Blogging has been my hobby for two decades now. I mean that quite literally. And during these past twenty years, blogging evolved from inane ramblings on personal websites built on Geocities to polished content creation with the unstated intent to sell something to the readers. It could be a lifestyle. It could be a self-published book. It could be an online course on how to make money from blogging. Heck, it could even be Books & Tea (the former title of this blog for new readers).
I can admit that sometimes I get caught up in the appeal of influencer culture. My heart skipped beats the day I was approved to read an Advance Reader Copy of The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. And then again when I was invited to participate in book tours. And I’m sure I damn near hyperventilated the day Adagio Teas offered me some of their teas in exchange for reviews on my site. So, it was inevitable that I tried to evolve with the medium; it was like I was chasing a high. I choked down article after article about SEO Optimization, branding, how to use social media to drive traffic, and building e-mail lists. Then, this blog, this outlet for creativity, became a job. A chore. A burden.
It’s cyclical and it usually goes like this:
- I write and publish with a fervor.
- I think to myself, I could make something of myself and this little blog, so I spend countless hours working my way through branding workbooks or researching blog monetization.
- I devise weekly content calendars, but the moment I sit down to start writing posts, I freeze. The flame fueling the desire to write fizzles out.
- I realize I’ve been procrastinating all along. The branding workbooks, the content calendars– all distractions.
- I disappear from the blog, the youtube channel, and social media because seeing other peoples’ posts makes me feel guilty for avoiding writing. It makes me feel insecure that anything I have created or will go on to create will never be as good as what they create, so why bother?
I most recently had been stuck in phase five, but as frustrating as it is, step five is not inherently bad. I mean, the negative internal speak is terrible, but the break from creating and consuming content isn’t bad. It’s refreshing to step back from the undeclared competition of blogging, and it’s refreshing to stop reading about how other people define success in the blogosphere. It’s also during this time that I re-evaluate what I love about blogging, and why it’s been my hobby for more than half my life. It’s never been about popularity or money, so I don’t know why I keep putting pressure on myself to achieve that kind of success. It’s always been about writing, creativity, and community, and once that realization settles in, I can throw myself back into my hobby.
Lately, I’ve been focusing on creating a daily writing habit. That way, if I ever fall into a rut again, I have routine to fall back on. I am also trying to find my online community again. It used to be easy to define back when I considered myself a book blogger, but as you must have noticed by now, I’m not reading much these days (unless it’s a picture book!). Finally, I am rediscovering content I enjoy writing and content that serves a purpose here at By Golly, Ollie! Like, how do I write about tea without writing a “review”? Will readers be interested in what I have to write about “Silencing the Pressure to be the Blogger I’m Not?” How do I write about motherhood but assure readers this isn’t just another mommy blog? I suppose I will figure all of that out soon enough. Right now, I’m just happy to experiment with writing again.
Do you ever feel pressure to blog a certain way or do you find yourself ever trying to achieve other peoples’ definitions of blogging success, and how do you deal with it?