Another birthday in the bag and I’m long overdue for a solid blog post. Admittedly, part of my recent absence involved my two-week vacation from work and my choice to spend more time with my family, time stolen away by the 9-5 I work to keep him well.
But though all else seemed secondary for a while, with my gaze transfixed on the small adventures we’d have in Ottawa and Toronto, I’d never stay gone forever, the blog too much a part of me to abandon it without good reason.
I entered 2014 thinking I knew exactly where my blog was going next. I’d just had a kid less than two months before, eagerly writing on the brand-new fatherhood experience and everything I was learning from it. I’d written up The 2014 100, my annual list of 100 things I’d like to try doing through the year, looking more optimistic than my list did for The 2013 100 as I better understood who I was and what I wanted. Through either dumb luck or all the years of hard work paying off, I was lining up paid opportunities and access to plenty of product reviews — it felt like the year I could finally say I “made it”, one of Toronto’s bloggers making money for their craft, with the potential of calling blogging a “job”.
But the truth isn’t nearly as simple as that. Six months later, my posts are infrequent, my mind’s tired and I feel like my #BloggerLife’s more confused now than it was when the year began.
It might be time to take a look at my blogging and figure out what it is I’m trying to accomplish.
Why am I still blogging?
It wasn’t always so… complicated. Going back to that innocent period at the dawn of 2014, even then I didn’t understand the blogosphere like I do now. For years, I’d aimlessly competed with my fellow lifestyle bloggers for event invites and free swag, content that I’d gotten my name out enough to stand tall in Toronto — I started the year partying with Ford in Detroit, after all!
In many ways, that ignorance was bliss, making me think the world of blogging was smaller than it actually is. Continued blogging success connected me with bigger-name bloggers who could show me what the higher tiers of blogging were really like — character assassination; lengthy legal agreements where the slightest misstep rendered payment null and void; opportunities where you wouldn’t even be considered without a minimum 50,000 unique monthly views. Discovering the true distance between where my blog is and where I want it to be was disheartening, giving me pause as I looked at my blog, wondering what I’m really going for with all this content I’m producing.
Which led me to a thought I’d all but forgotten, but remains firmly relevant today in everything I do —
if you don’t like what you’re doing, change it.
Blogging ain’t what it used to be: Who I need to be to keep at it.
What I need to do is change the way I blog. Right now, I’m affiliated with a number of sites, with Parent Tested Parent Approved; The Hooray Collective; and 20-Something Bloggers at the top of the list. I’m always writing. No, seriously — always writing. Even if it’s sometimes only a paragraph at a time, I’m never without a notebook in hand, trying to capture whatever thoughts I have milling around in my head on paper. My writing process is slow and methodical, but I end up with pieces I like, and my audience likes them too!
But as the assignments pile up, I realize all too late — as I’m often wont to do — that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, needing to find all the free time I can just to keep up with the ideas, emails, photo post-production and metadata entry needed to complete all my obligations. And that’s before all the social sharing that’s hand-in-hand with this content in the year 2014. Pre-fatherhood Casey Palmer might’ve handled this just fine, but now that my full-time gig (on top of the one I already had) that adds feeding, changing, 24/7 entertainment, bathing, chauffeur, polysomnographic technologist, psychiatrist, bodyguard and spiritual advisor to my résumé, my free time for blogging doesn’t seem as available as it once did.
And with my time at the highest premium it’s even been, I have to make sure I use my spare moments as best possible to get the most from what years I have left on this rock.
I’m just not sure that blogging’s the answer.
Some would read that sentence and think: “He’s throwing in the towel — he’s taking the house that took a decade to build and burning it down all from a little writer’s block!”
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I’ve felt it for quite some time — there’s more to me than blogging. Aside from writing, my years on the Internet saw me dabble in coding, comics, podcasting, videography, illustration, infographics, rapping, webcasts, photography — I’ve been writing blogs for so long that I’ve forgotten about all these other things I used to do.
Too many bloggers are one-trick ponies, relying on old rules and thinking to church their content out. Despite a constantly evolving Internet, they mistakenly believe that honing a tried-and-true method is their key to success, surprised when the world moves on without them, looking for something new to whet their palates.
Longevity in blogging isn’t just about writing longer than anybody else — it’s about continuing to care about the content you’re creating; cultivating an audience who wants to see you grow with the life story you’re telling; and continuing to stand out in a digital world whose topography changes every time you blink, new obstacles ever before you to overcome.
So that’s where my head’s at as I peer at the blogosphere, refusing to do what the masses do for short-term wins. My gaze is ever-fixed far toward the horizon, chasing after the day where I’ve finally created all the ideas in my head. For now I’ll stay the course and build a wealth of writing to clear my mind, but I eventually hope to show the world what else I can offer, and make my Internet presence just that much more diverse.
See you when I get there,