I’ve had a lot of weird blogger feelings lately.
Introspective, ‘what does it all mean’ type of feelings.
And with our recent move from Richmond to Colorado Springs (that included a road trip, job hunting, house searching, and car buying) and traveling to California (another road trip) for the holidays, I thought it was time to take a blogging break.
I was hoping this blogging break would give me the clarity to decide whether I wanted to for sure continue blogging or leave it in the past, but it really hasn’t resulted in that a-ha moment I was hoping for.
So in natural blogger fashion, I’m going to blog about it.
With pictures of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing these past few weeks.
Why I Started Blogging
Let’s start from the beginning shall we? Why did I start blogging almost 3 years ago?
Well I’ve always loved fashion and travel, and as a blog reader I thought it would be fun to have one myself where I get to talk about what I like. But it was more of a passing thought. And then I moved on with my day.
Over time as a military spouse, I started to feel really helpless. Of course there are a lot of great things about being a dependent (that’s the official term if you didn’t know for spouses and children of service members). I got to live in Germany for 3 years and I have amazing benefits that I’m very grateful for. But my life revolved around my husband’s job. It’s a very demoralizing feeling.
So I started to take seriously the idea of blogging as a way to have something that was mine and that I would have complete control over. I mean, I would be the content creator, photographer, editor, and spokesperson for my very own blog! And I would get to talk about things I love!
SO I DID IT.
I started Countdown to Friday so I could share affordable style and all about my European travels.
And it was fun!
But also so much harder than I ever thought. I had to learn about manual photography, a little CSS (internet code!), the business of Pinterest, creating a cohesive Instagram (still haven’t figured that out), how to work with companies, and too much more to list out!
I saw it as a challenge that I was so passionate about. Seeing your page views increase and follower count grow or just having someone tell you that a travel post helped them on their trip means the world as a blogger.
And it was my thoughts and ideas and content out there for anyone to read. Like my own personal magazine that I designed and shared. I loved making a post look the way I envisioned. Even if my blog stats weren’t improving, I was proud of what I was making.
But it wasn’t all smiles and laughs and accomplishment.
The Bad Side of Blogging
I’ve talked about this before, but blogging costs money. It doesn’t have to, but if you want to have a custom site and your own domain name and tools to help your blog grow, you do have to spend money.
So I told myself that if after a year I wasn’t breaking even, I was going to give up the blog.
Not because all I care about is a making money. But because I spent so much time and effort on making Countdown to Friday better, time that was spent away from my family and friends, that I needed it to mean something. And the pressure to blog regularly while working full time (pressure that I put on myself) was getting to me.
It truly didn’t make sense to put so much money and effort into an aspect of my life in which there was no return. I mean, I loved the challenge of blogging and talking about fashion and travel on my terms, but not when it drained me financially and mentally.
But I didn’t quit after a year because I still really loved blogging.
But over time, more things started to bug me. I’ve been really frustrated with other aspects of the blogger world lately.
If you follow any bloggers at all on Instagram, you’ve seen them tell you in their posts and stories to turn on post notifications, like all of their photos to be entered into a giveaway, comment with a friend’s name for an extra entry, or to save some of their posts. This is because of the Instagram algorithm. It’s getting harder and harder for small blogger’s content to get seen by not only their own followers, but also other potential new followers. Full time bloggers whose lives depend on growing their business are rightfully bothered by this.
This type of business, blogging, where you’re at the whim of social media and algorithms is scary. It’s why people buy followers and fake engagement in order to seem bigger than they really are. Which is shady and not something I want to be a part of.
You might say that I just don’t have what it takes if I’m not willing to hustle to grow. You might be right. But to me, at the end of the day, fashion and travel is not the most important thing at the world. And it can seem frivolous to spend so much time forcing my content in every way that I can to people. I’d rather spend my time doing something more meaningful, or at least good for me (like reading, taking Rascal on a hike, cooking dinner with my husband, or focusing on my career).
And I’ve also been irritated lately by the effect the fashion blogging industry has on expectations for women.
Blogs and Instagram and Pinterest are filled with photos of beautiful women in beautiful outfits living beautiful lives. But that’s not reality. And I think a quality of a great blogger is someone who is honest with their readers about that.
But still, I see bloggers in their 20s getting Botox to get rid of wrinkles (I am alarmed by this. Are we not allowed to age ever?). Or spending hundreds of dollars on clothes that they showcase on their blog and then sell on Poshmark the next month. Or better yet, they leave the tags on the clothes so they can return them after they blog about them. Or even photoshopping their bodies to be slimmer in some places and curvier in others, or to have perfectly airbrushed skin.
Maybe I should be less judgmental. Or not care. Who cares what other bloggers do?
Well, I guess I care because this is a community I’m involved in.
I am fully aware that not every blogger does these things– but I still think it’s a huge issue.
So that’s why I took a blogging break. Because I was frustrated with my own progress, sacrificing time with my family for the blog, the costs, the hustle, and bad things I was seeing in the community.
Why It’s So Easy and So Hard to Let Go
With all the negativity in this post you’re probably surprised as to why I haven’t quit earlier!
I mean, some of that stuff up there is really intense.
But the truth is that I have really loved learning about blogging and myself during these past three years. I enjoy making content, being creative in a different way, engaging with other bloggers, and knowing that stuff I write reaches people and makes a difference. Those are amazing feelings!
When someone told me that they bought and loved a great work bag I raved about on my blog, it was so rewarding. When a friend told me that one of my travel posts was on the first page of Google for that keyword, I was elated.
And even with a post that doesn’t do so great, it’s still fun to see the finished product. I actually love looking back on travel content and reliving my experiences. I showed my dad this post on my favorite experiences in Colombia and he couldn’t believe I did all of that. It’s a really cool way to connect even with your own family.
Which is why blogging is hard to let go. I’ve already built so much and devoted so much time and I really do love it sometimes.
It would hurt to say goodbye.
So I don’t know what I’m going to do.
My feelings are exactly like I’ve said above, but I have some things I still want to share.
I might relax my blog expectations and accept Countdown to Friday as a fun outlet instead of a challenge. I might let it go. I might come back full force. Who knows.
Before closing out I want to thank everyone (friends, family, and internet friends) who has supported me and Countdown to Friday over the years. It’s hard to put yourself out there in the crazy internet, and it really meant a lot to me that people cared enough to like, comment, share, or even just listen to me vent about blogging. I can’t really put into words how nice it was to have friends and family encourage me through the scary thing of making a blog.
Here’s to not knowing where Countdown to Friday is going in 2019 and knowing no matter what that it will all be okay 🥂