A Blog is Like a Baby: How to Parent It
A good parent can’t say, “Well, I changed, fed, and loved the baby yesterday. I’m tired today; I’m going to take a break.”
Blogs also need constant care and attention. If you don’t keep feeding your blog’s audience new information and stories, they will wither away.
Blogs are hungry little suckers. It’s not just the writing that’s required. It’s the brainstorming, tweeting, photo-taking, giveaway-finding, networking, relationship-building, interviewing, researching, and posting that keep a blog alive.
It Takes a Village
As a mom, I know how important it is to connect with other mothers and their children. From other moms, I learn parenting tricks, like how to sneak fruit into my toddler son’s diet by burying blueberries in pancakes. I learn where my child should be developmentally, as in, “Uh-oh…Jason knows all of his colors already. Maybe I should start working on that with my kid.” Spending time with other families also allows me to witness what doesn’t work, so I can avoid making the same mistakes with my children.
When I first started blogging, I avoided visiting other travel blogs. I didn’t want other writers’ styles or content to leak into my work. I wanted my writing to stay fresh and uniquely me. I was blogging in a vacuum. I have learned that I needn’t fear what others are blogging about. Other parents aren’t necessarily “better” or “worse” than me. They are just different. The same is true of blogging.
I now look at other travel bloggers not as competition, but as comrades with whom I can work to help each other succeed. The more success my fellow travel bloggers achieve, the happier I am. Their successes prove there is a need for what we are providing. Making friendships within the blogging community helps me understand where my blog could improve and where my blog is uniquely, wonderfully mine.
Don’t blog in a vacuum. Visit other blogs. Post a comment on those that touch you. Tweet about other blogs on Twitter. Give love to other blogs freely and that love will come back to you.
Why We Do It
I parent because I love my children. No one pays me to do it. I do not win any awards for it. The sweet hugs and unprompted announcements of, “I love you, Mom,” are the emotional payments received for the day-to-day trials of parenting.
If I wanted to get rich, I would not be a writer. I write because I love to write. Sure, I’d love to make tons of money, but that’s not the goal. What keeps me writing is the receipt of a simple comment on a blog post from a reader, or an email from a mom who is excited she found my site, or the formation of a friendship with a fellow travel blogger through our shared love of writing and exploring the world.
You must tend to the business side of blogging if you want to make money at it, but that can’t be the main reason you blog.
It’s a Trade-Off
I wish parenting were all about sweetly rocking a baby to sleep, dancing wildly with a grinning preschooler, or cuddling up with a freshly-bathed kid for story-time. But, there are poopy pants to change, tantrums to soothe, and whining to tune out.
I wish being a blogger was all about writing. It’s amazing how much time I spend doing PR, seeking out giveaway sponsors, and reading articles on how to boost my search engine optimization. These are the monotonous day-to-day duties of parenting a blog. It would be nice if I could avoid doing all of the promotional stuff for my website so I could just write, write, write.
I complained about this once to my literary agent. She said, “Of course you want to spend all of your time writing. That’s what everyone wants to do. But that’s not how you become successful.”
Just as changing dirty diapers is part of parenting, luring people to your site is part of blogging.
Freedom vs. Passion
Becoming a parent means losing freedom. I don’t just mean the freedom to lay in bed all day with a hangover on New Year’s Day or to hop a plane for an impromptu Las Vegas getaway. You also lose the freedom of a carefree existence. Forever forward, you are a MOM or a DAD to a human being, which is the most important role you can ever play in someone’s life. You will always be on duty, and not just until your child grows up and moves out. Forever. You will always worry about another person’s safety and happiness more than your own. It’s a lot to take on.
Becoming a blogger means losing freedom as well. It means the time I used to spend relaxing in front of the TV, or taking a nap on the couch, or even doing the dishes, is now replaced with writing and other blog maintenance activities. It means staying up way too late some nights working on a self-imposed deadline. It means looking at everything I do as a potential story. (It also means my house is messier than I’d like it to be!)
As a travel blogger, it means I will never truly take a vacation ever again. For most people, vacations are a time to relax and unplug. For a travel writer, vacations are a time to take notes, tweet about your travel experiences, take photos for stories, collect brochures, and ask questions of museum docents and fellow travelers.
Blogging means giving up some of your freedom, but if you love what you are doing, what you get in exchange will more than make up for what you’ve lost.
Finding a Balance
All parents need a break sometimes. I love my children to the depths of my soul and would never want to imagine a life without them. But sometimes I count down the minutes until bedtime, longing for sweet relief from non-stop question-answering and need-fulfilling.
I love my blog too, even though it can be a burden. My blog eats up all of my free-time. It calls out to me in the middle of the night, waking me with endless ideas and worries. Sometimes I wish I could go back to a time before I took on blogging. But then, I can’t envision my life without it. I don’t think I can just turn off the love that I feel for my blog.
I’m trying to learn to balance caring for my children, minding my blog, and making room for myself. Here are a few steps I am taking towards finding that balance:
- I take one entire day off from blogging per week. No, you can’t take a day off from feeding a real baby, but your audience will forgive you if you give yourself a post-free day.
- Rather than taking notes while visiting attractions for stories, I take lots of photos, including those of signs and exhibit explanations so I can focus on the present moment.
- I make a point to do at least one date night with my husband and one night out with girlfriends per month.
- I take time to exercise every week.
Doing these things helps me stay healthy and sane, and in the long-run, makes me a better writer.
Make room for a self that exists beyond that of a blogger.
Nurture Your Blog
I guess you could say my blog has become my hungry, whiney, loveable, darling third child. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you do to balance your life with your blog? Share your experience!