In the past few weeks I’ve had a series of insights about the work I’ve done on this blog and the kind of content I’m producing. Mostly those insights have pointed me in the direction of drastically changing the nature of this blog, and I’d like to share why that is. Mostly, it’s important for… View Article

Scaling Back

In the past few weeks I’ve had a series of insights about the work I’ve done on this blog and the kind of content I’m producing. Mostly those insights have pointed me in the direction of drastically changing the nature of this blog, and I’d like to share why that is.

Mostly, it’s important for me to share this post so you won’t wonder why I’ve disappeared.

I’ve written in the past about the inordinate amount of time it takes to run a blog well, but what I wrote barely scratched the surface. Mostly I shed light on the amount of time content production takes, and it’s true that producing great content does take time. In fact, in recent months I’ve been spending more time than ever on content production, which has led my content to get better and better (something I hope you’ve noticed). I now spend large amounts of time perfecting my outfit posts to the tiniest detail and editing the photos for those posts with a discerning eye for the overall “flow” of the post.

Why have I done this? Because I’m trying to compete with other bloggers for your attention. There are so many of us out there, and the best and most popular blogs are those that are run by full-time bloggers who spend 40+ hours a week producing content–and getting well paid for it. As you know, I’m a part-time blogger, though I have to admit that in my attempts to turn my blog into a successful endeavor I have also become a 40+ hour a week blogger.

Have I become successful with this blog? Yes and no. My readership is larger than its ever been. My social media networks have more followers than they ever have. I have more brand engagements than ever before and have made some decent revenue from them. So, yes, the blog has become successful.

I, however, have not. In my own estimation, the time I have put into my blog and my blog’s influence on me has been what I would consider unsuccessful. In spending more time on my blog than I do on my full time job, I’ve lost touch with many of the most important parts of my life. I’ve continually neglected my husband and my friends to spend time blogging, and even when I am with them I spend most of my time thinking, planning, and worrying about growing my blog and working on boosting my followers on social media. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent in zombie mode on Instagram, liking and commenting just so I’ll get likes and comments. In the past few months, instead of calling family members, indulging in taking care of myself, or simply cleaning my condo I’ve poured my efforts into my blog. Even at work, my attention has been spent blogging. My lunch hour has become a content production hour. My work breaks are opportunities to promote myself on social media.

Promote myself. I never thought I would be involved in a pursuit that’s so egotistical, and yet here I am. My blog has become a shrine to myself, as most fashion and lifestyle blogs are. When I consider the time I’ve put into this space, I have to consider why and what I’m getting out of it. Mostly, what I get out of this blog is other women I don’t know thinking that I look pretty and hopefully that I make quality healthy recipes. Thinking deeply about this, I’m not sure why I should need or want that so much.

I wrote before that fashion blogging is a vapid affair, and I feel that more acutely now than ever. Simply put: I have put far too much focus on my appearance due to this blog. In an effort to grow and compete with other bloggers, I’ve started to adopt the style of the McBlogger–a woman who spends far more time on an outfit and overall look than is necessary or reasonable. My style has gone from being a personal thing to being something that looks a lot like what every other blogger is doing. And a lot of what that entails is putting increasingly large amounts of effort into every aspect of my appearance, from wearing more makeup to spending more time on my hair to buying trendier and trendier clothing items. I now wonder if the me of the past would look at me now and be astounded at how much makeup I’m wearing and how many pairs of shoes I own. Fashion and style have always been pursuits of mine, but in the past on a much smaller scale. Appearance just isn’t this important. Fashion and style are fun hobbies to engage in, but not ways of life.

When I think about the way of life my blog and so many others present, I feel overwhelmed by how unrealistic and consumptive it is. Due to my quest to produce new content and the various brand engagements I have been part of, my closet is now so overflowing with clothing that I easily could go a long time without buying anything new. I have many evening dresses that I have never worn to an event. I regularly discover beloved pieces that I simply forgot about in the deluge of items entering my wardrobe. This is not the kind of lifestyle I want to be promoting.

The simple fact that I am promoting a lifestyle means that my entire life has come under the lens. I am always working to present increasingly perfect visions of what my life is like even when the reality is quite different. Am I waking up early on Friday to curl my hair before work and subsequent post-work drinks? Hell no. I’m getting enough sleep to feel rested–and you should too. The pristine plates I present with my recipes often require that I eat cold food and have to eat alone–why would I subject anyone else to that? In general, my Instagram has been a sea of unrealistically perfect images.

So what? You might say. It’s nice when things are pretty. But I would counter that it’s not nice that I increasingly feel so much pressure to perfect and share my life. And it’s also not so nice when others who follow me might be made to feel inadequate because their lives don’t live up to some pristine ideal. Recently I travelled to the Cayman Islands–something I documented on my blog and social media. In general, I love travel, but this trip felt very stressed. I spent the weeks leading up to it worrying about the various outfits I would shoot and camera equipment I would bring. I worried about my weight and if I would look skinny enough in my bikinis. During the trip I was constantly obsessing about shooting great pictures. I couldn’t simply let the sun set and watch the palm leaves turn pink and feel relaxed and happy. I had to be out shooting everything and nagging my travel companions to take pictures of me in the process. Ironically, those pictures presented a totally relaxed version of me that just soaked in the whole trip.

Having these insights about the vapid nature of my content and the stress my blogging has put on my life, I’ve realized that the part of this blog I’m proudest of has been book reviews I have posted. Unlike my outfits and recipes, that content is truly originally and purely creative. Reading and writing critically for this blog has been an enriching part of my life. I always feel enlivened and refreshed when I write original work that I am proud of, rather than feeling drained after the process of putting together an outfit post or disingenuous after promoting a product. Writing book reviews has pushed me to think critically and make cogent arguments about the ideas I’m presenting. Looking back, my book reviews are the content I’m decidedly the most proud of producing.

This has been a long tirade. If you’ve come this far you’re likely wondering whats next for me and this blog. I’ve pondered this question for the last week. At first I truly wanted to quit blogging cold turkey, but I knew that was a knee-jerk reaction and would not be the right choice. Instead, I want to change the nature and content of this blog to reflect both my true values, my creativity, and what I realistically have time for. With that said, here’s an overview of what you can expect:

  • Drastically fewer posts. I will be posting when I have time and energy to do so. You can feel assured that the content I do produce will be well crafted and genuine–not something I threw together in a hurry to nourish the never-ending feed that is a blog.
  • Fewer outfit posts and recipes in general. I will continue to post these, but only as they actually reflect my life. I’ll show you what I’m actually wearing and the recipes I’ve tried and tested, shared with my friends and family, and truly think are worth sharing.
  • A much heavier focus on book reviews.

A blog is an interesting medium. It requires the content production to be an ongoing task, even if that doesn’t fit well with the subject of the content. Producing brief content for quick and ongoing consumption may not be what I’m interested in doing anymore–in fact, I think it’s safe to say that it isn’t. I’d like to focus on fashion as a hobby, healthy eating as a lifestyle, and reading and writing as an expansive pursuit. Perhaps that’s my biggest problem with the nature of blogging. At it’s essence, it is a bottomless pit into which content as generated and tossed.

Maybe I’ve digressed a bit. On the whole, I want this blog to go back to being what it was when I started: an enjoyable passtime and creative outlet. I’m done running this blog like a business.

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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21 Comments and Pingbacks for Scaling Back.

  1. Great post and as a not even part-time blogger, quarter time maybe…those struggles are the same but it all comes down to …what’s the point? I guess in the end you have to be doing what brings you joy! I look forward to seeing where you go with this.

    Deena on April 25, 2016   /   Reply
  2. So sorry to hear that blogging has become so stressful for you! When it stops being fun, don’t feel bad about taking a step back. You can always try to strike a better balance on your content; being a perfectionist it can be hard not to obsess over what you produce but there’s a “I’m human” element that can make your content relatable. It’s so easy to feel bad when we look at what professional bloggers produce but I’ve made peace with that when I started to blog. Most of those individuals set out to do this for a living; it’s hard for part timers to compete with them, so don’t. Just do you.

    xo, alice / T Y P E N U

    alice on April 25, 2016   /   Reply
  3. I really love your honesty in this post!! I follow you on IG (I’m a Chicago [area, ha!] blogger, too, and just made it over to your blog… and it’s SO amazing to get to stop by and read this post… so raw and genuine!! I almost feel like I’d rather go for a coffee with you than type a lengthy comment… but I will go ahead and comment, because I understand –much– of what you wrote.

    My blog is centered on fashion. I try not to compare myself and success to other bloggers, but yeah, it’s hard not to do. However, if you do enjoy fashion/style, I think you can still bring that enjoyment to your blog! Just go shopping for you!! What’s your style? I have a laugh because showcased on my blog are a variety of fashions… casual…dressy…boho… but I truly am all of the things. Some bloggers have a certain style niche, and they stick with it, and I think it’s great either way. I hope you rediscover your style (and it is okay to receive outside inspo… mine is simply by visiting the “New Arrivals” section of the online stores to my favorite shops, and I select what I like…because I like the store… or the clothing quality… and how the clothing looks…and how it looks on me!

    But I can certainly empathize with you with the whole “time consumption” factor. Blogging and social engagement takes A LOT of energy and time and dedication…and it sucks!! I’m not sure exactly what all you’ve attained in your time blogger, like, have you made any blogger friends? Because I have some bloggers around the nation that I enjoy stopping by and seeing what their up to, because I like their blog, not because I want a comment. I’ve even (just recently!!) met bloggers in person, and it’s been a refreshing element added into the blogging world.

    If I reply to everything you wrote, my comment will be as long as your post… lol… so I’ll stop here… but basically, I hope you do find yourself in fashion, I hope you regain balance, and I hope as you do continue blogging… that you enjoy it, again!


    Amber
    All the Cute
    Today’s Post: Floral Blouse…

    P.S. – SERIOUSLY adore how genuine you want to be with blogging…looking forward to your thoughts on books! Do you use Goodreads? I’m on there! So great for organizing the reads! #keepitreal girl!

    Amber Shannon on April 26, 2016   /   Reply
  4. Bravo!! To be honest about how the trendy elements of other blogs doesn’t satisfy your creativity is huge!! I commend you be being honest about what you need from this blog and i believe that you will receive tons of support from it!!

    http://www.ebatotes.com

    Emmaly Knecht on April 27, 2016   /   Reply
  5. I’m all for quality over quantity. In the 7 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve found I’ll never be the type that can just “churn out” content. I wouldn’t enjoy it and it totally inhibits creativity. Good for you for coming out and saying it. Looking forward to seeing what seeing what new stuff you come up with (when you’re ready)!

    District of Chic

    districtofchic on April 27, 2016   /   Reply
  6. Wow! I love the honesty in this post. It is definitely important to be true to yourself. I love reading and would love to see book reviews.
    Traci
    waltzmetoheaven.com

    Traci on April 28, 2016   /   Reply
  7. I really love reading this post, it is so real and honest. It is truly ironic that we pour so much time and energy into blog about our supposed life and fashion miss out on the events and things that is actually happening in our lives. I’ve written a post called the reality of blogging and it is very similar to your tone. When blogging becomes work and not just a hobby because you truly enjoy it, then it is time to re-evaluate which is exactly what you did. I hope you can find your passion again and do what really inspires you and fun for you.

    xo Sheree
    http://poshclassymom.com
    IG: @poshclassymom

    Sheree on April 29, 2016   /   Reply
  8. You’ve shared such great words that many would be too scared to share. I fully support you going in another direction with your blog. I hope you follow your heart and rediscover your love of blogging!! :)

    Ashlyn // Dollop Of Yum on April 29, 2016   /   Reply
  9. Love this post. I’ve only just started blogging but I do get what you’re saying, and I wonder if those who do get paid spending 40+ hours blogging a week are actually living authentic lives or whether because they are being paid to do so? Thanks for the honesty. x
    Eileen

    5feetofstyle.com | Instagram | Facebook

    Eileen on April 30, 2016   /   Reply
  10. I totally feel you on this one, but think I’ve got a good balance down now. It’s not an easy thing but I love blogging and try not to lose site of that! Do what you need to do girl! Living life to the fullest is the most important!

    Xox Dana Ivy // http://www.iadorewhatilove.com

    Dana Ivy on April 30, 2016   /   Reply
  11. I completely understand! I don’t want my blog to be a job – I want it to be fun & meet new
    and interesting people. Life is short so do what makes you happy.
    I wish you every happiness!
    Mimi
    http://inmyprimetime.blogspot.com

    Mimi on May 6, 2016   /   Reply
  12. I’ve been dropping in to read your blog from time to time for a few years, and really appreciate your authenticity, and the fact that your content includes more than fashion. A lot of the blogs I’ve followed over the years have, imo, shown a disappointing shift toward heavy consumption (and promotions-driven) and that is a lot less fun to read.

    I continue to enjoy your posts, but can appreciate how much of a time commitment this must be. Best of luck as you explore what’s best for you. I look forward to reading those book reviews!

    Erin on May 7, 2016   /   Reply
  13. Joules, congratulations! I think you’ve come to the realization that it’s better to live a life than a lifestyle. When I began my food blog six years ago, I decided on a weekly posting schedule. Of course, I’d read that to “succeed” as a blogger one “needs” to post much more frequently.

    And as I started reading more blogs, I marveled at all the bloggers who were posting several times a week with dozens of photos for each post. I thought, Why would anyone want to read my blog several times a week? Who has time for that? I have never visited anyone’s blog more than once a week. There would be no time for life!

    I enjoy posting my original recipes and encouraging home cooking, healthier eating, organic and ethical food, tea, food and wine travel, heritage cooking, etc; but I would not enjoy it if I had to post any more frequently than once a week. I like sharing my favorite kitchen equipment with my readers, with an occasional review/giveaway — but only items I actually use and recommend.

    When I see blogs that obviously require 40+ hours a week to produce, I always wonder if the blogger wouldn’t be money ahead (and time ahead) getting a full-time job. I think you’re on the right track and wish you happiness, fulfillment and success as you move forward in scaled-back mode.

    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com on May 8, 2016   /   Reply
  14. I just found your blog today and I’m so happy this is the first post of your’s that I read. I think what you said is very honest and it makes me want to check out more of your blog. It’s a hard yet interesting world, blogging. I just started and had already committed to only doing 3 posts a week because I can’t imagine the stress of 5 days a week of premium content. I think blogging for joy is the best way to maintain it :-) Best of luck and I look forward to reading more posts when you post them :-)
    http://www.cupcakendreams.com

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams on May 13, 2016   /   Reply
  15. Wow, I’m in awe of this post!!! You go girl!!!

    It cannot have been easy to make this decision, or to be so honest about it. I recently wrote a post called “The Confident Girl’s Guide to Social Media-Ing” and I found it hard to put online. I felt naked and didn’t like admitting to all the weaknesses that I did. However, I also found it quite liberating!

    I applaud you for making a decision that’s so authentic and speaks to your truest inner joy! I’m a brand new blogger and still love it, but I hope that if I ever feel the way you do, I’ll be brave enough to make the same choice. (At the moment it’s also easier for me because I’m a temporarily unemployed model living off her husband’s income while she waits for her acne to clear… I have no idea how things will be when I’m working again. I imagine stressful.)

    Best of luck with everything!!!
    Xx Maya from Maya Unmarketed

    Maya on May 15, 2016   /   Reply
  16. Thank you for the honesty and making yourself vulnerable. I’m not a blogger myself and have always wondered what it may be like producing a popular one. I hope you rediscover the simple joys in life yet again!

    Jane on May 21, 2016   /   Reply
  17. This is a really brave post. Thank you for saying all these things out loud – it’s so important, and so counter to the culture of fashion and lifestyle blogging. You broke the fourth wall!

    I’ve never read your blog before (just stumbled here via breakthetwitch.com), but having read this post I’m going to subscribe, and look forward to reading your poetry and creative work.

    Brava!

    xx Kamina
    http://www.ninakardia.com

    Kamina on July 8, 2016   /   Reply
  18. Oh my gosh. This is so spot on. Blogging feels like it is taking over my life! I hope you have found some balance.

    Andrea on September 19, 2016   /   Reply