Do you ever just sit down and realise you’re not handling things? I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I’m currently juggling a part-time job with being a full-time parent, I’m studying two separate levels of childcare, and I’m trying my best to create my own corner of the internet with this little blog of mine. On top of that I’m trying to be the doting wife, the caring daughter, the supportive sister. I’m trying to maintain a social life, and balance my self-care routine. The stress in my life is actually debilitating, and it’s beginning to affect the consistency of my posts, my social media engagement, and my follower count – aka, three out of the four most important elements that contribute to success within this industry. (The fourth being the content itself.) But surely blogging shouldn’t be this stressful?
Expectations of blogger’s work have now reached the point where being successful no longer means simply having your posts read. It’s now measured by how popular you can be across multiple social media platforms. It’s measured by how many events you’ve been seen at, and how many packages you get sent per month. I’ve read Twitter threads where some bloggers have actually been discussing and comparing how many paid opportunities they’ve turned down. This industry is booming.
Bloggers are at the centre of advertising right now. (I mean, have you seen the latest Lo’real campaign??) And we can thank social media for that. It’s influenced the industry in a way none of us could have imagined – it’s become how every company interacts and builds relationships with their customers. Some of the top bloggers have been offered some incredible opportunities as of late because of the influence they hold over the public’s buying trends. That makes it tough competition for those of us who haven’t got a fancy blue tick next to our names yet.
“Anyone who thinks this is an easy career choice hasn’t been paying attention.”
The blogging world has changed in a big way since platforms like Instagram took the stage. These days if you want to get noticed by a brand and use your blog for financial gain it’s not enough to just be a talented writer, you’ve gotta have the 10,000+ Instagram followers and the perfectly structured photo-grid. You need to engage with every Twitter user, and reply to every YouTube comment – even if they’re negative! Especially if they’re negative. You’re expected to be able to produce exceptional, professional images, and be able to sell a product or an idea like your life depends on it. It’s high stress, and it’s an extrovert’s world out there right now. Anyone who thinks this is an easy career choice hasn’t been paying attention.
I know I’m putting way too much pressure on myself at the moment. I want every piece of work I publish to be my best because I want to succeed in this industry. I want so much to reach the point where my efforts finally start paying off. But I can’t expect results if I don’t continue to put in the work. It’s a vicious cycle.
There’s never really time to rest when you’re a blogger either, I’m constantly planning my next post and wondering which time-slots to publish in. I panic over whether or not my photos align with the theme of each post – or whether or not the photos are even good! I have an archive of unpublished work and discarded images that didn’t make the final cut. I spend so much time second-guessing myself and wondering if anyone will even read the piece I’ve poured my heart and soul into. These stressors are sometimes just the burdens you bear when you’re a creator, but the competition is so hot right now that I can’t afford to step back. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, either. I think it’s great that there’s so much talent out here right now, it definitely motivates me to ensure that I’m only posting work that I’m truly proud of, and that’s a lesson I’ve needed to learn over the years. It also means there’s a ton of people to become inspired by, to work with, and even to make friends with. I just want to make sure that I’m doing all this for the reasons that are right for me.
And the thing is, I love to write. I always have! As a kid I used to write stories and sign them under the name “Tommy Thumb-Burger“. My sister used to think it was absolutely hysterical, but I just loved the idea of having people enjoy something I made. I’ve never been able to draw, and I’m terrible at make-up. In those senses I’m not remotely artistic – but writing brings me joy. It gives me a form of escape, and it allows me to relate to people in a way I can understand. These days I much prefer to sign my real name under my creations, but apart from that nothing has really changed. I want to be a successful writer, and however painful the journey may be, I plan on getting there.
“…you’re only ever a failure if you stop trying”
I’ve given up on writing so many times in the past, but I’ve recently learned that you’re only ever a failure if you stop trying. There have been some tough moments in my history of blogging. I’ve used a variety of platforms over the years and written in so many different styles, and there have been times where I’ve seriously questioned my talent. I have a terrible habit of comparing my journey with everybody else’s, and at a time where everybody else seems to be getting ahead and I’m still getting started, it can sometimes feel like I’m wasting my own time. But I’m coming to realise that sort of attitude will never get me where I want to be.
Ultimately, the only way we’re ever going to reach our goals is to just keep going, and to stop comparing ourselves to others. Every blogger in the world could create a post around the same subject, and each post would be different because none of us are the same. Nobody can write from anybody else’s perspective, and nobody else can share our experiences. In this respect we’re all completely and unquestionably unique, and that’s got to be our super power in this industry. Whilst numbers are a great indicator of how far each post has reached, it cannot reflect or define us as writers, and certainly not as individuals.
Your productivity does not equal your worth. You are good enough. Don’t give up.
And remember, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill.
Special thanks to Matt Brian at Engadget for motivating me to publish this post. (@m4tt)