Sometimes social media really makes me question why I am taking blogging so serious. No matter how excellent, professional, or high-quality your blog content — if you started after a certain date and actually want to grow your readership, you have to play the social media game — accumulating followers and those oh so precious “likes.” If that wasn’t frustrating enough — you can have spectacular content, expertly play said game, and yet a huge dollop of sheer luck is still entirely necessary in order to stand out in this saturated blogosphere.
I have always put in so much time, effort and energy into planning each photoshoot and crafting each post, but this year I knew I had to do more than that. I had to actually get a twitter account (@jmphotography) and even worse, start using it. I had to start using hashtags on my instagram photos, which I’d always seen as tacky in the past (I now understand how crucial it really is for growth). Some people might love these platforms and be a natural at them (anyone?), but for me it’s a lot of work, and it feels like a popularity contest I’m never going to win.
Why I would ever want to involve myself in this world of likes and followers makes no sense on paper. I have never been “the popular girl” (nor wanted to be); I eschewed facebook until fairly recently, and even now my 100 or so “friends” or so on there are all actual, literal Friends of mine; when I started an instagram account it was private for the first two years. Just to stack the deck further against me and the potential reach of my blog — I have owned my own business as a sole proprietor for 10 years now and have no colleagues or work friends; went to a community college before that where I made no associations, and when I left the few wonderful people I’d eventually connected with in Southern California behind to move to San Francisco, I knew a total of zero people up here.
I met a few people here and there over the years, (one actually in a bar as we complimented each other’s pizza choices; other times I lucked out with awesome neighbors, or a literal friend party) but once I started blogging and — more importantly — feeling confident enough to reach out to other bloggers, my community began to grow much faster. A few months ago I went to a Blog Party where I met some really awesome people also blogging in the bay. I wrote in another post about how grateful I am that blogging has brought so many inspiring, incredible women into my life, and I’ve been saving these images from the blog party until I had more to say on that topic. While hanging out in the loft-like and hip Social Print Studios in June, I met travelers, cooks, ex-pats, traveling mothers, artists, traveling cooks, makers and crafters of all kinds; everyone working hard to tell their story, improve their craft, and do all the footwork that comes with it. I left more motivated than ever to keep up my efforts with all the behind-the-scenes work. I’ll never “win” the popularity contest, but I can embrace the competitiveness in me to not only keep getting better at creating the blog content itself, but to keep working to get my blog out there — for the business and community opportunities, as well as to prove to myself that I can.
The Blog Party get-together has resulted in several friendships that have been blossoming over the past few months. Just last week I was invited to a clothing swap by the endlessly energetic Ana from Fluxi on Tour.When I tried to host a clothing swap earlier this year, the extent of my plan was to have friends over for drinks in my backyard some sunny Sunday (and even that I actually had to cancel). When Ana plans a clothing swap, it becomes a legitimate event – involving the gorgeous space of a local business, Ampersand, dozens of clothes swappers including bloggers, neighbors, business owners, and foreign travelers, a charcuterie board, and mimosas.
Obviously there are a lot more things in my life and in the world to be frustrated, concerned, angry or upset over than the fact that I have to figure out how to use facebook better. Without losing sight of that, I’m admitting to you and myself that it’s been demoralizing to consistently put so much effort into something, and to not get the feedback that I want out of it. It’s frustrating — yes — but it’s not the big picture, and that’s what I’m trying to remind myself of by writing this post. It can be tempting to focus on how much better or luckier other people are than yourself, to beat yourself up over how slow your progress seems to be — and more difficult to focus instead on a positive aspect of your career or passion — like the fact that blogging has brought people like Ana, Jamie (who hosts the Blog Parties), Leslie (who introduced me to Jamie’s blog), Sarah and Kelly (fabulous bloggers I’m still in touch with from the event), and so many others into my very insular, work-from-home, transplanted life. I’m going to try to leave my frustrations here in this blog post and think about that instead — a positive note to head into a fresh, new weekend with.
Has anyone else felt frustrated lately — with blogging? With social media? With life in general? Join my pity party in the comments, and maybe we can help each other find a fresh perspective! Thanks so much for reading, commenting and following — you all encourage me so much to keep going with this strange project. Until next time, let’s stay in touch — you know how to find me =)
Have a great weekend everyone!