Blogging: Is monetizing your blog worth the price of your dignity?

There have been plenty of times I’ve wanted to take a nice, long break from blogging, but I’ve never seriously considered quitting altogether. For about a month now, I’ve been unable to shake the idea that I should put MWDAS to rest. My reason for this had nothing to do with burnout or depression. As a matter of fact, I feel just the opposite of burned out and depressed! I’m excited and hopeful, full of ideas and enthusiasm! Just not about blogging or the current state of Moms Who Drink And Swear™ as a community.

Almost ten years ago, I left my career as a professional therapist to become a stay at home mom. Back then I was feeling burned out, isolated and depressed. A friend suggested that I engage in social media, and doing helped to pull me back into the world. Five years ago, I drifted into blogging. There was no plan aside from remaining plan-less. The blog saved my life. That’s not hyperbole.

It saved me.

It was exhilarating, riding this unpredictable wave, going with the flow, wherever it took me. In some ways, the blog also provided me with an anchor. It kept me from losing myself in motherhood by giving me something that was just for me! But even when I didn’t know where this wave would bring me personally or professionally, I kept on riding it. It was a wild ride too, but I could handle the changes, the growing expectations, the unknowns and the challenges, as long as I felt the connection to the community I had come to be a part of.

It was always about the connection, the community. Without that, my blog meant nothing.

For some time now, I’ve felt as though I was disappearing into Moms Who Drink And Swear™, losing my sense of self and becoming a brand, yet at the same time, Moms Who Drink And Swear™ was becoming something totally separate from me. The open group on Facebook is not MY group. Not anymore. MY group was a place where women could find comfort, friendship and a welcoming sense of community. Once this ceased to be true, I left. The decision to leave weighed heavily on me and I felt so sad. I was no longer having fun or feeling a sense of community and being associated with the kind of behavior occurring in the group made me sick.

Could still blog as Moms Who Drink And Swear™ and not be in the open group? It felt wrong. My online community was crumbling. And the blogosphere was changing too. Most bloggers I knew were struggling to find the balance between nurturing their community and generating quality content with the need to please the almighty gods of page views, advertisers and sponsors by sacrificing the soul of their blog.

It didn’t used to be this way, and in my experience, this kind of thing causes a rift within the various blogging communities, tapping into the greatest fear of a writer – the fear that our words won’t connect us with others, that nobody will care about what we write, that we will be harshly judged, that we simply aren’t good enough.

Today, paid bloggers are constantly under the pressure to prove their worth in order to monetize their blogs. I am one of those bloggers. My boss has to “justify the cost” of keeping me, (his words, not mine) and he can’t do that unless I am generating income for the site in a measurable way. It’s impossible to do that without a community.

What to do?

To make a living as a blogger, one must become a brand. Some bloggers become an obnoxious caricature version of their real selves. Others sacrifice originality, becoming a second rate version of a first rate blogger or resort to gimmicks and giveaways and product reviews to keep them afloat. I know people who agonize over each post, struggling to create SEO savvy titles that will get picked up by Google search engines, and they flood their posts with keywords in order to generate page views and unique visitors, sacrificing novelty for numbers. They want “fans” and followers, not a supportive community of friends. Going viral is more important than giving back.

For some, the quality of content and loyalty of community is only important as it supports the bottom line. That, my friends, is the destination of the wave many bloggers are riding. The purpose of blogging is now to brand your readers, not to bond with them.

#SELLOUTYOURCOMMUNITYHASTAGSTYLE! #FUCKQUALITYJUSTUSEKEYWORDS

Does that sound like fun?  Trust me, it’s not. I can’t be this kind of blogger. So I recently took a short break from my blog and blather.  I had a lot to think about. Could I ride this wave and find any joy in continuing to write the Moms Who Drink And Swear™ blog?

Of course the answer was no. I might be a plan-less wave rider, but I do have a purpose, and my purpose was never to get rich as a blogger or to generate shitty content just to keep people looking in my direction or hit a certain number of followers on social media sites. Moms Who Drink And Swear™ has never felt like work to me. I’ve never agonized over a post, experienced writer’s block or created a post for the purpose of going viral. And I’m certainly not in this to play fucking referee in an online group for grown up women who should goddamn well know better than to act the way they have been in the group, destroying something I have been nurturing, loving and trying to protect for the past five years of my life.

My purpose was, and still is, to have fun, to create, share and experience joy and a sense of community. I promised myself years ago that if my blog stopped being fun, stopped being real, I would be done. Too often lately, I found that the group chaos and profit focus was distracting me from my purpose. I was not having fun or feeling that authentic urge to connect, to reach out and share anything at all, for all the reasons I’ve shared in this post, and others I have chose not to share.

Bowing out gracefully seemed like a good plan, really the only plan that would make me happy again.

“The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy! “

Robert Burns – 1785.

Translation? Even if you have a good plan, there are just no guarantees your plan will succeed or bring you happiness. Plans fail. Plans change. Expect the unexpected and the Gang aft agley (whatever that means).

I didn’t expect the plan would make me so miserable, so the plan has changed. I’m not going to stop writing Moms Who Drink And Swear™. I’m sticking with my original plan to use the social media and my blog to share what’s in my heart, to stay connected with others, to be active in a community of like-minded people with the same goals and values and to be fucking happy. My blog has never been strategic or business minded venture, but I suppose I have had a plan all along. It is still the plan, even if it has changed a bit and I have to grieve the loss of community and face the challenges that make it hard to focus on my purpose.

I’m going to take it one day at a time, just as I always have, riding the awesome wave that is Moms Who Drink And Swear™, protecting it like a Mama Bear and having fun, hopefully re-building a sense of community by re-committing to my commitment to putting purpose before profit. Always. I have no idea what the future holds for my blog, though I know there will come a day when I do say goodbye to all of this. I’ll know when it’s time.

But today is not that day. At least that’s not the plan.

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