Removing the ulterior motives

by Ginger on January 18, 2011

in Blogging & Social Media

*warning: post ahead is a navel gazing look at blogging. Be ye warned.

Last week, I had a really crummy day. I got sucked into a vortex of grouchy, moody, no good feelings. Some of that was probably hormonal (ok, a lot of it), some of it some work stuff that was irritating me, and some of it…well, I just was in a bad mood.

In this bad mood, I was very down on myself. I hadn’t cracked the top ten losers on the Biggest Blogging Loser challenge–so why bother trying anymore(yes, after a week. Shut up, I said I was having a bad day)? I was tired of having the same fruitless arguments at work–why even attempt them? I was sick of not being good enough at being a mom, or a wife, or a friend.

And of course, in the midst of this came a (luckily for me quite rare) case of “why the hell am I bothering to blog?”-itis. I was seeing people with blogs that were mere months old that far surpassed the traffic and followers of my 2.5 year old blog. I was seeing people “making it big” when the only thing I could see that they had going for them was their ability to hustle and sell themselves. I was watching people get nominated for awards who–honestly–I can write circles around (and that’s saying something).

And then, like a perfectly timed gift from the universe, Anna linked to this article, Creating Without Ulterior Motives, on Facebook. At first, I’ll be honest, I clicked through out of a mild curiosity on the author (randomly, my husband used to work with Skellie. Her name pops up every so often and I get curious as to how she’s faring in a very, VERY different part of the internet universe than the one I occupy). But then, as I read, I realized it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

I encourage you all to read the article, but the general gist of it is that as the internet has become a place for fortunes (ha) to be made, the idea of creating just to create has been lost. Everything is done with purpose–will this blog post bring me more traffic? Will this follower bring me closer to the dollah bills I need/deserve/want? And that, in general, you’ll find more fulfillment and happiness if you create not for those reasons, but for yourself. For your own pleasure–or for the pleasure of the connections it brings you rather than the “traffic” it creates.

I don’t think I’ve made any secret of the fact that I’d like this blog to be a little more than what it is currently. My “big” goal is for this blog and for NoodleKnobs, in some way, to bring in enough money to pay for the costs that go with them: hosting, domain registration, and in my current dream of dreams, money to go to one conference per year.

But reading that post by Skellie reminded me that I blog first and foremost because I love it. I love the little community I have here. I love putting my thoughts down “on paper.” I adore the people I’ve met through this blog, and I love feeling like I’m just chatting with you guys. I’m not a master sales person, I can’t hawk myself a million ways from Sunday just to drive up follower numbers. I’d rather have 12 of you who read me and chat with me, even if it means I never make a dime on this site, than 1200, or 12000 who are just a number in a sidebar. I didn’t get into blogging for awards, money, fame, or fortune–and despite a rare bad day, I can still say that 2.5 years later.

I’m going to keep working to make RambleRamble (and NoodleKnobs, and yes, the very rarely updated Essentials) a little bigger–hopefully bringing in a little money, which of course means I need higher traffic, and all the trappings that come with that–but Skellie reminded me that I don’t want to lose what I have to get that. I don’t want to create everything with an ulterior motive, I don’t want to always be watching those numbers, and I DON’T want to sell my soul for “blogging success.”

I’d rather we just be able to chat. And if I never hit it big but I get that? Well, I’ll count myself lucky.

(that being said, I am going to throw this out there. If there’s anything you guys wish I’d blog about more or less, or things you’d like to see, or general comments about any of the blogs, I’m open to hearing your feedback–either in the comments or by email. What’s a conversation without others to converse with right?).

Lisa January 18, 2011 at 7:07 am

First, let me say thank you for The Essentials. Thanks to your post there, I bought some of that Oxi Clean spray stuff and it is miraculous. Had a little leaky diaper situation in the rock and play sleeper, which my husband went to clean up while I cleaned the baby. This means, he cleaned the worst of it and then threw the cover on top of the wash where it sat for a couple of days. No pre-treating, stain spray, nothing. I sprayed some of that stuff on there, threw in the wash, and it looks good as new. HOW DO THEY DO THAT?

And on to the real point of your post… I’m not a fan of huge blogs. I’ll read Dooce occasionally, but for the most part, I’m not entertained by people that are in it for money, and they don’t have the sense of community that I am looking for. I think when the main focus is making bank, it’s very apparent. But, I’ve seen blogs that have some small sponsors that don’t seem to lose their voice or write like they’ve sold their soul to The Man or anything like that. I think you could sell some ad space to Etsy shops and other bloggers that want to promote themselves and make a few bucks and still keep your site completely yours.

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm

That stuff is MAGIC. I don’t know what makes it work, but I believe fairy dust might be a part of it.

I don’t know if I could ever sell my soul to The Man on my blog–I do that enough at my day job (badumbum). But I think you’re right that I could find some small ways to bring in some money without turning this blog into a totally commercial seeming endeavor.

Lisa January 19, 2011 at 7:27 am

I’ve read some other stuff that made me want to re-visit this discussion. Specifically I just saw something in the “quit your day job” vein, and I’m really starting to wonder if that’s a good thing to promote. I’ve seen a few bloggers that have done this and are writing about how they quit to become full time bloggers, or they picked up and moved cross country with nothing but the shirt on their back, all to follow their dream of being a writer.

I can understand frustration with the corporate world, but is this ‘quit your job to be a blogger’ trend really a good thing to promote? I mean, it’s not just people thinking they could make money blogging, others are out saying “I did this, and you *should* to.” Or that’s the impression I’m getting.

Ginger January 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

You know, that’s something that’s always bugged me. It’s one thing to say, hey, here’s ways to make money, or here’s what I did. It’s entirely another to say “and not only CAN you, but you should!”. But that aspirational piece of it, for those of us fed up with the corporate drag, that’s what keeps those bloggers in traffic.

Even in my most delusional days, I never, ever, ever thought that blogging would allow me to quit my job. Because let’s be honest, most people who are quitting their jobs are not doing it by blogging. Consulting, marketing, freelance writing, sure. But blogging alone? No.

Krissie January 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

Nice points. I needed to read something like this. I’ve been losing interest in most blogs, just sick of all the money money money focus. At first I thought it was jealously on my part, I’ve had my site for almost 10 years and about five readers. But it’s more than that. I feel a big giant meandering ramble coming on, so I’ll stop here. Basically, I agree with you.

And give yourself a break. Weaning causes a massive crash of hormones. At least it did for me. Totally unexpected and unwelcome.

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I know what you mean about losing interest in blogs that are just money money money. I hope I’m not treading that line too much, because it does get boring. And you can tell in the writing for MOST people–it changes. That’s part of what really spoke to me about Skellie’s post, that I don’t want to lose that creative/me-ness of blogging, even if I’d like a little $. I’ll give up one but not the other.
And man, yeah, those hormones kinda kicked me in the ass. I was warned about them, but it was like a wall of feeling like crap. Not fun!

Brooke January 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I was just thinking about this in the car today. While I would love to say that I make money off my blog, the reality is that I haven’t even tried. I signed up for Google ads a long time ago, but I didn’t want my blog getting bogged down, so I was very picky about only having unobtrusive ads. And I’d be hesitant to change that even if I was getting far more traffic.

I see my blog as a launching pad, a place to build traffic and interest so that one day I can write in more professional venues (*cough cough*Likeabook *cough cough*).

I see people who drive traffic by being plain obnoxious, and that’s not in any way compelling to me… as a writer or a reader.

But really, I really don’t like doing what everyone else is doing (which is funny since I blog!).

That said, I do very much pay attention to what drives traffic and try to be more compelling in my writing because I do want to increase my audience. I just don’t want to have to sell ads as well. OR make my life about my blog, which I have tried to do in the past, and it’s cumbersome.

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm

It’s funny because I have lots of things that I’m firm in in my head. I won’t do Google ads. I would only do sidebar ads (which of course are more work and require more traffic than I’ve got right now). I won’t do LOTS of things for traffic that other people do.
But when it comes to posting, I just write whatever’s on my mind on any given day. Which, admittedly, is part of my traffic problem, but I just can’t seem to give it up. And, even if I could, my traffic never seems to come on the posts that I expect.

bekah January 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I love blogging, I honestly think I would do it even if no one ever read it, it’s a fun place for me to be creative. That said..I still get in moods where I just want to throw my laptop because the words are not working…and thats saying a lot because I am totally one of those people that you can write circles around!

The ONLY thing I wish you did more, and this is simply because I like it, is to post pictures more. When I first came across your blog, I put it in my reader, but it took me a few months to feel like I ‘knew’ you. Now I have been reading for a while and yours is one of the first I check in reader to see if it has been updated. I hope that that doesnt sound like pretentious, unsolicited advice, it’s just want I like in a blog…I have no idea if that is what other people like! I can honestly say though, keep doing what you are doing! I love it.

bekah January 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I reread that, and it sounded weird to me. I hope it didn’t come off offensively! I really enjoy reading your posts.

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Not at all! I know what you mean (and I asked for input, so thank you!). I’ve been meaning to get back to posting photos more–several people have given me that suggestion/advice, and it’s one I KNOW I should do more. I’ve struggled with it lately, but I know I like to see blogs with more pictures, so I should do what I like to see right?

Brooke January 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Great point about the pictures. I need to remember to do that more too!

Cheryl January 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

That article was exactly what I needed too. It came at a time when I was letting go of my domain and moving to a free blog. I basically wanted to remove the pressure to make it pay for itself and, therefore, remove the disappointment when that didn’t happen. I hope that move gets me back to creating/writing because I want to.

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm

It’s funny because I’ve had a self-hosted blog from the very beginning, not because I ever had expectations of it paying for itself. I just liked the flexibility better. It’s only been over the last year or so that I’ve started to think of maybe adding money to the mix.
But that article, man, it really hit the nail on the head for me. I won’t give up what I love about this place for money. I can’t. And I needed that reminder!

clara January 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Yeah I don’t know. I stay away from the “monetize your blog” articles because .. that’s not what my blog is for. So I don’t even know how one would monetize a blog. I will still read you, if you choose to monetize your blog!

Don’t get me wrong, I think writing – all art – should be paid. I think it’s amazing that so many of us do the heartfelt, time-consuming writing we do FOR FREE. But on the other hand, I don’t see a good way to make it pay. A way that wouldn’t compromise our principles, make our content beholden (beheld?) to a “boss”, etc. The thing about blogging is, you CAN write about your belly button lint. And you might get less traffic or more traffic that day but you won’t get fired.

I don’t know what else to say. I like what you do. I want *you* to like what you do. Maybe you could look for paid blogging work on another site? For more traffic, maybe more in-depth, personal posts? About your feeeeeeelings, about the real down & dirty stuff that makes you tick. Unless you’re saving that for the tell-all biography 😉

Also, what someone said about the weaning hormones? YES. And after my son weaned completely, back in september, my hormones went bezerk and I had PMS like I was 14 again. Three cycles later it seems to have evened out. I’ve been taking calcium/magnesium supplements before bed every night (I don’t remember where I read about that but I did…once) and maybe that’s made a difference too. FYI.

Ginger January 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

You know, I actually love what I do. I love the randomness about what I write about (heck, it’s right there in the name of the blog–rambling is my strong suit!). I was when I was caught up in the numbers/traffic/money bit of it that I started trying to think of how I would be able to change things to “make money”. That article reminded me that I love this blog in all it’s random glory.
That’s not to say I don’t want to improve it, and my writing, and my focus, but I want to do those regardless of if any traffic comes with me.
This whole discussion has actually been wonderful for my brain. I have a few ideas that I didn’t have before today. Which again, is why I love you guys.

Oh, and I will have to check into that calcium/magnesium supplement idea. I’m still not totally done weaning Jackson, so last week was just a preview of the end–which should scare the shit out of my husband. 🙂

ABDPBT January 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

I liked that article a lot, too, because for me, even if you are trying to monetize, I think your work suffers when you think about it too much. People who are creating stuff just out of pure passion (as cheesy as that sounds) end up with stuff that is just better across the board (and ends up being more marketable often, too). So sometimes it’s good just to think about creating because of that. Also, you never know what blogging is going to be for you — it might lead to opportunities that are not necessarily directly monetized, but they are still things that never would have happened without you putting your best work on display.

Ginger January 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

It may sound cheesy, but it’s pretty true. You can read passion, and personality, and, with MOST writers, you can read when it’s being driven by something else.

And I think you bring up a really good point, about other opportunities opening up through having your best work out there that may not be monetized. I actually tell my husband that all the time–why is it so hard to remember for myself? Because I do think there is more than just the almighty dollar for bloggers.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks January 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

The thing about “successful” bloggers is … they spend a lot of TIME on blogging. They write, read, comment, respond to comments, link, ask to be linked, conference, socialize, etc. It can be a full time job … and it’s one that won’t let you take a break, because the minute you slack a little, people swarm over to the next hottest thing.

There was a time when, despite all I observed above, I still wanted a hot blog. I started networking more, changed the tune of my content, etc. And then, my eyes glazed over and I realized I was like a robot … I didn’t love what I was doing. *This* isn’t what I came to blogging to do in the first place. So, I returned to writing because I like to write. And removed all money-making devices from my blog. And focused on interacting with people on my blog and on their blogs … but, at my pace. On my terms. On my time table. And to be honest, I’m much happier this way.

Ginger January 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Yeah, that time thing is a bitch. But what I’ve come to realize, slowly, is that even if I had all the time in the world, I wouldn’t do some of that stuff. It’s just not in my nature (despite working in marketing, I’m really incapable of promoting myself too much without feeling all squicky about it).
I guess sometimes I just need a reminder about all this stuff, you know? It’s really easy to see the people making the money and “living the dream” (whatever that means), and think, Hey how come them and not me? Well, in this case, the answer is “because they do, and write about, things I’m not willing to.” And I’m ok with that. After the little reminder anyway.

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