People often ask me how I do it — how I manage life as a husband, father and full-time 9-5er while still managing to push content through the blog.
It’s no secret I spend hours working on each piece — scrawling ideas on notepads while commuting to and from work, rewriting relentlessly to refine my posts; putting in copious screen time with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to make sure my photos are not only pixel perfect, but just the right fit for the tales I weave; and spending so much time obsessing over details that I’m glad this isn’t the only thing putting food on the table — as long as it takes to get my posts perfected, my family’d starve in a month.
I definitely take this blog seriously, and while my style and methods may sometimes seem unorthodox, I create standing firmly behind its potential for growth and standing for something at its journey’s end. I think before I blog — a lot — having learned that I want content I can look at years later and still be proud of what I accomplished with some words on the screen.
My #BloggerLife’s embedded in every aspect of my blog, driven by lofty beliefs and ambitious goals as I work to tell the best stories I possibly can, hoping to inspire others to live the best lives they can.
So all this — the site I work at nightly, inching closer to a dream of a digital space truly reflecting my vision — how do I fit it in to a life already packed with enough obligations and responsibility to make for very full days?
I’ll let you in on a secret — half the time, I don’t know either.
The Not-So-Secret Life of a Toronto Blogger
“I keep my head high
I got my wings to carry me
I don’t know freedom
I want my dreams to rescue me
I keep my faith strong
I ask the Lord to follow me
I’ve been unfaithful
I don’t know why you call on me”
— J. Cole, “Apparently”, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
Fate, faith —they’re both huge influences on my life.
This past week was a hard one, my soul worn and wearied and life demanding more of me yet. My son’s growing bolder by the day, putting me through a full routine well before we make it out the door; turns out that the workload of ten men is a quick way to tire out a single one; and I looked upon my blog with remorse, seeing my creative outlet languish as I struggled to keep the rest of my life on track.
So used to overachieving, I felt like I was failing, unable to keep up with the life I’d been building all this time. I was too tired to play with my son properly, too burnt out to give my all to the job — I admit, there were even days I thought it was time to throw in the towel and do something else with my time, accepting perhaps blogging wasn’t a route I was meant to pursue. While the blog’s integral to my life, being a full-time family man and project manager’s already challenging; is there room to take up blogging as many hours as I do?
It didn’t help when I discovered that others were making in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions from their work, and while my 9-5’s salary keeps the Palmer bellies full and a roof over our heads, if all the time spent building spreadsheets and running meetings was instead invested in my content, I can’t help but feel I’d get where I’m trying to go far quicker.
As a friend in the marketing industry explained it, there were a few key factors stifling my blog’s growth:
- Lack of focus: For growing readership and sponsorships on a blog, being a lifestyle blog is perhaps the worst category for a blogger, as people Google for specific answers and brands want bloggers with a laser focus on their area of interest. With lifestyle bloggers, it’s always a gamble, as you never know what topic they’ll cover next.
- I’m no “Jane Rivers”: The scale of my blog was simply too small to move the Earth in its current form. It’s said traditional media is dying, but when even the smallest Canadian newspapers circulate a couple of thousand copies a day, who should care about your blog when its audience only numbers in the hundreds in some tiny corner of the Internet?
- Too many ideas, not NEARLY enough time: What good is the greatest post in the history of blogging if it stays trapped in your head? I believe my ideas have the potential to make great things happen (even when no one else does), but also fear that they’ll never amount to anything with only one me and a miniscule sliver of the day’s hours to do anything about them.
So when you’re not niche enough, known enough or big enough to make real shifts in your blogosphere, what do you do?
Logically, I know I should enjoy the fruits of whatever I manage to accomplish, with a blog that’s done more for me than I could have ever expected. But it’s the knowledge that I’ve yet to put my very best work out that keeps me wondering what the future has in store. I’ve thought about outsourcing for content and guest bloggers to grow, but I’m so particular about my writing that I’d never found someone who’d be the right fit. I’ve begged my overactive mind to give up the words I need to put content out more regularly, but it’s stingy, insisting on doling out mere paragraphs for review, making sure they’re as perfect as possible before moving on to the next.
I know everything I’m supposed to do to keep growing, but the longer I walk this path, the longer it stretches before me, the end extending farther out of sight.
It’s at times like these we’re often too weak to succeed on our own. But sometimes in the face of overwhelming odds, the help we need can come from some unexpected places.
Learning to Pick Myself Up
“They say sleep is the cousin of death,
And nobody wanna die, so nobody gettin’ rest”
— Rapper Big Pooh, “The Jungle”, Sleepers (2005)
It’s no secret I spend hours working on each piece — but I didn’t think anyone cared. In a world rife with distractions and way too much content, I figured my overly meticulous miniature essays weren’t really anything to write home about — they were just good one-off pieces that’d do well for a day, but soon get lost in the digital wastelands of the Internet.
Imagine my surprise when my buddy Zach name dropped the blog in APEX PR’s Follow Friday series as a blog he follows, noting the time invested, how enjoyable the read is, and how clear it is that I obsess over its quality.
That’s all it took — a sign that it’s not all for naught. That others pay attention and that if I keep hammering away at it all, that maybe I’ll find what I’ve been looking for at the end of my path.
I’ve got a long way yet to go. My mind’s still full of many ideas I want made real, fully aware that my one-man show won’t make it all happen overnight. I’m acutely aware that I learned my workaholic work ethic from my father, hoping not to pattern that behaviour on my son so he’ll be happy with whatever he achieves in life. I can’t be the next Daddy Doin’ Work or another Casie Stewart — I can only hope to be the best Casey Palmer possible, knowing I never slacked in my quest to create the greatest content I could imagine.
While these are all truths I struggle with constantly, knowing that the world will never stop so I can sit and do my thing, the subtle reminders that my efforts have an impact — no matter what the size — keep me going, even through the challenging times.
In the end, I’m still here. I’m still hitting up events when I can, often avoiding the ones that rob me of time spent with my wife and son. I’m still short-changing myself on rest, forever chasing the day I fall asleep knowing I’m finally ahead of my cluttered mind and not frantically scrambling after it.
Despite stumbling repeatedly, I’m still trying and still me — I’m just learning how to be the Casey Palmer I know I can be.
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
— Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins (2005)
Live great lives, everyone, and I’ll see you at the next post.