If you’ve been following my blog religiously for the past few years, you might have noticed that I went on a blogging break over the past few weeks. I probably should have announced that it was coming, but I have a bad habit of envisioning that I can accomplish a lot more than is actually possible.
Things have been hectic. Over the last few weeks, school ended for my kids, we packed up our entire apartment for our summer renovation, moved everyone into a studio apartment for a few days, went to New Orleans for a long weekend, road tripped in Northern California for eight days, and then, just this past weekend, we moved to our house for the summer.
Understandably, there has not been a lot of time for writing.
Although, after using “being busy” as an excuse for my inconsistent blogging all year long, I have finally come to terms with the fact that it’s a bit more complicated than that. I also have to stop blaming the kids. I keep saying that there is so much less I feel comfortable sharing as they get older, but I realize that’s only partly true. There are still tons of topics and events I want to cover (I have a continually growing list that includes everything from big kid sleep issues to Harlow’s dance recital), but I can never seem to catch up and flesh them out.
So what’s my problem?
1) Instead of writing about one of the important topics I just mentioned and crossing something off my list, I am choosing to write a post about how I can’t find time to write posts. I appreciate the irony.
2) Instagram is taking over everything. I’ve got four accounts, all of which currently get more engagement than my facebook page, which is kind of crazy. People are commenting there, watching my stories and tagging their friends. They don’t necessarily click over to read blog posts. My Facebook page still has activity on it, but I’m starting to feel less familiar with my audience there. I don’t know if they are that familiar with me either, since I can’t get a handle on what they want to see from me. I don’t know if it’s the algorithm or because my topics have changed and are less universally shareable. Ultimately, I find the Facebook algorithm very unmotivating.
3) Instagram Stories are time consuming. With Snapchat, I always created my stories on the fly in real time without giving it much thought, but for Instagram, with so many more people following and so many more story possibilities (captions, locations, design, and now MUSIC!), I like to be a little more thoughtful about it. I usually put my stories together at night after the kids are in bed, to recap the day. It takes longer than you would think and that is time that I used to use for writing. Also, with Snapchat, I had one account, whereas with Instagram, I need to think about what story to create for FOUR DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS. I should add that I really love creating Instagram stories, so it’s not a burden. It’s just a different distribution of my time.
4) My kid are horrible sleepers and always ask me to lie with them in bed at night so they can fall asleep. I do it, because I want to lie down too and then I am so exhausted, I often fall asleep myself. There goes any hope of getting anything accomplished at night after they are in bed. It also means, the next morning, when I would normally be writing a post, I’m putting together yesterday’s Instagram story.
5) I tried focusing a lot on YouTube last year and although I love the content I created, it takes far more time to film, edit and narrate a video than writing a blog post. That time took away from writing and I really wasn’t able to convert as many of my readers into watchers as I wanted. That’s not to say I will stop making videos. I’ve just given up on creating them consistently. I’ve also been thinking that I might do a weekly roll out of last year’s vlogs on IGTV.
6) IGTV. Holy mother of god. Now, in addition to finding time to create content, I need to spend time wondering where to put it. YouTube? Facebook video? IGTV? Break it up into a story? Average Parent Problems or Mommy Shorts? Should I cut it down to a minute so I can post on my Instagram feed? Or keep it longer and post a real video? Should I put it on Youtube and embed in a blog post? Or just embed directly from Instagram? Should I upload directly to facebook or share the link to the embedded video from my blog??? HELP.
7) Traveling has become a big focus of my blog. I love it. It’s a perfect fit. But going away on trips and experiencing things is time out of the office, away from my laptop. At night, when we get back to the hotel, I am exhausted and don’t even open up my computer. Travel blogging, while a lot of fun, is also a ton of time and work for ultimately, one blog post and video. I fear that to my followers, it just looks like I am on vacation.
8) Branded content has become more about real time events— pop-ups, experiences, product launch parties, etc. Again, this is a good thing and more fun than just sitting at my computer, but it’s also a lot faster to write a list post about cleaning or potty training while sitting in my pajamas than it is to get dressed up, go to an event and document it.
9) Remember when I decided I was going to start working out? It’s been awesome, I love the results and now I don’t want to give it up. But, it’s a time suck and it definitely impacts what you can accomplish otherwise.
10) The country falling apart is affecting me too. At first, I was kind of fascinated by what was happening. I recognized it was horrible but I still felt like an outsider looking in. Now, policies are in place and the devastation is real. The overarching sense of dread is stressful and insomnia inducing. It has definitely made me less funny. Often I feel like writing “parenting war stories” feels wrong when people obviously have much bigger problems. Also, I bet a lot of moms are up at night reading about whatever awful thing happened in the world that day (like I am), and the last thing they want to click on is a comical parenting post about how a toddler eats a banana.
11) The blog world is changing. I’ve known this for awhile but kept hanging on. I liked to play up the fact that I had a very well rounded audience, equally distributed on the blog, Facebook and Instagram. Now, it seems like to be successful at any one social platform, you need to dedicate all of your time to it. And it’s not just about creating and posting; it’s about engaging, commenting and developing a community too. You can’t be successful if you just spend all your time putting stuff out there. You need to consume and participate. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube all design themselves so that their consumers don’t want to leave. They create more and more options for people to find and share content right on their platform so people are less likely to click over to a blog. And, to be honest, when I look at my own media consumption, I read my favorite blogs less now too. Instead, I spend more time on Instagram, watching stories for entertainment, and then checking twitter for current events and politics.
For eight years, I have sat down at my laptop in the morning and made putting up a blog post my top priority, but recently I decided to put Instagram and Instagram stories first— for both @mommyshorts and @averageparentproblems. I’m also really excited about the new direction of @pinkinnyc (if I have time to do it) and still have an active audience on @insta2yearold. Instagram right now is where I am seeing the most success and my strongest community so I want to build and nurture it. I’ve even started writing longer form captions on @mommyshorts, that feel more like blog posts. And creating stories and albums on @averageparentproblems that feel a lot like old school Mommy Shorts posts that were crowd sourced photos and contests.
I guess what I am trying to say is, I feel like I am working harder than ever, but I think for some of you (particularly the people who aren’t big Instagram fans or haven’t gotten into Instagram Stories), it must seem like I am fading away.
I think I have a few options on how to keep the blog running and I’d love your opinions on what you would prefer:
1) Post less. Most bloggers I know post 1-3 times a week. I’ve always posted at least five times a week, but now I don’t even have the bandwidth to promote that content. It might be better to focus on one great blog post than try to put out something daily.
2) Get guest contributors or hire writers so I could put out more regular blog content. I’d still write too but I’d be able to introduce you to new voices as well. My only issue with this is finding the time to do it right. When Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy transitioned to a multi-contributor platform, I think one reason she was successful is because she became the editor-in-chief, and for the most part, stopped sharing her own life and writing. I’d prefer to keep doing what I’ve been doing with the addition of more writers, which makes it harder to manage.
3) Stop treating the platforms differently and put the same content everywhere. Should I share every Instagram pic on Facebook and then use the ones with longer captions as blog posts? Should I post every video on both YouTube and IGTV? Would this mean you guy would see repeating content and get annoyed? Or are most people just following one platform and would never notice? Also, treating the platforms the same would mean that the readers who are not on Instagram and Facebook (and I know there are a few of you) would get to see everything I’m doing too.
So, now I’ll throw it out to you guys. Where do you guys follow me most avidly? What do you think I should do with my blog to keep up with the growing demand for social media content? What would you be sad to see go?