[This is a verrrry long post tonight, so read it when you have some extra time.]
Today was the last day of my summer vacation. I return to my job tomorrow, and the students go back to school next week…holey moley it’s only July.Although I have been exceedingly busy, I didn’t get much of my summer to-do list done.
No room above the garage finished.
No curtains made from the fabric I bought a month ago.
(Yes, it is black and white buffalo check.)
No pictures hung on the walls (but there is a coffee maker ready up there. Hallelujah!)
One thing that I did accomplish though, was a lot of thinking about…
I also accomplished starting a Facebook page for Talk of the House.
I unpublished it.
Are you wondering why?
I’ve been asking myself for the last couple of months Why do I blog? I started this little place here because I really love the interaction between the blog writer and their readers. It is truly a place for conversation and community. I still dearly love that part of blogging. I also started it with the intent of eventually adding advertising here so that I could supplement retirement income. I haven’t retired yet and… I also haven’t added advertising yet. The money making part of blogging has been eating at me this summer…big time.
You see, I really think I need to be adding to our income here if I am going to spend 6 or more hours a day on this blog. My family deserves that if I am taking away that much time from what I could do with/for them. And if I could earn some (I’m not talking a huge amount), I could go ahead and retire and work on this full time. It would be good for our family and good for all you readers. But there is this problem…
I don’t think I am cut out for monetizing it.
Are you wondering why not?
Well, you see I have always always disliked salesmen, and I really think you have to be a salesman of sort to monetize your blog. (I apologize if that is what you or someone you love does for a living.) I am sure it goes back to my being an independent thinker who doesn’t want anyone telling her what she needs to do with her money or time. It also goes back to my freshman year in college when I ran off a cookware salesman in our dorm. Yes, it’s true. He was about to take a group of freshmen girls to the cleaners with his sales pitch and his contract with an exorbitant interest rate they would have to pay for years. (Why did freshmen students with college meal plans even need expensive cookware??) He packed up and left rather quickly when I explained to all those poor girls what he was doing with compound interest!
So I have had a difficult time trusting any sales pitch.
I remember the first time one of my favorite bloggers put sponsor ads on her site. I thought…oh no…she has gone commercial (over to the dark side!) And I have seen how bloggers have gone to the extreme with monetizing their blog – when every other post is a sponsored post trying to tell their readers how great this or that product is…or even worse, bloggers who have their own shop and practically every post includes a sales pitch for some of the items in their online shop. It is like blogging has completely become another platform for advertising…somewhere in between a television ad and an ad in a magazine.
And there is another issue with monetizing the blog. It seems you have to be a major marketer to publicize your blog, and I don’t think I am cut out for that either.
Are you wondering why not?
Blogging, by its very nature, is a look-what-I’ve-done place. And yes, I know every single time I put a photo on the blog of our house and what we have done here, it is a look-what-I’ve-done post. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to come across as boastful. I feel incredibly blessed to have the family support, the desire for creativity, and the work ethic to accomplish what I do. What I want to come across as is… helpful. So I write the post, and I hesitantly pin an image or two to Pinterest in the hope that someone else may use the idea. Occasionally, I will put out a tweet on Twitter, but it feels very look-at-me-ish to do so. If I wanted to truly make money on this, that would definitely not be enough.
Big time bloggers seem to be major publicists for their blogs. They want big numbers for their readership. They use Twitter to tweet their latest post 5 or more times a day, (possibly to the point of annoyance) and they do the same on Facebook. They even use Viraltag to “publish” their pins on Pinterest at researched optimal viewing times. I guess what I fear is that we are losing the person in the blogger, and they are merely working themselves to death as marketers in the business of their blog. So I have put off monetizing for awhile now because I don’t want to lose the personal-ness of my blog by allowing it to become commercial in some way. Does that even matter to anyone other than me? What I loved originally about blogs (besides the incredible content) was the connections among the readers and the person behind the blog. Is that a very outdated view in today’s social media society?
On the flipside, I do totally get that for many bloggers, their blog is their source of income, and they need to make money doing it to support themselves and their family. (And when you consider how many hours go into a quality post, it should be regarded as a job.) I am lucky to have a career that allows me to be both employed and do this thing that I love here without having to go the route of monetizing the blog.
So now that you have all this background knowledge on my thinking about marketing the blog, do you see why I unpublished the blog’s Facebook page? It just seemed to be a step towards commercialism…a step I didn’t think I wanted to take.
But I felt guilty.
Are you wondering why?
I kept thinking…I am not blogging the way it is supposed to be done. I’m supposed to be using Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and maximizing Pinterest and linking up to a lot of linky parties to get big BIG numbers for my blog. I am supposed to be racing to grow…and I haven’t been doing any of those things. But then…I read this post on a blog called Let Why Lead (appropriate title), and it REALLY opened my eyes. Erica wrote about why not jumping on every opportunity of social media and growing a blog slowly is a good thing. I LOVED this…
The beautiful thing about growing slowly is that you gain friends, not numbers. Connections, not stats.
Friends and connections…I’d be honored with that.
And then I realized the answer to Why do I blog?
I do it because it is a gift for my friends.
There is joy in that for me. And afterall, isn’t it better to give than receive? And once I finally figured all of that out, I decided that this gift of the blog needed to be wrapped in a prettier package… for you. So I have spent the last 7 days and nights working on it. Literally.
The beds have been left unmade…
(Yes, I have tweaked the boys’ room. Don’t fuss. Post coming in August.)
The cookie jars have had nothing but crumbs in them.
(except for the oreos…middle child – the oreo eating one, is away for the summer.)
But I was determined to make the blog work better for you. (And since I have no training in this, just basically trial and error, it took forever.) You probably won’t notice all the changes here…some changes are in the way the links and comments work in the old posts; some are in better categorizing of the posts. You might notice prettier labels on the sidebarand new pages that have been created. The Categories list has been removed from the sidebar and is now a page with photos.
I have added our paint colors to the sidebar since soooo many people email me about them. There is also a spot for the 3 most recent posts just in case you might have missed one or two. And to be more helpful for you, I added a feed with some of the blogs that I enjoy reading along with their most current post. You might find a new one there to enjoy.
I have also come to the conclusion that social media can be good in moderation. You will find my most recent pins from Pinterest on the sidebar. Sharing the creativity of others can also be considered a gift. (Of course, I am always delighted when I find that you have shared something from here on Pinterest.)
The biggie that took the most time, was creating a page called The House. I removed the Our House page because it was a very long list of post titles that I had difficulty sorting and keeping current. I think the new page is better because you can see a number of photos for each room here plus a list of all the sources (with links when possible) for things that readers ask me about.
And now my current thoughts on monetizing this blog.
I am going to do it, but I will not bombard you with ads all over the page. I added a “related content” widget below these posts. It will give you ideas for older posts that you might like to read. Eventually, I will allow it to run one or two small ads in the boxes there. I am contemplating using an advertising network for just one banner ad or one sidebar ad. Not sure of that yet. Moderation is the key. With that in mind, I added one more page to the menu at the top. It is called The Books.
It shows all the books or authors that we have talked about here at Talk of the House, and it takes you to my affiliate link at Amazon. This is one other way I am handling sponsorship here on the blog…hopefully not too offensive to anyone.
And what about that Facebook page? I have decided to publish it in the hopes that I can share interesting things I find on other sites as well as ideas from here. I think it is a good thing to share with friends. Right?
Glory this has been long…and rambling…and opinionated. I wanted to get this out to you before I head back to work in the morning. Thank you so very much for making your way to the end of the post. I hope to have vacation posts coming out soon for you. (I can pretend I am still on vacation while it is our first full week back at work!)
Until next time…