So a few weeks ago, Redbud Lauren of The Thinking Closet (remember her?) posted a comment to an old post of mine. Then contributor Alex (yup, THAT Alex!) shared it and commented and I went back and re-read my own post really well. ...annnnnd it convicted me. Funny how our own words can do that, isn't it? The post? The Sins of Blogging - GREED.
You see, it was the seasons of sponsored posts (ala pre-Christmas) and I had a LOT. I had been greedy, taking on too many, too much and I was tired. I needed to hear my own words that enough was enough. ...and thus...I did. No more...at least for a little while.
...but that post and those girls got me thinking about more sins of blogging. Namely lust. NO, not THAT kind of lust. We aren't going sexual here. Truthfully, in bloggyland, there aren't many hot men to oogle at. Rather, I am speaking about lust as:
a. not so much
PowerAs a blogger, you have power whether you like it or not. Whether you have one reader or thousands, you have some power over the way people see the world. You are influencing what people see, what they buy, what they make and sometime even how they think. That is extraordinarily powerful. It is also dangerous. Power can be heady. It can feel good. ...and the only people who SHOULD have power are the ones that don't like it.
I like it a little too much.
I like having people listen to what I am saying and I love inspiring them to make a project, try out a new planting technique or GET CHICKENS! because they have read something I have written. It is natural. Bloggers earn a living based upon affiliate sales when we share a great product we love and you, the reader, buy it. We often make a small percentage of that sale. With honesty and integrity, that system works. ...but it breaks down when the power gets delicious. When it is more fun to watch the numbers climb on affiliate sales than it is to find and use great new products, something is screwed up.
Then there is the lust over OTHER bloggers. This verges on jealousy, but stay with me, ok? It is very, very hard to browse through other blogs without lusting over something on their site. It goes like this. Hop, hop, hop to blog, blog, blog. All good. THEN you hit THAT site. The one that has 6 sponsored posts in a row...and THEY HAVE COMMENTS on them. HOW DO THEY DO THAT? I WANT TO DO THAT! Friends, when your brain starts talking in all caps, that would be the point at which you have crossed from a wee bit of green jealousy to the raging "overwhelming craving or desire" bridge to lust. It happens a lot for bloggers because we are constantly bombarded with each other's work. We support each other, we love each other, but OH how lustful we can get of each other! This lust? It leads directly to spending too much on our blogs. Too much time. Too much money. Sometimes even too much energy and effort on something WE DON'T NEED.
Let me share my story...
There are certain things that REALLY press my lust buttons when I visit other blogs and there are things that I WANT WANT WANT but know I don't need when I hear other bloggers talking. The first is almost always design. I love the latest designs that the hip, young bloggers use (you know, the cute ones like Always Rooney that use swiggly little fonts and beautiful, simple graphics). I am neither young nor hip and I forget that sometimes. Beautiful blogs like those have me running for the blog designer websites, browsing for the NEXT> BEST> THING. The problem is that I do not need the next best thing. A newer, better, hipper design will NOT translate into new readers, a more quality experience for readers or more revenue. My demographic is squarely in a similar camp with me and some of those young, hip readers come and read, but they know I am not in that young and hip camp and do try to be in it would be silly (like a Grandmother wearing a Juicy sweatsuit...just weird).
WordpressWhich leads me to the next biggy -- Wordpress. Everybody and their mother (literally sometimes) has Wordpress. "Nobody" is on blogger anymore (except me). I have been fighting this lust battle for OH three or four years now? Slowly, blogger after blogger transfers over to Wordpress and everyone says "It is so wonderful!" "You will love it!" "You HAVE to do it!", but I haven't been convinced yet. I have not seen evidence that moving to wordpress will be worth it. I am not guaranteed a 4-5 times increase in revenue by moving to Wordpress -- nobody can prove to me that actually happens (well they haven't to date...). Meanwhile, I watch Wordpress bloggers struggle through a transfer of ALL of their content (takes FOREVER and can be a HASSLE and a half). I watch them deal with their blogs "breaking down" when they have a post that hits big and sends their traffic higher than normal. I watch Wordpress bloggers now paying to upgrade their sites to be mobile sensitive for iphone and ipad users. It seems like a lot of work. On Blogger, I am sitting pretty. Viral posts go viral and I just get to smile. My blog has never crashed from 4-5-10 times as much traffic as usual. Blogger automatically adjusts blogs for mobile users. Google hosting rarely "goes down". Blogger is free.
Perhaps someday I will need Wordpress. I know there are some bloggers that NEED the capabilities that a self-hosted blog gives them. I AM NOT THEM. For as long as I can hang out here on Blogger for free, I have to do so. As much as I WANT to be in the cool kids camp and hop over to Wordpress, I will not do it until I need to. Right now, I don't need it.
Cameras and Such...There are a few basics you needs for blogging.
1. A platform (I use Blogger)
2. A camera (unless you are only writing thoughts, not sharing tutorials etc.)
3. Thoughts and Ideas
That is it folks. That is where you start. Then you might need:
1. A Blog Design (sometimes free, sometimes VERY expensive)
2. Materials (if you are a craft, food, DIY blogger you need STUFF to work on)
3. Editing Software (can often be free like PicMonkey or cost a lot like Photoshop)
4. Time (lots of it if you want to be successful)
That is where I am. Still. Level 2. I need no more to be successful where I am. Let me walk you through my blogging purchases.
1. Blogger -- see above -- still free, though i pay $5 a year for additional photo space because I post a LOT of them.
2. A Camera -- I use a D7000 and have owned a D40 and D5000. Those are good (GOOD) cameras, but are not top of the line. I must also note that I purchased all of my camera gear while running a photography business as well as my blog. I used them for both. For a blog only, all I need is a good DSLR (the D5000 is perfect) and a 50MM 1.8 lens that costs about $100. I do NOT need more than that and while there are others with better photos than mine, I HAVE been able to get my photos published in print AND online with large websites. I DO NOT need more camera gear...but let me tell you I DO lust after more! (The links above are affiliate links on Amazon and I receive a tiny portion of sales when you buy gear through them!)
3. Thoughts and Ideas -- no worries...too many of them and they are free.
4. A Blog Design -- This is important, but doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. My design is a blogger template from Designerblogs.com and it cost $40. A one time fee and a designer comes in and makes it "work". I actually won that design (so it was free) from another blogger, but I WOULD consider paying that amount for a basic template if you are going to be a professional blogger. A tiny bit of design can go a long way towards making your site look custom and professional which leads directly to securing jobs with brands and securing larger writing gigs.
5. Materials -- A LOT of my materials come from thrift stores (and the side of the road for free) and now a lot come from brands that I work with. Spending an arm and a leg on craft supplies JUST so you can blog is kicking yourself in the foot. Shopping a thrift store for supplies leads to original projects that your readers can DO without spending an arm and a leg as well. If you are just starting out, consider honestly the amt. you spend on supplies vs. your revenue. Is it worth it? (More on this later)
6.Editing Software -- This is a hard one for me to speak on. Perhaps someone else might chime in here? I use Photoshop CS 5. Again, a great (expensive) program, but not top of the line anymore. I purchased it for my photography business and heavily use it for blogging as well. I don't think you need the latest, best version of photoshop as a blogger. CS2 is perfect for many. ...but OH how I lust after lightroom LET ME TELL YOU.
7. Time. This is the hardest one. More on that later.
Ok -- this article has gotten LONG. I am going to stop for a breather, and will be back with a little more on my thoughts about time and materials and the lust war.