I call these type of posts blog navel gazing. This kind of introspection can be tedious to read. Feel free to skip right over it and come back another day, knowing of course you'll miss out on all my deep, dark blogging secrets.
This month I've spent a lot of time soul searching with regards to blogging. Evaluating my reasons for blogging, its place in my life and how I intend to proceed.
I do a lot of writing because it's something I enjoy to do, which is my number one reason for blogging. But blogging and connecting on-line with other bloggers/writers/photographers has a slightly addictive quality. You get a little hit (some positive feedback on an article you've written for example) and you want some more.
I recognize my own tendencies to please people, seek positive affirmation and be easily distracted from time to time. Knowing this about myself requires some serious evaluation of this hobby of mine called blogging. So I've laid it all out below.
Mostly for me and partly for you. I believe people's motivations are important and I'd like you to know mine. I'd also like to provide some food for thought if you too are a mama/homemaking/homeschooler blogger (or whatever variety you are).
For 11 years now I have been a full time stay at home mom. I've been homemaking, homeschooling and building community with no renumeration. No monetary earnings to speak of. There are two reasons for this:
- We decided early on (before marriage) that I would be the full time caregiver for our babies and young children and manage our home. Naturally we'd re-evaluate my role as the kids grew older and needed me less. My at-home role is one I eagerly and (most days) joyfully embrace. I have never wanted to be an out-of-the-house career woman.
- For the past 10 of these 11 years we've lived as legal aliens in a foreign country, the United States. We are Canadians and our work visas have only ever allowed Damien to work. I can't legally earn any money. We are in the application process for permanent residency which removes this restriction.
These are the reasons I blog, in order of their appearance on the blogging radar:
- To chronicle our family life and share this with family and friends. This was especially important to me years ago, back in the days before facebook as a way to keep in touch with distant family. In those days posts looked something like this.
- To get the swirling mass of ideas out of my head. Writing helps me resolve internal conflict. It allows me to communicate the things I want to share with the world at large. Blogging helps me grow as a writer while writing about the topics near and dear to my heart.
- To encourage readers in the simplicity, beauty and inherent value of the roles of mother, homemaker and homeschooler.
- To share my photos and grow my skills as photographer.
- To meet people who share things in common with me. I do have local friends who I connect with but on-line relationships have definitely enriched my life and understanding of the world.
- To promote the work of our family and contribute to our family's livelihood. This is the direction I am headed, while carrying on with the previous points.
Our blogs are a collaborative effort. Damien and I have dreams and plans for these humble little spaces on the web and we are very much together in our goals: blogging as both a creative endeavor and potential income earner.
Although you don't hear my husband's voice at FIMBY he is behind the scenes as my accountability partner, my sounding board and technical support. Anything with regards to how this blog operates is his doing. I write content and post photos and mess around with creating menus and such but he's the guy behind the curtain making it all work.
Conversely, I'm the gal behind the scenes at ADVENTUREinPROGRESS, taking, finding and exporting the photos he needs, editing all his posts (don't look too carefully for mistakes, I often edit after 9 pm) and providing moral support.
Blogging has become a part of who we are, what we do and how we communicate our shared ideals to the world. Doing this with my husband is such fun (and a wee bit challenging).
Blogging is a rather time consuming unpaid part-time job, that I absolutely love doing.
As I've mentioned above I have not earned money for years but I have done many things in that time to contribute to our home and community. I am a resource person and have invested in the lives of family and friends and I don't expect payment for these things. For that reason I also don't expect payment for blogging, something I love to do anyways.
I love to encourage people. It's one of my gifts and out of the abundance of what has been freely given to me I want to offer what I have to those around me. When someone responds, via comments or e-mail, that something I said encouraged them, helped them relax in their homeschooling journey, reminded them to appreciate life, beauty and their families - oh my, my heart sings.
For this reason and the fact that I can't earn money I have never pursued income generating potential on this blog, ie: advertising. Not to mention, I find most advertising annoying if not downright offensive and counter to my values of simplicity and contentment.
But... what if I could earn money? Doing something I love; following my heart and my values. Something that would flow from family life, not take away from it. Would I? Well, yes.
This is our long term goal for me. We don't know exactly what this looks like but we have some ideas, and blogging is a part of that.
Let's be honest here, I spend a fair amount of time blogging. And I'm prepared to be upfront about that.
I've given it some thought and figured I probably spend an average one hour per day writing and editing and another hour in the evening doing photos and site work. This includes my writing for other blogs also. Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less. Weekends are busy family times but I might squeeze in another two hours over two days.
This does not include time spent responding to e-mail from readers and other blog related correspondence. So, let's say 10 to 12 hours per week blogging which includes both the writing and photography.
At first glance it seems like a lot (as much as a part time job) but it's an amount our family is comfortable with because:
- Blogging makes mommy happy. It's creative, it's writing, it's photography, it's encouraging people - it's so much I love rolled into one.
- I schedule my writing and blogging work around my family's activities.
- We view this time as an investment into future opportunities for our family. I'm meeting people around the world, building my writing resume and showcasing my photography. We plan to take this somewhere.
I've given up, or scaled back, a fair number of other commitments, hobbies and interests to focus on photography and blogging in this current season of life.
For the record here's things I've let go:
- Flickr (breaking up with Flickr).
- Facebook. My posts automatically show up there though in case you're wondering. I visit once every couple weeks to see what my extended family is up to.
- Twitter. Been there, done that. One more thing on the computer I don't have time to keep up.
- Scrapbooking and photo album building. Years ago, when my children were babies, before I ever heard of blogging, I kept scrapbooks. These slowly morphed into yearly family photo albums with printed pages from the blog. Early this year I decided to stop this all together, except of course for maintaining our children's learning portfolios. I'm completing our family's 2009 photo album, calling it good and using the computer (with good back up) from now on to store our family's photos and memories.
- Big time gardening. I grow a little and buy the rest.
- Photography apart from family. I've dabbled in it a bit, according to friend's requests and community opportunities but I am very limited in the time I can devote to this. The photography that gives me the most joy is taking photos of my children, garden, home, nature and our outdoor adventures so that's what I'm sticking to for now. There's plenty of time later to grow a photography business if that's what I want to do.
I value transparency and honesty. On my own blog and others.
Natural homemaking, mothering, homeschooling, nurturing creativity, being in nature, contributing to community and building relationships, these things take time - off-line. Don't let anyone's "have it all together" blog convince you otherwise.
I know how much time is required for family living (cooking, eating, cleaning, caring for kids) and I've concluded that behind every super mommy/homemaker/homecrafter (fill in the blank) blogger is a whole lot of super help. When professional mama bloggers are less than forthcoming about this fact, ie: don't freely share that they have babysitters, hubby at home part time, kids at grandma's every weekend, part time cleaning person etc. I am less than impressed.
To set the record straight for this blog I am not a super anything, but I am good at certain things, organization being one. My full time job is to feed my family, manage our home and oversee the kiddo's education. Within those areas of responsibility I like to make my own soap, garden some, simplify our home, take photos and write.
My husband works a regular full time job with family friendly hours. I don't have any domestic help, other than the kids of course. My kids spend each and every day together with me.
But my kiddos are also old enough to play independently and unsupervised for hours. Damien takes care of most of our clothing and stuff purchases (I despise shopping) and everyone helps, to some degree, with cooking, laundry, cleaning and other chores.
You can be assured this blog is written by a full time mother, homemaker, homeschooler and weekend adventurer... part time blogger. All of it an unpaid labor of love, for now. If that ever changes you can be sure I'd share that here.
I intend to go places with this blog, maybe literally - like traveling to visit other bloggers and readers. But also professionally as a writer and photographer.
There is so much potential in this publishing medium that I desire to explore. The potential to grow creatively and to contribute to my family's well being through earning income and resource swapping (ie: barter) with other people.
FIMBY is where I share my writing and photography about natural living, family life, creativity and homeschooling.
- Maybe someday I will have my own products and services to offer as related to those areas.
- Or I might want to advertise for other people's small businesses that line up with my values.
- Perhaps I will earn money as a writer and photographer other places because of the expertise and skill I've established here.
To further pursue these options Damien and I are reading, researching and making plans. Most recently we've bought the ProBlogger book. I admit this somewhat sheepishly, like you might think we're trying to get rich. Hardly. Our goal is to live with less, not more.
But you should know this about me, what I choose to do I want to do well. Blogging is no different. Some call this perfectionism, I prefer to call it being focused (smile).
And that friends was probably more than you ever wanted to know about the inner workings of my blogging life.
Writing this out, little by little over the past couple weeks has been very helpful to me. In the process of writing and talking with Damien I came up with a firmer schedule for my on-line time and blogging commitments and it's working wonderfully.
My mind has been clear and focused on whatever task is at hand; whether it be writing a post, cooking supper, reading to the kids or working in my garden. Clarity of thought, what a wonderful state of mind to be in.
One more thing, nothing is going to noticeably change here at FIMBY (at least not yet) because of what I've shared here. This post was just a peek at what goes on behind the scenes. I like this space for what it is but do intend to get better at this business of part-time blogging.