Hello friends, it is good to be able to talk with you like this again.
Some of you may know me from the book blogosphere where I ran two blogs: Once Upon A Dream Books and Paper Bindings. Others may know me from Twitter (@rattleddreams) or Instagram (@rattleddreams), the two social media platforms I frequent. Or perhaps you have just now stumbled upon Rattled Dreams, and decided to stick around long enough to read these words.
No matter how well or little we know each other, welcome to my virtual home.
What makes me qualified to teach you about blogging mistakes, you ask? Am I an expert on all things blogging? Have I mastered every little technique or coding that there is out there?
Now, I have a question for you, would my answer really matter?
If so, then you are at the wrong blog. Because I firmly believe blogging is a work of art, and like all works of art, one never stops growing and learning if they want to reach the elusive title of “master.”
Art, whether the viewer sees the beauty in it or not, is really a personal journey for the artist. Now you’re free to disagree with me, and if you do, I would love to hear what you think art really is in the comments below. But if you’re willing to take a step closer, allow me to share with you how my artistic journey nearly ended for good.
The worst possible thing a blogger could ever do is blog for others while forgetting themselves.
You lack passion in your work.
Sooner or later, the drive you initially felt to “do the best” or “be the greatest” so you could gather up all the followers your little niche offers and be on top, will destroy every success you’ve ever had.
When I first started blogging, I was desperate for followers.
I joined blog tours and mass promotions for books that I would never even spend the money on to buy. I crawled around the book world practically begging for any scrap of attention for my blog that I could obtain from the successful bloggers at the top, many of whom couldn’t even be bothered to respond to my comments on their own posts. I participated in weekly memes that I hated writing so much I would sit there and curse my blog the entire time, just because participating in these memes was “the thing” to do.
And you know what happened? My Muse grabbed her little pink suitcase, and hitchhiked to some undisclosed tropical location.
Because the moment you feel forced to do something, it becomes a chore. Any reader with the smallest built-in bullshit detector is going to see right through your crap and call you out on it.
You begin to hate your work.
I used to work 8 hours a day, with a 3-4-hour round-trip commute. That’s nearly 60 hours of hell a week. And because I worked third shift, blogging became my only form of social communicate outside of work. It was my online lifeline.
But the more I felt pressured into being a better blogger, the more I wanted the internet to crash and fizzle out.
The one thing I used to love became my own personal prison. I was trapped in my own mind. I was overworked and under rewarded, so the posts I kept turning out were embarrassing. My high school English teachers either would have run through a whole box of red pens or circled the large empty spaces and asked me how I thought I could get away with turning in something so shitty.
I started to avoid Twitter and barely responded to my friends.
I am sure I lost a few acquaintances, and worried my true friends with my scattered appearances over what felt like years. My friends, and I truly hope you know who you are because you mean the world to me, let me say that I am sorry for my actions.
I could not face anyone who might have seen the posts on my blog.
Even when I shifted gears, and received a few helpful postcards from my Muse, it was still too much for me to work through at the time.
You get mauled by the envy bug.
And I do mean mauled. Even when things started to turn around for my blog, it was still not enough.
Someone always has a better brand. Someone always has a better website. Someone is always a better writer or photographer or just plain more talented than you will ever be.
You cannot even begin to compete with others because you’re too busy comparing yourself to them.
My inner critic was very happy to take over my Muse’s room. And the worst thing is, I let it happen.
I forgot why I wanted to blog, how happy it made me feel. I ignored my instincts and followed the crowd into the shifting sands. I did what was expected of me to draw in a crowd that I never did see in the end.
From the start of my book blogging journey in 2012, everything I did was for others in the hopes my actions would make me and my blog look more attractive in their eyes.
Very few times over the years did I ever post something because I wanted to post it. And guess what? Not only were those posts the ones I loved the most, they were the ones that people would actually like to read and left comments on that weren’t “F4F” or “Great list! Check out mine…”
In the end I do think you need to be aware of your “ideal” follower.
But please, never ever forget that at the end of the day you are your blog’s loyalist follower.
Don’t be afraid to take risks, or even put your own spin on a popular trend. Whatever you write about, draw, create, photograph, etc. remember always make sure you are happy with it because you may lose your chance to recover the joy your art has brought into your life.