Elsewhere is here
I wanted to write that I have started this post 1000 times in the last few days, but I'm prone to exaggeration. So I thought that instead I'd write that I've started this post at least 10 times in the last couple of days, but that still wouldn't be the truth. So... the truth is this: this is me, writing off the cuff, without much thought or measure, and I'm blogging for the first time since January. And here's a photo of me right now, blogging from the oh-so-glamorous workspace of my bedroom floor, while eating straight from a pint of ice cream, naturally:
I'm not very good at writing off the cuff any more. And I'm not very good at being completely honest, either.
It's because I had allowed the blogging machine to eat my soul.
As of this month, I've taken a year off from Indiana / Elsewhere (this personal blog) and more than a year away from Texas Style Council (the bloggers' conference I founded). I'd like to say this year long break was intentional, but it wasn't. In the last 12 months I dabbled in podcasting, tried my hand at Snapchat and Periscope, and did some long form on Instagram. In that same time frame, I desperately needed to get my health under control, my house in order, and I needed to be intentional with the friendships and relationships I've finally begun to build in this not-so-new-anymore place. I homeschooled my son this year, and I even started working for my church. The blog accidentally fell by the wayside.
But the truth? I miss blogging.
This comes with a HUGE disclaimer:
I do not miss what blogging has become now, but I very much miss what blogging used to be.
I can't put my finger on when it happened exactly, but I do want to say that 2010 seemed like a really fun time in the blog world. I had made some really great friends (holla at the D12!), I about peed my pants when Modcloth featured me on their Tumblr and sent me a scarf, and the first time a brand paid me money for a sidebar ad (Hi, Accessorize!) Chris and I went out to dinner to celebrate and I stayed up late and made business cards with my blog name on them.
But somewhere between 2010 and 2015, blogging became this strange business model where bloggers were expected to be striving toward making it a legitimate way to earn a living. Then, because of the conference I founded, blogging became this thing that I had tethered a part of my identity to.
How can I explain how nutso bananas being a blogger is?
Here are things that this weird "blog world" expects bloggers to do:
- To make money. "You ain't a 'legit' blogger unless you're working with brands."
- To not make money. "You should be writing for the art and heart of it all. Not for your affiliate dollar$! How dare you make a 2-5% commission off the product you introduced me to!"
- To take professional looking, editorial photos every single day. "Because if it's not Pinnable, it's not post-worthy. And if you're not writing daily, you're not a real blogger."
- To not take professional looking, editorial photos ever. "Because, dangit, life isn't a photoshoot and it's important to portray life how it really is!"
- To write about your kids and family in funny or endearing details. "We need to know the human-side of who you really are."
- To never write about your kids or family! "Because what if they grow up and they wish that you hadn't blogged or Instagrammed them?!"
- To write easily consumed posts. "Lists! Photo dumps! Keep the posts short because who has time to read all the things you wax poetic about? And besides, who really cares about anything other than the pretty pictures?"
- To write thoughtful content! "The web has enough drivel. Contribute quality writing."
- To stay exactly the same! Even if you've been blogging for a decade, be the same person you were when I started reading your blog because that's why I started reading your blog to begin with!"
- Evolve! "Blogging is changing. The world is changing! I am changing! Don't be the same old boring, immature hack you were when you first started blogging a decade ago. Get with the times, lady. I'm growing up, why aren't you?"
This stuff? I don't miss.
This week, a blogger told Mommy Bloggers to eff-off. To give up the ghost. To get lives and do something better with our time. In, what I'm sure is just a timing coincidence, Natalie Jean, a much beloved and long-time blogger, did just that.
So am I crazy for jumping back ON this bandwagon that seems to be stalled in a ghost town these days?
I hope not.
Here's the thing: I know I've touted my triumphant return to blogging before. But if this year's hiatus has taught me anything, it's that I need to take better care of myself and spend more time doing things that I enjoy. Blogging is a hobby that I enjoy.
Here's the plan:
Indiana / Elsewhere will be my personal blog. I'll mainly write about life at home with three little kids (which will include homeschool), and I'll cover my personal style and home decor struggles (a decorator I am not). I'm not a photographer and neither is my husband, so the pictures are going to be what they are, and I'm done beating myself up over that. I'm wordy, so the written content will be longish, but probably not super serious.
Mom Jeans & Dad Jokes will be content that Chris and I create together. It will go back to its roots as a weekly podcast centered loosely around parenting and our blog content will be local reviews (to include date night and kid activities around suburban Atlanta). I'm in the process of moving the fashion-y and family posts that I wrote solo on MJ&DJ back here to I/E for consistency's sake. We're not sure if home improvement stuff and funny things our kids say will go on I/E or MJ&DJ. We're still ironing that out.
On tap, to be completely up front, I already have some sponsored content and brand partnership stuff in the pipeline. It's crazy, but even though I'm wasn't actively blogging, these kind of partnership pitches did not cease. My promise is to write these thoughtfully and honestly. I feel like over the years I've done a pretty good job at this, and it has been a huge perk to be able to bless my family with some of the earnings these blogs give me. Plus I really like introducing others to things I'm in to! I think that has always come across in my sponsored posts.
I have an outline of an editorial calendar, and I'm excited to start writing again after I take care of some not-so-fun back end clean-up stuff on my sites. They've been neglected and it shows!
When it comes down to it, I've missed the community around blogging, but I also really miss the "fun" writing that blogging is. I have had a blog since 1999. And before that, I had an opinion column in my high school paper for four years. Before that? I kept a daily diary that my friends and I would take turns reading and re-reading to each other. Before that? In elementary school I recorded a fake radio show with my cousins and wrote plays for us to perform.
The blogger who implored all mommy bloggers to quit wrote:
Quit because your mommy blog [.......] sucks. And it’s not going to get better. There are probably a dozen things you are actually good at. Find what you love, and what you do better than anyone else, and do that.
This is what I do. This is what I've always done. Am I better at it than anyone else? No. Not by a long shot. Will I be the best? Absolutely not. But nonetheless, I'm thankful for this weird blog world, and I'm ready to get back to it.
This post took me one half carton of ice cream. Or was it the other way around? This half pint of ice cream took me one blog post?