The Problem With The Business of Blogging

The problem with the business of blogging. A real account of what it looks like to run a blog as a business alone. The Fresh Exchange

So I have had plans to be my best blogging self this month. I have had this beautifully planned out content calendar with every intention to knock it out of the park creatively. Intentions are great and something I fully believe in, but they also are simply intentions. Life happens. Things happen. We get thrown off. A lot of little things come into play that add up enough to be one big thing that stands like a boulder in the way of even best-laid plans. Our intentions no longer are priorities because other things become the important things. Instead, those intentions feel more like work than passion. They feel heavy and debilitating. They feel like we might just want to run from them. This is me this month and a week ago I was frustrated and ready to just fold inward under the weight of the combo of business and life all because of some positive and exciting intentions and plans that didn’t go as I had hoped.

The thing is I made the decision to run my business in a specific way this last year. Mike has been consulting pretty much full-time while as I focused on the blog and getting back to myself creatively. I was struggling to find the balance in it all and so we made changes and shifts to how we work. That is the beauty of working just the two of you instead of having a team. He loves what he is doing right now. It is a lot of hours, but he is fulfilled, happy, and it has allowed us more freedom. This last year, I have been working to figure out what I really want under the pressure of business and blogging when they land under the same roof while trying to be a mom. At times the business of blogging feels more like business than passion and I realized how little I had really grappled with this. Those little things that add up over a few weeks have a tendency to bring us to a wonderful and challenging place where we have to deal with demons that seem to hide on brighter and sunnier days.

I realized that the business of blogging stole some joy from my work. Everything seemed to remind me that my numbers are a reflection of my value as a creative/blogger/etc. In all honesty, those numbers got to my head. I say this because I know I cannot be the only one in the room of bloggers that can say this. Daily we are reminded of the importance of our numbers by the emails we receive, campaigns we run, and for the ask for numbers to be handed over. In fact there are literally sites for you to see where you rank in the world of blogging! Our numbers have a tendency to qualify our worth in this business. I have never been a fan of valuing creative things with numbers. It tends to muddy the work especially in this business. How is it that a difference of 20 followers on your Instagram account that bounces you between one number to another can make you question all you are doing? The truth is we all have days where the numbers get us. They drag us down. They make us feel empty, lost, and like my gosh did my time pass me by? I know that my struggle with the numbers is far deeper than just the numbers themselves, but I want to say this in all transparency because I know many of you see a world of many bloggers that looks perfect, unphased, and so on. I like to believe that even Joanna Gaines or Beyonce might have days the numbers get the better of them. I know that we all let the number demons sneak in at times. If it doesn’t, well I am pretty damn jealous! I am not that strong or at least not yet…

I am not going to lie to you and tell you the numbers haven’t won a lot of battles for me. I am an achiever after all. I thrive on succeeding. The thing I have had to handle lately as I battle insecurities is to rethink what is success in this space? Why am I here? I have to remind myself. Ground myself. Disconnect in every way possible from equivalating success to numbers and my choice for a blog post that day by how many pageviews it got or whether it is a clickable story (wtf?! Why is that a thing?).

This last week amongst dealing with being sick and having a sick kid. I fell short on my intentions. Mike traveled twice for family and for work and I was left handling the reigns at home. My personal life outweighed my work life. I had emails stacking up. Expectations I couldn’t meet both for others and myself. Things fell through the cracks as they do on weeks and months like that. I felt pretty low some days. The month felt heavier than I anticipated and those insecurities that numbers feed crept in. I questioned myself. I questioned my passion. I questioned my abilities. I felt hungry for something I actually didn’t want. So, I stepped back and really took time to ask why am I doing this because if it is just about numbers, that is silly and if it is not, than why do the numbers matter?

I chose to keep this space simple, minimal, low overhead, focused on my direction without many other voices. I didn’t want to build a blog for market. I want to build a blog I felt and saw as my creative space. I know that about myself, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt the pressure or left myself questioning if by choosing that direction I have failed in the world of blogging success. That by choosing less over more I somehow have chosen to “fail”. When success or achievements seem to be books, product lines, trips around the world, features, partnerships, office spaces, and large production teams. I knew in my heart that wasn’t for me. I wanted to be me. I wanted to feel unconstrained to shift and move as I wanted so if that is the case than I had to stop focusing on the numbers. I had to find success in a well written post from my heart, a gathering that brought me more joy than the images themselves, and building a garden that inspires others to grow things themselves. Oh, and most importantly to find complete success and contentment in this life I love. Those are the things where my success needs to be measured. It doesn’t mean the moments of insecruity and questions won’t creep in, but I feel there is calm in that agknowledgement. There is freedom in stating something brings you fear and then to define why.

I said to Mike the other night, that 30 has been about growing up a lot and figuring out that you can do whatever you want, but you just cannot do it all. Making decisions about what will be the things we find as our prizes in our work at the end of the day. I told him that if I end this year feeling ownership of my days and fulfilment in this beautiful life I love more than in how many likes it ever gets than I will feel successful. I want to feel freedom from performance and “qualified” success and metrics. I want those numbers to stop muddying my dreams to make me desire something I don’t. Instead, I am practicing passion these days and writing things I am inspired by in a way that the business of blogging can sometimes strip away.

If anything this last month has taught me it is that sometimes our best-laid plans are ruined and shaken not because we were never intended to make that happen, but because we weren’t ready for it just yet. We needed things to be shaken in order for us to do that little more work on ourselves so we could better our hearts and souls in preparation to accept what beautiful things lie ahead. In this case, it is freedom. It is feeling fearless to use this space the way I want to and wasn’t aware I hadn’t been. I find it funny how we feel we have things figured out and it is when things go against our plans where it reveals we really didn’t. The work is truly never done.

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  1. This is a truly beautiful post! I loved reading every word of it. You’re so genuine, and your struggle is definitely something other bloggers can relate to and new bloggers can learn from. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Some blogs have turned into online magazines, and that is OK for what they are. Others feel like QVC, and those I avoid (not only do they all hawk the same things but they often are badly written). And then others are deeply personal and open up the world.

  3. I think being authentic is the biggest success and that is exactly why i enjoy following your blog so much!
    Beautiful words!

  4. Goodness me, I wish I lived close by so I could run over with cake and a big hug. This, all of this! I love your honesty and passion for blogging from your heart, and keeping this your creative space.

    Those numbers. I tell my students every day to not worry about the numbers, and then in the quiet moments start worrying about my own. Our creativity and Happiness should never be defined by how many people were in the right place at the right time to see what we’ve shared and then also had the time to let us know they liked it.

    Keep on doing your wonderful stuff. I love it. xo

    1. Oh I wish that too Emily!!! I wish I had more lady blogger friends close by so I could chat with them about these things. The numbers are so hard because when your blog is a business on any level they become qualifiers whether you want them to or not. I think it is how we approach the numbers that matters in the end. I have been pondering that since writing this post….so there may be a follow up. Thank you Emily! I admire your work so much. Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

  5. BAH! Megan! This is SOOOOOOO GOOD! This is something i definitely wrestle with as a blogger/creative! COmparison kills joy and i know for me often clouds my vision from seeing what matters! Thank you for the reminder that surely is not about the numbers and likes but honestly loving who you sre where you are the way you are! Such gold!!! Thank you!

    1. Danae thanks so much! It is so easy to get caught up in. It hurts my heart at times when it happens to me or I hear close friends struggling because the numbers are getting the better of them. We all need a reality check about what matters in this journey because it so easily can become muddled. Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

  6. Megan,
    thank you once again for such an honest post. i think it’s incredibly difficult to block out all the noise when it comes to running your business, or life in general. i think many of us feel that if we are not doing the popular or the most obvious thing, SOMETHING must be wrong- we must be in the wrong.

    social media seems a little nuts at times. sometimes i wonder if i am driving my decisions based on what i want to share on instagram..etc. like you, i think we all just need to check in with ourselves. thank you for being so candid.

    i recently shifted my blog to a new focus… a focus that has been on my heart all along, but always thought it wasn’t going to work, people won’t be drawn to it..etc. but, am i really going to let the world define what’s on my heart? it came down to me not being true to myself.
    i heard this somewhere once and it always stuck with me: “hold on to your dreams with open hands. Don’t hold on to them so tightly that they die” this post reminded me of it again. 🙂

    1. Faith I always love your comments. Seriously! I told Mike the other day, I post sometimes and wait for Faith’s comments because they are always so good. So thank you. I love this quote and you are right social media is totally nuts. I have done a lot of watching lately and realized how much of it is about this curation, perfection, and the amount of work that feels must go into it and how more seems to offer more and more. I am a private person in general (surprisingly) so to think of sharing more of my life than I want or feel the need to do because it means more followers, isn’t something I am willing to opt into. I am finding so much calm since writing and sharing this post it felt like the culimination of so many thoughts and feelings over a few weeks. I actually rewrote this post 3 times till it felt right. I jumped over to your blog the other day to read, but now I am going back so I can find out more about your new direction! That is so exciting!!! I cannot wait to follow along.

  7. Megan-

    i really appreciate this honest post. it’s comforting to know that other creative ENTREPRENEURS struggle with this emotional ‘tug of war’ for their craft. i often find my inspiration tank has to be 100% full, otherwise when things seem at a stand still, i can go into a bit of depression about my goals, abilities, self worth, etc. sometimes it seems like a blog is a great outlet and necessary (you want to share your work, you are proud of it!). but these days i feel like i would be much happier if i didn’t feel i had to document my work and i was completely off the hook so to speak. it’s hard to put into words, especially when the blog is your passion and creative outlet, but i understand exactly where you are coming from. i am also 30 and new to motherhood, and i think a lot of women experience these emotional battles within ourselves to define what is really important in life. sometimes questioning our self is painful, but it is probably necessary to grow.

    1. Ahhh so good to hear another new mom say this. It is hard. So hard. I was talking with some girlfriends just now about how there is so much questioning. I think I have it figured out in some way and then I realize there is so much more work to do. I think I am finding calm in the fact that I am only 14 months in and that this is all a marathon, not a sprint. There is so much time. So much space to figure things out and to do it on my terms in the way I should instead of someone else’s.

  8. Thank you. I am in the same spot. This text made me relate to you, so much. I have been thinking this past month, how is she keeping up with this posting schedule??? I Love the new direction of the blog and the content you share. All the imperfections are what make me come back.

    And here is my take on the meaning of numbers: I speak four languages, learning the fifth currently. Hypothetically, I can talk to 1209 million people on this planet – approximately every 6th-7th person I meet. In reality, I’m often not able to communicate with anyone. It all depends on who I meet on the street that day and where this street is.
    Numbers are beautiful. If they are big, they often give us a boost, a sense of success, but just as quickly they turn to dust and lose the meaning they carried. Numbers are abstractions, simplifications, they are here to be bent. If we don’t know what we want them to say, they become a circling compass.

    I hope this makes sense. Xx

    1. Well keeping up can happen, but it just means every piece of life is scheduled, portioned, and measured. It doesn’t leave room for the creativity and wildness I would like in my work though, thus why I fell pray to the numbers I think. I am so glad you are loving this new direction. I love your sentiment about numbers. I really appreciate you sharing. Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

  9. I have felt the exact same way – it’s frustrating, especially on tough days, when something you found so much excitement in becomes yet another item on the to-do list.

    1. It is very true. Why does that happen? I think it ultimately means we have to sit back and relax. We have to take a deep breath and see where we can cut so we feel less like that.

  10. I can feel your struggle! Arrrghhhh! Sigh. You’ll figure this out, just take a step back and get perspective! You are not a number to me. I bought a wrinkly, lovely, comfortable, totally sensible yet cool white linen shirt because you said it was great! All my friends shook their heads haha, but you got my back! I got yours! We will be here, because to us you make sense. But you’ll only make sense when you have time to be and feel yourself. We don’t want the spread thin version, so take your time! (The thin spread version might go with the flow and suggest we NOT buy horizontal stripes!!)

  11. There’s something to be said for quality over quAnity. Your shift to seasonal CAtegories – and your newsletter – have produced some of my favorite bLogging cOntent (on any blog) in a very long time. I look forward to each and every post. They are iNspiring, real, and different. So keep doing you … you are doing a great joB!

  12. It’s like you crawled Into my head through my ear (don’t worry-i keep them clean) and pulled out all my thoughts. Ive been In this space for a very heavy six months now since moving house and launching into renovating it. My blog has started biting back, from a place where once i felt in control of it, it now wants to push forwards. I shouldn’t be complaining (and I’m not) but that feeling of creativity starts to dwindle when you focus on the numbers – the stats, the money, that campaIgns. And all from what supposed to be a space to grow creativEly. I’ve lost sight of the inspiration. Thank you for remInding me to hold on to that, it’s important.

  13. So needed this reminder as I (ironically) just last night found myself lamenting over my numbers with lots of despair. Your words set everything straight. It’s so true, the focus needs and should be on what comes from the heart, and the reason we’re all here…success will follow. Genuine is key.

  14. This post was right on target! I think any blogger who has been consistently doing this and seeing growth always has to push the numbers out of sight and out of mind. It’s a never ending battle between doing what you love and still wanting to see results for your hard work.

    I’m learning to enjoy all of the stages and phases of blogging and being proud of my work in each moment, whether or not the numbers constantly say it’s worthy.

  15. Each one of your posts this year just keeps getting better and better ! This post is so insightful and speaks to so many truths about the world of blogging. I have felt all of the feelings you feel and I don’t even have a business with my blog yet. Being online in general comes with a lot of insecurities and if you have a business that reflects your passion (which I imagine is what most people go into business for – to do what they love) any opportunity to position your business as “less than” feels very, very personal. At the end of the day, however, which you also concclude here, it is all about being true to yourself. You are a creative and no monthly page view, instagram follower count, or missed book deal is going to take that away from you. What you create is out there and, it is also a fact that myself and so many of your readers love to consume it.

    1. Jessie! That is a huge compliment! Thank you! Trusting my gut and heart these days more than the numbers and analytics. I feel my creative self coming back to life in big ways and it is so wonderful.

  16. I appreciate your honesty here. I feel that tug in myself toward numbers and performance, and am bothered by that but not sure how to alter myself. I want to share what I love in life, my passions, but I also want to live, like you said, fully alive to the real life irregardless of the likes it receives. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. It is so hard. Daily I have made the commitment to keep what I love at the forefront and to feel thankful for being able to do what I love and enjoy it amongst such an incredible base of readers.

  17. Oh, I have debated with the blog issue for a few years now. Being a space to freely to express my creative thoughts or a space to help me grow numbers? Last month I broke my content in 2 parts and got a separate space for my personal posts, while keeping all business-related posts on my main website. It was the solution I found. it wasn’t easy. But there’s no perfect answer for such dilemma…
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Meg. I always learn so much from other creative entrepreneurs who share their daily “real deal”. 🙂