Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rethinking The Business of Blogging

At a blogger party for the opening of Park Lane shops in November 2010 with fellow mommy bloggers. 

Dear OSC reader,

Yesterday, I saw a tweet from Time magazine promoting an article they had published about mommy blogger Josi Denise's recent decision to stop blogging. In the article, Josi basically has a Jerry Maguire moment -  a breakdown of sorts from the mental and physical exhaustion of blogging - and calls for other bloggers to revolt from the oppression of the business of blogging and "just quit". It struck a chord in me, because I too have moments of blogger exhaustion. I've never wanted to quit, but I often feel the pressure of having to perform for advertisers while trying to not look like I'm selling out to readers. And I definitely have lots of moments of feeling like I am failing: failing my family because dinner's not on the table due to the fact that I am at another event or fashion show, failing as a friend because I'm spread too thin to really pay attention to what's happening in the lives of those around me, failing my job - both as a blogger and a publicist - because there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done and failing myself because I always feel like I could do better, be better if there was just... more... time. But there never is.

It's a little ironic that I'm writing this post on the 8th anniversary of creating my blog. My first post was May 16, 2008 and it was a recipe for tilapia. My how times have changed (It's still a great recipe, by the way). When I started blogging in 2008 it was a relatively new field. I was charting unknown territory. There were very few rules and the possibilities were endless. I started my blog as a hobby, with no thought to making it a business. I thought it would be a fun way to keep my family (who all lived outside of Dallas) up to speed on what my family was doing and share our lives with them in an engaging way. I sort of stumbled in to the mommy blogger community and from there diverted off on the lifestyle path you see today. As a marketer by profession, I would have been crazy to not take advantage of the opportunities that blogging presented. I came from the publishing world and ad sales, creating events and developing media kits were what I did for a living. It was a piece of cake for me to use my knowledge of sales to turn a hobby into a money-making enterprise. Today, there are over 292 million blogs. Blogging has gone from something people did for fun to a career goal for many. When I was in college, computers were in there infancy. Now you can major in digital fields and get a degree in social media. It's crazy.

Things that make you go "Hmmmmmm..."

I've had some chatter going on in my head over the past few months about the business of blogging. While I do make money from this blog, it doesn't produce enough revenue that I would ever quit my day job. Any money I make from those efforts are just icing on the cake. And most people have no idea how time consuming a blog is. For example, when I accept an invitation to attend a function, I spend time selecting an outfit, maybe getting my makeup/hair done and then spend a good couple of hours at the actual event. Then I have to come home and edit all of the photos I took, write the story and publish it. And it doesn't end there. I then spend time creating social media posts and making sure everyone involved in the story has a link to my article so they too can post it to their social channels to give the article more traction. Each resulting post can easily take 4-6- hours of my time. My blog averages 5-7 posts a week. You do the math... Now couple that with the demands of running an advertising agency and a teenage son learning to drive. It's enough drive you to drink - or take Xanax. Or both. (Don't judge!) So, I have to continue to ask to myself, "Why am I blogging?" The answer is still the same as it was eight years ago: I love to take photos. I love the process of creative writing and crafting a story. I love to get out and discover new things and meet amazing new people. I love the connection I feel to my city and the people who read my posts. 

After 2 years of blogging I was being invited to speak as an "expert" in the field. (March 2010) 

Eight years after I started this enterprise, it's time to take a step back and reflect on what I've accomplished and how I want to move forward. Over the years I've gone from blogging like no one was reading to being acutely aware of how many people are reading and why advertisers are paying. I would be lying if I said it hasn't affected the way I write or even what I write about. The Time magazine article on Josi Denise, and several other similar stories I have read recently, have made me take pause.  

There are a few things I know for sure:

1) I want/need to focus quality over quantity when it comes to content - so if you see fewer posts than usual in the upcoming months, you'll understand why

2) I am not a journalist/writer/reporter. I did not go to journalism school and I don't use proper grammar (my Mother tells me I use way too many commas). I am just a person who likes to have fun and tell stories. I am not in competition with other media outlets. They can do them, but I need to do me.

3) While I want to help charities and small business owners and publish something on most events sent to me, I need to realize that what's great for them, isn't necessarily what's good for me. I need to remind myself that saying "no" doesn't make me a selfish or bad person. 

4) Lastly, I need to remember that what me memorable to you in the first place was my authenticity and passion about what I was doing. If I lose that, then I've lost everything... including (most likely) you when you become bored with my bland posts and move on. 

In a few weeks school will be out and the social scene will be coming to an almost abrupt halt (until August when it starts all over again) making this a perfect time for me to reflect and maybe even reinvent myself a bit. I appreciate every single person who reads this blog and/or follows me on social media. Let me know via Facebook or Twitter what matters to you and what you'd like to see more of. Let's continue to discover Dallas together because it's a pretty amazing place to live and I look forward to many more adventures together. 

Love you. Mean it. - Cynthia