In the last two weeks, I've read about two bloggers who, after blogging for years, have given it up. I've also read posts from couple others who have gone on a break for an undetermined amount of time. Finally, I was part of a conversation in a small group of blogging friends in which several of us confessed that we are (or have) seriously considered throwing in the towel.
Why are so many retiring from the world of blogging? It primarily boils down to one thing: TIME.
I started my blog a little over five years ago which, in the whole scheme of blogging, is only a medium amount of time. In that time - actually in just the last year - blogging has changed a lot.
Many of us started out writing just to record memories and cute stories about our families. Our blogs were meant to be virtual family albums. Then, with the growth of social media, blog readership started to grow. Therein was born a competition in the blogospehre. For the most part, it was (and is) a friendly competition. It also was (and is) a fight that individual bloggers fight largely within themselves. As with any game, everyone is striving to be the winner.
So what does it mean to win in blogging? How do bloggers measure success?
We measure success by the number of page views our posts receive and the number of comments our readers leave. We gauge our accomplishments through social media shares and followers. But, those things don't just magically happen.
Of course, it starts with the writing. We have to "find our niche" and "find our voice." Then, we have to write good stuff that somehow stands out from all the other "stuff" everyone else is writing. We have to devise catchy titles and create Pinterest worthy graphics. We proofread and tweak and, finally, hit publish. Then, the rest of the work begins. We have to "promote" ourselves by sharing links to our posts on all the social media channels - Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, StumbleUpon. We join Facebook groups for bloggers where we can share our links even more. We spend hours reading, commenting on, and sharing other blogs in the hopes that those writers will return the favor by visiting, commenting on, and sharing our own work. Some of us (myself included) have jumped on the bandwagon of submitting our work to larger sites - Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, etc. We do this to get our names "out there" to a larger audience and to receive a virtual pat on the back. It's great, but it requires more writing, more sharing, more interacting. Some bloggers do sponsored posts that require communicating with vendors and posting on a deadline. The proverbial "cherry on top" is attending blog conferences where you spend a long weekend networking with other bloggers and learning how to be a better writer, a better image designer, a better social media participant, and an overall better blogger.
And, it all takes time - lots and lots of time.
For me, one single post can take as much as a couple hours to pull together completely including writing, editing, and graphics. Then, to get people to read it, I need to share the link on multiple social media channels multiple times as well as maintain an email subscriber list and a service to send out my new posts. I honestly could stay on Facebook all day clicking links to blogs, reading, commenting, sharing. Then, there are all the blogs (and bloggers) I follow regularly. I could spend hours and hours more reading their blogs and interacting. That does't even count organizing linkups, coming up with post topics, tracking my stats, or trying to figure out SEO. Even when I'm not doing those things, I find myself thinking about them. What is this week's linkup topic? Did anything blog-worthy happen today? How I can I write about that particular current event in a new and different way? I need to take pictures of this dinner before I serve it so I can make a blog post!
It can be all encompassing and overwhelming, for sure.
Every minute I spend doing all those blog-related tasks are minutes I am NOT spending doing other things like hanging out with my kids, chatting with my spouse, cleaning my kitchen, reading books, or sleeping.
So what's the answer?
Well, I think that depends on the person. There is no single right answer. Obviously, some have decided the cure for them is to hang it up. Others have decided to simply take a break to reevaluate and reexamine. A few take the opposite approach and go "all in."
Me? I think I'm somewhere in the middle. I won't lie - there are times when blogging has just been one more stressor in life and quitting has crossed my mind more than a few times. While we were in London in April, I didn't even take my computer. For five days, I did absolutely nothing blog-related and I didn't miss it. Not one bit. That was an eye opener for me and really made me think about why I was even doing it in the first place. So what kept me from walking away? Two basic things: writing and relationships.
I love to write. Without my blog, I suppose I could write for other publications, but I can't control what they will like and I'm not in charge of my words once they are posted on another site. My blog, on the other hand, is my own. Within some parameters, I can write what I want, when I want, and I control what happens to it.
Some of my best friends are other bloggers. Through our websites, we know each other and we share our lives. I value those relationships and would be very sad to see them end. There is always social media and I could continue reading their posts, but I just don't think it would be the same.
So, I keep going. I am trying, though, to set some boundaries to keep it from becoming too much. I really don't look at my stats at all anymore. If you asked me to give you my average number of monthly page views, I couldn't tell you without looking it up. That lack of focus on the numbers means that I have really slacked off on promoting my posts. I have a core group of readers and I share a few links on Facebook and Twitter, but that's about it. I decided it just wasn't worth the effort.
I am also trying to be aware of how blogging is impacting my life and those I love. For Mother's day, my youngest, 7, gave me one of those fill-in-the-blank sheets entitled "All About Mom." Out of eight blanks, she wrote something about me blogging in three of them. That's almost half. That's too much. Even though I know she didn't mean it in a negative way, it was a reality check for me. Now, I don't allow myself do any blog stuff at all on Saturdays and I am trying really hard to be aware of the time I spend on my phone checking social media. I'm trying to be present with my family without letting my blog be a constant distraction. It's a work in progress, for sure.
Finally, I am taking breaks when I need to. I even made that one of my resolutions for 2015 and I took that break when David and I went to London. I'll be taking a two-week break a little later in June/early July as well.
I suppose everything in life has an expiration date and, someday, my blog will, too. For now, though, I'm going to keep at it and just try a little harder to make sure I own my blog and not the other way around.
If you're a blogger, have you ever thought of quitting? What keeps you going?
This post was part of the One Word Blog Linkup hosted by, Janine of Confessions of a Mommyholic, Marica of Blogitudes, and me! This week, the word prompt choices were Happy and Time. If you would like to join the linkup you can find more information HERE, sign up for weekly emails HERE, and/or join our Facebook group HERE. Every Friday, two prompts are emailed. Choose one and write a post using that word as inspiration. Linkup up any time between 6:00am EST on Wednesday-9:00pm EST on Thursdays on any of the host sites.
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