Hello — it’s been a while hasn’t it? (Haven’t you noticed the virtual tumbleweed around here?) Things have been changing, in both the online world and my life, and I’m sharing this to make sense of it all…
Trying to find the words in a world of haste.
Over the past few months I’ve exhaled numerous drafts of this article, and although in some I can find the correct sound, I can’t put my finger upon the melody. Why haven’t you blogged? I mumble something non-committal. I noticed you haven’t posted on Instagram in ages. I flatten my lips like a stave.
I wonder, have all the minutes I’ve spent on social media caused this embarrassing diminuendo of my writing voice? Trapped by the transient timeframes of Instagram and Twitter, have the essays, articles and blogs I so loved typing shrunk to their 280-character equivalents? It feels that, perhaps, all this scrolling has made me scared to post what I really want to say.
Blogging has changed, and what’s expected no longer works for me.
Five years after I started this site, blogging as I knew it has transformed. Back then I was one of a dozen or so in Scotland who were sharing their travels regularly. Press trips in those days were relaxed affairs, devoid of contracts or diva moments; it felt like an exciting time and bloggers seemed flattered to be asked along on behalf of a brand they admired.
Social media growth was organic; buying followers wasn’t yet a ‘thing’ and Twitter and Instagram showed new content chronologically. But we forget that money makes the world go round. Facebook and friends realised that they could now monetise their popular platforms; a new industry called influencer marketing sprung up, allowing those with an engaged following to craft a full-time career from their content.
It was new and I said yes to some of the opportunities that were out there. Yet as the years passed, the promise of payment for my photos and words bizarrely began to blight the joy that creating content had initially given me. I began to get anxious; a part of me felt like I was selling out, lending my mouth to commerce rather than my creativity.
This feeling that I was experiencing coincided with even bigger changes in the digital world. Every third post I scrolled past on social media was now an advertisement. Algorithms were determining my relevance, not showing my content to my audience if I dared to take a month off. And a bigger backlash against a new army of influencer-bloggers and their sponsored posts made headlines. This world — if I wanted to be a part of it — required me to spend my free time ‘engaging’ with my audience, developing new blog ideas, being constantly stuck to a screen. By late 2017, I was struggling.
Returning to the root of it all, the reason: my love of writing.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, changes in my life this year have got me reconsidering my relationship with blogging and social media. There are two main things that have sparked this. One, I started a daily yoga practice at the start of 2018, which has really made me reflect on what drives my happiness. Two, we swapped our rented inner-city Edinburgh tenement for a little house near the Fife countryside where we can see trees (trees!) from our windows. As these changes forced me to slow down I wondered: in this world of landscapes, love, learning, travel, family, just being — is online growth something I want to pin my success on at the expense of what I truly want to do?
The answer is no. Over these past few years I’ve put my love of writing on a side plate, letting myself get distracted by the instant gratification of self-publication and social media engagement which is served up for those who dedicate enough time to it. I’ve been so busy wondering what will please an online audience that I’ve forgotten what I actually want, that is, to write. Through the ever-present digital dissonance, I can hear a faint melody. I’m hoping it might be mine.
Lastly, a thank you — and a call for recommendations.
I know some of you probably just stop by for coffee-table words and pictures of Scotland. And that won’t change — I’ll still be sharing ‘stories from Scotland’, just in a slightly different way. And if I can ask one favour? Leave me some recommendations in the comments.
Send me links to some breath-stopping blogs, the kind written like a journal entry or crafted like a novel. Tell me who your favourite journalist is; that one person who manages to put the news on paper poetically. And leave your book lists: fiction, non-fiction and everything in between (just maybe not chick-lit).
Thank you — hope to see you here again soon.
14 responses to “Back to blogging, but not as I knew it”
Hello, one has to keep the integrity of one’s writing and the enjoyment achieved thereby. Write and enjoy….sadly Instagram and other places are now constantly feeling the onslaught of advertising and promotion instead of genuine promotion of something because it is worthwhile, beautiful, fun, sad, tragic or ugly. Best Wishes
Well said, Aline, and thank you for commenting. ‘Write and enjoy’ is a very good mantra to live by. Have a lovely weekend!
Nice to have you back writing. The pressure to keep up appearances these days is immense, are you building traffic? getting paid jobs? have swipe up? are your stopping doing anything for free? – where is all the enjoyment in all of that? Blogging/Social Media as a business is fine – but it’s when it takes over your whole life/personality it all goes wrong. I recently decided to rescue myself from it and split the blog and me – I set up a small personal Instagram where I can post whatever I like without the pressure of it all. It feels like having a bit of me back. Congrats on the move to Fife, we may be joining you over the bridge soon x
Thanks Kate! Oh literally, those questions seem to be the primary ones we hear/read about and then you wonder if there’s something wrong with you when that kind of angle doesn’t bring you joy! I think it’s a very good idea to have a personal Instagram where you can share your actual life without the aesthetic editing expected nowadays – and great that you are enjoying it again (I’m still working on it I think!) And thank you, exciting you may be making the move soon too 🙂 I love it in Fife, don’t regret moving one bit. Let me know how your house hunt goes! x
I did notice we hadn’t heard from you in awhile. Welcome back. 🙂 As a newish blogger, I have dabbled in social media a bit as a means of self-promotion but found that it’s exhausting. A person could spend hours networking but to what end? A large number of followers and likes doesn’t necessarily equate to quality and meaningful engagement with others and certainly doesn’t guarantee interested readers. I quickly learned that I wanted to write for the love of writing. My blog will either grow or it won’t but at least I know that it’s honest. I’m glad you are getting back to the thing you love. I look forward to your future posts. P.S. I’m a little jealous you life in Fife. : )
Ah, thank you Wendy 🙂 It’s rather weird to be back actually, it’s so long since I last posted haha. Your comment was really interesting to read; I too have found social media exhausting (it probably doesn’t help that I also do it as a full-time job). You are so right though; when we put so much time into platforms like Instagram, which we don’t control, our audience there could disappear in an instant because we have no control over it (the word ‘algorithm’ comes to mind!). So yes, a lot of time ploughed into something that’s stressful and not entirely worth it! I think the ‘love of writing’ has to be the central thing – when we pursue what we love, it just feels right. Thanks so much for commenting! P.S. right back at you: Fife is wonderful. We are in a quiet little corner of a town and I am watching the leaves get blown off the branches to the back of our house. Whereabouts are you based yourself? P.P.S. have a lovely weekend 🙂
I live in southwestern Virginia, actually. My husband and I very much love Scotland, though, and wouldn’t be sorry to one day have a home there! 🙂 We’re especially fond of Fife. We have talked about one day splitting our time between Scotland and here in the States. That’s the dream. We’ll have to wait and see if we can turn that into reality. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for regular trips. We’ll be back again this coming Spring. :). Hope you have a lovely weekend too!
Hi Laura, so nice to read you again! Although I can’t relate to your anxious feelings blogger-wise, I do as a reader/follower… I’m on the constant state of detoxing from the scrolling habit and coming back after a short period, with the hope of finding something that smells authenticity. I have stopped reading blogs for a while but I recommend you the weekly podcast The High Low, inspiring and full of reading material ideas.
Hi Ana! Lovely to hear from you, how are things? What’s new? Your description of a constant state of scrolling was definitely me this time last year! Apart from what I post now though, I’m not really scrolling on Instagram and it’s a nice feeling – much more time for better things, like reading books and listening to podcasts! And funny you recommend the High Low, I was listening to it today, I love it too! The hosts are hilarious but deal with some important topics in really interesting ways. It’s probably my favourite podcast as well! Keep in touch 🙂 Laura
So good to hear from you Laura!
I’ve noticed the shift you describe as well, and I think working with social media every day makes it even more difficult to step back and reconsider how much of it we can bear outside of work.
One author that keeps bringing me back to my love for travel, and just seeing the world in a different way, is Bill Bryson. It’s travel writing at its funniest and most honest – his notes on Britain made me appreciate the country (and countryside) in a new way. I shall try to think of a few more people.
I always love seeing your pictures and stories, so keep doing you and keep going with what feels good.
Hi Vanessa! So good to hear from you as well, long time no speak it feels (I blame the digital detox haha). You know we have a lot of Bill Bryson books back at my parents’ house but I haven’t ever got around to reading them, I will need to change that over the Christmas break! Would be lovely to meet up soon 🙂 Hope things are good with you!
I loved this post! I’m blogging for a few years yet I only have a few posts, because I feel like I have to live up to something unreal rather than enjoying my writting and taking my photos! So what I’m trying to say is: thank you for the reality check for myself and I can’t wait read the posts that you enjoy writting. I love your stories and photos.
A book that inspired me lately was Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – I started writing poetry after this one, which I haven’t done in years!
Hi Nadja! Thanks so much for your lovely comment, and you are so right, the writer’s block just disappears when you write what you enjoy! It feels difficult to do that nowadays, there’s so much pressure to be ‘successful’ but successful for whom? Advertisers? Businesses?! Nah! You just keep writing and taking your photos – that’s where the soul is 🙂 and thank you for the recommendation! I’ve seen a lot of Kaur’s stuff online and I’ve always meant to buy a copy of her poetry, next stop, bookshop! Have a lovely weekend when it arrives Nadja xx
So happy you are back to blogging, Laura. I completely agree with what you’ve written here (not that I was ever a ‘proper’ blogger!). Let’s carry the torch for blogging the way we like it! x