It seems everyone and their mother has a blog these days. Some people love that and some people hate the abundance of blogs on the internet. I personally think it is great. I don’t understand why anyone that blogs thinks they have some kind of set claim on the blogging world. A blog is a personal website, anyone can (and should) have one if they want.
Blogs serve so many purposes. It is interesting to me to see how people initially get into blogging and the evolution of their site. Everyone has the same objective when starting a blog: they want it to be read. Now by who, that is different for everyone and sometimes the viewership changes over time.
I started my blog with the goal of keeping our family informed about where we were in the adoption process. I soon realized that I was learning the most about adoption through bloggers sharing their struggles rather than from the books I was buying or the scholarly research we were doing on the subject. I still only had family reading my blog at that point, but I started writing consciously knowing someone might stumble upon our blog and it might be helpful to them in their journey.
During the early stages of the blog, we were really into keeping the identities of our children private. I wouldn’t use any form of Aram’s name on the blog and I would blur his face out if he was turned towards the camera. Through thought and discussions, our perception of privacy changed and the amount of information we felt comfortable sharing changed with it. I like being able to see both sides of the privacy issue. It is a completely individualized decision and there is no right or wrong answer for a family.
My blog seemed to stick to two themes: adoption and normalizing breastfeeding. Our readership eventually evolved from extended family to adoption families and people going through the adoption process to include people breastfeeding past infancy and “attachment parenting”. We were reading their blogs, and they were reading ours. It was a way to share information and encourage other families who were going through similar experiences.
Blogging, to me, was the equivalent of a stamp collection. It was (and still is) a hobby- a meaningful one- but it was something I put time and effort into because it was something important to me, not for other people. I wanted to be able to show it to my kids when they were older – like an online scrapbook. I had fun playing with the design and at one point Brian paid for me to have a cartoon design made that we all thought was really fun.
Things changed when I moved out to Los Angeles and connected with my good friend, Alexandra, the Beverly Hills Mom. Alexandra invited me to MomsLA and brought me into a world of blogging that I didn’t know existed. I found out people invited bloggers to events for coverage and there was a whole world targeting bloggers to help market their products. Some of you may know that I’m very cheap, so hearing “free” got me excited! I learned about SEOs, analytics, page ranks, and every other technical aspect of a blog that helps with traffic or measures success. It was fascinating. Watching the statistics of a page was addicting. It became like a game, trying to figure it out. How to make the numbers go up, what made them go down, why weekends sucked so bad for blog traffic…it was fun to learn.
I really enjoyed this aspect and all the information I was learning but I felt it wasn’t helping the voice of my blog. I knew my blog would always be a hobby and was never going to make a significant amount of money, but there were avenues I had no idea could be explored through it.
Then the cover came out in May and really threw things for a loop. My little site crashed because I was not expecting any traffic to be generated from the Time cover. After all, we were subjects in a photo for an article that wasn’t about about us and really had nothing to do with my blog. I think the funniest aspect of the Time cover in regards to the blog was hearing some of the other bloggers give their interpretation of our intentions with the Time cover. Of course, anyone’s assumptions (really about anything) always have more to do with that person’s filter – their own personal experiences, fears, and ambitions. Remembering this has helped me ignore the strange reactions from people regarding the cover. What they are expressing (as much as they don’t realize this) has nothing to do with us- it is completely personal and a reflection of themselves. The one that cracked us up the most was a mother that was in a blogging group I was in who seemed to have never visited my blog. She had no idea one of the main themes of my blog was normalizing breastfeeding (which poses another issue of bloggers not bothering to do 5 seconds of research, but that is for a different post…) and questioned why I would ever pose like that, and whether it would be right for my brand. Haha, brand? Now, brand could very well be important for her, but not every blogger has the same objective. Branding is important for a lot of reasons, in a lot of ways, but I’m assuming the majority of bloggers don’t make every life choice based on bettering their blog. Brian at one point was laughing so hard he said, “Good thing Martin Luther King didn’t have a blog, or this country would be officially f*cked up because he wouldn’t have wanted to mess with his brand.” *It’s probably important to mention we in no way consider ourselves even remotely close to MLK Jr. with what we are trying to do*, but the point was that if we don’t stand up for causes we believe in because it might hurt our “brand”, we are truly screwed up as a society.
Nevertheless, there was a good point to be made. After the chaos of the cover, I gained a ton of perspective. I questioned whether or not I should shut down the blog, and decided that would be a waste of an opportunity. All of the fun aspects I was learning about prior to the cover had essentially become meaningless. The traffic I was getting was crazy, but it seemed cheap and trollish. I didn’t post until the traffic died down and leveled out. I assumed at that point that the people coming on a regular basis were generally interested in what I had to say, and those are the people I wanted to read my blog. Which brings us full circle: the point is, for every blogger, you want people to read it!
I then decided that if the blog was going to continue it needed to be vehemently dedicated to it’s purpose: To support and encourage mothers and work towards a global community.
This decision leaves me wondering if that gives me opportunities to work with companies in the future. We decided any money made from the blog will be donated to Fayye Foundation projects, but how do we now go about working with companies?
I think that is an interesting and unknown part of this next chapter for the blog. I know I like where it’s going. Instead of taking $75 to put an ad at the top of a post, or writing a review for free clothes sent to me, I feel good about saying no. Not because I think it’s wrong, but I think having a clear goal in mind allows us to easily pick and choose what is right and wrong for this blog.
I know a lot of professional bloggers and they are totally rocking it. They have a clear purpose for their blog, too. So where that ad makes no sense at the top of my blog post, it makes complete sense for theirs, or when one of my blogging buddies reviews clothes, those free clothes are a perfect fit for their blog.
Since I’m still figuring all of this out right now, my advice for everyone is just experiment until you have a clear objective for your blog. Blogging is fun, and if you are enjoying it, then why do you need a direction or “brand” immediately? The blog is for you and your enjoyment, especially early on. However, if you are wanting to get more serious and you have a message to spread, figure out your purpose and work with companies accordingly. Don’t sell out for a quick buck, and if something feels like it isn’t a good fit for your blog, simply say no. Your content and message is too important to compromise for an enticing offer that makes no sense for what you are trying to accomplish. More offers and good things will come if you stay true to your mission and message.