10 years ago today I published my first blog post. Over the last month I have been weighing up how to mark this milestone, swaying between the obligation to do something significant to mark it (as nearly everyone does these days) or to ignore it entirely.
The truth is that my 10 year blogiversiary is significant to no one but me. My content has changed radically since I started a travel journal in 2006 and very few of my original readers are still on board. I’m also reading very few of the blogs I read back then too, it’s not that the authors did anything “wrong” it’s just that my life and tastes have changed, as they do for all of us.
The blogging world I stepped into in the noughties is very different from the one I am a part of now. For my first seven years I didn’t do a single collaboration and barely touched social media. I followed advice to keep pictures small, because a significant chunk of the world were still on dial-up connections and I made terrible strategic decisions like changing my web address when we moved location every two years.
Last year rather later than most, I decided to embrace the growing commercialisation of blogging by going “pro.” I attended three blogging conferences in 4 months, I joined every blogging Facebook group I could find and I dived in to the nonsensical world of ‘like for like,’ ‘comment for comment.’ Some of it was empowering, most of it was bewildering.
The more I immersed myself in the seemingly bottomless pit of the business side of blogging, while trying to execute every piece of advice I had been given, the less time I had to live my life and create the content that had originally been interesting. My creative output dwindled and the constant and repetitive Facebook discussions about Moz updates, Tots ranks and statistics began to numb my brain.
As I delved deeper I read more about he extraordinary lengths that some bloggers go to to be “pro” and the almost endless list of weekly tasks they feel obliged to do to keep themselves high up in the rankings. I looked at my own ok statistics, the small amount of time I spent doing an average of three posts a week and I wondered what more I really wanted from blogging? Very little it turned out, so I stepped back..
It’s not that my year going “pro” didn’t prove to be successful, but rather that I was doing it because I felt I should, without any really idea of what the end goal was. I earned a little more money for a lot more hours, the opportunites got better, but they also didn’t tail off when I halved my efforts six months later.
These days I’ve stepped away slightly from the competitive business side of blogging. I follow only what I love, not what I feel obliged to follow. My Instagram list is largely photographers and not bloggers (which inspires me, but probably isn’t great tactically) and my Bloglovin account is a small but well curated list so I can actually focus on reading the content I like. There are lots of bloggers out there I admire and respect, but I can’t read it all.
I focus on quality over quantity and only publish when I have something to say or an image to share. Almost always I write more posts than I plan every week, because instead of worrying about my DA score or struggling to fill my editorial calendar, I am sewing, taking photos or trying creative ideas which feed back into what I share with you.
So what have I learned in a decade of blogging? I’ve learned that it’s a wonderful invigorating world that stretches your skills and provides great opportunities, but that I believe you have to do it on your own terms. When you become totally immersed in anything it can be hard to breathe.
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