I didn’t plan to write this post. We’re heading into the home stretch of Speak Out and I’m chock full of posts this week. But I think this is important to talk about.
I have read several posts recently, including one written by the smart, sassy and gorgeous Holly at Good Golly Miss Holly that have really got me thinking. You can (and should) read her post, but in a nutshell she said that blogging has lost some of its luster for her, largely because of all the hoopla around getting sponsors or making this or that list of ‘Best Blogs’. She admitted to feeling jealous and then hating that she felt jealous. Honest girl, god love her.
I get it. I think if we were all to be as honest with ourselves, we’d be nodding our heads at least just a little.
The Australian blogging scene is going through a tremendous growth spurt right now. It is exploding. New bloggers are cropping up on every corner and brands are watching the scene and wanting a piece of the pageview action.
This is great! And it’s also not great.
On the one hand it opens up new possibilities to bloggers and affords them the opportunity to get recognition and recompense (sometimes even monetary!) for their hard work. At times the opportunities are wild and wonderful. I love that.
However, it also can create an atmosphere where competition, anxiety and a sense of inferiority reigns for many who are watching others get a big serving of pie while their own plates remain empty.
I’ve been on both ends, and not in the order you might imagine. Let me explain.
First, I know I’m not an Australian blogger (ahem, officially). But my blog is more popular in Australia than anywhere else, including here on my home soil. In the States, I’m a small fish in a very, very big pond. I mostly swim under the radar. My opportunities to work with brands have come primarily from Australia.
As most of you know, I had the honor of coming to Sydney in March when I was sponsored by Macleans. It was an incredible experience and they were an absolute dream to work with. I felt grateful and special and a bit embarrassed by all the hoopla.
As most of you also know, I’m now working on the Speak Out campaign with another corporate entity. What happened this time? Well, big plans were made. Really big plans. Multiple corporate sponsorships to support an international social awareness program. A kickass proposal was drawn up with the assistance of a successful media company, who also provided a list of potential corporate sponsors. We each had our assignments. We went forth.
Well, I went forth. But the proposal? It was never distributed. That’s right. The kickass multi-tiered proposal that was going to send me to speaking engagements and fund charities was never distributed. Actually, not true. I sent it out to some of my contacts at the last minute, when I realized what was (not) going down. But we all know how attractive an 11th hour proposal is.
The dedicated Speak Out website was never built. The press advertising, emails to members, etc? Didn’t happen either. I was left feeling like the miner who cried Eureka! and then realized she was holding fool’s gold.
Here’s the deal. Brand and corporate relationships have the potential to be excellent, but when you enter into partnership with a corporation, you lose a lot of your autonomy and control. You might stay focused on the prize, but a corporation has any number of initiatives going on at a single time and they will distribute their resources, including time and energy according to their own priorities. Sometimes it works beautifully. Sometimes it’s not so pretty.
The blog world is also full of articles on the Ten Things to do to get More Readers and the Six Easy Steps to Launching an E-book. I read these articles with a mixture of hope and anxiety. Hope that I can find something to take away and anxiety because I really don’t have time to do all this but oh-my-god I should be and everyone else is so I’m ‘falling behind’!
There is also a voice inside me saying: This is not what matters to me. I just want to tell my story.
Which brings me back to my point. Why do we blog? What about blogging brings us fulfillment?
I know why I blog. It’s not for sponsorships or recognition, though those things are wonderful and appreciated.
I blog for expression and engagement.
I write because I don’t know how to not write. It fulfills a deep-seated need I have for expression. I blog because I want connection and a sense of community. I would go so far as to say that engagement is the true heart of blogging. If you don’t engage, you won’t succeed, even if success to you means having only a moderate readership. Engagement is vital.
This is not to say that marketing yourself and being social media savvy is somehow incompatible with authentic writing. Both are ultimately necessary if you’re goal is to be a blog star. But don’t chase the latter at the expense of the former. And have a good, long think about whether the latter is really what you want. Is that the part of blogging you find fulfilling? If it is, then great. Go for it.
Please don’t get me wrong. I think working with brands can be a wonderful thing. I’m happy for my fellow bloggers when they find a good partnership or are otherwise recognized for their excellence. But the competition and heightened anxiety that comes with these opportunities may be changing the tenor of the blog scene.
Because of the demands of my private life, I’ve chosen to step back from blogging. I don’t have the time to read and comment on as many blogs as I have in the past. This means that others are not coming here as often. It’s a conscious choice, but as a result I do feel less connected. I’m trying to find my balance.
Do you know which blogs I read when I do have the time to read? It’s not necessarily the ones with the most followers or that make the top of a given list. To be honest, that can tend to turn me away, as those same individuals tend to have less time to engage on an individual level. I read people I can relate to. I read people who talk to me. I read people who keep it real.
I’m also going full-steam ahead with the Speak Out campaign, all by my bad self. I love it and I think it’s really important. Big thanks to Brenda at Digital Parents and Lori at Random Ramblings of a SAHM, and all the other incredible bloggers who have signed on. I picked my own charity for the event (see the sidebar). Throw a few dollars their way if you can. They are ALL about expression and engagement and community.
If you’ve been feeling anxiety in the growing and ever-changing blogging scene, waiting against the wall and watching the others dance (or worse, being rejected by the dance partners you approach), maybe you should consider why you’re here in the first place. If nothing else, know that what you’re feeling is shared by a lot of your peers.
Why not just get out there and dance to the music in your soul, even if you’re dancing alone? Chances are you’ll forget about all the hoopla and enjoy yourself again.
And if you ever want to connect, I’ll be over here dancing at Wanderlust. xx
I’m curious how you feel about the growing blog scene? Does it make you feel good? Less than? Are you still in step with the music in your soul?
Oh, and on a side note, I’m published at Band Back Together today if you want to check it out. And please, enter one of the four giveaways going on now!