We used to have a weird phrase or analogy where I used to work, that when things got really frantic and hectic, we called it shooting elephants. The idea is that instead of being able to be proactive and tackle your priorities at a manageable pace, you’re being overrun by elephants and you have to keep shooting them or you get trampled. I’m not sure that even makes sense looking back on it, but I kind of know what I mean – it’s that moment when you lose control and everything is reactive rather than proactive, with things coming at you from all angles. I would never shoot an elephant by the way, I’m an animal lover and I think elephants are pretty cool.
I love the fact that more people are openly talking about the fact that blogging can be a bit stressful now and then, with both Media Marmalade (in this post) and Zoe Newlove (in this post) writing about how challenging it can be managing a blog and a full-time job. Lately, I’ve definitely felt like I’m shooting elephants with my to-do list – no sooner do I get one thing ticked off, than another three or four things pop up that demand my attention. If I ever mention that I’m finding it challenging managing blogging commitments on Twitter I get a few similar responses – first of all that a blog should be a hobby, not a chore (and I agree) and secondly that people should be grateful for the amazing opportunities that blogging brings – anything on my to do list relating to blogging is usually a review, or event, or a collaboration, and I’m lucky to receive those opportunities (I also agree with this).
Though my blog clearly started as, and still is, a hobby, it clearly has grown from its inception in both scope and popularity (and I am blessed to have people who want to read what to write!) which has meant that people now want to work with me to have their product/event/website featured or reviewed on my blog. The reason they are getting in contact with me in the first place is because they think my readers will be interested (otherwise they’d be wasting their time and mine) and so I do consider most requests for collaborations as long as they are relevant, interesting and something I would write about or buy myself. And as a blog reader, I think that’s okay – I certainly am not put off by collaborations on other blogs and it’s through these kind of partnerships that my pennies end up disappearing out of my bank account through me buying products I’ve seen in reviews or clothes I’ve seen in outfit posts or wishlists. So, everybody’s happy – the blogger, the client, the reader, okay, maybe not my bank manager – but still.
When bloggers taking on collaborations becomes a problem it’s usually for one of two reasons:
1. They take on collaborations that are not relevant for their blog because the temptation of £££ is too much (and I get that – let’s face it, it’s sometimes hard to balance integrity against looking in your cupboards and seeing you’ll be eating beans on toast for the rest of the month if you don’t say yes).
2. They take on too many collaborations, meaning that the balance becomes out of kilter. All of a sudden those posts you loved about their DIY crafting/life updates/happy lists fall by the wayside in favour of guest posts, wishlists and product reviews. You lose the personality and the personal-ness of the blog – and that’s when people start to walk away and find other blogs where you can really get to know the person, rather than it being an endless copy and paste of press releases and product launches.
I’m not pointing the finger here without looking in the mirror myself (I’m mixing metaphors like the Pope in the woods) and I’ll be honest, I’ve done both of these myself. Last Christmas I didn’t have as much money as I wanted to buy people Christmas presents, and I said yes to more things than I should have, and on occasion I took things on that perhaps weren’t right for me and my blog. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. Blog integrity doesn’t pay for Christmas presents, or weddings, or holidays, and so the temptation to take on a collaboration in exchange for cold, hard, cash, when you’re gut is telling you not to is hard, but necessary if you want to retain the passion behind blogging and that allure that makes people keep coming back.
The second point is what really concerns me though. When I chat to people about their favourite of the types of posts I regularly do, they are kind enough to say that they love the real lifestyle posts – the days out, the barbecues, the walks along the beach and even the Honest To Blogs like this one where I just, sort of purge thoughts, concerns, fears and so on. I guess that’s because no-one else can write about what Rosie did, or what Bodhi got up to, or how I’m feeling, but me. Whereas most other bloggers do wishlist posts, or product reviews or PR collaborations. I think that people like the stuff that’s personal, the stuff that they can connect with, the stuff that makes them nod until their neck hurts. It’s sad but lately there are photos I’ve taken of fun things that I’ve done that I’ve never been able to write about because I’ve had too many other blog commitments, or emails to answer. Sidelining what this blog was started for in favour of what has almost become the demands of ‘a second job’ is frankly not cool. I want to write about books I’ve read, and runs I’ve been on, and beautiful front doors I’ve spotted, and poems I’ve loved, and things I’ve made and people I’ve met, and funny things that Bodhi has done. That is this blog’s raison d’être. The other stuff is fun too – and finding creative ways to tell you about brands I think you’ll love is great, but the ratio needs to be right. They should just be add ons here and there, not the main bulk of my blog. I think that’s slipped a little lately, and for that I apologise. On top of that, it’s become unmanageable. Looking in your diary and seeing that you have six blog posts to write that week and only one evening free, is just not possible. And those emails chasing me to find out where the blog post is after a few days of receiving a product make me feel really stressed and under pressure. Stress is not something I need in my life when it’s brought on by something that’s supposed to be a hobby – blogging is supposed to be my escape, my fun, my passion, not another source of angst. And I have been feeling pretty stressed – setting alarms in the mornings to blog before work and turning down social occasions because I have deadlines. Not what I ever wanted from blogging.
My promise to you is that in future, all of that stuff that I love writing about and you (thankyou) seem to love reading about, will be what you will find here. I promise to you that I will trust my gut as to what you will want to read, and I will increasingly say no to things I think you might not. I want my blog to be full of salty air and goofy smiles again, and I pledge that I will make that happen. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be collaborations on here, but it does mean that I will be careful with what I choose to do, and I will try and do them in a way that you will still really enjoy reading.
“Do it cos’ you love it, or don’t do it”, as they say. (And they, are pretty wise).