Earlier this week, I had the immense pleasure of video-chatting with friend, and fellow blogger Melissa Chapman (she is hilarious, by the way… check out her blog Married My Sugar Daddy). We got to talking blogging, events, and brands when Melissa paused and said, "You know, I’m just so…" She didn’t need to finish the sentence because I immediately knew what word she was looking for: Jaded. I’ve been saying it for awhile now, and I’ve been watching blogger after blogger pull back, re-examine, and re-assign their priorities.
As strange as it may sound to those on the outside, there is something glamorous about blogging. You get freebies, you get invitations to events, and you even get amazing trips. Some bloggers thrive on the attention, like stars from The Heights or Real Housewives – pseudo-celebrities who have often earned their place with little talent or contribution to the world. But even those of us who aren’t entirely seduced by imaginary fame can get sucked into the whirlwind of parties and conferences and the need to keep up with the hungry monster of social media. In fact, there is a whole generation of bloggers who started doing it simply because they were envious of the perks.
I met Melissa several years ago and, as I have recently mentioned to her, I was completely intimated by her bio when we first met. She was writing for several online publications I considered highly and she had that easy style that my NYC counterparts pull off with apparent effortlessness. As someone who values the writing aspect of blogging first and foremost, I understood when she told me that she missed the freedom of writing. Somewhere in all of the craziness, writing becomes almost secondary to relationship building, Pinning, Tweeting, Instagram-ing, and the need to "see and be seen." You spend more time optimizing your posts, editing photos, and formatting than putting words to proverbial paper. And it seems, as you peruse the ever-growing number of blogs out there, that the craft of writing well is no longer being taught in school and certainly holds no value in the blogosphere.
This past year, a brand that I use almost exclusively, that I am highly familiar with, and that I have been building a relationship with for years, declined to include me in their ambassador program due to my lack of "numbers." They chose instead to work with "bigger" bloggers, many of whom know nothing about their products and, when spending their own money, choose to purchase from a competitor. They did not even take the time to inform me of their decision. After a difficult year in the blogging world that was chock-full of wake-up calls, this was the final straw for me.
Had you asked me two years ago about my work "focus," I would have told you that my writing is the most important thing for me. It is my freelance career, and not my blog, that pays the bills. And yet, I spent this past year chasing numbers I don’t really care about, attending events that were neither fun nor productive, sitting in hours of traffic, drowning in email, losing time with my kids, spending money with no return, and basically going way off track. I’ve struggled to prove my influence, despite running a major blogging group, throwing a blogging conference, consistent quality writing, and strong set of freelance clients.
Well, I’m done. I’ll leave the running around to newer bloggers, who can appreciate and enjoy it. I don’t have anything to prove. My priority is on my freelance clients who both pay me well and look good on my bio. I’ve got a few ambassadorships with some of my absolute favorite brands who want to work with me for my passion and skill, and not my numbers. My blogs may never grow… or they may, since I’ll be writing about what I want and not simply what I’ve been invited to. I once again feel free and am starting to remember what I loved about this wild space in the first place.
I’ve seen a lot of bloggers trying to regain what has been lost in the transition from blogging as an outlet of expression to blogging as a business. I hope we’re all able to get back on track and remember what inspired us and what made us amazing.