Killing the dream, speaking my truth and probably making someone mad

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I have tip-toed around this topic before, never really wanting to say what I felt for fear that I might be “blacklisted” as a blogger. Yet the truth is the longer I don’t say just what I feel and I keep stuffing it down, the more it keeps oozing up like my muffin-top when I buy the wrong jeans.

In the past year, I have written the occasional post where I whine about blogging and wonder out loud whether or not I should just give it up. The truth is I don’t want to stop dumping my thoughts/blogging/writing, I enjoy it, and it’s brought me many things including wonderful friends. I have appeared on national TV, done a roundtable for a feminist publication that I have long admired and even appeared on the local NPR affiliate. I suspect none of these things would have been possible if this space didn’t exist since as much as I adore being a freelance columnist for The Portland Phoenix, the range of exposure there is limited.

That said after five years of blogging, I have a bone to pick with the blogging world. Yeah I admit I probably shouldn’t have fell for the okey doke but I did, so sue me. But hey, maybe I can stop some other soul from getting off course like I did.

Can we just be honest and state the obvious, with estimates as high as 4 million “mommy” bloggers in North America alone the reality is that the economics and ROI of blogging are rarely ever going to fall in your favor. Look, it’s like going to Vegas and thinking you are going to beat the house on the Blackjack table. You “might” get lucky but chances are you aren’t going to leave Vegas with more money than you started. Likewise if you start blogging and think you are going to be making consistent money at it, chances are…you aren’t. There, I said it.

I spent the first three years in this space toiling away with barely anyone reading this blog, and when I only had a few readers I didn’t have any expectations of anything other than a comment. To be honest, I often find myself wishing that things had never changed. At least back then when I wrote, I didn’t have expectations. I didn’t have my inbox filled with empty offers from people all wanting something from me and offering nothing in return except “exposure”.  Yet life as we all know is a series of change. In the past two years, I have had so many near misses for paying work and so called opportunities that at times I have driven myself crazy with anticipation.

In the past couple of years I have found myself reading and listening to the social media “experts” and spending way too many hours with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and basically sacrificing time better spent with family and friends because I started chasing this rather inane dream. I started plotting how I could get to the blog conferences after all; Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess met her agent at a blogging conference or so I was told. I am so ashamed to admit that last year when I got my first credit card in years; my first purchase was a one day ticket to last year’s Blog Her conference. Of course in the end, my day job got in the way so I truly threw my money away chasing a dream that mathematically doesn’t favor me.

I mean let’s take a minute to discuss the “conferences”, those babies aren’t cheap. This year’s Blog Her 13 is being held in my hometown. I figure from my neck of the woods a trip to Blog Her would set me back a good thousand bucks plus and for what? Opportunities to write about shitty ass products I most likely don’t really use. More swag than I need or even want? Sessions on branding and marketing? A chance to rub elbows with “the” stars of the blogging world? Back when I was chasing the dream before I realized what that would really look like, I would have done anything for one of these chances. For some people these are wonderful things, let me be clear about that, but for me, they are not.

Everyone needs a dream and if yours is to write about products and get some remuneration; go for it. Seriously, just do it as Nike used to say. (And probably stop reading this post too) Yet if growth for me means reviewing products and weaving the details of the XYZ product into  posts while trying to sound natural as hell, I will pass on that. I think the sad truth is there are only going to be a certain number of high performing bloggers and while the blogging experts and networks get us all hyped up about the possibilities, they are often selling us a dream (and making plenty of money at our expense as we try to find out the so-called secrets of success) and we need to stop and discern what we truly want and need.  We need to see if what they are selling is even feasible, does it better us long term? Lastly, is it realistic? Dreams are fine, we all need them but dreams at times need to be balanced against reality.

I can’t get back the time I spent striving to be what I am not but I can spend time being intentional about who and what I am. Sure, making money is great but this space isn’t going to be that place for me unless all of y’all have hit the lottery and are feeling good enough to leave something in the tip jar. Otherwise I better stick with my day job and what I do well and keep this as my fun space to play with my writing voice.


10 thoughts on “Killing the dream, speaking my truth and probably making someone mad”

  1. I’ve been blogging since 2000. Back then, it was so uncool to try to make money from blogging. It was meant to be personal expression, nothing more.

    Obviously, that’s changed. I thought that maybe I could make a few bucks from blogging, and I did every once in a while and I do get free stuff from time to time, but primarily, it’s still my place to vent, talk, share, and make friends. If I get something free, then that’s just a bonus. But I’m definitely not blogging for that reason.

  2. I started to think of blogging as a means to an end. The end goal is a book and publishing opportunities. Quite frankly, as a young mother I couldn’t go the traditional route and work 65 thousand hours as a journalist and spend my time interning over and over for free. I had day care to pay for, so I ditched the traditional route and started self publishing.

    I have learned a few tricks — emphasis and on a few — and did meet an editor that I now write for at a conference, but I have found the cost to benefit ratio is questionable. What it did do is raise my profile and that may sound pompous, but that’s what you’re really paying for.

    I sat in on a session at a smaller conference about bullishness with magazines and it was info that I already knew because I took a class in college on that exact subject. And then I say in another with a raging douchebag PR guy teaching all of us ladies how it’s done.

    Besies the douche and the shit I already know, I met amazing people, raised my profile, and got a new writing gig.

    I think this is just like life: when hustle meets opportunity.

  3. I hear ya! Appreciate your candor. I “blog” via scribd – less commitment. It’s not really blogging actually just a place for me to display writing, ideas, share other folks stuff I like, etc. But when your writing starts to feel like a chore or an unpassionate lover, it may mean it’s time to break up or take a sabbatical, relax, take some time to regroup and come back. Whatever you decide, do what’s best for you 😉 Trying to meet other’s expectations is exhausting!

  4. You might not believe me when I say this, but I’ve been contemplating retirement. I know, what I just said can be interpreted as me just seeking attention. You know, kind of like the people who announce that they’re shutting down their Facebook pages before they do(?). For me, however, it’s nothing like that.

    Plain and simple, I’m sort of sick of it all; and, for some reason I’ve come to believe that people will never take me seriously. Heck, I don’t think they ever take me seriously. But then again, maybe I fee that way because I’ve never attempted to become the new breed of blogging gurus you mentioned in your post. plain and simple: this thing is so time-consuming that I really have no time to chase conferences and even meet (or rub elbows) with other bloggers. Of course this sounds snobbish, but it’s just how I feel right now. At the end of the day, (I keep asking myself: what’s the point to all of this? I don’t have an answer; but maybe I’m dreaming too much. Maybe I’m just an old goat in a fast-paced social media culture of individuals with ADHD. Truth be told, I don’t even think people read anymore.

  5. I too am new to reading blogs. But I’m certain that I am older and have more time on my hands than you young moms. However, I do want to say that of the few I choose to read, I enjoy yours very much and hope you will stay with it and stay true to yourself without selling out. Although like Rebecca said if there was a product, service or business that you have used and believe in, I would welcome a recommendation any time. By the way, if ever I DO hit the jackpot, you’re golden 😉

  6. I’m rather new to reading blogs (I used to wonder who the heck had time to read all these blogs!). I enjoy your blog because it is real.
    I respected that you shared some local merchant offerings at Holiday time. But, other than that, I don’t think I would enjoy product reviews as much as your stories and perspectives.
    If there was a product or business that really is awesome, or does some good for a local economy or workers, that might be interesting to hear about because it would mean something to you.
    Thank you for writing and keeping it real.
    And, I would still be interested in purchasing a compilation of your writing.

  7. I share your disillusion with those who tell us how we can make money on the web. Following the rules doesn’t seem to get me anywhere either. [also, I don’t follow stupid rules and I want to be REAL too.] So I reassessed, and now I’m just doing my podcast and my blog/blag to please myself.

    Makes me think about hte Mainetrix again too. Not ready to do it yet, but maybe within the next year or so…

  8. I enjoyed this post. I follow you on twitter and often enjoy your comentary on life, the world and everything. Seems like the key is to love sharing your ideas and see your blogs as chance to change a mind or the world…but you are right…it won’t pay for dinner 🙁 please keep writing anyway @SkyeLori

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