To say that this has been an easy post to throw together would be the biggest understatement that I’ve made in a very long time. In fact, I’ve really been dreading it for months. Sometimes I feel like I set myself up with such high goals that I end up feeling trapped by them, even though I’m attempting to make them SMART goals. Hello, realistic is supposed to be a part of all that. The problem is that I feel like my goals from January were realistic when I made them way back last winter. But there has been a lot of things that have changed in my life since then & a lot of my focus, priorities, & overall goals with this blog have altered as a result.
If you want to check out my goals from January, I’ve updated that post with more details on what I did & did not accomplish. Prepare to see a lot of “I changed this goal”or “did not complete” statements. I know that’s kind of a cheater way of talking about goals, but let me explain what’s been going on in my bloggy life lately & why a lot of those goals have had to adjust.
When John & I first started this blog, it was simply to share recipes & projects with our out-of-town friends & family. I had no idea that people actually blogged for a living or really even that strangers would start to read our blog. After a few months, I got pregnant with Ruby & the blog quickly switched focus to baby updates & bump pictures, which was entertaining in the beginning but quickly became kind of boring (for me at least). Then it was all about Ruby—when she first started rolling over or what her percentile stats were (again, kind of boring). Of course there was a random recipe thrown in there & maybe a project now & again, but I didn’t ever consider trying to take pleasant-looking pictures or spending more than 30 minutes on a post. So as a result, I was unsatisfied with blogging & kind of took an unofficial 6-month break.
I am an achiever by nature (that video is a bit more intense than I am, but you get the point), so the fact that I never had any goals when I started blogging wasn’t motivating to me & that’s why I couldn’t keep going. I’m someone who needs to have a set of goals in order to accomplish just about anything, so that’s partly why blogging wasn’t successful for me in the beginning. But that wasn’t the only obstacle I faced.
The first year or so of parenting was really hard on us, mostly due to my extremely long recovery (over 7 months) from giving birth, but also just the transition into mamahood was tough. I struggled to find my place as a new mom of one child (nearly all my friends at the time had 2+ kids, which really does make a difference) & since I like to achieve things, I wanted something to pour into. I didn’t realize then that God was using that recovery time for me to really rest & enjoy the time doing nothing but bond with my daughter. I spent many days snuggling Ruby & sadly, getting into Pinterest during her nap times. I hardly cooked or cleaned or did much else because it was too painful to stand or walk for any length of time. In spite of having an extremely well-natured, gorgeous daughter, it was probably one of the darkest times in my life. I expected life with a newborn to be challenging, but not in this kind of way.
I didn’t realize that what I wanted was a bit of a challenge & something that I could learn how to do better because that’s how I am built. I wasn’t made to sit for long periods of time or to accomplish little, & it has taken me a long time to be able to say that without feeling a bit guilty. That’s just who I am.
In the fall of 2012, after Ruby turned one, I stumbled upon a few blog workshops online & was sort of re-inspired to put some more life back into our blog. I started posting “What We Ate” on Wednesdays with the start of the new year, as a way to start a conversation about what we were eating & hopefully bounce some recipes off of my readers. From January- July 2013, I faithfully posted regularly & even started wanting to stretch myself to post better content more often. In July of 2013, I really ramped things up & put some wheels on the blog. I created a whole slew of goals, accomplished a ton of them over the following 6 months & was really enjoying the process. I even participated in a few conferences, moved my blog over to Word Press, & was having 10x the amount of page views than I had before. I was achieving & becoming more successful & it felt great.
Then this winter hit & it hit me hard (mostly emotionally but also physically). Blogging started to become a serious chore & I dreaded working on it every day. I didn’t enjoy it like I previously did & couldn’t care less about what I was getting done in a day. I struggled to find words to explain what I was going through. I knew that my priorities were out of order & that I was looking to my blog to get life & feel worth, which was obviously not working for me. Just because I’m an achiever & OK with how I was built, that doesn’t mean that being an achiever should be my identity.
Besides that huge concept, I think that there were two other factors that really changed my perspective on my blogging “career” if you could call it that.
The first was that a lot of my goals were focused on building up my blog’s readership (i.e. I wanted more social media followers, more page views, more paid opportunities, etc.) & I started to ask myself “why” a lot. “Why do I want more Pinterest followers?” Was it to satisfy my ego as a blogger? Was it so that I could fit in with my other bloggy friends? “Why do I want to take these paid opportunities that don’t really fit my personality/style of our blog?” Was it just for the money? Was it just to show that I was valuable?
The second thing was that I knew we were going to start trying for a second baby soon. We intentionally wanted our kids to be about three years apart, so it was coming up on that time. We were blessed to get pregnant right away, but with that came a rush of emotions that definitely contributed to my moods. Besides just the hormonal changes, I was also struggling with severe morning sickness, regular headaches, & extreme fatigue, which was quite different from my first pregnancy. The thought of eating, let alone making new recipes, creating new posts, & editing photos was like the worst thing ever, so I didn’t do it as much & when I did, I wasn’t really happy with the results & didn’t get that achiever satisfaction like I was used to getting.
And besides having pregnancy fatigue, I was just tired to the core. I came to the realization that I really didn’t want another job (the job of blogging, that is). I already had one as a stay at home mama. The things I wasn’t liking about blogging were the job-like tasks that I had set up for myself (like posting a certain days, interacting with social media on a schedule, doing specific tasks on specific days, etc. & fitting all of this into my normal mama/wife activities during the day). I started feeling like I didn’t have time for anything. I couldn’t be a dedicated wife, present mama, or creative human being & I felt like my creativity was literally stomped on while I was trying to maintain everything, which is so ironic if you’ve seen the tagline to our blog (always creating). Maybe you can relate if you’ve ever tried to force creativity. It just didn’t feel pleasing to me & I was wondering why I was putting myself through all of this. I missed the projects & menus that John & I would make just because we wanted to, not because I had to for a post that was “due” tomorrow. I began to resent the food I was making late into the night or the half-hearted project that I was finishing up during nap time.
And with being pregnant, my focus drastically switched & I started dreaming about our new baby. I started thinking back to Ruby’s newborn days & how different they were from her almost-3-year-old days. I remembered the days where she would nurse for hours on end or would only nap in my arms & I shuddered to think about what that would be like again, but with the addition of a busy 3-year-old, & all the blogging duties that I had created for myself (not because I didn’t want to snuggle our new baby for hours on end, but because I knew I would feel like I was suffocating because I had so much to do). Like I’ve mentioned, my recovery period after giving birth was horrendously long (as in, I couldn’t even walk comfortably until Ruby was 7 or 8 months old), & although we’re praying for a much different outcome this time, I’m also kind of planning for the worst. On top of all that, we’ve decided that we want to homeschool, so the thought of maintaining all that I was doing with the blog, while not loving it, sent me through the roof.
I seriously contemplated just quitting. I looked into how to keep my site open without posting to it anymore so all the recipes & projects would still be available to my readers. I vented with other frustrated bloggy friends. They all assured me that I would “come out of it” but I wasn’t so sure. Along with being an achiever, I’m kind of an “all or nothing” gal. If I can’t do something incredibly well, then I want nothing to do with it. I think that parts of that are OK, but I’m learning how to not be so ridiculous & learn how to be a bit more realistic.
So instead of quitting, I went to the chopping block with my previous set of goals. I drastically cut back the amount of time that I was working on my blog to fit a more realistic schedule & so that I could come back to enjoying it again. I stopped holding myself to accomplish the goals that were sucking the life out of me. And I allowed myself the freedom to do other things instead of using every free second I had to pour into the blog.
Along with being a huge relief, it was also a sad time for me because with all that chopping, a lot of my followers & page views went down too. My achiever self started panicking & a few times, I found myself starting to get back into doing the things that I had previously decided I shouldn’t do, just to get that high again. I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn’t about all of that. It’s not about the numbers for me anymore because my goal isn’t to turn this blog into a money-making machine or satisfy my identity with a huge blog.
Right now, my goal is to create & to share creations with whoever is interested, even if that one interested person is just my own mom (thanks for reading mom).
So my goals this time around are quite different. They feel achievable for where I’m at right now & where I think we’ll be over the next 6 months. We’re adding a whole new person (!!!) to our family sometime this fall, so that’s going to change things in a huge way & although blogging has been a kind of escape for me, I don’t think it’s always been a healthy one. I want to be able to be more present as a parent & not on my computer or my phone as much as I have been. I don’t want my kids to have to fight for my attention like I know Ruby has in moments because “mama has work to do.”
With blogging a bit less, I am committing to focus more time on my family (especially investing in quality time before the new baby arrives), my spiritual walk (reawakening my love & passion for Jesus), & my overall health (giving birth is a marathon & I want to train well!). Those are my main goals right now & as for this blog, it will have to simply reflect what’s going on in our lives. John & I are both creative people who love creating, so that’s not going to stop. But the amount of times I post or the social media interaction that I give will be more random than it has been in the past.
I know for a fact that I plan to take all of next week “off” because we’re going on our first ever family vacation. I absolutely cannot wait to spend a few days in the woods with the people I love the most & truly rest! John & I both really need the peace & quiet & we’ve been looking forward to this trip for months. After the cabin, we’re also going to Chicago for a few more days to spend time with some more of my favorite people for our annual 4th of July extravaganza. I’m hoping & praying that this time will be really rejuvenating for us as a family, but also just for my personal spirit.
I also plan to take 1-2 months off when our new baby arrives. And then I’m sure I’ll be itching to cook up something delicious to share with you or at the very least, share our new baby’s birth story like I did Ruby’s. But up until baby arrives, here are my semi-focused blog goals:
Design & Upkeep
Goal: to have a clean, functioning blog that is easy for readers to navigate, reflects who we are, & is inspiring.
- Continue to write 2 posts each week
- Learn to take better pictures because we finally bought a camera & I won’t have to use just my silly old IPhone anymore!
- Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes to set up & take photos
- Edit all photos in Photoshop
- Add titles to all main pictures & add watermark to all pictures
Financial & Promotion
Goal: to earn at least $25 a month so that I can invest it back into the blog.
- Continue posting 2 times a week & promoting those posts on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, & Instagram whenever I can
- Continue advertising & participating in associate programs
- Continue using Riot Media advertising
- Continue using My Recipe Magic—not really advertising, but still making me a bit of money by driving traffic to my site, as well as earning a bit of change through their site
- Continue being an Amazon associate
- Continue to be a Pinch of Yum affiliate
- Continue to be a Live-In Kitchen affiliate
- Continue to apply to BlogHer’s Social Media Influencer program as I see how these opportunities would fit well
- Continue to apply to Clever Girls Collective program as I see how these opportunities would fit well
Goal: to have fresh, unique creations so that I can share these on my blog.
- Post 1 recipe each week
- Post 1 project each month
- Schedule one project a month to create
- Schedule one lengthy “creative blog session” each month where I can brainstorm posts, projects, recipes, etc. to be more inspired
There you have it folks! Thank you so much for sticking with me through this long post & strange, challenging time in our lives. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts & ideas, so please leave them in the comments below!
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