This Wild and Crazy Miracle We Call…Blogging
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Lately, I’ve been talking with quite a few bloggers who just feel ________ about their blogs right now.
Overwhelmed. Discouraged. Frustrated. Burnt-Out. You fill in the blank.
Basically, not so good.
And my heart goes out to them, because I’ve been there. Frankly, I’m probably “there” at least once a day, whether that’s due to the 5000th “technical difficulty” that feels over my head, or someone leaves a mean comment, or I can’t seem to get past writer’s block, or comparison gets the best of me, or something else just makes me feel less-than. I call it the blogging blues, and they definitely come with the territory.
But as cliche as it may sound, whenever life in general gets me down, I’m a big fan of stepping back and looking at the bigger — especially the much bigger — picture. Because there’s something about escaping out of the teeny tiny corner of the “right now” and into the wide open spaces of “in the grand scheme of things” that always seems to help reset things. And bring perspective. And make life or work or whatever the issue may be seem more manageable. And, if we look for it, remind me of some of the awe and wonder and what I’d even call little “miracles” that are already happening all around.
This week, one of my favorite bloggers wrote about this little change in perspective with regards to her kitchen, and putting on some “perspectacles” to see and appreciate things in a different way. As I was reading it, though, I kept thinking that maybe some of us bloggers could use a new set of perspectacles about blogging, in order to remember some of the magic and wonder and crazy little miracles are part of this new territory we’re exploring.
So this morning, I took a peek around my little corner of the blogosphere. And here’s what I saw…
Well first of all, when I was ready to start working this morning, I sat down in front of this miraculous little contraption — my computer!
Let it be said, this thing is freaking brilliant. One might even say it’s a “pro”. It stores thousands upon thousands of the teeny tiny details of my work life, it lets me correspond with people all over the world, it lets me look up anything and everything, it lets me edit photos, it lets me watch The Millionaire Matchmaker while I cooked this morning, it will let me Facetime with people anywhere, and — you guys — I can literally pick up this marvelous invention and carry it with me all around the world like it’s NO BIG DEAL.
Oh and lest I ever complain, it 2x smaller, 5x lighter, 10x faster, has 10x better speakers, 20x better resolution, 50x more storage, and 100x better content in it than the computer I had in college just 10 years ago. Much less the Apple IIe’s with floppy disks that I used in grade school. Or the computers that didn’t exist when my parents were in grade school. Or the computers that sadly still aren’t available for far too many people around the world who would love to have one.
Yeah, this amazing little machine that I get to use each day is not only a modern miracle, it is a positive gift. As is my camera. My tripod. My phone. My Wifi. My groceries. My car to go get my groceries. My safe and air-conditioned home with a kitchen and an oven and pots and pans and a window for natural light. And all of other “tools” that I use on a day to day basis for work?
Speaking of miracles, when I open said computer, I’m greeted with the word none of us knew 20 years ago — GOOGLE! Aka, the Internet. (Since they’re taking over the world, I guess they’re practically the same thing now.)
Email. Instagram. Hulu. G-Chat. Spotify. Amazon. Pinterest. Google Maps. Online banking. Facebook. Wikipedia. Travelocity. YouTube. Twitter. IMDB. LinkedIn. Craigslist. Facetime. Netflix. Flickr. BLOGS.
On my computer. On my phone. On my Kindle. On my TV. On my camera. On glass.
And thanks to WiFi and 4G, available just about anywhere.
You know, grandkids, back when I was your age, these things did not exist.
And even wilder, there’s a tiny little corner of the world wide web that is my little home that used to be called a “weblog”, but we now just call a blog! (Or as my friend John calls it, my “blob”.) And it’s mine to do whatever I want with it!
Gone are the days of MySpace, LiveJournal, or Xanga (anyone?). Nowadays, I can have a fully customizable, beautifully-designed, little home on the web that feels totally and uniquely “me”. And as opposed to some places in the world that sadly still restrict content, I was born into a country that celebrates free speech and can blog about whatever floats my boat. I can get uber-excited about delicious new recipes, play around with DIY projects, even talk openly about life and being single online, or wherever the wind blows. And I don’t have to go through an editor or wait a year for a book deal to have it published. (Although an editor would probably be wise for this impulsive blogger.) ;)
And miracle upon miracle, literally millions of people somehow tune in each month.
And miracle upon miracle upon miracle, that has allowed me to pour my heart and all of my energy into making this my full-time job. (Which still blows my mind.)
The best thing though? My little blog is not alone. But rather, it is privileged to be in the good company of literally hundreds of thousands of other blogs that are written by amazing, smart, diverse, bold, talented people all around the world who are courageously sharing their thoughts on the web each day too. You can find them blogging about everything from parenting to politics to pasta to Prada to persuasion to profitability to Paul Rudd and everything in between. And you can catch a glimpse into any of their worlds with just one click. ONE CLICK.
The Information Age is here, no doubt. At while at times it can seem overwhelming, it’s also wild and wonderful. And I’m thankful that it has carved a little space within it for my blog to make its home.
Ads! Sponsored Posts! Brand Ambassadorships! Products!
Yes, I’ll stick to the exclamation marks. And no, please don’t shoot me if you’re anti-ads. Because the truth is, when I look around at my blog, I see the content I have created (now over 900 recipes!) and I also see ads. Plus a few sponsored posts sprinkled in. Plus some ambassadorships.
And the reason they’re there is quite simple: they pay my bills.
But more importantly? They literally afford me the chance to do what I absolutely LOVE for a living.
You guys, I love blogging. I haven’t always loved blogging, but I’m in a season right now where I actually really really love it. But the fact is crystal clear for me: I would be in a very different job now, probably blogging during free time that I could be spending with friends on nights and weekends, were it not for this industry that has sprung up around blogging monetization. I know that not everyone supports it. But I will be the first to say that it has no less than changed my life and allowed me to take on the job of my dreams. So for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
And you know what, I throw my endorsement behind the brands I work with because I genuinely do support them. Even more, they are each a part of my real life beyond the blog! (Hello, have you seen my posts about ALDI?) And my work with these brands has also brought along the opportunity to meet many amazing people, travel to some amazing places, and learn all sorts of new things. And I have been able to support myself as a single, 30-something, entrepreneur in large part because of them.
It’s all because of the little modern marvel that whenever someone views that small ad at the top of my site, I get a fraction of a penny. It’s a pretty crazy and cool way to eventually earn a buck in the modern world.
(And let it be said, if you would have told me that’s how I’d earn a full-time salary when I was a business student in college, I never would have believed you.) :)
Speaking of the world wide web, how about all of those ways that we now get to connect to actual people through it? Enter the term that is now a multi-billion dollar industry into itself — social media.
For most bloggers, social media now falls in the category of more work instead of play. And far too often, social media accounts can turn into a big time numbers game for bloggers, who are usually ranked/judged by brands based on the number of followers they have. I have admitted before that I struggle with the social media part of blogging and can get complain-y about it at times — whether it’s the shady way I think Facebook is run, or the fact Pinterest is now allowing sponsored content, or wishing that Instagram allowed hyperlinks, or still not “feeling it” with Twitter, and don’t even get me started on Google+….
Lest I forget, social media is pretty darn effective at doing it’s job — helping people be SOCIAL. Helping me be social. Especially with people I don’t get the chance to see on a daily, monthly, or even yearly basis. Especially when it comes to the short-and-sweet little interactions that social media is perfect for (wishing happy birthdays, commenting on a photo, asking for quick advice, just popping into say hi). Especially for getting inspired (hello, Pinterest!) and staying up-to-date with what’s happening in the world (hello, Twitter!) and staying up-to-date with big events in friends’ lives (hello, Facebook!) and — my favorite — catching a literal glimpse into my friends’ days (hello, Instagram!).
It really is pretty incredible to see how social media has completely revolutionized socialization in the last decade. And the ride is probably just beginning. But lest I ever forget, it is a fascinating invention doing a heck of a lot of good in the world. So I’ll give a “like” to that, or +1 it, or share it, or pin it, or RT it, or whatever the heck will be next. :)
Ahh, my readers. Why does writing about them always make me tear up?
Well, probably because they blow me away daily with their faithfulness, encouragement, intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, and general awesomeness. I never pictured myself as a writer, so never would have imagined that I’d even have “readers” in life. But somehow I do. And the simple fact that they somehow found my little blog through the vast enormity that is the web boggles my mind. The fact that they stick around to read what I write is an honor. The fact that they come back to visit again and again is deeply encouraging. And the fact that they leave comments or emails, and let me know their name, and take the time to write just means the world to me.
And I’m pretty positive that every other blogger I know would say the same thing.
I am deeply grateful for every single one of the people who read my blog. And give them all of the credit for growing my site and letting it become my job. And so appreciate the encouragement they give.
I know that I’ll never get to meet all of them, but I think of them with each post that I write. (Ok — super cheesy — but I even like to picture them sitting with me at my dining room table having coffee, just like I’m talking to old friends.) Because they’re so much more than numbers on an Analytics page. They’re real, live, breathing, amazing people from all over the world. And I’m honored to live in a time when technology can connect us in such a real and freaking awesome way.
So yeah, let’s just agree — readers are the best.
Finally, one glance at the text messages in my phone, or emails in my inbox, or coffee dates on the calendar, or even photos on my Instagram wall is a daily reminder that blogging has not only given me the gift of a new career, it has given me the gift of new friends.
Like, real, legit, coffee-dating, happy-hour-ing, talk-for-hours-on-the-phoning, world-traveling, know-me-at-my-best, encourage-me-at-my-worst, even fellow-Tim-Riggins-loving friends.
Our relationships may have started via our blogs. And for sure, it’s awesome to have these friends who are basically like coworkers in the blogging world, and who are so helpful and encouraging and supportive with the day-to-day-ness of it all. But I love them now because our relationships are about blogging, but also so much more. Even just today as I was writing this post, I shared some really tough news that my family received on Facebook. And who were many of the people to respond with comments and texts and such kindness? My sweet blogging friends. Actually, I like to just call them friends.
If it weren’t for this crazy, wild and wonderful miracle that is blogging, I never would have met them. :)
I could go on and on. But you get the idea. :)
So for any of you bloggers who might be feeling burnt out or jaded, or just need to see your work through a new set of “perspectacles” right now, I’d encourage you to take a little tour through your own corner of the web. I’m convinced there are always some new little miracles waiting to be discovered. :)
Oh, I needed this so much. So grateful for you and your words!
You are SO right Ali! I absolutely love this post, and there are so many little things to be grateful for each day. I just finished my last day at my full-time job on Friday, so you can bet that I’m incredibly grateful to now try this full-time blogging thing and see where it takes me. Thank YOU for always being so generous with your words, advice, and support!
What she said…
but for real you totally hit this on it’s head! I go in mega ups and downs (more ups than downs). It is crazy to think about what life would be like without the internets. I’d have like 1 friend. I don’t think people are as harsh about ads and sponsored posts as we all think. Because they know a girl’s gotta eat and that is what creates your fabulous life that you love so much!
Boom goes the dynamite. I love posts like this!
This post has officially made my day. A day where everything seemed HARDER than it should be. But you are correct, my friend. What we do is a crazy gift that even just 5 years ago I couldn’t have imagined would be my current life. I think I will now go order a pair of shoes on Zappos that will undoubtedly be on my front step at some point tomorrow. Seriously, an amazing world :)
Love this post, Ali. And it comes as the perfect time for me. In the last two days, I’ve had some people say some no so nice things on instagram, etc. And it was getting me down. But it shouldn’t! Because for every 1 negative comments there are a hundred positive ones. So yes, I need to remember to look at the big picture! And there are so many wonderful things to be grateful for every.single.day. I love reading along with you and thanks for always being so great!
You just made my day! I have ‘bleh’ moments when it comes to blogging all the time, then I remind myself how lucky and fortunate I am to even have the opportunity to do this crazy job.You have been one of my favorite bloggers for SO long now, and were actually one of the inspirations for me to start my own blog. You constantly inspire me with not only your amazing recipes, but just your outlook on life and general sweet spirit. We have never met in ‘real life’, but I kind of feel like I know you. Not in a stalker kind of way ;) If I’m ever in Kansas City in the future, I hope that we get to meet :)
While I’m small potato compared to you ;) I know you feel. I never thought that when Quinn was born my wife would order me to resign from a perfectly good job with Whole Foods and raise my kids. I can’t believe how lucky I am and how that event was the seed for my blog to be born. Now my goal is to build my traffic and increase my income..I know it shouldn’t seem like it’s all about the money but I love setting challenges for myself whether it’s to score one new pitch this week or to raise traffic by a few hundred views. I love what I do and I love that I met a whole bunch of other people who are always there for each other and “get” what’s going on. Long rant over :)
I like it when you write these types of posts. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little minds and be less than wildly thankful.
Plus, your friend sounds really smart. You have an excellent blob and you’re a great blobber.
It is super brave of you to write (and publish!) this post. I totally get it and I love that you step back for some perspective. My favorite way to do that is to get out into nature at night and look at the stars. When I start thinking about what on earth we’re doing down here and how big the universe is, somehow it makes things seem like less of a big deal, in a good way =)
Awww yeah, the blogging blues. I get so frustrated with myself whenever they sneak up on me ;) I hate comparing myself with others and am in general a very grateful and self respecting person but alas, comparing myself to all of the awesomeness out there in the blogging world gets to me now and again.
I’ve sloooooowly made my blog semi respectable looking but for the life of me can not figure out the whole ‘how to get paid from blogging thing’. sigh.
Soooo, I do this thing because I like to, for me. Like you said, It’s my little place where I can do and say whatever I please. Thanks for doing what you do and for this post/pick me up ;}
I am def. in my first real case of blogging blues and this post just….made my heart smile :)
Agree, agree, agree! I feel like there’s never enough time for me to get done everything I need/want to and get frustrated that my day job is actually a 12-hour day and sometimes weekend job, which means little time for blogging (or parking myself on the couch). But the reason I cook, bake, and blog in my free time is because it’s so fulfilling to me and I’d rather be doing it than anything else!
And it is SO crazy the awesome technology we just take for granted that allows us to do all this :)
Such a great post Ali! I couldn’t agree more!
I started blogging a year ago and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made! I’ve made so many new friends and although it may not be the best now, I’m always learning to improve and getting such amazing inspiration from sites like yours!
I loved this so much, Ali! And I couldn’t agree more. I am so, so, so grateful for a fulfilling career that allows me to be at home with my children. And I have been blessed in so many ways because of my little corner of the internet. I need to remember every day to count every little blessing!
Ali, You’re such in inspiration! While I don’t comment all of the time, I do LOVE reading all of your posts. You have a gift for writing and blogging.
Thank you for this! I am a new blogger and some days I wonder if it will ever be worth it. You give me hope that I too can be successful and have so much to be thankful for. Beautifully written!
I so so needed to “hear” this. Thank you for the perspectacles, Ali!
As a newer food blogger who is loving the ups and downs, I truly fell in love with your site even more than I already am after reading this post! You spoke about everything so beautifully and inspiring! Thanks girl!
Love this. I have gone through several “overwhelmed” and “discouraged” phases since having Lucy. Blogging with a toddler is hard. I feel like I will never catch up, never “be” everywhere, never DO enough! But yes, it is such a blessing. I can put my “work” away and take my kiddos to lunch, we can take a coloring break or walk to the park. I need to focus more on what I CAN do and less on what I don’t have time for :)
LOVE this post Ali! It really puts into perspective the things that we should be thankful for, instead of complaining about. I’m the WORST about complaining when I have computer issues, and do not even get me started on social media. It’s like I’m constantly trying to catch up! BUT with that being said, I’m SO thankful for social media, my blog would be nowhere near it is today without it! Thanks for this!
Thank you so much for this post. It’s definitely encouraging to me, as I feel like I’ve been in a little “slump” for the past couple of months. I’ve had another project that I’ve had to focus my energies on, and my blog has been put on the back burner. I love project planning, but I’m still trying to figure out how to find balance between multiple things going on. Anyway, this post is definitely encouraging, and I’ve been reminded lately that this “down” time doesn’t have to discourage me completely, but it’s something I can get back up from and learn from.
I am with you on this. Every time I start feeling down and/or sorry for myself and my place in life, all I have to do is look around me. But for the grace of some higher being, that could be me standing on the corner, begging for money. Instead, I have a great part time job, I retired after 34 years from a company that is paying me a monthly retirement check, I have 2 great daughters and 1 grand daughter. I have food and a place to live. I have my health. All is good!
Very well said Judy! Loved reading your words….so true and really hit home. Wow! Really great. Thank you. ; )
Thank you so much for this post! It could not have come at a more perfect time- it felt like you were talking straight to me. I appreciate your perspective and the virtual “kick in the pants”. HAPPY blogging to you!
Such a BEAUTIFUL post! :-)
Ali-What a great post!! I too never imagined my little blog would grow and turn into it’s own full-on business. We do have so much to be grateful for and need to be reminded. Thank you!
You are simply the best. I am so grateful to have you as a friend- thank you for being such a positive, genuine heart.
Needed this! Thank you for your light -xo-
I hear you about how wonderful and miraculous your computer is, and yes mine is too. Still I would like to give you some friendly advice about that machine. Don’t get too attached to it because electronics tend to break. After my first laptop (Dell Latitude) fell of my bed and died for all time, I cried and hyperventilated for almost 3 hours. I learned quickly from that experience and now I backup everything… Twice.
Awwwwww! What a sweet post! And I really enjoyed the post over at Momastery too, she is hilarious. And you are right, it’s all so amazing. Loved this post.
This blog has been so awesome and inspiring, Ali! Keep up the good work! I love reading all of the posts! Thanks so much. Keep it coming!
I LOVED this post. I just started a new blog this week, and it is scary, and exciting, and daunting, but mostly I absolutely love it so far. I find myself getting caught up in those posts out there the “10 Dumb Things New Bloggers Do” and “15 Ways to Get More Readers” and I’m so so so sick of it, and tired of worrying about making money and getting subscribers and “doing everything the right way” when I don’t even blog to make money in the first place- I blog because it makes my little heart swell up to share with people about the things that I love to eat, and travel to, and use in my home or beauty routine, and hope that they try them and enjoy them as well. This post brought me out of the “could I fail? Am I going to make it? Ahh scary eek oh no!” and reminded me how great it is that I even have the opportunity to try it. For better or for worse, this is going to be fun, and you reminded me of that!!!!
Thanks so much Angela, and thanks for sharing this. Blogging because it makes you happy is the best reason to blog, and my driving force as well. Always do what makes you happy! I’m glad this resonated with you. : ) And what a great blog you have! Keep it up girl. : )
Wow! Thank you so much for such an inspired post. I have been cruising around your blog and am enjoying it very much. Just wanted to check in and say “Thank you”.
Thanks so much, Wendi! :)
Hi Ali, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and finally started my own after a looooong time of deliberation. Partly because of the insecurities you named in this post. I find you incredibly inspiring and love your recipes. It makes me so happy to see people like you living their dream! You’re doing an amazing job and should always remember that in your moments of doubt:)
Yes, I too am grateful for the little things. :)
An amazing expression of thought process specifically for blogging community who at some point in their professional lives are in the emotional state of either being overwhelmed or disappointed.A big “Thank you” to the author for uplifting the dampened spirits of the bloggers.
On a lighter note, this post is sure to inspire a couple of people to take up blogging actively and not get perturbed by not so encouraging comments from people.
How could anyone ever leave you a mean comment? You’re so sweet and your blog is so wonderful!