5 Blogging Rules I am Breaking

Some rules are made to be broken.  Especially when they stress you out and make you compare yourself to others. I recently came to a conclusion about my blogging career.  It stresses me out too much.  I feel like there are a ton of us out there in this same exact stage.  We have decided to take our “hobby” and turn it in to a business.  But for a lot of us, it isn’t easy.  What once was my creative outlet is now a chore.  And while some of the “rules” are self-imposed (especially since I am my own boss – and trust me, I can be a total bitch), the to-do list to achieve success is never-ending.  After a few months of really spinning my wheels I decided to look long and hard at what the heck I’m doing here.  Things needed to change.  Here are the rules I am currently breaking.  In the name of happiness, I encourage you to do the same.

Sometimes your notebook stays empty a long time when you are deciding on what you want to do with your blog.Your Brand Identity is Everything.

I struggle with the branding for my blog and how to best get across who I am and what I am all about to the readers.  The branding leaders within the blogging realm will tell you that everything needs to be cohesive and well-defined and blanket all media channels.  Each and every thing you post, utter, share should perfectly reflect your brand.  People blog for different reasons.  And all of them are right.  For me, I blog because I enjoy sharing the things I like and what I am experiencing.  I just can’t commit to the idea that when I am on Pinterest I am only supposed to pin the things that perfectly reflect my brand aesthetics.  Guess what?  Not every super delicious sounding recipe comes with a great image.  Of course I want my boards to look nice but I like what I like and I’m not afraid to show it.  Especially for Pinterest, I am breaking this rule.  What “brand” has two thumbs and a home to manage?  This gal.  So if I want to pin a toilet bowl cleaning tip, I’m going to.  If that makes someone not want to learn more about me than so be it.  But guess who’s toilet is going to be cleaner…(Oh! and I found this great article that breaks down the difference between your brand and your identity.)

summer vacation.  girl's trip.  leopard and tans.Pick a Blog Category

It has been said that readers have a hard time following lifestyle bloggers because they really don’t know what to expect in the way of posting topics from day-to-day.  I totally understand that.  But this gal is in to a lot of different things.  All of which I want to share with you.  I get that all of you don’t enjoy Abe Lincoln as much as I do but this is my place to share my love of him.  Some days I want to share what my kids are doing.  Some days I want to talk about cocktails.  And I think that is ok.  I don’t think I have to pick just one avenue.  I realize that may hinder me in some respects (I’m guessing a lot of food companies would love to work with food bloggers).  And maybe a wine company doesn’t want me to post about their wine and then my kids the next day (truth: they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong).  But I am ok with that.

Fabric floral tassels with gold fringeAnalyze your Analytics

I look at my blog traffic numbers once a day.  And then I don’t do anything with them.  If I stressed about hitting certain numbers I think it would take me so far away from what I want to do that I would eventually hate blogging and want to fight it in an alley.  So I take my numbers with a grain of salt.  While my traffic has gotten me more in the way of  affirmation from other bloggers and more notice from brands, it is not everything to me.  I need to create content that I enjoy.  If I followed what my analytics said were my readers favorite posts, I would be doing crafts all day.  My kids do not allow for many craft DIY style posts.  They are too time consuming and require a lot of pieces and work.  I would much prefer to make a cocktail.  Or something I can eat right when it is done being photographed.  Of course I want to keep my readers happy but I need to be happy too.  The times when I have really focused on my traffic I have been able to grow it.  Then I get burnt out and take a break and they go back down.  What really is the point?

Sometimes we get so caught up in blogging that the world literally passes us by.Blogging is all About the Money

Sometimes you make money from blogging.  Sometimes you pay an awful lot of money to keep your blog going.  When I decided to make a push towards turning it in to more of a job, money was a big bench mark for my success.  Given the number of usable hours I have in a day (I’m useless before the hours of 5 am and after 8 pm plus whatever time my family needs my attention) I found that I couldn’t do it all.  Either I created good content, or pitched new business or updated a social media platform.  I have to choose.  And right now I have to be ok with that.  Those two little boys above are not going to wait for my blogging world to get sorted out.  I literally started to feel like the world was just passing me by.  It can’t just be about the money.  It has to be fulfilling too (in whatever way you deem it so).  At my blogging level, we are encouraged to never work for free, never take a free product without further compensation and ask for triple what you have been getting.  I think it needs to be up to each person to decide what is right for them.  I was on a high horse about this for about a month and then realized I was being stupid.  Once I figured that out the heart palpitations stopped and I felt some creativity coming back.  A few day drinks to help celebrate a friend’s birthday helped too.

a mess of brightly colored macarons.Put your Best Photos Forward

I have loved photography since I was in high school.  I think it is an amazing way to tell a story and is an artistic medium that I feel pretty comfortable with.   But sometimes I think we get so stuck on the fact that something isn’t a “good enough” photo that we don’t want to share it.  The other night I was making a yummy shrimp recipe.  I had already started cooking it when I decided it would be something I thought my readers might enjoy.  With a styled photo shoot out of the question, I took some simple photos of it on my plate – my normal dinner plate not one from my prop closet.  But they aren’t the prettiest.  Do I share them knowing that some folks wouldn’t find them pinnable?  The amount of time it would take me to set up that recipe just isn’t worth it.  Especially since the recipe is a quick meal!  I’m going to share it.  Maybe next week.  It would be dumb for me not to share it because it isn’t styled as pretty as some of my other posts.  That is not a choice that all bloggers will make but for me I think it is right.  I don’t see it as putting out a lower quality post.  I see it as being practical and real.  It would be awesome if all my posts could look perfect.  It just isn’t always possible.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.  I have been really stressing about it for a while and feel like talking about it has let some of the tension go.  Are you willing to break “the rules” to be happier?

Comments

  1. Rebecca says:

    I haven’t even started my blog yet and feel overwhelmed by all that is expected to get readers, make money and be called successful. I believe we need to go at our own pace, do what’s best for us all around. Otherwise, we are no good to anyone! BTW, my 16 year old daughter LOVES Abe Lincoln. She thinks he’s hot. Go figure! Lol

  2. I totally hear you on blogging + money. I put a lot of pressure on myself to turn my blog into a business and after attending ALT this year, I realized that some of the most successful full-time bloggers made money from diverse resources. So I decided to apply that diversity to my blog and found some fulfilling freelance work while my blog grows.

    PS – great job on the Stay Wild party…that’s how I found you!

    • Thank you Lisa! Alt is super motivating but I guess I let it get the better of me. Balancing it all is hard. I’m to the point where a lot of outside contributor work to make money takes the focus off my blog and stretches me too thin with my family. This past week has been fantastic in terms of how little stress I put on myself and yet I still feel like I was doing good work. I think that is the key. I need to keep that going! :) Thanks for commenting!

  3. Love this, love you, love Abe.

  4. I love this! xo
    Let’s get together for breakfast – SOON! I’ll text you.

  5. rules are stupid. do what you want… you’ll only attract a more “true” audience right?!
    oh, and i’m glad we share a love for day drinking and that helped you get inspired… unless you went with someone else for their birthday too and you weren’t talking about me;)

  6. I too would like to fight my blog in an alley. thank you for this!!

  7. You, my friend, are awesome.

  8. Oh lady! Love this post. So much truth here. I’m in a serious rut too and I’m SO over taking pretty photos all the time. I don’t have enough hours in a day to set them up, take them, edit and post. It takes forever, and the ones I love the most are usually not the ones that get picked up on Pinterest. And the whole brand identity thing—I love when brands are all perfect, but that will never be me. I’m always changing, always growing and my style is never constant. I could never find an identity that worked for this changing person. And I actually find that my readers prefer the personal posts that are not super pretty and that may not be about lovely things-it’s about real stuff… a lack of sleep with a baby, fear of having a second child, failing at making date nights happen etc… OK, I’m starting a blog post back at you here sharing why I love this post so much. I’ll email you instead. ;)

    • I’m so grateful for your support. Sometimes you feel like you are going through these things all by yourself and you aren’t. I get so caught up in all of it that I end up totally not enjoying it. I’m not glad that you feel the same way but it does make it a little less overwhelming to know others are feeling the same things. Lets start a blogging balance support group. :)

  9. I feel your pain, lady. pretty hardcore. (we still need to get a coffee and commiserate…) For me, I blog/participate in the social media aspect of it all in order to build my brand, share myself, build an audience, etc. for my actual photography services. But what I found along the way was by following all the “rules” out there, my photography actually came second, and all the work I was doing to keep up with the social media side of things was taking over my life in a HUGE way. I was fighting my inner-SELF… I promote celebrating the everyday moments/captured through photos to remember, but in actuality, I found myself separated from each of my OWN moments in life, constantly gauging whether I should take a certain photo/share it immediately so I could spread the word about how important it is to celebrate those moments. (Um, yeah… hypocrite?) I spent SO much energy on networking, setting up social media schedules, researching what I should/shouldn’t post, and making sure it was PERFECT that it all started to implode. I know that the social side is important, and applaud my fans and followers for hanging on like they do. And I know I still need to strive for a bit of balance (especially since my blog is collecting a bit of dust), but I’m starting to do things on MY terms. Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s getting better…

    • I’m so glad that you are on your way to balance! This past week was awesome because I took the stress off myself. I still got things done but didn’t stress if I didn’t. I used to feel like if I left the house I was taking important time away from the blog. But stepping away is so important. I have felt more creative than ever. I would love to play with you sometime. Let’s take a few hours and just go explore something fun.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m still relatively new to blogging (less than 1 year) and it’s definitely not my day job, but this is great to see that I’m not alone in struggling over posting what I want even if it’s not perfect!

    • Thank you for commenting Amanda! I’m super type A and don’t do anything halfway so I really have to constantly remind myself to cut myself some slack. It really is important to do what makes you happy. People want perfect but it isn’t always reasonable. My two kids remind me of that all the time. :)

  11. Michelle Globis says:

    Sharon, I totally adore your authenticity!! Your words really hit home with me. You know I’m ALL about the food and the people I cook for…and have struggled about getting content out there, styled beautiful photos etc. It’s one of the many reasons I was over the moon and so grateful about your post about your private chef dinner experience :)

    • Thank you Michelle! There are only so many hours in the day and you have to prioritize. But it is a constant struggle to get it all done. I desperately need another Palm Springs trip to relax me. :)

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