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.