I try to keep my posts more about decorating and less about blogging itself, but I wondered if we could just talk about what’s going on behind the scenes for a minute. I’m guessing most of you who read design blogs on a regular basis heard about John and Sherry’s decision to take an indefinite break last week. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, they’re like the superstars of home blogging with books and a line of products at Target, the whole deal. And, they quit. For a while. Forever??) Stepping away from blogging is a whole new ballgame. Blogging in itself is so new that I’m not sure anyone knows how to quit just yet. (Not that I’m thinking about it myself, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of job you can do forever. . .)
I totally understand that people change and people need to make changes, take breaks, etc. But, I have to wonder if part of the reason they’ve lost their enthusiasm has to do with the changing environment of blogging itself. I wish I could tell you it’s all playing with pretty flowers and perfectly chopped pillows, but it’s not. It’s work. It’s fun. It’s discouraging. It’s wonderful. It’s time consuming. It’s exciting. Oh, and did I tell you that it’s work?
It’s also a little scary. You’re putting your creative thoughts (and often your family and home) out there for open criticism. That doesn’t get less scary with time. Maybe it even gets a little worse. If you’ve been successful in the past, there’s that pressure to continue to produce—like any other job. And, if you’re already a perfectionist or a people-pleaser by nature, it can cause a lot of self-induced stress on top of it all. I realize blogging is pretty much asking for public opinion and don’t mind criticism overall, if it actually has to do with what I’m writing about. But, the Internet has given a lot of people a voice that would never be brave enough to have one in real life—and that’s not always a good thing. It’s something I just try to ignore and keep in perspective, if I even do see it. In my experience, real life mean people are way scarier than Internet mean people, anyway.
Then, there’s also the whole issue of money. When I started blogging, I did it happily and (mostly) for free. Little blog traffic in the beginning means little ad money, no sponsors, and very few companies wanting to send you products to share with your (ten) readers. So, for those that stick with it and start to gain a following over time, it’s exciting when those offers and opportunities come your way. Who wouldn’t be happy about that? I totally get most readers aren’t looking to read a blog that’s one big advertisement. It’s like the gigantic fashion mags that are 95% ads. Kind of a bummer. But, I also think bloggers should get paid (without shame) for the work they put into their jobs. I do accept sponsored posts on a semi-regular basis because it’s often a wonderful chance for me to share something worthwhile with you while also contributing to my family. I always try to share those products and companies that I would actually use and am pretty picky about what I’ll pass along to you. If I wasn’t, you’d see all kinds of “interesting” things on here. . . I promise.(That would be a funny post in itself!)
We all hear about how much blogging has changed over the last few years. I think it’s true of the writers and the readers. We’re all busier, with less time to comment and encourage. I read most of my favorite blogs quickly while sitting in the drive-thru or car line, so I get it. I don’t expect accolades every day, but I will be honest with you. It’s sometimes discouraging if you only hear or see the negative. (Kind of like motherhood.) You can start to believe that no one likes what you’re doing and feel like maybe you’re just wasting your time. Of course, I know that’s not what the majority of you think or feel. Or else, why would you visit here? I still believe most readers are genuinely nice and appreciative of the ideas I share. And, I consider you friends.
When I do receive a short email saying thanks, or meet someone that has read my blog for years faithfully, it reminds me of why I do this and why I still love doing it so much after almost five years. I promise you that any blogger (or person, for that matter) would appreciate a quick word of encouragement over a $1.25 RewardStyle commission any day. I need to do better with the whole encouragement thing, myself.
Maybe I should have just skipped this post altogether. But, I’ve been wanting to share some of these thoughts with you for a while. And, between Young House Love and this article all in one week, it seemed like the time to talk about it.
(Best wishes to John, Sherry and their family during their time off. Thanks for navigating this blogging thing for the rest of us.)
photo credit: Caroline Lima Photography