Last month I asked for a blogger to volunteer to write about wanting to quit blogging. When JoAnne told me she was interested, part of me said ‘No! Don’t quit blogging JoAnne!’ and the other part said ‘Yay! She will do this post justice, because I enjoy her writing.’ One piece of JoAnne’s I think back to specifically is 51 Tips and Tricks For Bloggers, a piece from her blog that had a lot more heart than a typical blogging how-to list. I thought it was important to share this because so many of us go through these same struggles and JoAnne is very candid and honest. If you have considered quitting your blog before or are currently thinking about it, Id love to hear from you in the comments and recommend the podcast interview I did with mega-blogger Crystal Paine on this topic. It isn’t necessarily meant to convince you to keep blogging, but might give you a different perspective as you make decisions about the future of your blogging.
[bctt tweet=”What Makes YOU Want To Quit Blogging?”]
Guest Post By JoAnne Applebaugh of I Try: The Additive Property of Happiness
I am thinking about quitting blogging. I have spent hours trying to figure out the best way to write the introduction to this post, but I eventually realized that I was burying the bottom line. This is the article about the blogger who is thinking about quitting, so let’s just save ourselves some time and get to all of the reasons why that is.
The Quality of My Writing
In case you missed it, I’m not terribly good at writing introductions. I’ve always struggled with that. Lately, though, I have been struggling with conclusions as well. Oh, and also the body paragraphs in the middle. It’s not exactly writer’s block because I CAN write, but I don’t feel like I’m writing well. What would that be? Writers Yield? Writers Molasses? Writer’s Why-Have-The-Words-Forsaken-Me? I don’t know, someone please come up with a clever turn of phrase to describe it, I think I’ve effectively established that I am not able to.
As if struggling to get all of my words to play nicely on the page isn’t painful enough, I see those bastards having parties with other writers. Big, glorious bashes with ice sculptures, chocolate fountains, and music by your favorite artists. Oh, The Words are getting along swimmingly with Lou, Ali, Nina, Melissa, Jenny, Glynis, Susan, Smash… and all of my other blog friends (who you should totally go check out), but they’ve totally started going to fun events without me now, and I’m pretty sure they’re doing the friendship fade out. The Words, not my blog-friends, in case my metaphor got too florid to follow.
Extended metaphors aside, I think that is one of the hardest things for writers to deal with – the perceived success of others. We don’t talk about it much because we’re all nice people who want to graciously support our friends, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wish more of the writing gigs were floating my way. On the one hand you’re thrilled that your friend is doing so well, but on the other hand you have brief visions of the old days when people wrote on actual paper that you could drop in the dirt and stomp on several times in a manic gesture of frustration. Oh, that’s just me? Never mind then. Moving along swiftly.
Life Gets in the Way
I’m sort of feeling a vibe right now. Like maybe some of what I’ve written so far isn’t total garbage and may, in fact, even be a little funny. That’s a great feeling, when you can feel the flow. At the same time, though, I was supposed to go to the store to get bread, milk, and eggs. It’s the one thing my husband asked me to do while he’s at work and it’s not going to get done. Wife Fail. One of many. My counters have crumbs all over them, I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed, I didn’t get the mail yet today, and dinner is little more than an idea. My husband is the understanding and supportive sort, which I appreciate a great deal, but isn’t that all the more reason he deserves better? I don’t have another job, what the heck is my problem? As for the people who do this with jobs and/or kids… well I imagine that you are either meta-humans or highly caffeinated. Sadly, I cannot drink caffeine. I sometimes wonder if I would be able to be a super hero if I could have a cup of coffee without the near-guarantee of a panic attack or severe insomnia. I secretly think I would be able to rule the world… or at least have pristine counters.
The truth is that things in my life are extra messed up at the moment. I’ve been going through infertility treatments for a little over a year now – with a couple months off in the middle of that because we moved and had to switch doctors, get some new tests, and generally stress ourselves out about the fact that I am rapidly approaching the point of Advanced Maternal Age – which is a phrase that you should read in your head with a very dramatic voice. None of this has been a good time but, recently, I switched medications to one that has shown better results in cases like ours. For most people the side effects are minimal, but for a small group they can be terrible. I am one member of that small group. Yay.
Anyone Can Blog, and Other Myths
I’m on record saying that there should be some different terms for bloggers. There seems to be a commonly held belief that anyone can blog, and all blogs are created equal. Both are dirty lies. Another dirty lie? Blogging is something “cute” for bored stay at home parents to do. I’ve had people say to me, “I wish I could just stay home and write all day.” The only [non-explicit] way for someone like me to respond to that is, “Yeah, me too.”
Look, if you’re someone content to write an online diary or updates about Timmy’s recital for your family, good for you. That’s a perfectly legitimate, even practical, way to use the Internet. I’m happy with whatever makes you happy. What I’m not happy about is when people think that is what I am doing because, quite frankly, it’s not. Even when The Words are being difficult, I’m still trying to put something out into the world that will resonate or be of use to someone else. I am, first and foremost, a writer, and I work hard at that. Do you know what else I work hard at? Creating “pinnable” graphics. Optimizing my posts so that search engines can find them. Engaging with my audience on several different social media platforms. Reading, commenting on, and sharing the work of other writers. I’m checking my analytics and coming up with strategies to reach a wider audience. My blog isn’t cute, it’s part of my writing career, and I get tired of people not knowing the difference. I imagine it’s even worse for the “bored” parents – wherever they work — who are also wrangling children and managing households.[bctt tweet=”‘My blog isn’t cute it’s part of my writing career, and I get tired of people not knowing the difference’ @ITryTAPH”]
Viral Vagina Vaccine Giveaways
I have not ever had a post go viral. Virality is the Holy Grail of blogging. We all want to go viral, gain a ton of followers, and have folks fall all over themselves telling us how awesome we are. If a blogger tells you that they don’t want that then they are either very Zen or a liar. The problem is, though, that in order to go viral you usually have to make a really big splash. The way to do that, more often than not, is through click bait or the chance to win something. Now I’m not saying that all posts about vaginas and vaccines are nothing more than click bait – a lot of them are actually quite entertaining and a few are even insightful – but it’s not my jam. Or bacon, depending on the article. As for giveaways… I guess it’s nice work if you can get it – but that’s mostly outside my wheelhouse.
I actually don’t have a lot of room to judge here. I wrote a guest post once about how Romance is Like Blowjobs. The post itself is pretty tame, even sweet, but I was immediately tweeted by porn sites. My point, though, is that virality usually requires something sensational, something controversial, or being able to give something for nothing. I haven’t a clue how to go about that and it’s just another way that I am stuck here in the crowd of millions.
No Money, Mo’ Problems
I blog for two reasons, (1) I am a writer trying to use my voice to make the world a little bit better place, and (2) I’m trying to contribute financially to my household. We’ve already established that I’m not so great at housework, so I have to be able to bring something else to the table. That’s the goal anyway. It’s not a goal I have achieved. I have made a total of $100, not including any of my hosting expenses, and that money was because I wrote two articles that were Syndicated on BlogHer. So it’s not, technically, even from my blog. In fact, the argument could be made that the time I spend blogging is time taken away from being able to concentrate on writing for paying gigs. It’s a bit mercenary, but we all have to pay our bills. Eventually a point comes where you have to look at things in stark terms and determine if what you’re doing is in your best interest financially.
My views over the past month are a little over 1,000. My bounce rate is high and time spent on the page is low. I have 610 Facebook followers, 486 Twitter followers, and 268 Pinterest followers. I want to include these numbers because I feel like bloggers tend to compare ourselves to one another without accurate metrics. The numbers can’t capture everything, but I’ve spent enough time looking at my own numbers and trying to guess where I fit in that I want to put them out there for all to see.
These aren’t great numbers for someone who has been blogging for over a year now – especially someone who puts in the kind of time I do. Being totally candid, too, I think that it is important to note that (1) my followers overlap a lot from platform to platform, and (2) a significant number of them are other bloggers and small business owners that are exchanging likes for likes. That’s not to say that none of them are also actual fans, but I sometimes wonder if we’re all just talking to ourselves. What’s more, I know that a lot of those bloggers are all at least as busy or kerfuffled by life as I am, so they aren’t getting a lot of time to read my work and, honestly, it shouldn’t be on them to be the ones to keep be afloat. If I can’t get enough of my own actual fans, then maybe I shouldn’t be doing this at all.
There are a lot of reasons I’m frustrated with blogging and thinking about quitting. One core issue is the disconnect I feel between where I am and where I should be. I know that I should learn to accept myself where I am and all that, but there is a fine line between accepting yourself and settling. So the question, then, is am I getting better? Is this the best use of my time? Am I still getting something out of it? Am I still putting something worthwhile out into the world? I don’t know the answers to those questions.[bctt tweet=”‘There are a lot of reasons I’m frustrated with blogging and thinking about quitting’ @ITryTAPH”]
The other core issue is whether or not this is in my best interests personally. Is it in the best interests of my family? As I said, I’m struggling right now. Physical health issues, mental health issues, losses, relationship dramas, stresses – there are a lot of days where I am just trying to get through the day without upsetting myself or anyone else. With everything going on, where should my blog be on my list of priorities? Should it even be on the list? I don’t know that either.
I clearly have a lot of frustrations. I think that many of those frustrations are common to most bloggers, writers, and creative people in general. I think that these frustrations are enough to make most of us wonder from time to time if what we’re doing is worth it. Combining that with the personal issues, though… that is where I think things get especially muddled for me. I am in the process of an assessment, and I’ll let you know where I finally end up when I get there.
If you are considering quitting blogging or have had that thought before, leave us a comment and let us know where you are with that decision.
JoAnne Applebaugh is a writer living in the greater Twin Cities area with her husband and two cats. You can find her writing at the blog I Try: The Additive Property of Happiness. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram