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Why I’m Ignoring My Own Blogging Advice

2014 March 24
tags:
by Cordelia
fingers crossed

One of the first things I tell bloggers looking for advice – whether they’ve booked my blogging services or I’m mentoring them through the awesome Bloggers Helping Bloggers program – is that you absolutely must have a publishing schedule.

It helps you stick to posting regularly, which is so important when you’re trying to build and maintain an audience. It helps you get past writer’s block because you’ve got topics already lined up and aren’t facing the page blank. It helps you treat your blog more seriously, because hobbies are fun but you need discipline if you want to grow something awesome.

It’s Blogging 101, in my opinion.

And I am officially ignoring it.

Because I’ve stopped loving this blog, and that defeats the entire purpose.

A Side Rant on the “Business” of Blogging

When it comes to giving advice to other bloggers, I’m sort of a “do as I say, not as I do” kinda gal. For the most part, the tips I give bloggers are things I myself practice. But, every now and then, what I do here at CCIQ flies in the face of what I tell every other blogger they should do, and there’s no other reason for that than the fact that this blog is my baby, and I am very protective of what I do with my baby.

Take popups, for instance. I would never in a million years add them to my own blog, but when it comes to my clients’ blogs, I have no problem going along with them, because my clients’ blogs are businesses, and popups are proven to “work” in the business sense.

But this blog is not a business. It never has been.

When I created it back in November of 2010, it was with an eye towards eventually making a living in the blogosphere, but it was, much more importantly, about why I wanted to do that and what I learned along the way. It was about learning to live life intentionally. About designing a life you love and not being held captive by a life that was prescribed for you. About encouraging my readers to take control of their shit, and showing them I meant it by doing it myself.

It’s a platform.

It’s a passion.

It’s a personal crusade.

And the instant I add a popup to this blog, it would degrade all of that. It would instantly tell my readers that I’ve become one of those bloggers — the ones who weigh SEO keywords against each other for headlines that convert 27% of traffic rather than 26.5%. The ones who write inspiring calls to action carefully calculated to generate email list signups and affiliate program purchases. The ones who view their readers as a commodity and not an audience of likeminded traveling companions.

Maybe most readers would never spin off conclusions like this. Maybe they wouldn’t even notice. But I would, and I can’t abide by that. Because this blog has never been about doing anything other than inspiring people to live awesomely, and I intend to keep it that way.

Otherwise, really, what’s the point?

Why I Am Killing My Editorial Calendar

In the almost 3½ years since I started CCIQ, I’ve made maybe $200 through random experiments in sponsored posts and in-text links, which I swiftly stopped doing because they made me feel icky. Any money I get from blogging is an indirect result, meaning someone’s found me through my blog and booked my services for other things.

On a monthly basis, this blog actually costs me to run it. I pay $9.95/month to DreamHost for hosting services and $120-something/year for backup and tech support, so that’s about $19.95/month to keep the lights on. I realize I’ve put enough time into CCIQ, and grown it into a respectable-enough entity, that not monetizing it is probably a bit dumb. I’ll likely do some experiments in affiliate marketing to get a little of that whole “passive income” thing everyone’s talking about, because I can understand the merit to that, and let’s be honest: money is nice to have.

But it’s not my priority.

On the day-to-day, the only reason this blog exists and I devote so much of myself to it is because it keeps me real, and I hope it keeps you real, too. I write a metric shit-ton of words every week for my clients, some of them deliberately motivational, but this blog is the only place where the red pen gets set aside and the little glowing light at the heart of all I do gets to rekindle itself.

Recently, I’ve lost sight of that (along with so many other things). I’ve been treating this blog like just another to-do in my endless stream of obligations. I know I should write weekly (really, more than weekly), but every time I’ve sat down to tackle the topic I set for myself that week, I balk like a kid getting a forkful of brussel spouts shoved towards his mouth.

It feels like a chore, and any time writing feels like a chore, you are absolutely guaranteed to lose the magic. You can get words out, sure, and they may even be some pretty darn good words. But the heart will be gone. And when CCIQ loses its heart, I might as well close up shop, because the point will be done for.

Because of this, I am throwing all sensible blogging best practices to the wind and going with my gut: I am going to write only when I have something to say. Something I think you should hear, that’s burningly urgent and makes my soul hurt not to write it.

Given the mile-a-minute hamster wheel that is my mind, and my inability to go through life without analyzing everything, this will likely still be a once a week, if not more. But I’m not going to hold myself to an artificial schedule. I’m not going to scramble on Sunday because I don’t have a post ready for Monday. I’m not going to worry about losing relevance or audience members if I’m a whole (gasp!) two weeks since my last post went up. I’m not going to care if a post isn’t ready to publish till Thursday, because technically Mondays and Wednesdays are my better conversion days.

I’m not going to worry about any of that.

I’m going to write what I feel compelled to write, and I’m going to take as much time as each post needs to be exhumed properly.

I’m going to respect my message, your time, and this blog.

I’m going to run a blog, not a business.

Because I’ve already got enough business, thank you. This is about something more important.

 

Image:  Elisa Dudnikova on Flickr

 

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  • http://queernomad.com The Queer Nomad

    Ah, preaching to the choir! I’ve had similar thoughts recently. I had so much fun with blogging before I thought about how I can tie it in with my freelance work (I do translations, marketing and travel writing). The travel blogger world is so mean, competetive and anti-social. Only recently when I shifted my focus back on reading other blogs, I was reminded of and blown away by the nice-ness and exchange that happens in the blogging world when people don’t try to make money with them.

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Welcome back to the bright side. :)

  • http://www.yourworkisyourlife.com/ Razwana

    THANK FUCK FOR THAT! When writing feels like a chore, especially when you’re writing for your own baby, it’s definitely time to rethink. And you’d be doing our audience a disservice if you’re writing because you have to, not because you want to.

    I went through something similar recently and decided to ignore my so-called ‘competition’, and looking at other people’s success. Yes, I want to do things differently and my way, and this can be achieved by simply doing things my way! Not looking at everyone else and deciding what else/more I can do.

    More power to ya !

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Thanks, Raz. I knew you’d get it. :)

  • http://juliachristova.com/ Julia Hristova

    I totally hear you! There’s no point in writing if you are not enjoying yourself. I really hope that you will continue to write, but only when you feel the urge and not because you are trying to reach some imaginary standard. Because, since I found you this has been a sanctuary where I don’t feel like I am walking on a lonely track (especially on the topics of writing and not wanting to be a mother (yet)).

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Aww, thanks, Julia! So glad you’re here!

  • http://www.bitcheswork.com/ Kat @ BitchesWork.com

    Hot diggity damn, seriously props!

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Hot diggity thanks!

  • http://www.robf.com.au/ Rob Farquhar

    As soon as I work to give my web log some sort of serious direction I either lose all interest or let it become one of those things I torture myself over because I’m not doing it right – and I’m realising that if I hate myself for not doing something right, it’s probably because I don’t like that thing in the first place.

    It makes me wonder – can blogs ever really be businesses? I read the posts of the folks who try it and I feel like they’re so busy talking about conversions and income and capital-S Success that I wonder when they have time to honestly give a shit about the people they claim to want to help. It feels like they’ve replaced one rat race with another in the name of “lifestyle design”.

    I keep coming back here, Kelly, because you remember what I’m learning to be the first rule of writing: Live an interesting life. Do shit that scares you. That way you’re more likely to form actual, concrete, meaningful bonds with other people.

    That, in the end, is how I want to blog – and doing the web comic lets me add in the slice-of-life stuff that I couldn’t recreate as well in prose form.

    So put that calendar through your crosscut office shredder, Kelly, and burn the fucking fragments. I doubt it’ll hurt your consultancy business any and I’d love to read how you’re living a lot happier as a result – I think that’s an example a lo of us bloggers and freelancers could really do to follow.

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      “I’m realizing that if I hate myself for not doing something right, it’s
      probably because I don’t like that thing in the first place.” Yes! Exactly. I allowed myself to get sucked into the rat race version of lifestyle design, and I’ve come to realize the real reason I hate the work is because I’ve set myself the wrong goal.

      When it comes to the blog vs. business debate, I think it all depends on what your definition of “success” is. If success for you means making a ton of money, then yes, your blog can absolutely be a business. If (like it does for me) it means making a difference and connecting with people, then monetizing it becomes trickier. Not impossible — there are plenty of people who’ve both built a great blog and rake in some money — but much harder.

  • http://natestpierre.me Nate St. Pierre

    Huzzah!

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Woot woot!

  • Cassie Nolan

    Kelly, I loooooove this and I so completely relate. Fully support your decision, and I’ve been blogging with a similar philosophy myself. Hope you feel a new sense of freedom!

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Same to you! It’s so freeing to go back to the basics of just writing for the sheer love of the medium and the message. I do enough writing-by-deadline for my clients, and the day this blog starts feeling like an obligation is the day I do a serious about-face. Hope your new philosophy gives you a similar sense of satisfaction!

  • http://www.thewritingrealm.com/ Alicia Rades

    I think on a blog like this, it makes sense not to have an editorial calendar. As you said, this isn’t a business, which means that it makes more sense to write when you have something to say rather than to please your followers. In some ways, that can be better since you’re not filling peoples’ ears with crap even you don’t care about.

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Yeah, it’s a tough balance since I still want to provide fairly regular, useful content. But it lets me raise the bar a bit more on what I think is worth making the cut. :)

  • Trish SammerJohnston

    Once again, you hit the nail on the head for me. My blogging has been languishing for more than a year. Why? Because I’ve been actually living my life instead of walking around sticking words to everything. That shit gets exhausting.

    I think that the writerly brain definitely needs time to regroup. Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my favorite authors, has a great take on this. She says there are seasons for writing and seasons for researching. I like to think that even when I’m not actively writing, my brain is collecting things that I’ll use later. (More on this here: http://accordingtotrish.com/seasons-love-writing/)

    • http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com Cordelia

      Yes, yes and more yes.