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?

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