By Nicole Rouge
It was eleven o'clock on a Friday night and I was huddled on the floor staring at my phone. I had not been stood up, I wasn't waiting for a call, I was scrolling through my social media accounts aching for some new comments and envying those with thousands of followers and perfect 'Instagram' lives.
This is an all-too familiar scenario for many of us in the blogging world. We open our hearts to our readers, think constantly about ideas for posts and spend untold amounts of time and energy (and money) on our blog, yet often get very little in return. We spend hours on social media making connections, building our audience and in-turn observing the success of others. It is very hard not to compare.
The catchcry is 'comparison is the thief of joy.' It sure is. I started blogging as a creative outlet. I had decided years earlier that I was a rubbish writer after a series of unsupportive English teachers and a four year science degree that taught me to paraphrase. After a year of blogging I was triumphant. I had discovered a love for words and my confidence in being able to express myself had improved exponentially. I wrote in a post that writing is something that I can do for myself "in my own time, at my own rate, without relying on other people, or things, or money." That writing "helps me be. It connects me to the world and encourages me to delve deeper." However within a few months I was crunched up on that Friday night obsessing over why more people didn't 'like' me (as an aside, how impotent are the words 'like' and 'follow'), and fretting over my lack of invitations for sponsored posts.
Writing can help us connect with and examine our lives. We develop a greater sense of self-awareness, which is a beautiful gift that we must be careful not to misuse. When I took the time to stop and think about what drew me to blogging, I realised that I am achieving so many of my goals: confidence with words, improving my photography and connecting with others. Naturally these goals have evolved, and I admit that making a bit of cash or scoring a few free dinners is on the list these days, but ultimately the biggest reward is the gorgeous, supportive community we are part of and the comments from our engaged readers.
Lila Wolff nailed it when she wrote in her post 'that's it I quit blogging': "I've worked my heart out and produced original high quality content, innovated, been mimicked, only to be passed over for people who have better numbers, and I can't lie it's crushing." She hastens to add that at the time of writing she was exhausted and ill, but I wanted to share it with you because it struck a chord with me. She received such an overwhelming, supportive response that, after a short break during which she connected with her needs and the parts of blogging that resonated with her, she relaunched with her exquisite blog Mama Nourish.
There is a lot written about blogger burnout. The return doesn't always appear to balance the investments. The secret I think is to lower our expectations without compromising our goals. If you feel like you are losing the love for blogging it helps to answer these questions:
Why did you start blogging?
What were your goals at the beginning? I find it helps to read over your first few posts to answer this one.
What have you achieved?
How are your goals different now? Be careful to recognise what is actually important to you versus the expectations you have based on others.G
I know you've heard this a thousand time but it bears repeating, what makes your blog so special is YOU. You have brought your own exquisite uniqueness to a tiny pinprick of the internet and regardless of what Google Analytics or Facebook tells you, there are people out there that you connect with. Don't lose sight of that achievement.