I Will Not Sell Out My Authenticity – There I Said It

I’ve been feeling uncomfortable with my little blogging space over the past few months. The feelings of discomfort have been growing over the months and I’ve been unable to quite pin point where my feelings of discomfort are coming from. Then last night, I read South African Mom Blog’s newsletter and it pretty much hit the nail on the head for me and helped me pin point exactly what has been making me uncomfortable for so long.

I miss how we used to blog.

When I started blogging about 8 years ago I was a single mom. I had no idea what I was doing, so I over shared a lot, I shared photos without proper credits and generally just spewe whatever was on my mind. It miss that!!

I also didn’t realise there was a SA community, which there was, it was just very small, so I started following a lot of US single mom (and dad) bloggers. We had such a great community, we all commented on each others blogs, we shared posts and just generally supported one another. I have no idea what my stats were like back then but my comments were almost more than what they are now!!! I miss that!!!

We used to have regular blog meet ups, some small and informal others bigger and more formal. We would all get together and just have fun and probably too much wine. No one attended for the goody bag. I miss that.

Blogging has obviously evolved and we all want to make a bit of money here and there so our numbers become important, we write what we have to instead of what we want to, we run giveaways and review products. We do sort of sell out a little bit.

This evolution is not bad, it is how things get better but I do long, more and more, for the days where just writing was what blogging was about.

I love the brands I work with and the relationships I have development with some of them and feel extremely honoured every time I get asked to be a part of a campaign. Those relationships are definitely the best part of the evolution.

The worst part, for me, is that we don’t support each other enough anymore. It’s like we are all so scared if we share a fellow bloggers post we will lose readers to them or if we promote them a little bit, we will get forgotten. This is the opposite of how things work. By building each other up, we invite positivity into our lives.

By growing each other, we grow the community. By standing together as Mom Bloggers, we get taken seriously. 

I challenge all of you to leave a comment on a blog post, share a post you enjoyed, RT one you think would benefit your followers!

DO IT! I guarantee you will feel good about!

Like Laura, I find myself in a very similar situation. I started blogging in 2008. That’s 7 years of blogging. When I initially started, I was an infertility blogger and I wrote to purge the emotions, trauma and grief I was experiencing during our long struggle with infertility and recurrent pregnancy, I was also a pretty crap writer, not that I’m fantastic now, but I honed my craft, I loved it and poured my heart and soul into writing, into feeling, into sharing, into counseling and offering hope and encouragement to others walking a similar path to me, while feeling validated and encouraged in return.

My blog, like most bloggers from that time, was deeply deeply personal and highly emotional. I made friends with other bloggers, some of us are still friends today. We wrote, we shared, we encouraged each other, we supported each other and it was all kumbaya and I LOVED it.

Then the digital era hit and social media started its storming success and the blogging arena changed. And like Laura, I feel deeply loyal and appreciative to the brands I have worked and developed relationships with. I enjoy being included in exciting campaigns, I love getting paid on the odd campaign, it all feels like validation for something I love and for something I’ve worked hard on, well work is the wrong word but guys, running a blog, a good blog (I hope I can call my blog a good one) takes time and effort. It’s not about just sitting down and bashing out a blog post in 10 minutes. It takes planning and thought and carefully crafted words and stock image searches and well laid out photos and research and so much more.

But the thing is, the blogging arena changed with the onset of “influencers” and digital marketing and it has become a highly competitive space and far less of the intimate community it used to be. I’ll be honest, there are very few blogs I still read. Because I enjoy personal blogs, sharing personal, authentic stories, I’m not interested in blogs that just one product review and brand campaign after another peppered with a thousand pop ups and  meaningless adverts and with no soul. It’s not why I blog, it’s not why I started The Blessed Barrenness and it’s not what I enjoy reading or sharing.

And I got swept up in the competitiveness of it all. I suddenly became aware of how important my “brand identity” was and as a result I began to censor myself. I stopped sharing openly and without regard about my life and suddenly had to think about every detail of every photo, tweet or Face Book post I made. I became aware that brands were watching us and hand picking us based on who they felt fitted in with them.  They didn’t want to engage with sweary, wine swilling mom’s (I don’t even lie, an industry inside shared with me once that some parenting brands for eg, check out the timelines of their potential influencers and will not work with them if they tweet for example about drinking wine) And I felt myself losing my soul, trapped by the feelings of intense competition and that sucked the fun and the joy out of blogging for me.

I stopped sharing authentically and started sharing what I thought would appeal to a select few and in the process I feel like I lost my soul. Every move I made online was strategic and with a limited audience in mind. I frikkin hate it you guys. Hate it. It brings so much pressure to something that is meant to give me joy and be fun.

So after a lot of thought on this topic, and I have been thinking about this topic for a few months now, but been too afraid of voicing my thoughts for fear of damaging my brand (oh the irony) and then reading South African Mom Blogs newsletter yesterday, I made a decision.

I grew this little blog from 100 visitors a month  to over 22 000 visitors a month and I’m damn proud of that. But the people who follow me and interact with me, they do so because of the personal stories I shared. Because of my story, whether that was because my story touched, inspired, or encouraged them. And that is who I want to be, authentically and unapologetically me. And I’m commit right here, right now, to going back to that.

Will I still do product reviews, competitions and paid pieces? Yes of course, but I will no longer censor myself in order to get the paid gigs and cool stuff. I am who I am, I make zero apologies for that. I am real and well rounded. I swear. I drink wine. I like to have a good time. I can be a prankster and have a dirty sense of humour, I love my children with all my heart and am committed to my family but I am by no means walking perfection, not even remotely close, I am imperfectly perfect and I want to continue to share my imperfections and all the things that make me me and make me like me, with the world.

If brands don’t want to work with me because of that, so be it. If I lose followers because they were only here for the free stuff (and believe me serial competition enterers, I see you) then so be it because I’m only interested in meaningful engagement, by people and with people who talk and share.

I will not lose my authentic self because there are better, more talented bloggers than me, I don’t want to care about that stuff anymore because it means so little to me as a person and I allowed myself to get sucked into the whole thing. I will not be directly or indirectly dictated to by brands or the blogging community.

I hope you’ll stay and join the conversations with me. The real, unapologetically, authentic me. The woman who walked a hard and painful path to parenthood, and on arrival at my destination, did not live happily ever after, but instead struggles daily with life, with depression, anxiety, weight. Who loves her family and her friends in the most perfectly imperfect ways! Who swears and drinks too much time, who loves a good party and who loves a quiet day at home in my messy house that is not ever Instagram ready.

Will you come with me?

PS to sign up for South African Mom Blogs newsletters, and there are many worthwhile reads to be found there, go here: http://samomblogs.co.za/

You can also follow them on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/safricamomblogs

And Like Them On Face Book here: https://www.facebook.com/safricamomblogs?fref=nf


    • Rene

      March 11, 2016 at 10:57 am

      I discovered Mom blogs just after my first was born 8 years ago. Mostly American back then, but have seen so many South African ones pop up, and my big reason for reading is the personal aspect. Reading a post and thinking ‘Yes, that is exactly what I’m going through, I’m not alone’. I understand where the advertisement part comes in, and mostly is doesn’t bother me, but I must admit I don’t love it when all the Moms suddenly blog about the same thing. That is not my reason for reading them (except one SA Mom blog that is all about the products, but there are no pretense of being anything other than product reviews).

      I think being who you really are will eventually result in more people enjoying the blog.

      • Sharon

        March 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

        Thanks Rene! I appreciate your honesty and I hope to engage more regularly and on a more personal basis going forward. It’s my roots and it is who I am and why I got into this blogging gig in the first place.

    • moonstormer

      March 11, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Fantastic! That’s just it – while working with brands and being a part of (sometimes paid) campaigns can be awesome, blogging should be about the community. Supporting each other, following each other’s journey… that’s what makes blogs interesting. So glad you’re reclaiming yourself in your digital space!

    • laurakim

      March 11, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks for the shout out! I think you know my feelings on this! The follow up newsletter is on authenticity and being true to YOUR truth, whatever that is!

    • Claudz

      March 11, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      I started a little blog in 2010 which I kept personal. I loved the people I met through the blog. I’ve since closed it and started a new personal blog and a “commercial” blog.
      I hate reading blogs that are all about promos and competitions. I want to read about people!
      Well said!

      • Sharon

        March 11, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        Thanks Claudz. I really think there needs to be a balance between promoted content and personal content but most importantly, we must not lose the essence of who we are in the process.

    • catjuggles

      March 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Oh I love this Sharon and yes, I miss those old days. I was in the US twin mom community back then more than the SA one. I really find I read the people that still blog about them and their very real families. And although I do the odd review or giveaway I am not in the PR favourites league and I guess will never be because exactly that – I just tell our story.

    • Cass

      March 11, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Really loved this !

      Felt encouraged by your honesty ! I’m still very new to the blogging world and I appreciate hearing honest thoughts like this , especially from a blogger like yourself who has been doing this for many years !

    • Kat

      March 11, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      I love your blog but when I see the endorsement stuff I don’t even read it because it doesn’t feel authentic. So I’m so glad you’re deciding to revolt – I read blogs for their authenticity and I’m looking forward to more of your posts like that here. I work in media strategy and have a strong opinion on paid for content – glad to see that’s pervading into the suppliers of content.

      PS I have no children. Don’t want any. But love reading about your journey.

    • Tamiya

      March 11, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      And *this* is why I stopped blogging. And reading blogs. It was no longer about me, or my thoughts. If I didn’t say certain things or act in certain ways, it no longer mattered *what* I was saying, the support I needed or wanted to give, was lost to the the competitions I wasn’t running…

      And then all of a sudden, it (I) didn’t matter anymore.

      PS. I may have or may not have had a few (or more) sangrias at the time of this writing

    • mommabeartrax

      March 11, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Love,love,love this post. And now I love your blog even more! I’ve not been in blogging as long as you,but that newsletter last night also struck a chord with me, and I suspect with many out there too.

    • Mandy Lee

      March 12, 2016 at 9:02 am

      This. This is what I am working on now. The campaigns I am dreaming up are all about working as a community as opposed to competing. I can’t tell you how happy I am to read this because I was worrying how everyone was going to react when I pitched that part. Big hugs x

    • Suzanna Catherine

      March 13, 2016 at 4:35 am

      Hi Sharon, I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time. Since before your precious girls came into your life, actually. You were always so honest and open it was refreshing. I love to read memoirs and your blog was like reading a memoir on the instalment plan, one day at a time.

      I was drawn to you by your writing about your infertility journey. You had such a story! I related to that, though I did not suffer so many losses as you. My journey began in the 1960’s. How I wished I had had the ALI Community back then! When I read your blog, and Stirrup Queen’s, it made me realize that I hadn’t been alone all those years ago. It was a different time, for sure, as these issues were not talked about. So many suffered in silence. It still makes me sad.

      I’m really happy to hear that you plan to go back to the “old style” of blogging and just being out there telling your stories.

      I’m one of those people who don’t comment often enough. I nearly always read, but I do all my reading and commenting on my phone, and I never really know if it will work or be lost in the black hole of the Internet. Anyway, all this to say “you go, girl!” – I’m here for the stories not the give always!

      Sending you and your family all good wishes.

      A fan from Georgia in the USA.

    • sherry

      March 13, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Well said. I have actually stopped reading one specific blogger because all she does is promote products and reviews and competitions. Boring! Im Interested in the personal stuff . Carry on being true to yoursefl


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