I have been seeing quite a lot of (cough seemingly endless!) “2017 Blogging Goals” type posts in the past few days. This is only natural, as with the whole New Year's resolutions shebang, I think bloggers naturally feel internal and external pressure to draw up some things they want to improve about their blog/blogging style.
I understand the urge to grow a blog, the thrill of new followers and readers, the elusive carrot of being a paid blogger if only we could increase our blog stats and social media followers by oh say 10%, 50%, whatever percent will get you there. I just read one such post wherein the entire “2017 Goals” for the blog was broken down into “I need/think I can get this many more followers, for each social media based on last year’s stats”, etc….no mention of what said acquisition of numbers would achieve (aside from the obvious, ‘mo money) or what (besides growth/stats) motivated this blogger to keep blogging, or what things they, I don’t know, wanted to do to make their blog a nicer place to visit.
I know it’s hardly news, there are approximately a zillion “How to Grow Your Blog” posts on Pinterest, year round, revolving around numbers and social media outreach. And that’s fine. But for me personally it’s not how I think about growth. I mean, I have tried to, but it’s just…not me. Of course I would like to make money/be successful doing something I like (in this case blogging), but as for following the blogging growth flow charts and thinking about my blog in terms of cold hard data analysis and marketing and balancing sponsored with non-sponsored posts and all of that jazz…it does not fill me with “hygge” (Yes I got a book on Hygge for Christmas, half joking/half curious request).
I think I have embraced the fact that I am unwilling or unable to create a blog that is ever going to be a huge success. Which I promise isn't just me being anarchic or rebellious of attitude, it's just...a fact. In just over two years of blogging I’ve learned so much, that I like to dabble in writing more “mainstream” type posts like beauty and fashion, and that those posts definitely hit a higher readership. But I am not ever going to be someone who filters or keeps to a bare minimum the more personal pieces I write, which have a smaller audience. This is, generally speaking, what you need to do to attract a steady flow of mass readers. I think it’s pretty obvious for anyone who reads my blog that I’m a frustrated writer/failed artist type, and the blog is a very wonderful and healing outlet for me at times.
I blog (mainly) because I like to write, pure and simple. Sometimes I like to write about things that are scattershot, or emotional, or not particularly well thought out or planned other than “I need to write this down and I need to share it”. This is not what is known as “Lifestyle blogging”. Maybe more like “Life un-styled blogging?”
In my relatively short blogging life I have read, learned and seen what makes a blog a (financial) success. Some people do it incredibly well, in a relatable and awesome way. Some lifestyle blogs leave me cold, and like I am merely witnessing an advertisement for a life I don't relate to in any way. But I like to look at pretty pictures and fashion blogs, I like to read how to guides on living my best life, I like fancy pretty white lit things, too. I am simulataneously drawn to but also sometimes confused/alienated by what is considered "good" in blogging. I think my innate response of rejecting too much homogenity is probably my main roadblock to blogging "success" in terms of monetization.
I think this is why even as I have taken baby steps towards making my blog “better”, I have internally resisted trying too much to fit any one blogging niche or mould. Maybe I’m just too old, although to be fair there are lots of successful and amazing 40+ bloggers. Maybe I’m simply incapable, or lazy.
Lots and lots of hard work goes into professional blogs, the good ones, and truthfully, I would rather be daydreaming or Netflix’ing than trying to think of cute ways to take pictures of myself in mittens with cocoa. Maybe I’m just not a very visual person, in terms of how I express myself. I don’t think I’m naturally great at photography, which is a pretty big requirement for being a pro blogger. I like to use too many words, and big blocks of text scare off readers, apparently! For instance these words I’m writing right now, they were meant to be an intro to something (!)….ah yes: my blogging goals…do I have any? I think I do ;-) They include:
* Meeting more like minded/writerly bloggers and connecting with them.
* Reading more new blogs, because I fully admit I go through phases where I am lazy about this. Any recommendations appreciated!
* Being generally braver about my writing, whether it be on the blog or wherever. I had a couple of failed attempts at more creative writing ventures last year, I would like to give it another go. I feel (hope) I have more in me to say.
* Being more interactive with seeking out blog link ups/swaps/ideas that are inspiring other bloggers and writers. I can be a bit isolationist in my blogging (as in life).
* Figuring out who wants to read my blog and why/if they are returning. My stats have actually quadrupled and held steady for the past three months or so (not to humble brag). I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with: winter, which is notoriously more popular for people staying indoors and looking at random obscure things on the interwebs. But it does make me curious, because my core commenters remain the same. So any new readers, do say hi! What can I do to make you say hi? (Besides adding Disqus, that went very badly for me the last time!).
I guess basically, for me, "growth" doesn't only mean making my blog more popular or successful, because although my blog has grown a lot in terms of numbers since I started it, and it hasn't been something that has changed or added anything meaningful to the way I think about blogging. I have learned a lot in 2016 about how I view getting "free" stuff and what my obligation and duty is when I agree to review things, etc., but as any blogger who gets the free things will tell you, it's not free, it's work, and you are usually not actually being paid at all for how much time these posts can take. I am sure if I made any actual money from the blog I would evolve and think about things differently but even an INFP like me* knows those thoughts are a bit cloudcuckooland for 2017!
And so we are almost up to 1200 words, dear reader. My advice to any fresh faced young bloggers who want advice for successful blogging in for 2017? Use (less than) half the words I do and add lots of pretty pictures! Or, you know, just do you. It’s not so bad. It’s ok to seek contentment and connection in blogging**, to value those things as much as “growth”. It’s maybe even a bit more fun, too. ;-)
* Ooh more fun INFP/Myers Briggs articles, thanks Thought Catalog!
**Wow, I guess I've been a bit Hygge all along without actually realizing it?!