I love my blog. My own little project, born out of a desire to try something new and challenge myself a little.
Writing is never something I’d particularly explored as a creative outlet, despite being drawn to other areas of creativity. While I admire anyone who has a talent for creative writing, I definitely use it more as a therapeutic process. From the very basic act of writing a list on the days when my brain can’t seem to focus on one thing, to keeping a journal over a number of weeks to help process life’s little challenges – the act of writing something down is cathartic.
Writing my first blog post though? Less theraputic, more completely terrifying. Who was I to be putting words out there on the interwebs for all to see? No background in writing, no training or qualifications remotely relevant to putting words down that people might actually enjoy reading!
And what do you write about when you can write about literally anything?? It’s so easy to become overwhelmed in the early days of blogging and self-doubt would ultimately creep in, leading to me agonise over the simplest of things before I got anywhere near ready to press the ‘publish’ button.
I never gave much consideration to my ‘audience’ (I just assumed nobody would ever actually read my posts) and to be honest I still try not to think too much about that. In fact most of my close friends and family still don’t know I blog!
After the first few posts I felt confident enough to tentatively share my efforts via ‘linky parties’. These are a great way to share posts, discover other blogs and build online friendships (some which have grown into real life friendships!) As a newbie those reassuring comments from the blogging community make all the difference. It wasn’t long before I was joining more linky parties than I could keep up with and suddenly the pressure to read-comment-repeat began to become another daily chore on my ‘to-do’ list. I started to feel the pressure to post (and read) regardless of whether I actually wanted to or not. Social media platforms were no longer somewhere to kill a few minutes looking at pretty pictures or discover an interesting article; it was all about self promotion and scheduling to grow my audience. This was not what I’d signed up for.
So why not just stop? I’m in control of my own blog, not vice versa right?
Well, it’s complicated.
Blogging has changed enormously over the past twenty years. What was once seen as a hobby (alongside your ‘proper’ day job) has evolved enormously into what is nowadays a legitimate career choice. The rise of social media interaction, vlogging and online advertising opportunities means bloggers can be powerful, relevant influencers. Gaming, food, fashion, lifestyle, business – you name it and someone will be blogging about it. The most popular bloggers/vloggers are the celebrities of today, in demand for personal appearances and many with a book deal and a range of merchandise to boot!
And while these mega-bloggers work extremely hard to maintain their success, at the other end of the spectrum ‘hobby bloggers’ still exist. I know because I am one. That doesn’t mean there isn’t pressure to succeed, because it’s definitely there! Right from the beginning I was aware of online courses on ‘Growing Your Blog’, ‘Increasing Blog Traffic’, or ‘Gaining Social Media Followers’. There are so many useful resources out there, many which I relied on when starting out and continue to read with interest; BUT, it’s so easy to constantly feel pressured into doing more and it’s important to know where to draw the line.
Sometimes it’s tempting, the idea that with a lot of hard work and dedication maybe Mess & Merlot could be more than just a hobby and this is the complicated part. I’m a SAHM who happens to have a blog. It’s not a source of income or a career path. It’s a hobby, but one that comes with some responsibility. Companies who approach me expect a certain standard of work. Readers expect regular, engaging, quality posts and rightly so.
I take my blog seriously. I care about the content and appearance. I want readers to enjoy their visit and come back time and time again. I’m careful to work with brands and businesses that are relevant to both myself and my audience. I’ve invested time and money and earlier this year I became self-hosted to give me more freedom and opportunities to grow going forward.
As things stand, with a young family and a home baking business I have plenty to keep me busy and my blog remains very much in the ‘hobby’ category. Maybe things will change in the future as my children get older and a little less demanding (does that ever happen?!). For now though, my little blog and I are more than happy as we are, enjoying our online venture, cuppa in hand nattering away to our lovely reader pals and sharing their and our own successes, however big or small they may be!