It’s that time of year again when people start blogging about goals for the coming year. Personal goals, career goals, fitness goals and of course….blogging goals. Not gonna lie, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d like Joli House to grow in 2015.
I’ve been at the wheel of this place for 16 months now and seeing it grow has made me so happy. You can’t beat being part of this community and the opportunities it can bring. So far, there has been no ‘down-side’ of blogging for me. Yeah it’s hard work and takes quite a chunk of my time, but enjoyable and rewarding hard work and time. I’ve never ever considered quitting, put it that way!
When thinking about what readers of Joli House would like to see here, I’ve considered my own blog-reading habits. What did I read this time last year? Have my tastes changed? Have I lost interest in certain blogs? If so, why? I can’t deny that my to-read list looks a little different these days. This all got me thinking about how blogs evolve over time. The blog life-cycle if you like. Where am I within this cycle?
I took over from my mum here in September 2013. Up until then, my face had made pretty regular appearances on the blog and I’d posted the odd thing myself. So although I’m a fairly new blogger, I’m not new to blogging, if you get me. I read before I wrote. 🙂 The original Joli House was born in 2007 when the blogging climate was quite different. Advertising and sponsorship just wasn’t something my mum ever considered, although even back then, the blog brought both of us some pretty unexpected and fantastic opportunities. When I took over the reins last year, the idea was to give myself a space to write. One that wasn’t constricted by a book list or exam timetables and would allow me to ramble on about…well anything really. And that would allow me to reach an audience.
Rambling on is good… It’s my style, and anyone who knows me will agree! I ramble verbally (lol yes) and I ramble in writing too. But I don’t want to ramble into a void. The one thing that could ever stop me from blogging is a lack of engagement with readers. For me, interaction is key. It doesn’t have to happen on the blog (although who doesn’t love a long thoughtful comment eh?), but it does have to happen. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, a multitude of other places for chatting. There are literally dozens of places to interact with bloggers and blog readers, and I’m constantly discovering more!
And yet some people don’t do it.
This brings me back to the life-cycle of a blog. A blog in its infancy usually means comments get replies, tweets are retweeted and interaction is generally good but to be honest, it looks for all the world like there is a point in this life-cycle where bloggers just opt out of communicating with all but the biggest of other blogging names and brands. In fact, it’s almost as if bloggers are becoming brands. As they go through this metamorphosis, they become more detached from their readership. Now I must stress here that I am still ridiculously impressed by the bloggers who manage to make it work as a career! Ain’t no two ways about this; blogging is hard work and anyone who tells you otherwise clearly hasn’t had a crack at it. I am totally behind anyone who has been able to make the shift to full-time blogging/vlogging as a career. They deserve the success.
Let’s not pretend that things aren’t going to change with your readership as a result. I read a crazy amount of blogs and in some cases I’ve been a loyal reader for years. I have a list of blogging turn-offs as long as my arm and that’s really for another post, but sometimes, the changes when bloggers make this move are like a sore thumb: painful and ugly. I’m not talking about ads on blogs here though, I can accept the sidebar ads, the footer banners. Hell, I can even accept the full frame – if your content quality is uncompromised. And that’s the kicker. Lately, with some blogs I’ve started to feel like they’re the equivalent of junk mail inside that frame. They have nothing of note to inform. No real advice and NO reader connection. Just something to sell it would appear. To those bloggers – I know you need to accept this sponsorship. I know you cannot pay your bills with All SAINTS leather jackets alone. I know you are probably still working crazy hours to maintain your posting schedule. But really, I just want to hear your true voice now and again. The one we all heard before that ad frame appeared. It’s still there for some! I don’t mind that your post is sponsored. If your content grabs me, then I probably won’t even notice. It would be crazy to judge someone for monetising their blog and that most certainly isn’t what I’m doing here. I just think that when some bloggers reach this point in the cycle they can lose their way. From here it’s just a short step to a fantastic blog becoming nothing more than a vehicle for affiliate links.
And then what?
How do you then measure your success at this point? Purely on financial gain?
And what of the life cycle? Blogger burn-out possibly?
Where is Joli House in the cycle? My readership is still growing. I’m still getting comments. I’m hoping that 2015 will bring more opportunites my way and you never know, it may even bring an advertisement or two. But let me ask you now… if I ever look like I’m losing sight of why I started this blog, call me on it yeah? If it looks like I’ve shoe-horned an unlikely product into a post then let me know. I’ve seen this happen to several blogs/vlogs in 2014 and I’m not silly enough to think I’m immune to the lure of a lucrative ad deal. I can trust you to pull me back if I go astray though yeah?
So…where are you in the blogging life-cycle?