Anatomy of a Mom Blogging Career

Posted by on April 7, 2011

I’m super late getting this post up for the Ultimate Blog Party ’11. It’s something I’d been meaning to do but procrastinated on because I wasn’t sure what to put in this post.

Why would someone who has been blogging for almost six years have trouble with this task, you might ask—as an experienced blogger, I should have, always at the ready, a bio comprised of some key facts about myself and my blogging accomplishments, peppered with humor and garnished with just a dash of self-deprecation.

But here’s the thing…after blogging for this long, I realize I’m not cut out for constant self-promotion; I’m just not very good at it. And the old-timer in me is maybe a little bit snobby—I was a part of the first big wave of mommy bloggers. I’ve rubbed elbows with all the biggest names in that arena and some I even consider friends. And I, myself, was a fairly popular mommy blogger at one time. I had daily pageviews in the thousands, won awards, received accolades in major media outlets, been published in magazines, as well as a book and been treated like blogging royalty by big companies.

But after a while, I grew weary of playing the game (write, promote, read, comment, hustle, repeat). I allowed myself to get lazy and rested on my laurels. Concurrently, I allowed myself to be swayed by writing gigs at popular collaborative blogs that left me with no mojo for my own writing and I started more side projects than I could realistically handle. Out of exhaustion, I cut way back on my blog reading & commenting and I let this blog, my original blog, languish…I was fried.

Then Twitter and Facebook exploded and blogging has never been the same, at least for me.

Instead of keeping in touch by reading each other’s blogs, my blogging friends and I started connecting on Twitter instead and that became the place so many of us went to for fun and socializing. It was easy—140 characters instead of ten paragraphs—and while I made lots of new Twitter acquaintances, my poor blog continued to wither on the vine.

Since that was too depressing to think about, I avoided my blog even more. And while I was off tweeting and avoiding my blog, the mommy blogosphere continued to grow exponentially and I became painfully aware that those laurels I had rested on for so long had basically disappeared from under me.

Equally disconcerting, I started to realize that it had become damn near impossible to be heard in this brave, new and very crowded blogosphere. Writing well and playing nice with others was no longer enough, it seemed. You also had to be an expert at marketing yourself and have the confidence to do it shamelessly—something I envy terribly in other bloggers.

As for friendships, I still had a few close blogging friends but many of our more ambitious freshman class members had moved on to bigger and better things while others just drifted away or moved into different circles.

The last two blog conferences I attended really confirmed for me just how much things had changed and how much I had let slip through my fingers.

And with this revelation came the realization that I was now a small fish in a much MUCH bigger pond—but I think I’m actually okay with that—I’ve never aspired to be a rockstar or suffered from overarching ambitions

But what I do miss is my tribe…my people. People whose lives I knew and people who knew mine from reading each other every day; commenting, laughing and supporting each other through our days. You just can’t get that from 140 characters or a Facebook poke.

So I think the real reason I decided to do the Ultimate Blog Party, which reminds me so much of the old days when I actually participated in such things, is that I’m looking for something… I want to find my tribe again, wherever they are. I need those connections. Without them, blogging is a largely unsatisfying experience and I really, really want to love it again.

Surely, I’m not the only one out in blogland feeling this way.

This is not even close to the “All About ME!!!” drivel I imagined I’d write for UBP and it’s certainly longer than anticipated but I guess when something flows as easily as this did, it’s probably something that needed to be said. I apologize for the lack of festiveness but I thank you for reading to the end.


60 Comments

  • Lena says:

    Thank you for writing this. Now I don’t have to.

    Xoxo
    L

  • Elaine says:

    This was great to read. The whole reason I started blogging was to connect with other people and share my stories. Reading blogs while I was home with my son really helped me get through the hard times. Glad to hear you’re jumping back in.

  • TVs Take says:

    Love your honest nostalgic overview of your blogging experience as well as the industry. Glad you are getting back into the game.

  • Headless Mom says:

    Yes! Exactly that. I haven’t been in the game as long as you have but the experiences that you speak of are exactly why I started blogging. It boils down to community, and there is very little space left for community when it’s about branding, promoting, etc. I’m sharing this because you’re spot-on.

    • IzzyMom says:

      …and there is very little space left for community

      You’re so right. Did you go to Blogher last year, by chance? The hoardes of people, all 2,000+ of them, totally freaked me out. I hardly saw any of my friends at all. Very little space, indeed :(

  • Busy Mom says:

    You are spot on,(though I’m disturbed that someone describes this as “nostalgic” which implies it’s cute and sweet, but outdated) I feel the same way you do, and I keep thinking I’m going to try to do something about it, but it always fizzles out. But, I’ll keep trying, anyway.

  • Liz says:

    No, you are not the only one. Glad that you were able to write it all out (very nicely, by the way) and give voice to what I have been feeling for a very, very (what year is it?) long time, my friend.

  • melanie says:

    i am getting this same feedback from more and more mom bloggers. it is making me wonder what the next wave will be…how are things going to change social media-wise?

  • Jenn says:

    You are SO not alone. You wrote so beautifully what so many of “our tribe” are feeling. And for a while. Seriously. I love how beautifully you wrote about this! Your words…totally my feelings. As for connecting with your tribe, I’m still here. I”ll always cherish our middle of the night talk at BlogHer ’07. I’ve missed you! Your tribe (many of us) absolutely feel this way, too!

    LOVE!: “I became painfully aware that those laurels I had rested on for so long had basically disappeared from under me.” My favorite and most relatable line I’ve read on a blog in years. (Is it weird this post made me cry?)

    • IzzyMom says:

      I miss you, too! And from what I’m deducing from the comments, this is a common thread among many long-time bloggers. Are you going to Mom 2.0? *gears are turning*

      • Jenn says:

        I *wish* I was going to Mom 2.0! I just couldn’t swing the cost this year. But you are right about many of the long time bloggers feeling this. I DO believe we can do something about it if we all put our heads together. There are just too many of us feeling it to now become a power that can change things. I REALLY want to talk to you about this. Let’s plan a call or something.I love it when your gears are turning! Have fun at Mom 2.0!

    • IzzyMom says:

      And I’m sorry for making you cry ;)

      • Jenn says:

        No apologies. I miss the community. Tears are also from SO many of us feeling this. Shows we can make a change! But don’t do it again! ;-)

  • Lisa Taylor says:

    I’m a pretty new blogger, though a long time blog reader & follower, *and* a (very) long time writer/self documenter. I just finally got around to putting some of it down on a blog. I would love to find a tribe – my social life is pretty nonexistent, my family life is soooo full and busy. But so much of the blogsphere is devoted to giveaways and reviews and self marketing it is rather disheartening. I suppose I’d expected more content than commercials when I began. Those were the types of blogs I’d always (for years) read and wanted to connect with.
    Still trying though. :- )
    ~Lisa

    • IzzyMom says:

      Don’t give up, Lisa! I’m a bit jaded and cynical now but you’re just starting out. Your best days are still ahead of you. And your remark on all the emphasis on reviews and giveaways is spot on. It’s hard to find your place amidst what feels like one long marketing campaign—and that comes from someone who HAS a blog dedicated to products and giveaways (The Green Mom Review)

    • Erica M says:

      Lisa, there are friendly tribes out there. As IzzyMom said they are now smaller and harder to find in all the commercialization.

      IzzyMom, this was such a wonderful post. I wrote one similar to it in my space this week. We seem to be kindred spirits, so I shall make myself at home here.

  • You hit the nail on the head perfectly J!! Whenever I go to blogging events (which is less and less often) and people ask me what I blog about, I just reply that I’m a washed up mommy blogger. There must be a point where every blogger hits this and it will happen to all the freshmen as well. There are definitely too many voices out there all vying for attention, and some way more talented than us old-timers.

    But we’ve missed you! Have a good time at the party.. I’m still not going.

    • IzzyMom says:

      More talented than us old timers? *gasp* ;)

      I’m not going to Blogher this year and I’m mainly going to Mom 2.0 as part of Aiming Low. Were it not for that specific purpose, I’d probably stay home, too. But, it’s my first time and I’m curious to see if a smaller conference is more satisfying in terms of connecting with old and new friends.

      (And you are SO not washed up)

  • As an old dad blogger I understand a lot of this. Next month I’ll hit my seven year blogiversary and maybe I’ll stop constantly talking about how long I have been around.

    For a long while I feel like I keep pointing that out for what purpose I still haven’t discerned. But I have been around long enough to say that the vibe and feel has changed in a lot of ways.

    RSS, Facebook and Twitter have taken away a lot of the reasons why people used to visit blogs. Remember there was a time when we went to a blog and spent time there as opposed to now where there are fleeting visits.

  • Man, I remember when this blog had “moonshine” in the name. Remember that?

    I totally hear you — I consider myself part of the freshman class (05 baby!) with one major exception, I still have the same traffic I had back in the day (which is to say, very little) so I never had to feel the sting of a drop in numbers and accolades.

    Yes, I sometimes feel lost in the new blogging world, but there are still friendships to be made and work to be had. It may not be high-profile, but quality and consistency win in the end.

    Your friend, The Tortoise :)

    See you in a few days!

    • IzzyMom says:

      Ah yes, Moonshine..an homage to my love for a big bright moon. I still get referrals from it!

      There is definitely still work to be had (thank God!) but it seems like there is so little time for friendships anymore. When you see friends at a conference, they’re rushing from one sponsored event to the next with no time to chat or catch up, despite the best of intentions. It’s all business, all the time.

      *sigh* Maybe I’m longing for something that just doesn’t exist anymore.

      See you next week XO

  • Miss Britt says:

    I hear this a lot from people who were part of the first big mommy blogging wave. I started just shortly after that wave and never made “the big time”, so to speak, but I’ve definitely witnessed what you’re describing.

  • Well said. The times, they are a changing…and who knows whether it’s for good or bad…

    See you at mom 2.0, sweetness.

    • IzzyMom says:

      Goddamn Jenny! Remember the first People’s Party in Chicago (before it had a name)? I had to go into the bathroom to meet you! That seems like a million years ago, doesn’t it?

  • Oh I hear you. I have been blogging since 2007 and there weren’t very many Aussie blogs about so I played with the American bloggers. Now in the past eighteen months the Australian blogosphere has exploded and I am feeling a bit left out, or left behind out as well. Damn those laurels were comfy though.

    But, I have a small core group of readers that have also become friends and I am happy with that :)

    btw I found you via @SleeplessNights on twitter.

  • roo says:

    Well, hell– I went from getting hundreds of hits a day to having a readership of six. Of course, deliberately destroying my old blog, then frightening off new readers by acting like a crazy freak after starting my new one might have had something to do with it.

    Ah well. It’s good to stay humble.

    I remember you fondly from the old days, Izzy– and I still like reading your stuff. I still think you’re a big shot.

    And now that I’m FINALLY approaching mommy-blog-hood, after, what, six years? of writing, well– it’s nice to think there might be some company here in the little pond.

    I’m glad you’ve decided to stick around.

  • Glennia says:

    I love this. And you. The best thing that blogging has done for me has been the opportunity to meet people like you. I had to sell my ticket to Mom 2.0 because of my husband’s surgery, but the main reason I was going was to reconnect with friends. I’m sad I won’t see you, but we’ll always have Baby Camp, doll.

    xoxo

  • mayberry says:

    Wow. Nodding vigorously!

  • Lives change, people’s choices change, whatever. I’ve been reading you long enough that you’re still in my Reader. If you post, I see it. I read it when I get the chance. I write when I feel like it. Facebook is good for the every day, mundane, stupid stuff that goes on in people’s lives. A blog is great for documenting or expounding. Each has its purpose, and I use them both.

  • Jessica says:

    I’m a pretty new blogger — going on a year — and what you describe here overwhelms me. Many times I’ve thought of quitting just because I feel like there’s so much more to blogging than I have the time or willpower for. I stick with it just because I like writing, but sometimes I get a little bitter. I feel like a teensy fish in an enormous sea.

    • IzzyMom says:

      I said it to someone else but it applies here, as well. You’ve been blogging for a year? Your best days are still to come. Do as much or as little as you like and most importantly, cultivate and care for the relationships that matter to you. The rest is all pretty much bull$hit unless you aspire to make a career out of this, in which case, I’m not the one you should take advice from :)

  • jodifur says:

    I’m late to this but I’ve had this same post floating in my head for a while.

  • Chag says:

    I think after awhile, people get burned out. That’s what happened to me.

    • IzzyMom says:

      Hey Chag! I don’t know how I missed this comment but yes…burnout is a definite occupational hazard. I felt a lot of pressure at one point and I think that’s when I started to just let things go. Of course I regret that now. I should have just paced myself better.

  • Yes, BURNOUT! I got so over the whole mommyblogging thing, people started caring more about the STUFF and not the people they were blogging alongside. When it became more of a competitive sport I canned it. Best thing that ever happened to me though, wouldn’t have started my current ventures if I hadn’t! LOL

  • Donna Sheridan says:

    The times, they are a changing…and who knows whether it’s for good or bad…

  • Their are times that no one acknowledge our worth. But it good that you feel this way because you need to look this as a positive one to aspire for more.

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