She realised none of it was real and set herself free

Something happened behind the scenes of this very blog. Even though I was reasonably happy with the content, the results made me a little sad, scared and embarrassed. People assume that a blog like mine just grows and grows. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t. It hadn’t in a little while. What it had done was flat-lined. My interest was waning, and I just didn’t feel that excited about blogging. I thought to myself I think my blog is dying.

What do you do when you look at your blog, and you think, uh oh, I think this is the end? The life support machine might need to be turned off. End of days and all that. What happens to a blogger when they no longer blog? All good questions, all questions I asked myself in the process of taking this blog from a decline in subscribers, daily readers and comments to the best it has even been.

In just over a month.

The first thing I acknowledged was that everything I knew about my blog was gone. Dead and buried. I was clearly losing interest if the content level was dropping and people were leaving in droves. So it was time to acknowledge that I had failed. Your aim was world domination, and you failed. Your aim was to be at the top of the world, and you failed. And would you look at that, you survived.

I had to say goodbye to all the things that I was doing out of obligation for my blog and the people who invested their money into advertising with me. I stopped promoting a lot of things and pared back my commitments in those areas. I reinforced my personal rule of being super picky and said no to everything that didn’t make me want to do a happy dance. Which was a lot of no.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame monetisation for killing my blog. I did that. I was trying to follow a formula for success in a world that changes day after day and week after week. I was following a formula even I wasn’t inspired by anymore. It was boring and a bit of a chore to blog. I felt like it took all my energy just to make it happen. So that became my new rule, if I felt like something was sucking the life out of me; I didn’t do it.

A lot of people talk the talk on that one, including me, but it was harder to do than anything. The tricky part of these things is that sometimes you don’t know that something is bleeding you dry until you know it. Seek advice from friends and family. The conversations will give you an insight into what you really feel. Excited and enlivened by the prospect, it’s for you. Not? Then maybe you should pass.

So after I saw all that, after I’d acknowledged that I’d failed and that I wasn’t inspired by my blog anymore what did I do to resuscitate it?

First stop was an overhaul. I cleaned house, so to speak. I took my frustrations out on the billions of categories on this blog now languishing in the corner. I removed them, restructured them and felt more focused because of it. I tidied my sidebar and unsubscribed from more than one affiliate program. I made it easy to find me, find the content people were looking for in that I knew I wanted to keep writing about.

Then I gave the branding a little facelift, and I was ready.

That very night, at well after 2am, I started reading posts about blogging. I logged into my Bloglovin account for the first time in goodness knows how long and started to read. I bought eBooks and flicked through online magazines in the search of something that would peak my interest. I stopped writing for the sake of it, blogging because I thought I should. I don’t know when that started, but it had.

One day, I just felt like writing, so I did. I wrote about whatever it was that I felt like writing about. But when I did so I framed my thoughts, in a way, that appealed to readers on a personal level. How to do this, why I did that, things I learnt.

Not just a complaint about being made feel badly about my body, but a guide to loving your body now to share all I had learnt. I answered specific questions and took a genuine interest in the people who were connecting with me.

In the end what happened was that I stopped talking, dictating, and I started listening. Listening to myself, to you all and to what was happening around me. And then I wrote. I would sit awake at night and jot down notes for posts. I would clickety-clack the keyboard furiously as the ideas and thoughts tumbled out of my mind with the ferocity of a crashing wave. I was inspired by what was around me.

Inspired not to be more interesting or to draw people into this blog but because being inspired is what life is all about. And sharing your life is what a blog like mine is all about. Sharing your successes and failures, helping others to walk the path they are walking with your support. Posts became not just about having something there to fill the space but about delivering something of value, sharing something of myself or recording a moment too great to not have recorded somewhere.

And finally I asked for feedback and I got it. The biggest step after that was that I took it. Everything was open to feedback and criticism. From the newsletter to the Facebook page and my Instagram account. All things were considered and I questioned everything I thought I knew before. This was so vital to the rebuilding of the blog. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback. Choose five or ten of them. Ask a reader who has been a part of your blog for a while and email them so they feel they can be honest.

You just don’t know what you don’t know until you know it, you know? So ask.

Then it happened. Day after day people started to return to this blog because it felt like home to them again. They shared my posts for the first time in goodness knows how long. They took the time to comment. The community here, they did all that.

When I say they, I mean you wonderful, exciting, too smart for your own good, lot. The ones who read this blog. You brought this blog back from the dead with your willingness to contribute to its community andΒ toΒ me.

I’m excited to see where we go from here and what blogging has in store for me. And for you. For us. So don’t panic if your blog is dying. It might be time. Maybe you’re done. But if in your gut you know you’re a blogger then don’t give up. Just forget everything you know and start again.

I did and I’ve never loved my blog more.

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  • Marie

    Great post. Like any creative pursuit, sometimes we just lost focus. Glad you’ve found your way through πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Marie. I think you’re absolutely right. I just got the wobbles.

  • Well, I never leave a blog once I’ve subscribed to it in my feed reader, unless they turn the feed to a partial feed which annoys the heck out of me but I always email first and make sure this is something they meant to do and will be a permanent change and let them know if it is – I’m out, or they get hacked and suddenly the Russian language comes to me as a surprise, or they start posting only sponsored content.

    Interesting you should post this now as I’ve just got back into blogging myself after a long break, and just this weekend I redid my blogroll. Of course you’re on it. πŸ™‚

    I do read a lot of blogs (over 320!) and I do not always have the time to click through and comment, so just know I am always reading even if I am not commenting. πŸ™‚

    • Haha. That hald feed thing drives me nuts too. It’s such an obvious click grab. Ugh. Them being hacked I can forgive, half feed not so much.

      Thank for including me on your blogroll! Welcome back. Thank you for always taking the time to read my blog, it’s much appreciated.

      • Nadine

        What is a partial feed?

        • It’s when only an extract of the post is sent to email and RSS subscribers {like Bloglovin or Feedburner}, you can’t read the whole post without visiting the blog. It’s annoying short version. πŸ˜‰

  • Interesting read … I particularly loved this: blog posts should be about “delivering something of value, sharing something of myself or recording a moment too great to not have recorded somewhere.”

  • Trudie Bristow

    You’re awesome. You always have a rehash on something that’s not working. I’ve been feeling a little kerfuffled with my blog in recent times. I have stopped doing my style post every week because thy were feeling like a chore. As a result comments on those post had dropped too, sure sign I was bored as were others. I’ve stopped doing my fabulous finds for the main part too. As a result it’s taken away two major posts I used to get results from. But again what’s the point if I’m not feeling it??? As I’ve mentioned recently I’ve had some big projects happening away from the blog in the last two months which is still related to my brand. It’s taken a lot of my time with looking after the family as well. As a result I’ve been blogging once a week and what a believe are some quality evergreen pieces. Comments have dropped way off and I’m feeling a wee bit sad about it all. I know things will turn around and it’ll all be thriving again soon, I’ve just ended up with way too much on my plate and I’ve needed to do it for me and hope the readers, relationships and audience I’ve authentically built will be there with open arms when I emerge again from all that has been happening.

    • Thank you Trudie. If I’ve learnt anything it’s that loyal readers who love the way you blog when you’re being yourself, with the time and energy to do that, will be there in the end. That you’re much better to leave the blog empty for a few days, weeks or even months than to post something that’s lame. And most of all, your blog is an expression, if should never feel like an obligation. Good luck lady, I look forward to hearing more about your news when you can share more of it.

    • Nadine

      Trudge, I loved your outfit posts. I would never wear what you do, and I am certain you wouldn’t wear anything I own (almost!!)
      I wear black, black and more black, my colour is grey and white, I’m a classic dresser, but very contemporary (the only exception are the 25 or so pieces from Alannah Hill -some have colour but most are girly designs in black), your retro / vintage style intrigues me, I love seeing what you wear -how you make it your own. While it’s not me, I love the look of “old” pieces plus I respect your respect for the environment (reuse not throw out). What I don’t wear now is a gift for someone rather than throwing it out.
      All those words to say I love and miss your outfit posts!!

      Please continue with your finds as well, I love seeing them. I admire your skills in the hunt and gather game.

      • Trudie Bristow

        Oh you precious thing Nadine thank you. It was wonderful to read your words and after mulling over your words since yesterday I’m going to re-think and revamp things. I must admit I did get caught up thinking it was mainly the fellow vintage loving bloggers and wearers enjoying the outfit posts, that I didn’t consider those like yourself with different style preferences. Thank you for your comments which shift my brain into a rethink, thanks for your support.

        P.S – Mel sorry if we hijacked the comments.

        • Nadine

          Trudie (lol -apologies for Trudge -auto correct and all), I’m looking forward to more posts!!

        • No apologies necessary. I love all sorts of conversations.

  • Thought provoking.

  • Thought provoking indeed.. I once did a sponsored post that I had agreed to but it made me sick thinking about how I really didn’t want to do it deep down.. It’s not worth it for myself, my blog, readers OR the company – I posted it (because I had signed a contract) and no one commented on it – I learnt my lesson HARD but fast so I am thankful for that. I am glad you are back on the horse!

    • Thank you for sharing that Rebecca. I know a lot of blogger who if they really thought about it would feel the same. You have to work out what works for you, not just do what others are doing.

  • Lisa

    A wonderful spin on how to save your blog. I have been feeling the same about my blog for awhile so I have joined in Pip Licolne’s blogging course to see if it can be saved or revamped. Thanks of being so honest. We just need to get back to basics and why we blog in the first place.

    • Thank you Lisa. Keep me posted on how that course goes. There are some fabulous offers out there at the moment, lots of great content, it makes it difficult to decide. I know getting back to basics worked for me and I hope it does for others too.

  • I think Lisa’s point below is a good one. Not losing sight of why we began this journey in the first place. Did it include monetization, affiliate programs, blah blah blah? – hell no. It just felt wonderful to take readers somewhere they didn’t expect to go. And delight them along the way. That’s the joy. Glad you’ve refound your mojo πŸ™‚

    • That it is Margaret. I love this, taking the readers somewhere with you is such a great expression of what we do here. And believe me, I’m glad to have found my mojo again too! PHEW.

      Funnily enough, I always said that if my blog could make money I’d let it. From the very beginning I had Google AdSense ads in place and took on opportunities for sponsored content and that sort of thing. I put a lot of time in, if I could get money out I would. My problem was, I think, that I just stopped sharing posts that excited ME in the pursuit of more readers, more page views and more clicks. That’s where I went wrong, like I said in the post, the monetisation didn’t kill my blog, the way I handled it did.

  • May

    It makes me happy to see that you’ve restarted and back better than ever. It’s great that you took that time to look at it with new eyes and really assess. good luck!

    • Thank you May, me too! I appreciate the luck and will take it, of course. πŸ˜‰

  • well done you, this is the most beautiful post. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. Its always refreshing to see that a blogger you admire has struggled. and wow you bounced back, better than ever. #GOYOU

    • Thank you Louisa. I was writing it and thinking that the freedom to be myself, that weirdly I always had but had to GIVE myself, has gifted this blog so much. I feel it in how I approach the blog and the tasks associated with it. I think the readers can feel that too. Glad to be back!

  • Debbish

    I really enjoyed this post, and have been thinking about it since reading it yesterday. I’ve made a few changes to my blog lately – no longer pursuing any paid / sponsored stuff there, supposedly less angst about stats etc.

    I also find myself groaning a bit at some of the resource-type sites I’ve followed for a long time (“How to get a gazillion blog readers in one week!” etc) My stats haven’t changed for years. YEARS. I really only keep going cos I haven’t worked out where / what else I want to write.

    Thanks again – food for thought. xxx

    • Thank you Deb, glad you enjoyed it. I think if you love to write you find a way to do it. Whether it’s in a blog that you love or somewhere else. Good luck! Keep me posted ok. x

  • This is a by brilliant post – love it so much (so much so that this long time lazy reader is commenting!). Have noticed all the changes on your blog of late and it really looks so lovely and super stylish. I log on most days to read your posts and although I love the fashion ideas I do really enjoy your writings on life as you know it and come across it.

    And well done for being brave and making the decision to change things up and doing what you fancy rather that what you think you ‘should’ be doing. Change is hard but can bring great relief as well.

    • Well, well, hello blog lurker type! Thanks for coming out of the closet. Haha. I’m glad you noticed, sometimes I do these things and think I’m the only one who notices. Glad to hear I’m not! YAY. Thank you, there’s nothing like an adapt or die moment to give you clarity on what you want. πŸ˜‰

  • What a wonderful, inspiring blogpost! My favourite sentence that would be great to be linked straight into a tweet would be “because being inspired is what life is all about” thank you so much for reminding me

  • Emma

    Great post Suger, one that really hit home. My blog is already six feet under because I lost all interest in what I used to blog about. Reading your article has given me lots to think about as I toss up whether to start a new blog, so thanks πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Emma. I’m glad it offered you some food for thought. Good luck making up your mind. πŸ™‚

  • What an inspiring post. Thank you so much for writing this. I think we’ve all felt that feeling before and I hope it doesn’t happen to my blog. It’s looking great after the restructure. Keep it up!

  • I really like this. Thank you for giving me a little push to do some spring cleaning on my own blog.

    • Thank you Carly and you’re welcome. I think a spring clean can remove all kinds of cobwebs from a blogger’s brain.

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  • Rhiannon O’Dwyer

    I only recently came in contact with your blog but from what I have seen of it, it is witty, honest and inspiring. Thank you for your honesty and I hope that your love of blogging and writing stays with you! RHI MAE xx