Why I started Blogging and Fell In Love With It
I started London Damsel in January 2016 as a creative outlet. This was before realising that blogging can be a full time job. Before having any idea that brands reach out to you for collaboration and before understanding that numbers matter. That was a great time. Writing for the sake of writing. Learning about photography, Google Analytics and all. No pressure involved.
And then I got into Instagram and watched my numbers rise at the speed of light. Well, not really, more like stagnate at 20 or so. This was the first time I realised that I want people to read my blog, to like my photos and to be a part of an engaging community. I quickly created Twitter for my little blog. And Tumblr and Pinterest.
When Blogging Takes Over All Of Your Free Time
Gone were the days of coming up with a post, publishing it and feeling a wave of pride rising inside of me. Now, the days consisted of coming up with a post, stressing out over the photos, editing, making sure I’ve got different sizes, photos and posts for various social media channels, a new idea for a post.
There comes a time when every blogger installs some app or the other that informs us of followers gained and lost. And we all obsess over those numbers. This is perfectly normal, after all, we all know that high numbers trigger collaborations and with those comes a dream of becoming your own boss. Hands up if thoughts of full time blogging never crossed your mind.
Unfortunately, growing your following and engagement comes at a cost. Not only do we spend hours perfecting the blog posts and editing photos. We also spend money on numerous blogging events, networking is after all a magic word. Who hasn’t spent hours retweeting and answering questions, commenting on other bloggers’ posts and photos (while cleverly linking to your newest post where appropriate). All of this is perfectly fine. My problem was that it completely took over my life.
Can You Have A Life, A Full-Time Job and A Successful Blog
Yes, you can. As many bloggers can confirm, Helen in Wonderlust is just one of them. But it’s all about finding that healthy balance. We need to consider things that are important to us and plan around them. It’s more than obvious that I didn’t.
I love reading. Not just blogs, but books. As many books as possible. A disaster in my case is losing my Kindle (which about a plane full of people can confirm as I pretty much flew into blind panic when we boarded the NYC flight and I couldn’t find my little portable library). I read for an hour every morning as it allows me to start my day relaxed. When I decided that I need to grow my engagement and following, I stopped reading so that I was able to spend that time scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and engaging. Well, we have to show people that we’re there, don’t we.
In the end my downfall was sacrificing all the things I loved doing for the sake of growing the numbers.
Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk, But Make Sure You’re More Careful Next Time
Sacrificing the things I love was only a part of my falling out of love with the blogging world. The other one was my Twitter feed. Day after day after day my feed was full of people complaining about their followers, about the numbers, dissing other bloggers whose startegies they disapproved of. It felt like I’m trapped on a seasaw of self-pity and aggressive behaviour and to be honest, I didn’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
Nobody likes a whinger and whiner. And remember what they say about Karma? It comes around. So don’t do to others, what you don’t want done to yourself.
Complaining about how unfair the world is and being unkind to others, will not lead to your success. You adapting your goals and strategy might.
At some point I realised that I needed to rethink my strategy, or lack thereof. Am I blogging because I want to write, simple as that? Am I trying to make money? Would I like blogging to be my full time job?
You will never be successful unless you identify what success means to you.
Once you have your main goal, you need to make a list of steps that lead to that goal. And I wasn’t able to do that as I was trapped in a Catch-22 of feeling disheartened everytime I looked at my numbers.
Those numbers were like a punch in the gut. And as many other bloggers I obsessed over them day and night. I knew perfectly well that this isn’t the right strategy, that I’m unique and therefore can’t compare myself to everybody else. But that’s incredibly hard to do. Just look at Twitter and you’ll see a number of Tweets saying things like “I’m so disappointed with my photos. I really don’t think my post is good enough” and so on. Immediate replies start with “You’re amazing hun. Keep up the good work.” and similar. Unfortunately, looking for a sympathy vote doesn’t strike a chord with me. Think about it, if there was an ad saying “This is the worst concealer ever, it doesn’t look good and it smells like rotten eggs”, would you go and buy it?
Needless to say, I was fed up with it all
At some point I had enough of stagnating, spending my entire weekend working on my blog and the entire week working my butt off at work. To be honest, I was utterly and completely exhausted. And exhaustion was a blessing in disguise.
All of the sudden, I found myself with a week off before starting a new job. My first thought was “Amazing, I’ll have a full week to dedicate to blogging.” And I didn’t. That first weekend, I got up, left my phone in a different room and sat on the sofa with a cuppa and a book. I talked to my boyfriend. We went for a walk. For a whole day I didn’t think about follow and unfollow. I didn’t stress about writing and scheduling two posts. And it felt like I could finally breathe after a really really long time suffocating.
No wonder, the next day was pretty similar as was the day after. I went back to Instagram and posted a photo a day. And sometimes I missed a day. There was a whole stretch of time when I didn’t respond to comments and neither did I go out of my way to comment. I know, bad form. But I needed the break. I needed to clear my head and go back to what I love.
Sometimes Taking A Step Back Makes The Path More Visible
I haven’t posted anything since May. I haven’t been to any blogging events. My Tweeting is fairly sporadic, but I try to post on Instagram most days. And I feel great! The months without the pressures of the blogging community (the pressures we mostly put on ourselves) made it clear to me that I love writing. And that I have made friends in the blogging community who are supportive and understanding.
I feel it’s time for me to return to my little piece of the Internet and try to build up the engagement. But this time I won’t be influenced by how other people do it and I won’t beat myself up over my numbers rising slowly or not at all. I won’t set goals that are difficult or impossible to achieve and I will never again sacrifice things and people I love to get a few extra moments online. Life is too short to never smell the flowers.
And a big shout out to those bloggers who continued to comment and talk to me even on those days when I didn’t respond. You girls are the top of the pops of the blogging community:
Jessica Rose Williams
OOTD In Style
Wander Woman Co
The Search Of Happiness
Simplicity & Coffee