Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When Blogging Was Just Blogging

There was a time when I used to blog for the love of blogging.  I moved to an island in the middle of one of the Great Lakes and needed an outlet to ward off isolation (though I was in love with the Island, I missed my loved ones) and to share my new life with my friends and family far away.

I blogged about my life on an island and in a small rural Northern Ontario town. Did you know that the Island is the world's largest fresh water lake island? The blog also served as a place where I planned my wedding details and asked readers for tips and advice. I asked about things like wedding etiquette, what kinds of bombonieres to give guests at our wedding, what kind of food to serve, music to play, etc. That was back in 2006. I had no idea that people other than my friends and family could read the blog until comments started filtering in.

Why would anyone other than my friends and family want to read a boring blog like mine?

All of a sudden, I had a core group of friends in the blogosphere whose blogs I frequented.  We commented on each other's blogs religiously.  We blogged for the love of blogging.  Things were different back then. I miss the daily banter between Ms.Mamma, JellyJules, Uncivil, Wisconsin Candy Dish, and Curiosity Killer.  The only one from that vintage who still corresponds via the blog regularly is CanineCologne.  Though I keep in touch with my old school bloggy friends, it's outside of the blog. Canine has actually visited us with her family twice in the past few years and is a regular fixture in our loves via email, phone calls, text messages and care packages.

Where was I?  Oh, right...

Then I ended up on complete bed rest for my high risk pregnancy, and to my surprise, blog friends around the world were watching, praying, giving me phone calls from California and New Zealand!  It's hard to describe the amazing friendships the blog brought me.  It was a community family that was built.  Genuine interest and genuine comments.

Little One catapulted herself into existence at 28 weeks gestation.  It the most difficult and the most terrifying time of my life.  Our life in the NICU lasted 72 days.  It was a long and challenging journey for us, yet she proved (and continues to prove) what a fighter she really is.

I had become a Mommy.

I was a Mom with a blog.  I guess by default, that made the blog a "Mom blog".  I blogged about life with a preemie, parenting, and everything under the sun.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

That was then

This is now

All of a sudden, the blog morphed into something else.  It turned into a way I could supplement our family income.  I was able to put teaching English on the back burner because I was monetizing the blog.  I was shocked to see how the blog took on a life of its own.

There was a brief time a few years ago (I think Little One was two years old), when I wanted to shut down the blog.  I went on a brief hiatus.  It was turning into something that wasn't me.  I felt like I was losing my voice and losing the reason I started blogging in the first place.  Though the blog had been around since 2006, I didn't really start monetizing until 2009 and wasn't even seriously blogging until 2010.  That's when all the big opportunities started coming in.  The blog also became secondary to all the social media jobs I was getting as an offshoot of the blog.  My main job is with PTPA as their Social Media Community Manager on Twitter.  Had I not started a blog back in 2006, I wouldn't have opened up a Twitter account.  Had I not opened up a Twitter account, I would not have engaged and formed relationships like I did on Twitter.  Had I not done all of that, I wouldn't have been given the amazing jobs I am now happily working at.  It's almost dizzying to think of how one thing led to another and how so much has changed.

A girlfriend of mine shared her new blog with me and as I read, it was bitter sweet to me.  She recently moved to the Island and started her blog for pretty much the same reasons I did back in 2006.  Her blog posts made me smile.  Reading her posts made me wistful and nostalgic. That was me seven years ago.  Holy smokes! Seven years? That's crazy!

As I read my friend's blog, I remember a time when blogging was just blogging.  I remember a time when I blogged because I loved it.  I still love it, but sometimes I feel like the blogging world has turned blogs into something else.  It's not a bad thing - As long as we preserve our voice and continue to write about what we love and are passionate about.

I guess I just miss the older blogs where people used to visit and read each other's posts. I mean really read and comment.  Don't get me wrong.  I love each and every comment I receive and I adore my friends and readers.  There's a kinship I feel with those in my blogging community.  I do feel people who comment on the blog are genuine in their comments.  It's just that somewhere between the reviews and giveaways, and producing posts like you're a machine, I think we've lost something.  We may be gaining readers and followers, but part of me just misses the old school blog.

I love the blog and all it has given me.  It's an extension of me and something to keep for posterity.  It has given me so many incredible opportunities from ambassadorships and conferences, to sponsored posts and making fabulous friends (many of whom are not simply online friends, but in real life friends too). Feeling a little nostalgic and wistful tonight. Kind of miss the old school blogs.

Know what I'm sayin'?

End of rant.

Please show my friend, New Country Mama Manitoulin some love.  She's new around here. :)


MamaLad said...

I completely relate to this post! My first blog was about my daughter and was a way to keep family and friends up to date on what was happening in her and our life as a new family.
I started my MamaBlog when I was pregnant with my son. The main reason I started it is because I honestly like to spread the word about great stuff. I've been like this forever. My co-workers laugh because they know that if they need any travel tips or have a question about something new on the market they can come to me.
I absolutely love my blog now. Its so much fun for me and the kids. I do miss my old blog but I still feel that I keep my family and friends up to date with our life.

Insane Mamacita said...

I've been struggling with the same thoughts. I never knew there was another side to blogging besides writing my thoughts. Then, I got caught up in it and it started to feel like work. It still somewhat does. So, I haven't written in over a month. I miss it. I want my inspiration, creativity and excitement surrounding blogging to come back. The best thing about it all is all of the amazing friends I have made throughout the experience on FB and on Twitter.

Christine McN said...

I hear you! I do love the blog and what it has turned into. I miss the times when it was more about content though. I think that a balance between reviews, giveaways, sponsored posts and your own personal posts all make a great blog. Feeling nostalgic (not morose though! LOL!) about a time that seems so long ago.

Christine McN said...

Insane Mamacita:
I go through periods of having writer's block and feeling uninspired when I see my editorial calendar filled up with something due every day of the week. I've learned to only choose the opps I love and leave the rest.

I am thankful for the blog and for everything it has given me. In the process of making some changes though. I'll keep you posted! :)

merinz said...

Hi - it me! Still here. Still reading your blog!

I felt all nostalgic when I read your post - we were like a little community.

I have moved on a little, and stayed the same too. At my stage of life things dont change perhaps as much as they do for you people with young children.

Keep on bloggin'!

Christine McN said...

Hello, dear friend!!! It has been so long! Your comment made my day, as I have missed you so much! That reference to the phone call from NZ was the one from YOU! Such comfort during a scary time. Okay, I'm going to cry just thinking about it!

Do you realize that when you called back in the Fall of 2008, Hubby and my family had to move my bed into the living room and set up everything so I could access things from my bed? Complete bed rest was AWFUL! Having to be waited on hand and foot was AWFUL! It kept baby in for 7 extra weeks, so I know it was necessary. You and our blog friends back then helped me get through so much! Wish I could hug you right now. xo

merinz said...

Chrissy - you must be online right now!

Yes I remember those days well as I tried to imagine the logistics of coping with bedrest all day and every day. Those extra seven weeks would have made all the difference to Little One - and its nice to know that we all helped in a way! A modern way - through the internet.

hugs to you too OOXX

Christine McN said...

Yes! Still up and it's nearly 2AM! I guess I should head to bed. Don't know why I'm feeling so nostalgic tonight. Thankful for all the love and support you have given back when I was going through the bed rest and life with a preemie.

The internet is an incredible thing, isn't it? :)

I seriously cried when I saw your comment! Hope all is well where you are! Jealous of all the warm weather and fresh fruit you have access to on a regular basis in NZ!

Positively Pampered Patty said...

I hear you Christine. I love to write and when I began blogging it was for business, but it changed into something more personal for me which I loved. I also found monetizing the blog which I've only done a little can take away from the personal feeling of a blog if it's not done right. There has to be balance. Since November I've been focused on clean eating food related posts which is also personal for me as this is a journey I want to share with people.

Mt writing doesn't bring in money even though that would be everyone's dream. It's the sponsored posts and reviews that do that. So I have opted to wait until something comes along that fits. I know it will. I just have to be patient. I know there are always fantastic opportunities around the corner that stem from my little online journal. :)

Once the direction is known it becomes easier to identify who and what kinds of product to work with that make sense. I do understand you nostalgia because I've kept a journal my entire life and imagine if one day someone offered me a way to make money and support my family with it? It would be hard to give it up.

I sometimes feel I don't fit it in with the style of bloggers I am friends with but there is beauty in that. The fact that we are all so different and yet we can relate to each other. When we become friends in real life, it's just cherries on top.

Erin D said...

I was just having this conversation with my husband a couple of days ago. On the one hand, I love that it brings in some income, as you said, from connected side jobs. On the other hand, it feels so SERIOUS some days, with deadlines looming and posts/articles due elsewhere.

I wouldn't trade blogging for anything but I kind of wonder if it'd all fall apart if I took a blogging break once in a while....have I built a house of cards, or would it keep the readership anyway, you know? Thanks for sharing your feelings, Christine. It's nice to know I'm not alone! :)

Lena! said...

Ah, I remember this time too. But never forget that you're a business owner; you own your blog - the companies waiting for product reviews do not.

So if you feel like dropping everything to write an awesome post like this one, in the end, it makes your blog even more fabulous :) Loved it!

Maya Fitzpatrick said...

love love love this post. I've onlt been doing this for just over a year now and I already feel so overwhelmed by all of the "extra" stuff. don't get me wrong... I love it bc I'm choosing to learn more about social media strategy. it's intriguing but it def feels stressful at times. tnx for the reminder that it's ok to blog just for the sake of blogging. xoxo your online & real life friend :)

Meri said...

I can completely relate to this. Seems like I have lost track of 'blogging' also, really have to make a conscious effort to get back on track. Great post that I am sure most bloggers can relate to!

Christine McN said...

You know what? THAT'S why I read and love your blog. Your writing is beautiful. It's so refreshing.

Christine McN said...

Thank YOU! I'm glad to hear that I'M not alone! :)

Christine McN said...

Thank you so much for that comment. You've raised some really great points. The blog IS a business and it's true...we own our blogs and not the other companies waiting for reviews.

Thanks for the reminder! :)

Christine McN said...

Have I told you lately how much I adore you? You are so lovely.

Christine McN said...

Thanks so much, my friend. I was surprised to see how many people could relate. So glad I'm not the only one who feels this way :)

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I miss those days a lot. Sometimes I go to my old blog posts and look at comments, then click over to see the person's blog, and it's gone or neglected, and it makes me sad. I used to have SO many ideas to write about, even if they were silly, and now it hardly occurs to me anymore. Part of that is the audience. If I know I'm writing for Chrissy and Tracy and Cherry and Liz and Dorothy, then I'm motivated. If I don't think anyone will read, or very few, it's hard to get the motivation.

I miss your old blog. My child is at such a different phase in her life than yours (she's 17), that the giveaways and reviews rarely connect with my life. I do stop by and look, but I'll confess, I sometimes don't read if it's a review for something that I don't have interest in.

Having said that, I really admire how you've been able to monetize your blog in a way that helps the family, that satisfies you professionally, and gives you skills that you can bring forward in your life. You are amazing, and you are setting a wonderful example for your Little One, of how to take your circumstances and make them work, so that you can do what you want to do. :)

<3 <3 <3

~ J

Christine McN said...

That is exactly what I mean. I miss that. My friends who don't blog and who have been following the blog have asked if I feel like a sell-out. They only asked because I majored in English and am in love with the written word. To see me post about reviews and such, is surprising to them. Not that it's a bad thing. It's just different now. I do miss our old blogging days. I miss you, Cherry, Dot and the gang. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Hey Christine!
I totally get it. It's the old conundrum (hehe, love that word!) about "getting paid to do what you love". The problem is, once you get paid to do it, it becomes more like work than what you used to love to do. Good for you for recognizing it! Hopefully you will write more posts that are truly for the pleasure of writing them than for anything else. Love reading your posts! Keep going!

Sny Med said...

Christine, I think there has to be a balance of "old school" blog posts and the "other" posts. Although I only started blogging 17 months ago, I have received some great opportunities for myself and my family in exchange for blog publicity.

I saw make time to write both kinds of blog posts.


Jennifer Van Huss said...

I totally agree Christine! I began blogging as a way to share the good, bad and the ugly parenting tips with people, stuff I wanted to read about and wish had been available when my first son was born. What I didn't realize when I began blogging that it was a cut throat, tough business. There is always the feeling that you need to be better, reach more people and get those numbers up. I'm grateful for the friendships I've made but I love when I write about something that means the world to me!

Multi-Testing Mommy said...

I totally know what you're saying!!!
I've been blogging since 2005 and didn't start doing it for a business until 2010. It does change things for sure, not for the bad, just different! I love you and so glad I have found you as a friend.

Randa Derkson said...

I first started blogging to share recipes, then offers started to pour in. I'm determined to turn this into a business.

Fab Frugal Mama said...

I would have never met you had it not been for Twitter... so I'm happy your blog is exactly the way it is. :) That being said, I too struggle with the balance - and I don't even monetize mine! I do try, however, to make sure I post real stories and information I'd normally share anyway. If I love a product, I share it - sponsored or not! And I *only* share what I love - sponsored or not. It's all about integrity and you've got that in spades, so you'll be just fine my friend. xo

Whispered Inspirations said...

My blog started off as a place to just write. Now, it's become much more than that and I love how I can use my blog for expression and also to provide things for my family. I do miss writing just to write though. While I still do that, I would love to do more of it.

Dayna W said...

I can completely understand where you're coming from.. but I'd also say that there are those of us who read quietly and don't necessarily comment very often. I read a lot of blogs and kind of cherry pick articles that apply to or interest me. Sometimes things you write really touch me or make me laugh, but I don't always comment because I can't be bothered...I know, bummer for you to hear, but sometimes life is just too busy. Anyway, try to take heart in the fact that there are those of us out there who are listening quietly...and I'll try to comment more often :)

Christine McN said...

Thanks so much for that. You're so right :) I do think a balance -- a bit of everything is a good mix to have. I have no idea what spurred on that bout of nostalgia! LOL!

Christine McN said...

Sny Med:
For sure! I agree. Making time to write both kinds of posts is important. I'm also thankful for the very many amazing opportunities the blog has given me (and in turn, my family). Just feeling nostalgic...

caninecologne said...

HI C - Thanks for the super sweet mention. I'm so glad that we met through blogging - that was way back on 2006. Somehow, i felt we had a connection and when we finally did meet in 2010, it was like i'd known you my whole life. you're like another sister to me. :)

I see what you mean about how bloggers' and their blogs have changed. personally, my blog isn't monetized nor do i wish it to be, nor do i need it to be. i don't blog for attention or announce that i blog. i know some folks use it for self-promotion or because they are promoting brands or perhaps "benefiting" from freebies or whatever. sometimes i just want to read a blog that isn't about promoting something but i have to remember that the blogger has a reason for doing what he/she does.

your posts always have a personal touch and that's what keeps me coming back to read your blog. :)

i'm so glad that we still keep in touch. i apologize for not calling or writing as often as i'd like.

this was such a thoughtful post.

Whispered Inspirations said...

I love this post. :) I'm happy the amazing things and experience and friends my blog has brought me. Gotta remember to keep it real and bring that back.

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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