How To Be A Happily Unsuccessful Blogger!

 
I had no appropriate pic for this post but here are David and I a couple of years ago trying and spectacularly failing at some sort of Instagram catch the sun type pose! I die laughing!..

 

...How To Be A Happily Unsuccessful Blogger

 

Yes, you read that right! Maybe you landed here by mistake, but since you're here, let's talk about blogging! Do you have "blogger's burnout"? Are you tired of feeling like you can't live up to the 101 Pinterest articles you have read that tell you how to be the most badass blogger in the land? Hasn't it all gotten a bit...much?

I first began blogging four years ago this past autumn (I always forget to do "blogiversary" posts! Happy 4th birthday to my little blog!) over at Weebly, under the obscurist title, Deep Greens And Blues (James Taylor lyric, natch ;-)). I moved to Blogger a few months later, feeling like I had this blogging lark well and truly under my belt and it was a great and easy idea to move over a dozen posts to a new platform, despite having no idea how to do this whatsoever (it was...a nightmare! ;-).

2014 was really not that long ago, but it was actually much simpler times in blogging. Yes, the whole lifestyle blogger thing was on the upswing, but there were still plenty of quirky, unique, day in the life type blogs on the go, and it seemed easy enough to find each other.

It felt like a cozy, warm community if you were lucky enough to find a few blogs that you liked and who liked your blog, too. Despite reading a few friends' personal blogs over the years before I finally took the plunge and started my own blog, I was fairly oblivious to the growing lifestyle doyenne/arbiter of taste type blog that was cresting when I started mine. I naively thought blogs were mainly just about the writing. I know, crazy am I right? ;-0

Which isn't to say I wasn't clumsily ambitious, in my own way. The first few blog posts I published were a lot to do with dispelling myths and tropes I had encountered as a young (ish) cancer survivor. And being a former English major/writer type, I kind of thought maybe my words might resonate with some people out there (mainly former cancer patients like me).

I also possibly arrogantly thought that most writing about cancer was bland, faux inspirational pseudo religious drivel (well to be fair I had encountered a lot of it along the way during my treatment, with a few notable exceptions like John Diamond's book C.), and that my particular slant on it was ya know, very unique (again patently untrue, at least in recent years, I have discovered more and more beautifully honest blogs about cancer, including this unerringly great one from Christine at I'm Sick and So Are You ).

Anyway, I happened to stumble across the writing of Mary Elizabeth Williams, a fellow cancer survivor who had written several searingly honest and funny and heartbreaking posts (and now a book) about her cancer experience over at Salon, and felt deeply seen and related so much to her writing. So being a bit of a Twitter RUBE (I hadn't really used it much at all before I started blogging), I rather bolshily sent her links to some of my blog posts. Like...I think about it now and CRINGE so hard. What was I thinking?! I would never have the nerve to do that now that I know how Twitter works!

But surprisingly, she read them, liked them, and retweeted them with generously kind words to boot. I'm not going to lie, I was not unfamiliar with being teacher's pet in a writer's room, so some obnoxious little part of me was like "Of course she did, I'm an amazing writer with important things to say!". I may have been a tiny bit heady/cocky with my newfound Twitter fame by rt/association (Louis Theroux follows her, so at one point I did think ..."Maybe Louis Theroux read something I wrote!"...yes I am a huge freaking delusional dork). I may have even been crazily thinking that my op-ed writing career was on it's way up if I kept getting these lucky breaks.

Many of my early posts had quite high views and comments for a new blogger. The aforementioned retweets sent tens of thousands of new visitors to my little Weebly blog mere weeks after I had begun it. Looking back, it was always going to be downhill from there, something I was too clueless about blogging to realize at the time!

I have tried over the past few years, even pre-blogging, to get my head around how one gets to make any money as a freelance writer. After joining a few websites I came away pretty disheartened, not gonna lie. It's literally pennies an hour in many cases - yes you can maybe break through if you slog away at it long enough, but the pay for hire market is dire in my observations.

Even those on the top rungs are struggling right now as more and more online and print publications fold. It's quite a tough moment in time for anyone seeking to make a living from the written word.

So it's likely natural/evolutionary how visual and consumerist the blogging medium in particular has become. Now, don't get me wrong, I like fashion, I like to buy things and occasionally write about them too. But I'm an introvert and don't like telling people how to live their lives or say "this is cool, this is Not". I mean obviously I have a lot of opinions and tastes but I would never want to cause offense or make anyone feel bad for not having the money to buy an expensive/designer thing or travel or eat out or whatever.

I am genuinely disturbed by some of what blogging has become, if I'm being honest. It's a false picture of a false life in many cases, designed to create envy and desire for that (unreal) life so the people will buy the things and the blogger gets a cut and yes the economy needs shoppers, someone has to sell the things...but I don't generally enjoy the feeling that many blogs give me of being less than these days for not having all of the things they were in, let's get real, most cases #GIFTED.

Which isn't to say that aren't lots of lovely, inclusive fashion and lifestyle blogs. But there can be a level of one track glam all day/luxe designer everything aspiration that so many bloggers seem to think is what we expect/want from their content? And maybe they don't know (or care in some cases?) how off putting it can be.

It's the same reason print magazines died a death in my opinion. Bloggers became a thing because of relatable content that magazines weren't providing. And now somehow it has become less and less relatable in some instances. Sigh. My feelings are complicated, obviously.

ANYWAY I digress. As is obvious by now, I promise one thing in my title and then make you wait an age with my rambling before ever getting to my point - hallmarks of a spectacularly unsuccessful blogger, if I do say so myself! ;-)

So yes: "How to be a happily unsuccessful blogger", what am I on about? Why would anyone want that? Well, I guess if you have read this far maybe you have had similiar feelings about not feeling up to girl boss'ing it or adding thousands of followers by whatever means necessary or inventing a trending hashtag or any of the myriad other things we are meant to do to succeed at blogging besides just, er, blogging.

Maybe you are tired and just want  to quit blogging altogether because why bother if you can't be a success? I have been there, trust me, and it's embarassing to me, because I never set out to or in any way thought I would be a career blogger at ALL, so why would I let myself be so discouraged from doing something I enjoy? Because I have, at times, let it all get to me. Sometimes I wish I didn't follow any bloggers at all (well other than the ones who I read/read me!) lately, because I find all of this unending pressure to be a GREAT SUCCESS frankly exhausting.

I guess the main thing that I think is important if you want to be a contented blogger is: stop comparing yourself to other blogs. Seriously STOP IT RIGHT NOW (sorry to shout, but while I see this sentiment floating around a lot, I think most of us struggle with it. It's natural, it's human nature to want to compete/feel relevant). But it's not doing anyone any favors. If you love writing, or creating, or sharing your outfits or thoughts on books or films or gaming or kite surfing or whatever floats your boat, just keep at it! Why on earth wouldn't you?

Don't stress if you can't afford an expensive camera or don't have someone to take pictures of you 24/7 or your Instagram doesn't have a uniform theme. Because honestly, does anyone who has all of those things truly seem that happy to you? Are they not also constantly striving for more followers, more likes, more attention? Don't try to write like anyone else, or fit a style tribe that isn't you, or feel left out if you don't go gaga for cactuses and rose gold bar trolleys or pleated midis or whatever else is trending in blog la la land.

I say if writing gives you pleasure, keep at it. If one person says something you write mattered to them, guess what, your blog has VALUE. Yes, I know, we all would love to make a living from our living rooms. But realistically it's probably never going to happen. Yes, there's a gold rush on (mostly on Instagram, but wow have their algorithms messed with even successful bloggers), but you don't have to get carried away trying to be a part of it if that is not healthy or meaningful to your life.

Lately it feels like we are all meant to be striving to be part of some wealthy elite club that, let's get real, only a very few people who are a certain age and look a certain way and are able to present their lives in a certain light, are ever going to achieve. If you find the thought of making a perfect mochaccino and balancing it between your wooly socks on your crisp white bedlinens as traumatic as I do, then you know, don't be a part of that or oversaturate your feed with that shi - I mean stuff ;-0.

And honestly, how long can many bloggers stay on top? It's all a bit Emperor's New Clothes -there's always a younger, fresher, more social media savvy generation coming up. Can you imagine the exhausting HUSTLE of that life? There is much more to blogging than success and campaigns and collabs and likes. There has to be. I hope so anyway, it's the only thing that keeps me bothering with it.

Obviously if you want to try your damn best and work hard to be a (financially) successful blogger or socal media "influencer", go for it, by all means. I'm not saying don't try if you want it with all you've got. In my younger years I was a fledgling aspiring actress, I am all for chasing a crazy, impossible seeming dream if it truly makes your heart sing.

But I'm writing this mainly for those of us who are a bit tired of trying to feel like we are being heard in an overcrowded blogging field, like we don't fit in because we can't fork out a month's salary on a camera or have professional level photography on every blog post. Who have read every "How to be a Successful Blogger" post going and come away feeling a bit...empty, and confused, and frankly, knackered.

It's ok to be "unsuccessful", it's ok to do it for the fun of it, you don't have to publish a certain number of posts a week if you don't want to, you can totally break every blogging "rule" you have ever read that has made you feel overwhelmed, and the world won't come to an end. You can do it any way that works for you. Just try it, I promise it's kind of...freeing.

Look back at some of your older blog posts that you are maybe proud of and forgot about. Look for that person that said something authentic and kind and remember how good that felt. It felt so much better than an Instagram like, am I right? Where are they now? Are they still blogging? Maybe go visit their blog and say hi.

Maybe you have forgotten to keep up with the social aspect of blogging because you've been far too busy with "social" media. I know I am guilty of this too. Less scrolling, more genuine interaction is how I hope to regain some of my blogging joy/mojo in the weeks and months to come personally.

I might be delusional, this might be pie in the sky thinking, but I do hope that somehow we some of us can get back to what made us want to blog in the first place and stop stressing so much about what everyone else is up to/how to get ahead. I know I personally miss the way I used to feel about blogging, and it has recently made me lose my way/pull back from it a bit.

But I am hopeful that things can come back around to a slightly simpler way of blogging for those of us that still value it. I really am. It's up to us to decide what we believe makes our blog a success: if we want to step outside the box of being driven only by financial or gifted rewards.

It's up to us if we want to open ourselves up to feeling happiness from putting something out into the ether that we are proud of, or something that we just feel like sharing, from hopefully making real connections with other people, as opposed to all the other...stuff. If that makes me an unrealistic hippy dreamer of a blogger then so be it, I'll carve that as my "niche" from here on out. Is anyone with me?

Here is a Replacements song that encapsulates my feelings in a weirdly roundabout kinda way I guess (I know super naff 80s video but the lyrics are clearer than a live video would be!)!:


4 comments

  1. Aw, this was just lovely!! I've definitely fallen off the blogging wagon, even though I have a million posts in drafts... and part is due to just feeling like I need the posts to be "perfect" but then it's like, but why though. This is just my hobby! I do find myself getting frustrated on social media (instagram) of posting all my "best" photos and putting a bunch of tags and getting like 12 likes, and my one sister will post a blurry picture of her fat chihuahua and get like 40 in two minutes, ha. But maybe that is just a sibling rivalry thing ;)

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    1. Aw, thanks! I'm sorry you feel that way re: posting, I can relate! The only way is to just push through that weird self imposed perfectionism we get and do it anyway. I have a lot of unpublished drafts, to be fair a lot of them are half formed ideas but it's easy to get discouraged by trying to make every blog post amazing or whatever.

      Instagram has just gotten nuts. And it sucks especially for smaller blogs, I see alot of big blogs complaining they are only getting a couple hundred likes now or whatever, and I'm like hi I've gone from 50 to 11 likes a post, welcome to my world ha ha. Your sister's chihauha obviously has a fanbase lol, post more cat pics! Stick some elf and Santa hats on them, they will break the internet (I know cats love playing dress up! ;-)

      Also just fyi I tried to comment on some of your recent blogs and disqus was being weird, saying it needed to confirm my email, which is fine but it autofilled my email with some random number attached to it and then wouldn't let me change fix it so I don't know what's up?

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    2. 1.) Disqus is being weird lately, and the reason I took it off my site a long time ago was because it was become a pain in the ass (but I think it works better for some people).
      2.) I LOVED this post. I think it's very relevant. Like, I think a lot of bloggers are feeling this way right now - at least those of us who are just mostly in it for the hobby and fun. I do think there is a lot of pressure to be perfect, and I am planning on writing a post about this, referencing your post, because, yes, yes, I can. :)
      LOVED this! You are brilliant!

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  2. Thanks Becky you are making me blush lol! I do get nervouse writing about blogging in any remotely critical way, I know it could easily come off as me being embittered and bashing lifestyle blogs for taking over, which really isn't true. I like some lifestyle blogs a lot, I like escapist magazine style content sometimes too, but I do feel like it has been detrimental to anyone else who doesn't fit that mold or play that long game of thinking we can all be Zoella or whoever. It's madness, it's very unlikely to happen for most bloggers to make any money at all, despite the impression we are given that if we just work hard enough and follow certain rules and blah blah blah, you know the drill. I'm just so bored of it all! And annoyed I even care sometimes. We just have to do what's right for our own sitch. I hope you do write about it too, I know it's not just us who feels this way. Thanks for reading, this was hella long I know! xo

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