I have a lot going on at the moment. Part of it is hard to explain, another part I don’t want to talk about at all and there is this other part entirely which requires in depth explanation but I just don’t feel compelled to literally spell it all out for you… because I have a lot going on.
As you may have noticed, for the past few months I’ve just had the mentality that what I share is what I share, no more, no less. The blog hasn’t been empty, I just haven’t shared as often and there’s a reason for this. I realised I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to deliver a certain standard and there is nothing wrong with that but when things got really difficult (time/money/people/health) and it couldn’t be done exactly how I had imagined I ditch it altogether and instead you’d get nothing. I convinced myself that “nothing” was better than half assed.
Then I got sad. I hated that my facebook page, my hashtag and my instagram feeds got more love and engagement than my blog. I love my blog, there I said it. I couldn’t imagine how we could ever be apart, “like ever”. I realised why those platforms were getting so much love, it was because I could share instantly, I was allowed to be raw, have the odd spelling error but mostly because I could have real time conversations. Ok, I’ll be honest, I’ve known all that for a long time but what I didn’t realise was how I could turn that way of thinking into a way that works for my blog.
The blog is professional, it’s the home base, it’s the centre of my brand and a digital declaration of who I am as a person and what I’m about… no pressure.
I’d listened to the pro’s for years, I’d read their blogs, attended their panels, workshops, webinars and podcasts. I’d absorbed as much information on how to be as professional in this game as possible and late last year something clicked and my only thought was… “I’m out”. Not from blogging, not from social media or even from the business I’ve built, just that way of thinking.
I’m an entrepreneur, I always have been. This is still a new industry which means I have the power within myself to change things, to experiment, collaborate, mix it up and follow a path of my own. There are certain “keys to success” that we’re sold, steps we need to take in order to be considered professional and none of them felt like me, felt like things I would do and in some cases my personal experiences blew those keys or steps right up. So I take the wisdom, experiences, knowledge and skills I’ve collected then I mix it all up into something that works for me and maybe, just maybe that way will work for others too.
Recently I met a lovely lady who had only been blogging for 30 days and had accumulated over fifty thousands facebook followers. When I told her I’d been blogging for 8 years and had only 3k+ facebook followers, whether she meant to or not, I got the pity eyes. She offered plenty of advice which I listened to because there is always, ALWAYS room to learn and she then mentioned that for her very first post she gave away a high end fancy “it bag”. It’s a great strategy and obviously a successful one for her but that’s not me, it’s also not how I value success with regards to online engagement.
I’ve learnt that numbers aren’t everything.
If you allow numbers to define who you are, what you do and how you affect change you will always fall short. I’ve found that blog value is made up of certain factors, usually ranked in order of preference of the particular brand, agency or network’s lists of needs and requirements. It is actually not about you at all, it’s about them, about their needs. Please remember that, especially when you’re at a conference and you’re about to raise your hand to ask the overly common question “How many unique views/followers should I have before I approach a brand to collaborate/get paid?” because the question is redundant.
What makes your blog or your brand valuable in todays social media economy? The simple answer is you. Your uniqueness, your voice, your opinion, your view of the world whether it be by imagery or type. It is you, just as you are. Sure you could fake it until you make it but I guess it depends on how comfortable you feel being false. I tried it, it worked for me to a degree in the beginning because deep down I knew I had the goods to back it up and slowly but surely I stopped leaning on the fake, instead leaning on my body of work, my accomplishments, the results of my positive actions.
I believe in myself and what I can achieve and in turn the people I collaborate and work with do too. They see my stats and compare me to others but the difference is they believe in me, my ethics, my voice, who I am and what I do. I can attest that the brands you’re really meant to work with will value that more than a stat figure so I implore you to stop focusing so much on reach and engagement strategy, instead… just reach out and engage.
Be present, write and share in the moment. Don’t fret about spelling mistakes, broken links or not-so-great pictures. That is what I’m trying to do this year, to focus on the context that is me and my current moment and less about what makes me look more or less professional because I irrefutably am. I know my shit, I get it done and I’m always willing to learn. The only person who can allow me to feel any different about that is me.
So I’m changing things up, I’m cutting myself some slack and I’m exploring new options and endeavours. I’m allowing myself to just be, because ultimately that’s where I feel the most comfortable. I’m emotionally driven, impulsive, fuelled by passion and learning skills as well as being extremely open to experimentation. If my blog is truly a reflection of who I am as a person, shouldn’t that be reflected across all aspects of my blog, just as it is across my social platforms?
My walls, the ones that have been up for the past three years, are no longer walls but shower screens. Transparent but with just enough privacy to make me feel safe from overly prying eyes. There is no real strategy around this, as I said it’s an emotional thing, just like my writing is. I don’t plan posts like this, the keys just somehow begin to dip and click. I just feel ready to be more open and to share without fear or guilt. To allow myself to be raw, to make mistakes, to try new things and go against the grain when I feel I need to.
To just be me… unapologetically.