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A Blogger’s Dilemma

Remember the days when blogging was all about writing? I’m talking particularly about food blogging. When I started doing this (3 years ago, I think?) my main goal was to write.

Just simply write.

I felt that I was lucky enough to find an outlet like photography to compliment my blog but my focus was writing. And the sweet stuff didn’t hurt either.

Now, I feel that I am in constant search of original content. Is this someone’s true feelings or is it a product pitch? I think I’ve gotten more cynical (haha obviously) with my blogging experience. Maybe not cynical but definitely more disappointed. I have a handful of blogs that I follow that have continued to inspire me. These blogs are the reason why I keep doing this.

Not sure if you noticed, but I signed this blog up for a Facebook Fan Page. It was an impulsive move, one that I stayed away from for so long but decided would be fun. I didn’t expect the pressure that would come with it. Gotta get more fans, Gotta post more… It’s insane what a little fan page can do to me but it really made me rethink why I’m here. After a little time, I realized that I really do care what you all think. Because you are not just a number to me. Not just a statistic. You are a real, breathing human being. And I hope you find the SLH Fan Page to be a useful forum for discussion.

So, to be clear, this is my stance.

I’m not here to sell you products that I have never used before.

I’m not here to become a blogging superstar.

I’m simply here to share some experiences and engage in discussion.

Sounds simple, but the world of blogging has shifted so much in the past year. It’s hard to know my place. What I do know is that I like this space. I also like my other blog which chronicles the more mundane things in my life as well as inspiration points. I like juggling the two as it gives me two spaces to record my thoughts and feelings.

I’ve always been brutally honest here. I never shy away from talking about my high and (more often) lows. I hope that this kind of honesty is at least respected. If not, click out of the browser.

But for everyone else, thanks for staying. Thanks for commenting. Thanks for sending me emails in response to my other post. It was nice to know other people thought and felt the same way.

Thanks for just being here.

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March 29, 2011 - 1:49 pm

Kasey - What a great, honest post. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and find your voice and style refreshing. I, too, find it frustrating to try to churn out content and frankly am a little tired of a lot of the blogs I started following say, 4 years ago. But I’m hoping that I’ll keep blogging…Only so long as it’s fun and inspiring to ME.

March 29, 2011 - 2:07 pm

Caitlin @ Amuse-bouche - I’m glad you’re so honest when you write. You bring up feelings and problems that I can relate to. There have been so many times where it was comforting to read your posts and think that someone understands what it feels like to have a truly bad day or to go through a rough patch. I like that you write about the good and the bad because it’s real. Your content will always be original if it’s coming from your heart and that’s what your readers appreciate.

March 29, 2011 - 2:53 pm

I Sing In The Kitchen - Your honesty is appreciated. It is one of many reasons I come visit your blog on a regular basis (to die for photos of things like cookies and cream cupcakes are another!). Having just started blogging myself, I have a completely renewed admiration for those, like you, who have been out there for awhile. To remain engaging requires talent as well as honesty. I want to spend time with a real person when I visit a blog.

March 29, 2011 - 3:57 pm

tracy - oh girl….I can SOOO relate! Someone asked me what I’m doing about my SEO to boost my stats and I was like wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhAT? There’s so many aspects that aren’t fun about blogging. The high school BS is pretty stupid too.

Doing whatever it does that makes you happy and fills your life is all that matters. It’s not about how many comments you have…how many followers…it’s about being YOU and sharing that with others! People respect someone who is authentic and not trying to be something they’re not. Keep it up. I love reading your blog. Because I <3 YOU.

March 29, 2011 - 4:00 pm

Amanda - hahah SEO makes my crazy. I know its important for some people but definitely not my top priority.

and I love you too!! Can’t wait to see you sometime in the coming months…

March 29, 2011 - 4:01 pm

Amanda - I completely agree. It’s gotta be about the readers!

March 29, 2011 - 6:03 pm

hannah - girl, i totally feel you here. for me, blogging is about baking & picture taking, it’s not about being a superstar. i know nothing about seo or anything like that, and i just don’t care too. it would drive me insane, and i like my blog to be a happy place.

yours was one of the first food blogs i ever read, and i’m glad you’re still around. thanks for your honesty!

March 29, 2011 - 6:06 pm

Kayla @ Exquisite Banana - Hey Amanda!

So, yeah. You’ve got my wheels churning with this post. Yours was one of the very very first blogs I started following about two years ago, before I even had a blog. I briefly maintained a food blog (summer of 2009 mostly) and then started “Exquisite Banana,” in December of that year. It’s grown a lot and I am just now having to field questions like some of the commentators mentioned above. I check my stats once a month, if that. It’s never been about any of the hubaloo that so many others seem to care about. It’s *my* space and I really cherish that autonomy. But. (Yes, of course there’s a but). My readers, like yours, have changed my life in ways I never imagined. I’ve made friends. I’ve heard incredible stories. I’ve received infinite inspiration. And I think about them all the time. I’ve just started entertaining the idea of bringing on advertisers so I can afford to make my blog even better; both for me and my readers (would plan to use the extra cash to attend workshops, conferences, obtain a new camera lens, etc.). I haven’t fully made that decision yet, especially because it’s a huge one to make, and I don’t even know if it’s one I want to make, but this post got me thinking. I guess what I’m trying to say here is thanks. For this conversation and for your candidness. And also for your stellar content. Your blog has always been one of my favorites for these very reasons :)

March 29, 2011 - 6:06 pm

Jacqueline - My current blog is relatively recent, but I’ve been blogging in other ones for years. I always start and stop because I get so frustrated with it over time, so I totally feel ya. But yeah, some of these really nice blogs keep me really inspired and make me want to stick it out. :)

March 29, 2011 - 6:10 pm

olga - Ugh – you said it sista. I was having the VERY same convo on Friday that left me totally drained and exhausted. This is YOUR corner. Write because you have something lovely to say. Write because you must. Write because this is your little space in the internet that allows you to shape your thoughts. The talk of SEO and Twitter followers and FB stats – it’s as if the whole POINT of what we do gets lost. Anyway, great post!

March 29, 2011 - 6:39 pm

Tricia - 1000000% agreed. I only talk about products I truly love, I only talk about things I really love. For a minute there I had some ideas about making money off my blog but then I realized that is a futile as fame: it degrades your talent unless you are ethical, authentic, and committed to your craft.

Deluding yourself with the idea that giving away space on your blog, your talents, or anything else for free for any reason other than true passion is simply put: stupid. Not only that, but it’s actually a turn off. Sure, I sign up for giveaways. Do I got back to those sites? Rarely.

I blog because I like it. If I don’t like it I won’t do it. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. If you like it, and you want to read I am thrilled to have you, otherwise that’s ok too.

And The Wednesday Chef? Her post about Sept 11 a little while back? There are literally words and phrases that have stayed with me, that I’ve thought of daily since then. That singular post grounded me in a place of passion over pursuit like I can never articulate. That is what it’s about.

March 29, 2011 - 7:23 pm

jaclyn - you just said pretty much everything i’ve been thinking about blogging lately. when i started my site a year ago, i wasn’t even thinking about seo, monetizing my blog, gaining a boatload of readers, getting a corporate sponsorship, or anything like that. i started writing about food because i love writing, and i love food. simple as that. i think some bloggers get so caught up in ‘branding’ their blog that their sites feel disingenuous and fake. i hate that.

when it comes to blogs, i faithfully read only a handful nowadays. it’s mostly because it’s getting more and more difficult to find writers who are writing because they love it, and have wonderful, insightful, honest things to say. i feel like there are such a large quantity of blogs out there that feel so…produced for mass consumption. it’s few and far between that i find a blog that’s written by someone that i can just tell LOVES to write it, you know? that’s why i love your blog. also, that’s WHY i write mine. i may not post as often as i ‘should,’ but i write when i’m inspired to bake something delicious and tell a story. it’s quality over quantity. it’s about putting your whole heart into something because you want to connect with others, and hear their stories, too. i think that’s how it should work.

March 29, 2011 - 8:18 pm

kickpleat - Oh yes! I remember those days – when it wasn’t a popularity contest or trying to get the most visitors and page views, and shilling the latest and greatest, and whatever else people are trying. I’ve actually been feeling a little disheartened for a little while now but at the same time, I want to write because I LOVE to write and I hope others are attracted to reading and sharing too. Anyway, I hear ya and thanks for sharing :)

March 29, 2011 - 9:43 pm

tracy - that would be awesome! lemme know when yer back!!!

March 30, 2011 - 2:08 am

Gemma - I loved this post – I have had my blog for over four years and the change in blogging in those four years frankly terrifies me and I’ve had my moments of wondering whether I should just ditch it but then I remember that I enjoy having my small blog, I enjoy that I have kept it up through some tough times, I enjoy those few regular commenters I have and the people who I only know (even if they are just online friends and I’ve never met them in person) because I have a blog so I’ll keep going for as long as I still enjoy it.

March 30, 2011 - 4:42 am

Wendi - Amanda, as a fellow food blogger I tell you that you are not alone. We’ve all been there…examining the reasons why we do this. I’ve come to the point where I blog as though nobody is reading. That way, the only person I have to satisfy is myself and I’m (hopefully) not writing for any purpose other than to make myself happy. I appreciate traffic and comments but ultimately, this is something I do for me.

March 30, 2011 - 9:34 am

Kristin - This really resonates with me, Amanda. And I’m incredibly honored to have my site included in that list of yours.

March 30, 2011 - 11:14 am

Jessica - I hear you. I hadn’t put much thought into who reads my blog until recently…i haven’t been that good at “marketing” my blog and most people have found through friends or friends-of-friends. when i actually started thinking of trying to increase “fans” and all of that beyond having a facebook page, it just made me frustrated because that’s not why i write…but i’d have to spend at least as much time on that side of things as on writing itself. dilemma indeed.

March 30, 2011 - 5:07 pm

kristin - It’s so easy to feel like that, isn’t it? You kinda lose what you started. I think it’s totally killing original content and uniqueness, too. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen into all of that off and on. Facebook and fans and all that other stuff really sucks you in and it’s easy to get caught up in it. I think you just have to do your best to ignore it and continue writing and blogging what you like.

March 31, 2011 - 5:09 pm

Gemma - I completely agree Amanda. I’ve had Pro Bono Baker for 6 years now. There was a period where I thought I should go overboard with design, equipment, networking, etc — but that just isn’t fun for me. I like to take pictures of good food that I make, and share that with people who are interested. The day it stops being fun, I’ll throw in the towel and do the next thing. I get really exhausted by the pseudo professionalism of blogs I used to love. It’s important to be yourself. The clarity of your voice on SLH is welcoming and refreshing. I always enjoy your site (even if it takes me a few weeks to get through my blog reader ;)

April 24, 2011 - 3:04 am

cathy x. - man.. i don’t even know what SEO is! :\ ffft whatever :P i’ve felt the same pressure although not so much from readers (mostly because i don’t have any) but more so from companies who want me to advertise their shit. blogging is all about unbiased.. okay i suppose every opinion is biased in some way.. honest opinions, thoughts, sharing knowledge, etc. i can’t stand it when i have a look at some of the more popular blogs out there that just reek of capitalisation. i just don’t understand why people sell out like that. i love that there are people like yourself who are blogging because they want to engage rather than becoming a vehicle for products to be ‘popular’. :)

May 2, 2011 - 4:11 pm

andrea - I find I’m happiest when i’m writing for myself, when I’m making a record of my life for me. If others want to peer in, like friends, I love it. If not.. that’s ok. *sigh* This is such a funny problem to have yes? So 21st Century.

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