpful, long-form posts with fashion/shopping posts since both interest me. It’s my hope that this shows readers that I’m not all consumed with my outward appearance and instead am able to offer valuable advice (most of the time that I wish I had been told) to make your life easier. This I hope reflects well on my tag line, “prep for your life while stepping into mine.” Even as platforms change and what other people are doing is influenced by how they can monetize more, I hope to continue to stick to my roots by writing about what I like so that blogging continues to inspire me without feeling like a chore.

In December I read an article about the “seven-year itch” which is “a psychological term that suggests that happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven.” Reflecting on this, I’m pleased to say that my happiness with blogging this long hasn’t declined and I hope to keep this the case by continuing to share more of what interests and is fun for me with hopes of inspiring you to do more of what makes you happy in your own life as well.

I’m sure not all of this makes total sense as the thoughts in my brain don’t always connect in a way that is blog-post worthy, but I felt like it was something I had been thinking about for too long not to share. So, if there’s anything specific you want to see whether that be life advice or more behind the scenes of my life, let me know either by commenting or reaching out! 

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