Why do I blog?
I’m surely not the first to ponder this and I doubt I’ll ever be the last. It seems a rite of passage for bloggers to go through an existential crisis around their future, at some point in their blogging career.
Today, I blog for the same reason that I began blogging, to give me an independent outlet for my creative urges, free of clients and briefs. A place where I can explore my ideas, unleashed from the shackles of outcomes and expectation.
Unwittingly, I may have created shackles of my own.
The Blogging Treadmill
The dreaded treadmill, when blogging shifts from a joyous, carefree path of self-expression into a burden of routine and schedules. The weekly post deadlines, the content planning, the social media scheduling (although I keep this to a bare minimum of three tweets a week, only advertising my latest post).
Blogging about a specific topic becomes a treadmill of content creation which feels scary to jump off, especially when there’s an army of regular readers out there who are accustomed to my output. It becomes even more scary when my Google Analytics stats have been climbing over several years and a change in direction feels like an enormous threat to this hard-earned traffic.
But you know what? That doesn’t matter, not one bit. In the same way that my car, phone or sofa will never make me truly happy, neither will my monthly pageview count.
The blogging treadmill is one of the reasons that I have no real desire to ‘monetise’ my blog. I can only begin to imagine the intensity of the treadmill if my personal income were reliant on producing consistent content.
For me, blogging needs to be a free spirit, devoid of ties, yet I seem to have tied myself down. Which leads me to my next point.
After many years of careful consideration, I’m finally coming out of the closet as PR unfriendly.
At the outset of my blogging career I saw statements of “PR FRIENDLY!!!” in bloggers Twitter bios which struck me as straightforward commercial prostitution. Blogging is the expression of one person’s independent voice, not a platform for paid-for advertisements hocking the latest freebies or whoever offers the most cash.
The ways of commercial activity are very familiar to me, my last job was as the director of a company, so my disdain isn’t part of a soap-dodging, anti-capitalist agenda. Whenever I saw “PR FRIENDLY!!!” my mind performed a quick translation and read “I’M EASILY BOUGHT!!!”, a character trait which I have no desire to replicate. The few PR ‘gigs’ that I’ve done have all left a bad taste in my mouth and writing them felt like herding a bunch of particularly grumpy cats.
Creatively, emotionally and intellectually. Now in my fourth year of blogging, there’s been huge personal development since I began and it would be unreasonable to expect my interests to have remained constant in that time.
Hence the original question becomes more specific “Why do I post about the topics that I choose to?”.
Food is, without doubt, at the centre of my universe. When I started food blogging, I assumed that I needed to write my own recipes, because it was that or use other people’s, which seemed a big no-no. Simultaneously, my opinions around food were not particularly sophisticated, so making up recipes and taking photos of them felt like a damn good idea.
But creating recipes doesn’t light my fire. Some bloggers move into recipe development work, but I’ve never felt a desire to take that road, it simply isn’t me. Conversely, my food photography skills have reached another level altogether and I wear the badge of ‘Food Photographer’ with great pride and enthusiasm.
I also have powerful and burgenoning opinions on issues surrounding food, since I took my place on the Food Policy master’s degree at City, University of London. At the start of my blog I was naive about how food gets from fields to our bellies, but I now fizz with knowledge about food. I also have a strong desire to share this and have great respect for the way that Michael Pollan brings clarity and lucidity to very complex and muddy food-related topics.
What exactly am I trying to say here?
Turn The Table
I love a good quote. I keep a vast list of them on my iPhone, adding meaningful ones as they crop up. The first to make the grade is from a fictional president of the United States, Frank Underwood.
“If you don’t like the way the table is set, turn it over”Francis Underwood
I need to turn the table over.
Then, I can follow the things which I love and leave behind those which bring me no joy. There is no growth found in doing the same old things in routine, but there is abundant potential in constantly seeking the part of life where your feet can barely touch the bottom any more. I was there when I started my blog, but I’ve learned how to swim now.
I need to find deeper water.
Although the idea of estranging an audience by changing path may feel scary, I need to look at it thus. If I have managed to create an audience whilst doing something which is only partially aligned with me, imagine how much greater the audience would be when doing something that I truly love, completely, absolutely and which is perfectly aligned with every part of me.
I can feel another quote coming on.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
What will come next? Watch this space.