Remember the Essena Oneill “social-media-is-evil” controversy that happened a couple months back? (And most recently, her emotional response to the backlash she received, just posted today on several news sites.) Or how about the blog sabbatical of long-time blog couple Young House Love, because they felt that the blog had taken over real life? Or the stories of other bloggers who’ve experienced blogger burnout in the last few years?
As someone who is around blogs 24-7 because of my work, I have to understand the root causes of these “blogger deaths” and the abrupt goodbyes of so-called “social media influencers.” I also know that many pro-bloggers have been talking about the changes in blogging for 2016, the relevance of blogs (are they dying, are they being read), blah, blah…
The truth is: Blogging could be dead to some people.
Related read: Slow blogging in a hurried world
The main reason why a lot of people have stopped caring about blogs is because bloggers stopped caring about their readers. They evolved to more sophisticated content styles, sometimes alienating readers. Sponsored content changed blogging, for everyone across the niches. Social media amplified it further, and served content like fast food, to alarmingly peer-pressure type levels. (Hello, who’s pressured upon pressured to take a more awesome #flatlay than the one you saw two hours ago — Am I right? I know, I’ve dealt with this shit before!)
Still, despite these changes, I believe that blogging is still a top notch platform, especially for readers seeking more in-depth, solid information and entertainment. But truthfully, a lot of the “soul” has been missing from blogs, and we need it back. Yes, we have to keep up with the technical changes (e.g., using social media to support blog posts) but not at the expense of our “blog soul,” our authentic voice.
So to start the blog year afresh, here are my personal insights on how we can still love our blogs, love our readers, and go back to a more simple, happy habit of blogging from the heart.
1. Just be you.
In my work as a blog coach, I spend a lot of time with clients on the subject of personal branding. It sounds so official and business-like, but what we really take up during our personal branding lessons is, simply, “How are you going to be yourself for those who come to your blog?” Knowing yourself is key to a blog that will thrive and grow with you, your seasons, your life stages. If your blog isn’t something that will add purpose to your life and give back to others, then what’s the point, what’s the motivation behind it?
Think about it. The most successful blogs are those that have withstood the test of time, sponsors, brand partnerships and fame. These blogs have managed keep on speak to the hearts of their readers. They are those who have been able to thrive amidst the onslaught of savvy, socially-chic blogs. (My long time personal favorites still are Sweet Juniper, Girls Gone Child, and local blogs like Wifely Steps and Topaz Horizon.)
Look at your blog and think: Is it still you? Do you still love what you’ve been creating? Or are you trying to be someone else?
Which brings me to my next piece of advice…
2. Stop reading other blogs (for a while).
I’ve had to go on “blog fasts” from time to time. Sometimes it’s the comparison trap, the envy monster, the insecurity bug that keep us from being our real selves as bloggers. Maybe you’re a DIY blogger who salivates at Sugar & Cloth and aches to be like A Pair & a Spare; or you’re a cooking blogger who wishes you could kill a blog post like The Pioneer Woman or Local Milk. Perhaps you’re a lifestyle blogger who wants “to be just like Cupcakes & Cashmere“, but you get frustrated that you’re, well, just not her and can never be her, or like Design for Mankind (double-sigh).
I’ll be the first to tell you that “blogger envy” is something I deal with every.single.day, because of my job. I see so many awesome blogs out there! For a time, I was wishing I was just a fraction of all of these awesome blogs, and then I realized something: I was so caught up wanting to be like them, I forgot to be me.
My simple solution sometimes is to avoid reading other blogs for a while. Cut the source of the envy, the comparison, and just write, just reflect, just be alone, or even go offline.
Maybe you need to do a “blog fast,” too. What will you do with that time? Well, read, reflect, maybe journal, take up a new hobby, do yoga— anything — just find something else to enrich yourself with.
Related: Can blogging be meaningful? (A 4-part free writing workshop on creating an inspired blog)
3. KonMari your blog and find your bliss.
I’ve read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up twice, and am still working up to the big purge in our home (which I will get done this first quarter!). Why not apply it to the blog, too?
The key factor and the “magic formula” that Kondo proposes when discarding things is:
“Does it spark joy?”
If something doesn’t spark joy in you, says Kondo, then it probably has no business in your home, your life, so discard it and throw it away. I’d say the same for blogging! I know of friends who have purposely purged their blogs of negative posts that made them unhappy or reminded them of things they probably ought not to have blogged. There are other bloggers (myself included) who have re-organized categories on their blogs, so that readers could have an easier time reading and finding relevant articles. Still others who stopped writing sponsored content because they didn’t want to deal with brand requirements and dictates.
Perhaps there are parts of your blog that no longer spark joy? Maybe the design doesn’t inspire you to blog your best, or there are topics that you no longer feel like writing about? Maybe you want a whole makeover of your blog and just need the push to go for it? (And for some, maybe you need to take a break or even quit?) Sit back, take a good look, and ask yourself these questions. Who knows? You might even find something new to blog about.
4. Take your blog back.
I experienced “sponsorship paralysis” twice on this blog, sometime between 2011 and 2012, and then just mid this year, when I wasn’t blogging about anything much but had to fulfil my sponsored post commitments with my blog agency. I’ve already told you what took up most of my year: Krista, my husband losing a job, us having to move, etc. I actually could have blogged what I was feeling during these times but I didn’t have the energy anymore! That’s why it seemed like I was just blogging about events, brand partners and work. I paused with the heart-powered blog posts and I kept to myself a lot, and understandably so.
And yet, the blog still remained strong, good enough to be nominated as one of the Philippines’ top Parenting sites in the 2015 Influence Asia Awards in Singapore. The workshops were well attended, the events were in-demand…. but I had stopped writing!
I feel like I have to warm my engine again, you know? And well, now that I’ve somehow found a rhythm to family, work and blogging (it only took me 11 months to figure it out, haha!), my goal is simple: To take my blog back. Back from the limbo it’s been on for months, back from brands, back from mere reportage. I’ve got to go back to what makes this blogging journey blissful: Community. Connecting with readers. Giving out virtual hugs and pats on the back through the posts. You know, stuff that made you love it in the first place.
Sure, sponsored content still has its space, but it should still uplift and make you guys feel good, not just tick off a brand’s requirements. (At one point this year, I even had to tell my blog agent, “I don’t need to do all these sponsored posts! I’m happy not doing them, you see?” Of course, I still accept a handful, but I’m very, very picky… after all, it’s my blog, my voice on the line!)
Are you like me? Do you need to take your blog back, too?
We can do it together by remembering our reasons and motivations for blogging. My motivations are simply my family and our life. At this point, its the efforts of the blog — my coaching clients for blog coaching, my services for social media, my blog workshops and gatherings — that are my family’s bread and butter. By taking care of the blog and making it meaningful, I’m saying “thank you” to you guys on behalf of my family.
Whew, all that was hard to write! Sure, I help and coach women on how to improve their blogs, but I am a lifelong learner, and am always learning new things myself! I needed to start 2016 on this note. This blog — even though it is successful in many small ways — is imperfect, still makes mistakes, still fumbles up a lot. Make it Blissful — even Dainty Mom, back when I began — has always been about “delighting in the imperfect” but being inspired nonetheless. It is obviously a business now, since the blog creates income for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s “not personal, it’s business” (yes, a Godfather reference!).
The blog is still my joy, my bliss. It went awry for a time, along with loads of failures last year… but I still love blogging and always will.
I’m going back to that. Would you like to come along with me?
Leave a comment below OR write a blog post (if you can or want to) about one of these points above. Which one do you feel you need to do so that you can find your joy in blogging again? Write about it (link back here if you want to blog about it), and let’s talk! You can also join in our discussions on Facebook at the Make it Blissful Bloggers Group.
A quick announcement: By the way, next week, I’ll be having my first Blog Workshop for the year — after a loooong hiatus! You can find details about that in the Workshops page, if you want to join. Just look for the link that says “State of the Blog” workshop. Hope to see some of you guys there.