Finally I feel like I am close to achieving a real life / blog life balance. The whole experience over the past three years has been a real journey into the unknown. Much of the time I feel like I've been chasing something, in pursuit of something. Better stats, better content, awards, rankings, improvement. And then it struck me, the one really obvious question, 'Why?'
I forgot the 'Where would I like to be in one years time?' and the 'What am I working towards?' and replaced it with 'What is it all for?' and 'Why do I blog?'
One can spend months chasing a ranking, an award, a target number of pageviews. But when you get there, when you achieve those things that you worked towards you might find yourself sitting down and thinking 'Oh, well that was nice, good old me'. But once you've patted yourself on the back, given your ego an bit of a massage, what then? You stand up and think 'Hang on, where did all those months go?' and the critical question - ' Was it worth it?'
When I changed blog name it was a whole new start for me, sure I moved some content over, redirected many posts one by one, but with it I managed to morph my online space into the place I wanted it to be, clearly defined. I made choices about whether I was going to work on promotional content and how I would do it.
In the past couple of weeks I've completely changed my view of blogging and my approach to blogging and feel life a new person because of it. I've not fallen out of love with being online, more fallen in love with the offline. Here's my key areas of change:
Real Life Time
Have you ever gone on holiday and 'had' to take a week offline? You start off with that sort of 'how am I going to cope with no internet?!' mild-panic and by the end of the week you realise you have hardly thought about it and feel totally refreshed and reading to come back to it, a happier person. It's the same for me with blogging. I am taking 2 days of the week offline each week from now on. That's no Twitter, no emails, no blogging, no reading blogs, just time offline, enjoying life and learning new things.
Somethings I spend my offline time will overlap into making their way onto my blog and some won't. I want to blog around my life as opposed to living my life around my blog.
If my computer is on, then my email window is open. Emails, notifications of conversations on Facebook pop up and I look at them, sucking me into spending more time online. Twitter is the same, if it's open then I am on there, chatting. There's nothing wrong with being sociable, it's great to catch up and talk to others, but it can take over your time if you let it. Now I check my email once in the morning and once in the evening.
Learning to say No
I read a great post from DorkyMum about knowing when to say Yes and No this week. I've been putting it into practice this week, leaps into the unknown Yeses and terribly polite Nos.
Don't take blogging advice posts as gospel
Advice posts are advice, not the only way to do things. You don't NEED to create a brand, you don't NEED to be winning on every social media channel, you don't NEED a snazzy looking blog, you don't NEED to fit into a genre, you don't NEED to style your blog on the in-crowd. Be true to yourself, own your quirkiness, dare to take a risk be different because then you stand out.
Not to be confused with not caring. Not beating myself up if, for example I don't get round to commenting on all the How Does Your Garden Grow? posts on a Thursday. There can be a fair few posts linked up, these things take time to read - and I want to read and enjoy, to take time, rather than feeling pressured into some self-inflicted 'I must' . People will understand, I find in these matters often the only one really worrying in yourself!
The School Summer holidays are on the horizon and it's usually a naturally quieter time in the blogging world for many people (I give it until 1st August before people start asking other people if they are noticing a slump in their traffic), so it seems a perfect time to re-assess the amount of time we spend on time and what really matters to us most in real life. Offline and online life does overlap but they are two very separate things - have you found a balance?