I’m competitive by nature. I realize that there’s no way I can be the best at everything, and I accept that, but I sure as hell never want to come last in anything.
I’ve been messing around on the internet for more than a decade, and blogging in earnest since 2008. What started out as the scattered ramblings of a university student have matured (a little) into more polished posts on money, relationships, food and all the other spices of 20-something life as I try to get ahead while maintaining some semblance of balance.
See, balance is something I’m not real good at. I struggle with setting—and sticking to—boundaries. I tend to go through phases of things before burning out.
If it looks like work…
I like to GSD (get shit done) when it comes to my professional life. But in my personal life? If it looks, sounds or feels too much like work, I won’t do it.
I love my guitar, and the sheer amount of joy derive from 15 minutes of just sitting down with it and losing myself in music is immense. But forcing myself to learn scales, complicated solos and do finger-strengthening exercises day after day? That sucks all the fun out of it.
I love my SLR camera. I want to learn to do it justice and unleash its full potential. My goal this year is to try to take a photo a day, finding inspiration in more places, posting to my Tumblr (and generally take more snaps on my iPhone, too—I finally got on the Instagram bandwagon). I’ve even subscribed to the Digital Photography School newsletter (maybe I should actually read it once in a while). But again, setting hard and fast rules doesn’t work so well, so I’m leaving myself some leeway—quality over quantity.
I love food. I love trying out new recipes and am increasingly posting some of my adventures in cooking on my blog. But the pressure! To take good photos! To add my own twist! ARGH!
Recently, I recognized a similar sentiment creeping into my blogging groove. That scared the bejesus out of me. I was putting too much pressure on myself and the fun factor was in danger of bleeding out.
More and more people are jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Some are crazy talented writers. Some are not. And good writing or not, tons of the new upstarts are growing in leaps and bounds. I bet most of us have thought at some point, “Hey, I’ve already covered this topic—and I did it so much better!” Or been disappointed that a post you spent ages on and really bared your soul in didn’t garner as many comments as it deserved, while lame posts on bigger blogs rake in the feedback.
I recently read a post on, I think, ProBlogger (though I can’t for the life of me find the link now) where a guest poster asserted that most really successful blogs take off in a matter of months, not years. (And, yes, you also need to stick to a niche, have great organic content paired with good SEO and all that jazz.)
But mine is a personal blog. Look, I make a living writing. I know the importance of catering to your audience. But I write about things that capture me, not things I think people want to read about. So essentially, blogging is an entirely selfish endeavor for me; I write for myself first.
So, time to remember why I’m in this game. Stop obsessing over traffic, stats, monetizing. No more checking analytics every few hours. Stop monitoring the fluctuation in my Twitter follower count.
Example: Comments are awesome. Everyone wants more comments. They are the holy grail.
The best way to get more, of course, is to get out there and comment on other blogs.
But my time is limited. I do not want to spend hours commenting on hundreds of blogs a day, or, even worse, leaving token comments that don’t add any value for the sake of doing it. I want to be out there living my real life, too.
Fundamentally, I blog for love. Not to become an internet rockstar (though if that happened I wouldn’t complain, I assure you.) This is the one place I don’t get paid to write and hence can write what I want. I never want to lose that love and I never want to forget why I do it—and if I do, please don’t hesitate to give me a good, hard virtual kick.
Esther has been messing around on the internet for over a decade. By day, she writes for a living; by night she blogs for fun. She skipped the MySpace years and is holding out on Pinterest but can be found on virtually any other social network. (See: Facebook, Twitter.)
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