Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letting a Blog Breathe (Part I)

I've had this post dancing in my head for months now and it's going to be segmented into parts.  I have casually made mentions to specific bloggers, whom I admire, that qualities of their writing, posts, and their values that they express are aspects that I love about their blogs.  There's a sense of genuineness about certain blogs that stays with you.  It makes you want to follow them on Twitter and see their life through images on Instagram.  Their posts are a friendly invitation for people to get to know them better.  These are my favorite kind of blogs and have become a part of my blogging research.  This type of research has come from months of writing, dabbling in sponsorships, seeing my readership exceed 100 people, and coming to terms with being competitive in this blogging community.

For me, blogging has always been personal and about sharing.  Not everyone shares in this type of expectation, but that's ok.  There's a certain sense of delight I get when I come across a blog that is so open, fresh, and you could just fall in love with its author because she (or he) feels like a best-friend.  There was a point of frustration that came from months of build-up and you may have read some of those posts.  It was a breaking point that involved several realizations.  The first is that building up a readership without sponsoring other blogs and giveaways would be difficult.  It is hard to reach other people without putting in monetary value.  The good thing is that many bloggers seek out similar blogs in co-sponsorship for giveaways so if you like X Blogger, you'll probably like Y and Z as well.  However, for me that route doesn't feel like a good fit.  I've sponsored many blogs before but in order to receive real results from sponsorship, you need direct interaction with the host blogger.  That means they're tweeting about your posts, sharing information on you, having you as a guest post, etc.  The problem with that is those sponsorships are usually quite expensive.  If you don't see the results, you have to try again and try with other bloggers, which means more $$. 

As much as I love blogging, I can't justify putting in that much money each time to build up my readership.  It takes a toll on your budget and for some folks that's something worth investing, but for me I've also taken into consideration the state of the blogging community.  This is a fun place to be.  You have a variety of personalities that are fun, sassy, crafty, and some that make me wish Ryan and I were having a baby already.  Whatever you're looking for, you can find a blog to fit your needs.  However, I have noticed how financially driven it is and in order to be competitive with a large readership, you need to invest in it.  It's a circle where $ponsorship -> gain readers -> requires more blog posts (usually) -> review and giveaway offers -> more readers and it continues where you must feed the process in order for it to work.  It's not like I can invest in one or two, medium to large scale blogs, but I would need to invest in several and over several months.  Now that's a risk in which you need to have a secure relationship with the host blogger to ensure that you're getting what you've paid for and that you're receiving the results, either in page views or increase in readership.  There is always a button swap opportunity, however, I've found that does nothing.  In order to value your investment, you need that interaction and direct contact with their readership, not just standing idly in the sidebar.  That's just the first step to build up the numbers.  I could also invest in a giveaway and I am always appreciative of the offers to be a part of one, but at this time it's not for me.  Not that I don't like a giveaway, because I do, but at this point I've made a few decisions and I'll discuss those below. 

I've scaled back on my blog posts and their frequency because I want to focus on living.  I used to be so motivated to get those readership numbers up but I would rather have people here that want to read about the topics I've chosen and provide feedback.  Who doesn't love comments, but it's so much more than that.  I love the interaction, discussion, and dialogue.  Send me an e-mail, or comment on Instagram- I love that stuff.  For me, scaling back provides the opportunity to create quality blog posts on topics that I am not just interested in, but am passionate about.  Some things will be funny, random, and just fluff but I won't feel pressured to crank out 5 posts a week to build up readership.  Instead, I'm hoping that folks will have the chance to sit down with my posts and enjoy them, have time to catch up with me, and not feel pressured to speed read through them.  I've covered it before, so I won't dwell on it now, but I value quality blog posts.  I feel like there's an art to letting a blog breath; to give its readers time to actually enjoy the post instead of having to sacrifice quality for a need to keep spitting them out.  I'm almost certain that it takes time and experience to learn this and I'm still in the beginning stages.  I feel that by living, you maintain the integrity and quality of your posts- so that you don't have me getting in a tizzy over a glasses review by someone who doesn't wear glasses.  That point in the time, I was frustrated because I felt that there were so many aspects of this community that were either narcissistic or greedy.  But for me, I know that I am different than other people.  I'm a fun person, but I can also be very serious and I value honesty and integrity.  When I consistently saw lapses in both of these, I knew it was time for me to change my outlook on blogging and revamp my style to ensure I stay true to what I value.  This is when that blogging research came in and I found blogs that I just love.  I've deleted several and the main observation I've made is that we're just living two completely different lives or at two different points in our lives.  I may end up following those blogs again some day but at this point, I really like the direction I'm going in.

I want to share more about my life, what I value, and topics that I'm passionate about.  Jessica and I started a series about women because women's issues are important to us and we wanted to give them a personal spin.  This has always been an avenue for me to share and I want to show what life in Montana has been like and my thoughts on things going on that are affecting other folks.  Not only do I want to share more here, but I want to start a trend or a movement of sorts where when we see a post we like or comment on, that we share it.  That's the original concept of word-of-mouth.  If I like a post, I want to share it with others, not because it's an option in a giveaway, but because I think others would appreciate it.  Speaking of word-of-mouth, when it comes to reviews I stay with my policy that if I don't have experience with the product or I don't think it would truly benefit my readers, I'm not going to review it.  I have been in a position where companies have offered me something to review, but as a smaller blogger, it's usually "can you share this product in a blog post?" and I never actually get to review the product.  Whenever that happens, I explain to the company my stance on sharing products on my blog.  I don't have to receive free products to share them on my blog, in fact many of the reviews or things I even share on Instagram are things that I picked up and really liked.  I like to share things that have worked for me because I think others will like it too, but I value my integrity with these types of reviews and if you see something here, you're getting an honest review.  Not straight out of the box and I'm seeing it for the first time, but tried and tested.  The most recent one was with Shutterfly and instead of doing a review on phone cases, we found an alternative with products that I have used and chosen on my own.  That review will be on using Shutterfly for digital Project Life and I can't wait to talk more about it.  Documenting my life through this blog, writing, and pictures has been very important to me. I take pictures almost everyday through Instagram, but I want to take more everyday photos using my DSLR and point and shoot.  I need create realistic goals and I can't wait to have those down in writing to share with you. 

I've found blogs that to me are phenomenal and inspirational.  They could have thousands of followers or a couple hundred, but they have such charm and charisma. I plan on sharing them in Part II.  There are trends with what I like to follow but I also feel like it's created a formula in which I can find more blogs that I'm interested in.  Look for more of this in Part II.

If you like what you read, please feel free to share using the social media icons below or leaving me a comment.  Don't forget to sign up for the charm swap if you're interested in learning and sharing in the stories of other great women.  
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  1. This post really hits home with me since I just stated similar thoughts on my own blog and through our own correspondence. I love when companies approach me, but at the same time it distracts me from real content to be written. I often decline these offers if they don't fit my blog's vibe or my own personal interests.

    I love the series we started together because it will allow us both to reach deeper inside ourselves to create more quality posts. Honestly, I think your posts are pretty great now, but I completely understand where you're coming from. Quality over quantity.

    I really appreciated this post. Great one, Kim!

  2. It is like you were reading over my shoulder last night when I was writing up a post. I recently decided that I needed to start experiencing things, instead of just living. I also value quality over quanity and I have felt over the past few months that my blog posts have lacked something. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series and your blog in general. I hope you have a great week Kim! See you around blog land. :)

  3. i'm very excited to keep reading more. I know that when I click on your blog, I'm always going to get quality content that is deep and meaningful. I've always admired how you continually experiment with your blog and what you want out of it.

  4. My mind is just a jumble of thoughts in response to this post, so I'll try to get out what I can: 1. It's sickening to me how much money I've poured into this hobby of mine just so others would read what I have to say. There's got to be a better way. It's why I choose to do a Blog of the Month, and why I highlight other bloggers in my monthly round-up posts- we should all be doing more to lift each other up versus wrestling a few bucks out of our peers' pockets in the form of sponsorship. 2. Your writing is wonderful and although it's a cliche to say this- quality vs. quantity, lady. Those of us who stick around, do it because we value your words.

    Keep writing about YOU. That's what I'm here for! :)

  5. Live and blog. Life has just forced this realization onto me. My focus is just on being more authentic, careful with my directness, but real. Maybe someday lots of people will follow it and comment, but it's not as big of a deal as when I started blogging at the beginning of the year. Heck, I'm still trying to find my niche.

  6. Great post! I think this particular thought process comes to all bloggers with time, in bits and pieces. I also went through a phase where I was doing a lot of sponsorsing of other blogs, but the money value was just eating me up and I wasn't seeing enough results. Now I try and just blog for fun, and although I did see a big decrease in my readership, I value those who come by and read my blog because they are genuinely interested. It's very difficult to make money and to promote your blog; you reallyyyy have to have the time to do it, and at this point in my life I just don't. But I love blogging and have always loved it, for as long as I can remember. My archives date back at least 5 years, over a thousand posts. I could never give that up. So I keep writing for myself, and to document my life in a way that feels right to me!