Last weekend, we went camping. Storms rolled through the area, but we only expected to get the southern edge of the storm. Fortunately, we didn’t get any severe weather. Unfortunately, we did get a steady rain that lasted all night long. Our tent is decent, but it has its limits. I woke up sometime in the night getting plinked on the forehead by a fat water drop.
In addition to my waterboarding, we had some puddling in our tent which slightly dampened my bullet journal. It’s not ruined, but the ink did run on many pages, and the journal is a bit fluffier than its original sleek form. But I’ve only used about 60 of 250 pages. It’s still in decent, if battered, shape; I just have to get over the not-so-lovely appearance.
Here’s the thing about the World of Bullet Journaling: there is an emphasis on beautiful and perfect and elaborate — at least among those who have amazing Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts. (The folks with the $5 journal and basic ink pen aren’t generally posting beautiful images.) And I’m very thankful for those beautiful bujo folks who share their talent. But perfection can be paralyzing. As G.K. Chesterton said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” Bullet journaling is definitely worth doing, but it’s not worth ditching my current water-damaged journal in the pursuit of pretty. At least not for me. For the people whose bullet journal is as much a creative outlet and expression of beauty as it is an organization tool, a misformed canvas isn’t going to work. They make different choices to achieve different outcomes. It’s cool to want to get different things out of the same medium. Vive la difference and all that jazz.
I’m going to embrace my already imperfect bullet journal in its hot mess state. It is what it is, and it still has value for me.
Which leads me to my blog. My poor, neglected blog. Why haven’t I been blogging frequently? Why do I have a dozen draft posts and twice as many ideas scribbled down (in my bullet journal), but nothing to show for it? The truth is that I’ve been paralyzed by oughts and by all the things I had come to believe were necessary for a proper blog.
The first numbing experience came a couple of years ago when I read that all blog posts need to have an image so they can be shared on Pinterest and because Facebook favors images of a particular size. Which means that, in addition to writing a blog post, I have to come up with a public domain image or create my own. I’m a word gal, not an image gal. But the push to have images on every post (and I haven’t even BEGUN to have all the correctly sized images for the different social media platforms) seems to take as long if not longer than the post. And I did that for a loooong while, but the bother of having to find images is a large part of the reason I quit the Great Blog Project.
(Ironically, I’ve started exploring photos and images on Instagram. Somehow that’s a lot less stressful than blog images. Maybe because I’m starting with the image. Whatever. Let’s go with it.)
Then there’s the whole “monetize your blog” push. Have a theme! Do product reviews! Give away a free product! (Make a product to give away?!?!) Be an affiliate! Pay attention to your SEO! And BTW, you can buy courses on how to do each and every one of these things. And then you have to promote your blog on social media, and there’s a right and wrong way to do all THAT. And you can also buy courses for every social media platform. They take PayPal!
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Don’t get me wrong. Blogging is a great way to earn money. And I’m totally down with earning money from Amazon (affiliate link!) or whatever. Blogging can be an excellent work-at-home option or side hustle. But blogging as a business is different than what I’m doing or want to do.
There are a LOT of rules for successful blogging. You need so many thousands of words for SEO, but people have short attention spans and stop reading around x number of words. (I don’t even know if anyone is still reading. It’s too long! Too short! Too weird!) You need pictures and links and social media engagement and and and. But the rules are not serving me, and they don’t fit what I want out of my blog. Same medium, different goals.
These rules may produce a “successful” blog, but they don’t fit with what I want to do. Same medium, different goals.
I started blogging to write. To spout off. To opinionate. I want to post things that make me laugh or think or rant and to explore different ideas and topics and corners of the world. And, being something of a fox, that could be anything and everything under the sun. So when the experts say that if you really want your blog to take off, you have to specialize, well… I don’t wanna.
When the experts say I need to have a freebie to give away and a newsletter and, for goodness sake, be more consistent… but I don’t wanna.
When the reality is I can pour my efforts into building and maintaining an audience or I can write what I want as I want and pitch the oughts to the wind, I think I know which pill I’m going to swallow.
So here’s to not following rules. Not being consistent. Not having a niche. Not having the right (or any!) images. Here’s to oddly blogging!
I may never have more than a dozen readers of my blog. But I like blogging, and so I’m going to embrace my imperfect blog in its hot mess state. It is what it is, and it has value for me.