HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ‘DARK SIDE’ OF BLOGGING
A FEW months ago, I considered quitting blogging.
Wrapping my creative baby up and taking her away from the online world.
It happens every so often. Four years into Pouting In Heels and I’m well aware that every so often, when things turn a darker shade, I find myself in the ‘should I quit?!’ position.
I didn’t of course. And honestly, I’m not actually sure how I could.
Because blogging has been a life changer for me. It’s made me a better writer, a better photographer and hopefully, a better person. So much so that I’m even writing a book about it.
The stuff that will – at some point – confront most, if not every blogger on their creative path.
We all hope that our blogging world will only be filled with positivity, light and amazing opportunities. And thankfully, for me, this has mostly been the case.
But sometimes things happen and rock our blogging bubble. Pop it even.
So let’s talk about it…
THE ‘I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH’ IMPOSTER
This imposter can rear it’s ugly head at any time in our lives, but there’s something about blogging that really opens the door to it, welcoming it in with open arms.
When you first start a blog, you’re excited, passionate and fired up to make it the best it can be. And it’s wonderful!
You get comments, your first shares, you find your blogging feet and things look rosy. But after a while, your vision expands and you begin to notice the other bloggers.
Amazing blogs with awards, high stats and amazing campaigns. You start to compare yours – even though you know you shouldn’t – and you lose your blogging mojo. You start to feel the passion drain. And then you feel like you’re sinking.
Prime time for the imposter to enter… “You’re not good enough. Forget it. Give it up. You’re a loser.”
Best way to tackle it? Tell it to shut the *bleep* up and keep on trucking on. Expect it to visit, expect the imposter to knock you off balance, accept the wobbles and move on.
(And know that every one of us occasionally thinks it too.)
EXPERIENCING ‘UNPLEASANTNESS’ FROM OTHER BLOGGERS
This has only happened to me a little, but more than anything, it is this darkness that has shaken me to my blogging core. The thing which has upset me more than anything else.
In four years, I’ve had one blogger ‘un-friend’ me and go out of their way to badmouth me to other people. I’ve had a couple of bloggers – whom I thought were good friends – distance themselves from me for no reason. I’ve even had a blogger question my motives for blogging.
All of this has been pretty horrid at times.
The blogging community is growing larger by the day and in the main, most bloggers are good souls. But at some point, it happens. Someone gets pissed with your behaviour. Someone who was a friend, attacks you for no reason. Someone thinks you’ve got a bit too big for your boots.
And it’s not nice, but it is part of blogging life.
I’ve learned over the past twelve months that the best way to tackle the unpleasantness, is to seek out the ‘good eggs’ and stick with them.
Observe how bloggers treat people. Listen to what they say about others and always keep your head and ‘friend’ standards high.
ATTRACTING A TROLL
It happens to most people at some point. And I’m going to give them as many words as they deserve – very few.
Ignore them. Delete their comments. Block them and report. And never feed them. Don’t let them suck your creativity, happiness or passion dry. Don’t, as they say, let the b******s get you down.
Some people just want to cause misery and pain. Crazy yes, but true. So let karma do her work, concentrate on yours and be grateful that what you’re contributing to the world is nothing at all like what they are.
Having a blog is a bit like being the birthday girl at your own party. Everyone wants a slice of you.
Mostly this comes from a place of genuine interest or a genuine business proposition which is lovely. But sadly there are some people who think it’s OK to use you and your blog for their own ends and to their advantage.
This is why we get emails from brands asking us to promote them for free. This is why you will get bloggers you’ve never spoken to or heard of, asking to guest post on your blog. This is why, given half the chance, some people will bleed you dry of your blogging knowledge without even saying thank you.
It happens. And has certainly happened to me.
Users walk amongst us. In every part of life. And the blogging world is absolutely no different.
So learn the art of saying no. Know your worth and value your blog. And remember, if an ‘opportunity’ offers nothing for you, it is not an ‘opportunity’.
FEELING LIKE A FAILURE
Blogs are our online worlds which we create. But they are ruled by numbers. King Stats and Queen Figures.
How many followers? How many visits? How many likes? How many shares?
Numbers are everywhere in our world. Which is fine until…you let them dictate your worth. Fine until .. the rulers of the online world, become your rulers.
It’s OK to be disappointed when a post you write doesn’t receive the attention you think it deserves. It’s perfectly normal to feel disgruntled when you don’t get the traffic you’d like or your social media channels aren’t growing quickly enough for you.
But it’s really not OK and actually bloody ridiculous really, if you let these numbers, even for one second, determine your worth or that of your blog.
Numbers are things we can easily measure, which is why we use them. But what cannot be measured is how you changed somebody’s life because of a story you shared. What cannot be measured is how you helped someone feel less alone. What cannot be measured is the joy having a blog can bring to your world.
And regardless of what we’re all led to believe, numbers are not the best judge of a blog’s quality or an audience.
Lots of followers doesn’t necessarily equal an engaged audience. Lots of traffic doesn’t necessarily mean great content.
So don’t become a number junkie, constantly craving more. Because let me tell you friend, you’ll always feel hungry.
Blog because you must. Blog because you love it. Blog because you give a shit! And let the numbers take care of themselves.
When I was an editor of a magazine, deadline day would be exhausting and fraught. But I would always get through it because I knew that the next day, I’d be able to pause a little and reboot.
It was the same when I worked on a weekly newspaper too.
But there is no ‘end’ in sight when it comes to blogging because it is continuous.
This is partly why blogging is so popular and loved. But this is also why so many of us suffer burnout or blogger fatigue.
Last year I launched a new blog To Dream Of Dresses. Ever hopeful, I mistakenly believed that I would be able to manage two blogs, working just a couple of days a week. I tried, I pushed, I gave it my all and yet still I crashed and burned.
It was impossible.
One day, when I have more time (perhaps when Elsie is at school) it will come back, but it taught me a valuable lesson. If you want to have longevity in blogging, you have to learn to pace yourself.
You have to create the pause. The time when you can reboot.
So take your time. Have a break. Go on holiday! Disappear and return later if you must. The blogging world will still be here when you get back.
PEOPLE STEALING YOUR WORK
Someone may steal your blog post and publish it elsewhere. They may use your photos. They may even (unbelievably) pretend to be you.
The online world is a messy, sinister place on occasion but what’s the alternative?
To disappear? To stop contributing? To stop creating?
Most people don’t steal and thankfully most of us would never dream of doing so. But should it happen, you have to confront it and try and nip it in the bud.
‘Remind’ people of ‘copyright’. Ask for it to be removed. Be mindful of the photos you post, particularly when it comes to your child or children. Remind people of the law and if need be, get help to enforce it.
But don’t disappear. Don’t let them diminish you and don’t ever let them stop you building your dream.
If your blog starts to become popular and doors start to open, you will probably also need to find room for the green eyed monster in your world.
The monster may start off small, teeny even. An odd remark expressed by a friend. A note of sarcasm in someone’s voice. But it can grow and probably will, the bigger your blog – and you (as a blogger) – become.
An odd remark may turn into many. Friends may ditch you. People may stop liking your work or sharing it. Even family members may turn against you and say “who do you think you are?”
It happens sadly. And often from the people you’d suspect the least.
Some people don’t like it when you are perceived to be ‘successful’. And many don’t like it when you change or grow as a person, something which blogging actively encourages.
It’s also really hard for people who don’t blog to understand what it’s all about.
They think it’s easy. They think you pose too much. They think it’s pointless.
Most people have absolutely no idea how much work goes into a blog or how hard it is to maintain one. So the green eyed monster feeds and grows and then attacks.
It will hurt. It will cause pain. It will make you question people’s love for you.
But when it happens just remember this – it is the very best sign you could ever ask for to show you that you’re absolutely on the right track and heading towards great things.
So there you have it! The dark side of blogging. What do you think to the list and have I missed anything out?! Bloggers, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.