I’ve been thinking a lot about reasons why I blog.
In my undergrad years, I was an English major. In high school I thought I was a smart cookie. College proved me wrong. My personal essays, my critical theory were, in a word, awful. In my classes I felt like such a poser. I didn’t belong. I was not talented. I could not write. What I could do though, was listen. And I loved learning. I wanted to be a writer, but at 20, I didn’t have anything to write about. So the plan was to become an English teacher, a very practical, noble profession. (One that I ultimately, never entered.)
I first began this blog, 3 1/2 years ago, as a way to share recipes & tips about how to go vegan. That was it. I didn’t have a clue about the greater blogging world. I didn’t go to conferences. I signed up for twitter, but promptly shut that down since I couldn’t figure out how the whole tweeting thing worked (I have since rejoined, in March of this year). The list of other blogs I read was less than the fingers on one hand.
My approach to blogging was straightforward: have an idea in my head, take some pictures (if applicable), post, & move on with my life. I always read comments, but I didn’t realize that it was good manners to do my best to respond to comments & help facilitate a discussion. If I got a comment(s), I’d think, “oh that’s nice, a comment,” & get on with my day. My life was a flurry of activity & lists that revolved around caring for my growing brood: laundry, grocery shopping, breastfeeding, changing diapers, supporting a law student, teaching a dozen+ fitness classes a week. My life was hectic. Heaven only knows how I managed to post anything at all.
I posted a lot my first year of blogging, less the 2nd year, & then last year, hardly at all. I think I had a total of less than 30 posts during 2011. There were even points during last year, where I thought, I need to ax the blog. My life was too cluttered at that point. I didn’t see the value of hanging onto something that seemed to only weigh me down. But something in the back of my mind said, “no, just put things on hold for awhile, wait it out.” After pursuing these feelings, I realized, sure, why not? I’ve gone to all the work, why get rid of it–at least for the time being.
Sometimes I think I must be crazy. Insane. And that bloggers, in general, are also insane. But I suppose the whole artistic community might fit under this description. We create, we slave, often for pennies, & even more often, at an expense. Why do we do it? I can’t speak for others, but I’ll tell you some of the reasons why I do it.
Blogging, or at least blogging that is of any value, is work. A daily blog is even more work. It can easily be a never-ending consuming job, if one wants to pursue it professionally. Which is ironic, because in the pursuit of sharing your life via a blog, you can lose your life.
If you’re a one man, or woman (as the case may be) show, you act as editor, photgrapher, recipe/craft/idea developer. You have to market yourself, keep up to date on latest social media trends & establish a presence there.
I spend 20-40 hours a week on my blog. Now many of the hours are spent developing recipes that I would do regardless of having a blog. I usually have my kids help me out with that & it’s a natural part of our day. I often have them help me take pictures & taste food.
Beyond that though, I’m at the computer. I edit pictures, write posts, respond to comments. This takes 3-4 hours a day. The actual post doesn’t take much time (usually), it’s the social networking that takes up a good chunk of time.
I realized early on, this year, when I decided to get serious about my blog that I could no longer operate in isolation. I needed to branch out, make friends, collaborate, & participate in the greater blogging community at large.
This takes time–could easily take unlimited amounts of time. Twitter never sleeps, nor does fb, nor do blogs for that matter. It’s a constant stream of social interaction & for better or worse, it’s an important piece of the blogging puzzle. I’m convinced part of the reason my blog has improved, has been because of the things I’ve learned from other bloggers. By interacting & making connections outside of my own little world.
When Joseph was around (& a SAHD, for that matter), I worked & blogged in the mornings & during the day because he was around to help tend the children. Now that he’s gone, I have to be a bit more creative (ie. operate on less sleep).
My 18 month old requires the most attention & care, but my older ones are now at the stage where they can often be supervised from a distance, play outside, do puzzles, (sometimes) watch movies, play games together, without my full-on participation. They also, many times, will play with Salem, so I am able to get things done during small increments of time during the day. Now I do most of my blogging work at night, early morning & nap time.
Currently, although I post daily (or thereabouts) & have built up a readership, I do not make any money with the blog. I do earn commission on sales from my Amazon store, but the profits are less than paltry. I realized the other day, as I calculated my “profits” that in the 3 years since I’ve had my Amazon store, I’ve made a grand total of $100. I make a few cents each time someone buys a book, so if you put that into perspective, people have purchased at least a thousand books through my link. Makes me happy to think many, many people are using a cookbook or reading a particular book at the recommendation of muah. That counts for something.
I also am an affiliate with Blendtec (which means I make a commission if someone purchases anything from Blendtec via my link). Let’s just say, this money is not in any way close to paying the bills.
There are also expenses to take into account. We put down a chunk to invest in a DSLR camera & a few lenses (probably would have done so at some point anyway). I paid a coder & a designer to re-vamp my ( free, albeit lacking in so many ways) blogger site & move it to a self-hosted WP site (a move I’m thankful for every day), which cost several thousand dollars. I now pay for little monthly fees related to running the site such as web-hosting, spam-prevention, etc. Another expense is blogger conferences. I’ve only been to one, but I’ve got tickets to next year’s Alt Summit in SLC & am considering going to another food blogger’s conference in Alabama in the winter. YES. It all adds up. In the end, you’ve got ask yourself–is it really worth it?
For me it is.
When I had my “ah-ha!” moment this past February & decided I needed to not only continue the blog, but pursue it from a professional standpoint, I weighed all these considerations. For weeks. I remember finally deciding, “Yes. I’m going to go forward with this thing.”
Then I got online to look at other blogs one night & began crying.
“Why does it matter if I blog?” I blubbered to Joseph.
“If I don’t blog, someone else will. The world doesn’t need more recipes. Chances are, any recipe I’m bound to come up with has been shared by someone else. Someone better.”
Also, only I can be my kid’s mom. Anyone can blog. I did not want to sacrifice precious minutes & moments at the altar of my professional/personal pursuits.
I remember looking at Oh She Glows, one site in particular that made me think–how can I possibly compete with that? Joseph’s reply, & I’ve since realized it’s truth, is that the goal isn’t to compete.
“Just be yourself. That’s why it matters. Share you. No one can compete with that.”
When Joseph & I had long discussions about the why behind my blog, we decided it was something I should do. He would support me (& he has, over & over).
We feel it important to share the joys of family life (& good food, which is an integral part). It would be much easier, simpler, to not blog. But we feel it important to share. For me to share our little world, through my lens, through my imperfect, (most times) insignificant voice.
Writing a daily blog is like running a marathon. You’ve got to have grit, dogged determination. Be willing to work for free for as long as it takes. To give, give, give. And have lots of faith in what you’re doing. Admittedly, not an easy task.
What really makes it worth it?
Loyal readers who often leave kind words that make my day (Dana & Tanya). Readers who have been around since the early days of this blog & have stuck around through the thick & thin (Joya & Sabrina). That reader who let me know once she found my blog she read every single post (April). Emails from appreciative readers (you know who you are).
Knowing that no matter who reads my blog, how many unique visitors or pageviews, at the end of the day, I can rest my head on my pillow, content knowing that I gave it my all. It may not be the best that’s out there. But it’s my best. That in some measure, it’s good. Beautiful even.
That’s what matters.
Part 2 I share a few more thoughts on blogging & I’ll tell you some of the blogs that I look to for inspiration on my journey as a writer & blogger.
Do you blog? If so, why do you do it?
Is there something in your life that you do, even though it doesn’t quite make sense, that you just have to do?