This is part of the Business of Blogging Series. You can see all of the posts, here.
I’ve done a bit of speaking this summer at various conferences, and I’ve said a few times to the audience (and been met with great laughs), “Let’s face it. Bloggers are narcissistic.”
While I do love laughter responses, I’m completely serious when I say that in order to be a good blogger, or to put yourself out in the public eye, you’ve got to have a part of your personality that believes that You Are Better Than Others.
and this is a challenge. It’s a struggle for me, and I know it’s a struggle for many of my friends. It feels wrong, it feels fraudulent, and it feels deceitful to decide when you wake up in the morning that you are going to make and write about THE WORLD’S BEST BEEF STEW.
or the best way to fold a fitted sheet.
or write about a completely ordinary trip to Walmart but in a way you just *know* your readers will appreciate.
or heaven help you, post a #selfie on instagram.
I wasn’t raised to seek the spotlight, I was raised to sit quietly with my hands folded while the grown-ups talked and not to interrupt. And that is how I’m raising my children. Nobody likes a know-it-all who interrupts. Blogging is about interrupting.
DID YOU HEAR ME?
gah. It’s loud, it’s annoying, and it feels icky.
So what do you do? How do you balance the self-doubt, the negative voices, and the twingy feeling that you are doing something wrong when you decide to put your heart and voice online?
I can tell you that it gets easier, but I can also tell you that I personally stress and analyze every time I write anything online. This is the list I weigh in my head before posting (on any of my sites, on facebook, on twitter, and even on pinterest)
1) How does this help my audience? (and helpful can just be a feel-good moment. there doesn’t need to be a lifelesson in everything you put online, nor does it have to be a how-to tutorial.)
2) Am I writing this only because so-and-so has written about (kale) a lot and I feel like in order to stay relevant I need to write about (kale)?
3) Am I jumping on the bandwagon about a certain event that has a lot of drama and I want people to link to me when they, too, write about this certain event?
4) [related to #3] am I stirring an already-bubbling pot? Is that what I want to be known for? Pot-stirring?
5) In 3 days, will I still be proud of my writing?
6) Am I writing this because I’m getting paid to write about it (like a sponsored post)? Have I told my audience this truth?
7) Will my writing be search-engine-friendly? If not, how can I massage my words to help with SEO?
8) and then back again to #1…. am I being helpful to my audience?
If you respect your audience, they will respect you.
If you jump in front of the
camera keyboard every single time any fleeting thought passes through your head, you might gain lots and lots of followers initially, but they will leave in the longrun. Build a lasting legacy — something that you enjoy, that you can see yourself working on as your life’s work.
As for the negative thoughts? Embrace them. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe you are posting too often, and without anything valuable to offer your readers. Maybe you are only tweeting 7 times a day because some expert told you that’s how many times a day you should tweet. Maybe you are solely only writing about the latest conference drama because you want to be in the spotlight and want to be someone “in the know.”
and if after some soul-searching you realize that you don’t like your current path, then tweak it a bit.
But don’t let the voices win. We ALL have something to offer. We are all on this life-living journey together, and we all have something to share and to teach. Differing perspectives are fantastic — that is how we, as readers, as humans, make decisions. That’s why we read Amazon reviews — our culture needs to know as much as possible about pretty much everything right now. Right this instant. We can’t even wait to get home to our desktop, we have to whip out our phones in the middle of the store and tweet a picture to the masses to see if these shoes are actually a good buy.
This is a great time to be writing online. Do not let self-doubt or shyness prevail. Yes, bloggers are inherently narcissistic. We have to be.
And that’s okay. Just make sure to acknowledge it.
This is another installment in my The Business of Blogging Series.
I have been blogging full-time since 2008, and have been hesitant to share my successes “out loud” with very many people because I worry about 1) jinxing it and 2) being show-offy
and I’m not a show-offy person, and I worry a lot about karma and good will and even feng shui.
But I’ve gotten to thinking about why I do what I do and why I started what I started. And honestly, I just like helping people. Specifically other moms.
I wrote the proposal for the Totally Together Journal way back in 2004 (I was pregnant with my second). I wanted a way to help other mothers, and thought I could be of service in some way. It took YEARS to get that book to the market.
In the mean time, I started the slow cooking site, and wrote the corresponding cookbooks. The very best part of my day is waking up to Thank You emails and tweets. I love that I can somehow help other busy families get healthy, satisfying, budget -friendly (and gluten free, to boot!) meals on the table. I am proud of that.
I worry sometimes about being too proud. I worry about being a braggart, and I worry that others will feel that my success isn’t warranted or that somebody handed me something. I worry that someone, somewhere will think that I must “know someone” and that’s how I got on tv or got book deals, or how I get a lot of people to my website.
and so I don’t talk about my achievements.
or yet I haven’t, much.
I spent last Saturday in Los Angeles with Adam. We flew in so I could speak at the Latina Lifestyle Blogging Convention about Ethics and Blogging (they knew I’m Scottish…!).
And I realized, I know an awful lot about blogging. An awful lot. I’ve learned through trial and error and have been very lucky in my blogging and social media endeavors.
And I figured that EVERYBODY who has blogged for as long as I have has achieved similar results, and am finding out (through talking to friends/acquaintances) that this is not the case.
I make over 100k directly from my websites.
and I do this all, from home, in my pajamas, while I care for my children.
And it’s not that hard.
This post is titled PATIENCE. Because I truly believe that ANYONE, ANYWHERE can have this level of success if they map out a business plan and are patient. The money is out there. The opportunities are out there.
Don’t worry about what so-and-so is doing. Don’t compare your site to anyone else’s. Learn how to write for SEO and give your readers what they want.
I want to help —- my hope is that I can somehow help other people/moms create additional streams of income for their family’s budget.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be living the life I am living, and I would like to help. If you have questions about future installments for this series, please let me know in the comments below. I’ve finally gotten the green light from Adam to talk candidly (sort of. LOL) and I would really like to offer any help I can. oxox steph
OH! and I should probably explain the above photo of the grape vine. I planted that vine 4 years ago, and the leaves promptly all fell off. I kept watering and fertilizing it even though it looked like a dead stick. For 4 years. And this spring? Not only are there leaves, there are teensy tiny grape bundles! Patience. It’s a virtue! :-0
This is part of the Business of Blogging series.
and other stuff:
I have been trying to lose the same 8 to 10 pounds for 2 years. I’ve had plateaus before, but nothing like this — and I was truly getting frustrated. I tried blaming it on my thyroid (it’s fine), my potassium (it’s fine), lack of Vitamin D (it’s okay, too), and getting old (that’s true, I’m older than I used to be!).
But these last few weeks I’ve gotten through this tough spot, and actually feel better and more motivated about working out and eating properly than I have in a good 6 years.
I am certainly not an expert, and am only going to share what has begun to work (FINALLY!) for me. I got motivated after reading through Sandy’s Fitness Friday posts last month, and decided that once and for all March was going to be the month to finally lose the 8 pound blanket so I can be more comfortable and confident this summer.
There are many different reasons to lose weight, and I know that my 8 to 10 pounds is nothing for those who need to lose more. I find weight loss and working out to be somewhat personal, but really had an AHA! moment when I read what Sandy wrote about needing to be held accountable for my diet and exercise. I have pretty good habits already, but found that I was mindlessly eating throughout the day when I wasn’t even hungry. I’d finish the end of a kid sandwich, or pop a few too many tatertots in my mouth while I was preparing lunch.
Since I write cookbooks, I’d justify my large portions and crazy taste-testing — it’s for work! I’ve got to keep making sure it’s perfect!
But I do believe the largest culprit these last two years has been alcohol. I began having a glass of wine or beer every night. I’d again justify that “I worked hard! I deserve this!” and mindlessly fill my glass or say yes to another drink. And that’s not good for me. It might be okay for you, but for me it means that I am no longer in total control of my snacking and am more likely to down a bag of tortilla chips or talk Adam into a late-night icecream run. And each beer is about 250 calories, each glass of wine is about 125 calories, and each shot of whatever is about 100 calories (and when it’s mixed with margarita mix? a LOT more!)
The stuff that was okay for me at age 22 isn’t okay at 36. I remember fondly eating and eating and eating. And then washing it down. And washing it down again. But if I’m going to have MORE “good ol’ days” in the years to come, I needed to stop and take charge of my health.
And I need to be a proper role model to these three girls I’m raising.
Anyway. I’m getting sidetracked. I do that a lot.
So! My non-stop reading of personal development books has led me to read a lot of diet and fitness books. I usually take bits and pieces of what makes sense to me and leave the rest. These are the favorites that I keep returning to:
8 Minutes a Day by Jorge Cruise
Body For Life by Bill Phillips
The Dukan Diet by Pierre Dukan
I do the best when I eat whole foods that are low in sugar and high in protein. I feel the best when my carbs come from vegetables and fruit. I bet you probably do, too.
I wish there was more of a revolutionary secret. There really isn’t. I am intrigued by Dr. Dukan’s protein-only days — they seem to really do a good job of getting you back on track when you have a free-for-all day. I think the Body for Life workout is a very good one, and I feel the strongest and most healthy when I workout that way. I like the food and flax recommendation from 8 Minutes a Day and like the basic exercises and photo descriptions.
I have been tracking (loosely) my eating and working out since January– it’s taken 3 months of me writing it out to realize that if I just stopped eating crap the plateau would finally break. It’s annoying to me that even though I KNOW what to do, I just don’t sometimes.
I’ve been eating a lot of 1 minute muffins, have been drinking tons of water, choosing to fill my plate with lean protein and leafy greens, and have limited my eating between 7 am and 7 pm. That’s about it.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that the successful people do the things the unsuccessful do not. — Brian Tracy
I’ve found a few quick workout videos on You Tube. I’ve been trying to pick 2 or 3 a day to do, and really like the following:
3 Minute Mini Walk
5 Minute Ab and Obliques
10 Minute Muffin Top and Quick Cardio
10 Minute Tank Top Arms and Shoulders
10 Minute Bikini Abs (planks, no crunches)
10 Minute Tank Top Arms (different than other video; I like to switch them up)
What about you? Have you found that you have needed to increase your protein, or your workouts after a certain age, or after having children? Have you needed to change your mindset about food and exercise?
Why is it that we *know* what the answer is, but continuously talk ourselves out of it?
To use as needed.
Repeat, if necessary.
For best results, use as directed.
Today was just a bad day. That’s it, just a bad day.
You are not fat.
You are not ugly.
No, that zit on your chin will not be there forever.
You have not scarred your children for life because you yelled at them.
In fact, you probably built long-lasting character.
Your husband is not going to leave you.
It was just a very bad day.
You are doing fine at work. Don’t worry about what so and so is working on.
Work on what You are working on.
What you are working on is good enough.
It is. I promise.
No one is out to get you.
Yes, you will feel better tomorrow.
No, it doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things if you finished all the ice cream. And the popcorn. And drank that whole 2-liter all by yourself.
No one is taking notes or keeping track but you.
And today is a do-over. It doesn’t count.
No, the ladies in the grocery store weren’t talking about you. No, the library coordinator didn’t take it personally when you said you couldn’t help this year.
Yes, it is QUITE ALRIGHT TO SAY NO.
Yes, I know you feel guilty. Own the guilt.
and now move on.
really! do it! move on!!!
I know. You don’t get enough sleep. You don’t get enough exercise. You don’t get enough fresh air and sunshine. It’s not fair.
It’s going to be alright.
Today was just a really bad day.
Tomorrow will be better.