Monday, 17 August 2015

5 Important Signs Your Blog Direction Has Changed

In this day and age, it's rare that anything in life will stay just as it is now. Buildings will change hands, they will change their look, shape, size and their use, people age and their personalities change with them, jobs constantly change and adapt to a new marketing and a new world, and jobs, people and building are very rarely for life. Blogging is much the same, and it's not something to fear. Everything changes with time, and your blog is the same, but for many people, their blog, or their blogs direction changes without them noticing, and when they begin to notice that blogging wasn't what it used to be, they blame themselves, or life, when in fact, all they need to do is go with the flow and change with their blog.

It's obvious that the longer you do something for, the more you learn on the subject, the better you become, and hopefully, the better your experience, and blogging works on that format. The longer you've been blogging, the more you've learnt, the better you become at it, and the more you want to learn, which leads onto growth, development and changes in the future. If there's a word that many a blogger fears, it's change. The idea of changing their blog, and sometimes their content intimidates people, and it holds people back.

For a lot of bloggers, myself included, realising that you love your blog a little less, and dislike creating the content you're posting can be a horrible revelation, it knocks your confidence and makes you question continuing. When I ran Book Badger, I remember the moment I realised I enjoyed writing content that wasn't always book or review based much more than I did reviews, and I panicked, and yet in the long run, I shouldn't have. Once I'd figured out the signs that showed me my blogs direction and subject of focus had changed, making those daunting changes was no longer as scary as they seemed. If you're suffering from any of the following 5 signs, it's time to take a long hard look at your blog and make some decisions.


1. You're Writing Posts You Don't Like Writing


If you're creating content you don't like creating, then that's the first big sign that you need to change what you're doing pronto. As with anything in life, if you're not loving what it is you're doing, then there's no reasons to carry on doing it, and it's the same with blogging. It doesn't matter what you've done in the past, if what you're doing now doesn't float your boat, don't do it. If you've got posts you feel you need to write, then chuck them away. You never need to write anything you're not feeling.

  • If you're a book reviewer and dislike writing reviews, either talk to the publishers and explain that you'll still promote the book, but won't be writing a review. If you still want to review but dislike the format, take a look at these 5 other ways to write a review.
  • If you're a lifestyle blogger and life is a little bland, break out into other topics you've not considered before that you enjoy. If you're used to working on fashion, compare it against another love, maybe music, or films, or artwork and animals.
  • If you're a blogger who advises others and helps other rock their blog, try exploring different avenues you've not considered. If you have secrets, tips, tricks or experiences that are sharable, share them. Take resources you love, things you've learnt, share it all.
  • If you're a nicheless blogger (check out Raisa's post on nicheless blogging!) then the world is your oyster and you shouldn't be left feeling like you need to write anything. Go with the flow, write what feels right, rock your blog however you like. It is after all, yours.

When I still hosted Five Friday Favourites, I felt I needed to write these posts because my followers expected it of me, and sure, the feedback I got from followers was good, but it wasn't what I would have liked, and so I put less effort into them, which resulted in less feedback and eventually, I left putting together the post until the night before, feeling as though I wanted to be doing anything but that. Putting the feature into retirement before Nellie and Co. was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and it made me feel more productive, more motivated, and I felt I wanted to blog again on Thursday nights because I was creating content I wanted to create, rather than what other people wanted. Of course, paying attention to what people actually enjoy reading on your blog is a big must, but it's easier to see in my Google Analytics that my followers much prefer the content I post on a Friday much more now than they did previously, and that's the best part. Don't write content you dislike writing, you're only disappointing yourself in the process if you do.

You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful. - Flaubert

2. You're Writing Posts You Wouldn't Read Elsewhere


When I blogged both at Book Badger and Bookish Butterflies, I always knew deep down that reviews were my least liked posts to read on other blogs, and they were my least liked posts to write, and yet, I still wrote them. It's crazy to look back now and see just how much time I spent writing things I didn't enjoy writing, and it's crazy that other bloggers do this because they're afraid of change. Writing content you wouldn't like to read is another glaring sign that your blog's subject and/or it's direction has changed, and you need to go with it.

Tip #1: If you wouldn't read it anywhere else, don't publish it.


I've never read a Blog Tour post by another blogger in last two years I've been blogging, and yet I've taken part in three myself. Two of those tours I participated in in order to receive review copies of books I was eagerly anticipating, and in return for this review copy, I was part of the marketing campaign. The third blog tour was for a book I found okay that didn't wow me, and yet, as part of the tour, I was required to take part and still had to review a book I probably would have left unreviewed. I hated that I had to write that review, and not only that, still had to jazz it up so it stood out from others on the tour, and yet it is not a post I would have read anywhere else. No matter what the reward, that blog tour was not worth how it made me feel to write something I didn't like writing. If you're not loving what you're writing elsewhere, pack it in.

3. You're No Longer Inspired To Blog


Everybody experiences a 'blogging burnout' every now and then, and it's perfectly normal to feel that way. It's the reason we shouldn't work 7 days a week, every week of the year. It's the same reason we're encouraged to take regular holidays and break away from stressful environments. It's part of the reason people say sleep is such an important part of everyday life. We really shouldn't be blogging everyday, all day; even if blogging is your job, you still need time away, and if we don't take that time away, we, understandably, become burnt out. It's not just blogging all the time that can make us burn out - not feeling inspired by what we're blogging about can burn us out too.

Most prominently on Bookish Butterflies, I didn't feel inspired to blog, for a large number of reasons, the biggest of those was probably because I was showing both of the previously mentioned signs. I was writing content I didn't like and didn't want to read, and I wasn't following the kind of people I felt inspired by. I wasn't motivated to blog, nor did I have anything I considered worth sharing, which brought me to a stand still. I still wanted to blog, I just couldn't feel the flame burning any longer.

Tip #2: Surround yourself with inspiring things/people everyday


The easiest thing to do was to switch up the content I was creating, which meant less reviews, less reading and more discussions, tips, tricks, experiences and advise, but the toughest thing was decide who to surround myself with. As harsh as it sounds, I cleared out all of the blogs and bloggers I followed that didn't inspire me and went out hunting for the bloggers who inspire me now. Blogs like A Beautiful Mess encourage me to put myself out there without putting too much about myself out there too. Blogs like The Nectar Collective, Elembee and Elle and Company challenge me to develop, grow and treat Nellie and Co. more like a business than a blog, and it works. Blogs like My Reading Dress and Uncreatively Zoey remind me that I can be a little loopy and still be taken seriously and yet, I still surrounded myself by the blogs that make the entire experience fun and exciting, blogs like Paper Fury, Chasing Faerytales, Out of Time and Oh, the Books, the blogs that remind me of my past and continue to inspire me today. If you surround yourself by the things and people you love most, inspiration will come.

4. You're Itching To Create New and Different Content


If you're a little braver than most and are itching to create new content you've not delved into previously, it's a huge sign your blog direction has changed and your subject focus has changed. Taking the massive leap into unknown territory and trying something new is scary - scratch that, it's terrifying and it's amazing if you're itching to get started. There are things to consider when thinking of trying something new though..

  • Does the new subject link to your previous content?. Sure, if your blog is books, films and games orientated and you want to start talking a little on restaurants you like, it might work, but they don't have any linking factors and your followers might think you're a little nuts. If you're like I was previously, a book reviewer that delved into things more blogging, design and code related, then you're going to make an easier transition, but it still won't be easy.
  • Do you know enough about the subject you want to include? The worst thing anyone can do is move into a new subject or topic for a few weeks and run dry. So you've just thrown in your skiing hobby and now you've got nothing left - you've probably just knocked your brand, given your followers a chance to unfollow you, and now you've lost a new topic. Only introduce something new if you can stick with it in the future.
  • Is there a big enough audience interested in the subject? The best example of this is Kelley's tarot subject on Oh, the Books! It's something she loves, that has links to other content of hers, that she knows a lot about, but the amount of followers who take an interest in these posts are a lot less than those that show interest in her other content, which means she posts less about it. I'm one of a few that seriously love her insights, but like I mentioned above, you shouldn't write something you don't enjoy writing for a few people, so always make the amount of people who could be interested outweighs the amount of people that might unfollow you.

For me, new, different content meant more about blogging, more on design and a little on coding, something I could relate to my previous content, something I knew a lot and continue to learn about, that people want to know more about too, which made me very lucky and made the transition into blogging about these subjects easier, but it isn't always as easy as that. If new content is something you're seriously considering, it's time to look at your blog with fresh eyes.

5. Your Priorities Have Changed


All of the previous signs have related to making changes to your blog, but somethings, making changes to your content or your subjects isn't what your blog needs at all. Sometimes, you just need to tone down the aims and challenges you set yourself and change your blog direction to 'slow down, stay steady and chill out'. Things crop up in life all the time, and lets face it, if your blog is a hobby (and you want to keep it a hobby) then you need to prioritise, and that means slowing down.

I have a tough relationship when planning for Nellie and Co. because half of me has a growth plan and I want to develop and become a better blogger and have a better blog, and yet I understand that out of my priorities, Nellie and Co. is far from first. I have a home life that requires my attention, a job search that needs to become a job, friends that I want to see and spend time with, and a cat that still needs love, attention and teaching right and wrong, which in the long scheme of things, leaves Nellie a little on her billy. Yet, I still strike a balance between creating content I love to write, that my followers enjoy, that inspires me and encourages me to create new and exciting opportunities in the future, all while keeping it in it's pecking order seat.

The key is not to prioritise what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. - S. Covey

If you don't have the time to blog as much as you'd like, lower your expectations of them and don't be disappointed when you don't achieve. If you think you're demanding too much from yourself, than demand less and do what you know you have time for and what your priorities allow. If you're priorities are what holds you back, it's worth looking at what you put into your blog and what you can put into your blog and making them match up.

Sometimes, our blogs just turn around and see 'hey you content creator, I've changed where I want to be, what I want to do and how often I can do it' and in the end, we've just got to do what feels right to us. I couldn't imagine still blogging how I used to, churning out more reviews a week than the amount of sleep I'd gotten after reading and writing them, creating content at the last minute in the hope of avoiding it, and feeling uninspired by the bloggers around me, but now, I'm loving what I create, how often I create it, and loving how much my followers love it too. Your blog direction will change, and you can and shouldn't be afraid to change with it.

Has Your Blog Direction Changed? How Did You Notice?

20 comments:

  1. Amanda, I love this post SO much. It comes at a perfect time for me. Just YES.

    Over the past 6 months I really was struggling with my blog and what is was. I was experiencing all the signs that you list here- from the lack of enthusiasm to write posts to writing posts I wasn't excited about. I was tired of churning out review after review, meme after meme. It wasn't rewarding to me, and I didn't like writing my content. That just led to a lot of blogging burnout that was really meh. Like you, I also waited until the night before to write my content and I didn't like how that felt.

    After a brainstorming session with a good friend, I came up with new ideas how to revamp my blog and I love it SO much more now. I'm writing stuff that I actually love, and now I sit down to write a blog post all excited about the content. I've also been getting a better response from people, although I haven't really been tracking pageviews and all that, because for now, I want this to be a hobby.

    I'm starting to drift with my ambitions though. I'm thinking about doing something more with my blog, making it more than just a hobby blog- like you mentioned, you wanted to treat Nellie & Co. more of a business! So I'm thinking about following my ambitions with a new blog, and see how that works out. :) It's all in the air, but I think my priorities are starting to shift, like you talked about, so I want to follow those.

    Also, your point about surrounding yourself with inspiration is SO IMPORTANT. I don't know why I kept following blogs I wasn't inspired by when I first started out blogging, but it was such a mistake. Now I follow a mix of blogs that aren't just book blogs- I just recently found Elle & Co and I'm so excited to be following it now! What other non-book blogs do you follow?? I totally need more recs.

    LOVE this post, so much. Thanks so much for writing it. <33

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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    1. Writing content you truly love is something we all should do as bloggers, there's nothing in writing content you don't like, what would keep you going otherwise. People can see bad content for what it is, and it reflects badly, but I'm so pleased you've found something that works for you and that you're eager to try new things!

      Personally, I follow a range of non-book blogs, everything from Elembee, which focuses on branding and blogging, The Nectar Collective which is very business and building an audience focused, Autumn Leaves Blog which I find focuses a lot of creating content, building a following and a lot on social media and blogging, and even other blogs you've probably seen around like Nose Graze, Xomisse, The Blogging Brew and These Paper Hearts who all focus on blogging, teaching other how to create, design and code and are breaths of fresh air. Oh, and I'd recommend A Beautiful Mess - not for it's blogging nature, but because it breaks up heavy blog posts with something light and creative and it's such a stimulant for my creativity juices.

      Hopefully those recommendations help Aneeqah, thanks for stopping by! :)

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  2. I love this post! I definitely think my blog's direction is changing... I'm sort of moving away from bookish content and moving towards coding/design stuff. I'm sort of worried that it's going to mean I'll lose my bookish followers - but I'm just trying to write what I want instead of what I think people want.

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    1. Thanks Harvey! I really rather like your blog, I've been following for a few weeks now and I like that you're reaching into other content. I honestly don't think you'll lose followers, and if you do, it won't be a huge lose because there are a lot of people interested in coding and design who already follow you, they just don't know it. Losing one or two followers and gaining many more in return because of the content shift is worth it if you're happy, so don't let it get you down. You're doing great! :D

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  3. Nice post Amanda!

    I have to admit, I always feel a little bad for people who are constantly fighting what they WANT their blog to be. For example, some people often talk about how they really don't want to write x kind of post (like reviews or a certain wrap-up, etc.) but they feel like they need to and they feel guilty for not having done it...

    If you really don't want to be doing a certain kind of post, then DON'T!

    * If you're putting off writing your book reviews, that's a sign that maybe you don't really want to be writing them.

    * If you always dread writing your monthly wrap up post, then stop doing it!

    Your blog is your space. It's supposed to be fun! I just really feel bad for those people who keep feeling like they need to be writing certain things, even if they don't really want to be, and they can't seem to realize that they don't have to be doing that! They can change things up and follow a new direction.

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    1. Thanks Ashley! I couldn't agree more, your blog is a space for you, and you should be blogging what you want, not what you feel other want you to do. Life's too short to be writing content that you think is sucky, so don't do it. Go with the flow is always best! :)

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  4. Great post! I think mine isn't changing completely but I am changing. I put way less pressure on myself now to write reviews and posts I don't want to write. I don't bother writing it unless I want to and am in the mood too. I have like 3 A4 pages worth of post ideas that I am so excited about, but just need to find the time to actually do them. I'm preferring discussions rather than reviews.

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    1. Thanks Charnell! I think stress is a big thing, as is pressure, and when you learnt to let go, it's great and things look and feel much brighter in the long run which is always great. I think your direction is changing a little, but you're still sticking to your roots, so don't worry :)

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  5. YESSSS I TOTALLY AGREE!! I am a big advocate of blogging how YOU want to, because I see a lot of people actually off-handedly mentioning how the hate writing such-and-such a post and I'm like "why are you doing it??" It doesn't make sense to me. :O I'm not a fully hobby blogger because I'd like to make money off it one day (and be a luanching base for being an author) BUT I'm still 100% for blogging in a way that makes me happy. I know reviews aren't my favoured posts but omg, I love writing them, so I still do. x)

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    1. It doesn't make sense to me either Cait, just stop what you don't like and do what you do like, easy as pie! I love that you love writing reviews, and I always check out yours, it's like a drug to me old days of writing loads of reviews, I just love Paper Fury. *blushes*

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  6. You have the best posts. Thanks for being so inspiring!

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    1. Thanks so much Chrystal, that means a great deal to me :)

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  7. This is all so true. I experienced every single one of these things before I changed my own blog. I completely changed my blog's direction. I couldn't write as many reviews as everyone else and didn't want to. It makes you think a lot. I think people just need to be sure of these big decisions before they make them - really think about it. Of course, if you're just blogging for yourself then I suppose it may not matter some people. I enjoy writing reviews but I don't like writing a lot of them. I'd rather pick out individual parts of a novel and talk about them. (It gives you more bang for your buck too if you know what I mean.)

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    1. I agree, I think people need to feel they are confident in the decision they're making and why they want to make it. They're not easy things to decide to do, so they have to be sure. I think as long as you're enjoying your blogging (which you are Steph, and it shows!) then you shoul stuck with it! :)

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  8. When I started my blog I wanted to make sure that it won't be a book blog that talks about only books all the time. Not that I have anything against these blogs, but I myself realized that I won't be comfortable with limiting myself that way. Sometimes I find out that I have written more personal and discussion posts on my blog than reviews, and I am perfectly fine with that! Because from the beginning, what I said to myself is that I want my blog to be my unique corner of the internet, and I am not going to spoil the fun by doing things I am obligated to do or have no interest in featuring.

    And I think that the whole concept of niche bothers us all a lot. Tbh, I don't want to be branded as a book blogger sometimes. I love the community, and I love blogging about books, but let's face it, my life is not all about books, is it? That's one of the main reason why I was determined to create a blog name which is neutral and not bookish.

    Wonderful post Amanda!

    P.S - I am up there! *flails* I inspire you? You just made my day, girl!:)

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    1. I think there are some blogs that do it brilliantly, like Paper Fury, but there's very few that pull it off amazingly. I think having a niche can be very overrated - what happened to blogging about what you love and having a few big focal points? Do we really need a niche? Hey, maybe we don't, it's our space, do with it as we see fit and want to do. Thank you though Mishma, and you do inspire me, a lot, so glad I could make you happy! :D

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    2. I think there are some blogs that do it brilliantly, like Paper Fury, but there's very few that pull it off amazingly. I think having a niche can be very overrated - what happened to blogging about what you love and having a few big focal points? Do we really need a niche? Hey, maybe we don't, it's our space, do with it as we see fit and want to do. Thank you though Mishma, and you do inspire me, a lot, so glad I could make you happy! :D

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  9. Great post! I've found a few of these signs in myself as well. Not that I wanted to quit book blogging, because it's still a lot of fun, but that I wanted to write more and more posts about positivity and mental health, and I couldn't do that on Bookshelf Reflections. So I decided to create a new blog altogether, and hopefully I can keep juggling the two, because they're both important to me!

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    1. I do blame you in making another blog. Personally, I don't think I could ever keep up with two blogs, but if you have the time and it's what you want to do, you do that! :D I think we all show signs of these eventually, it' what we do about it that matters :)

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    2. I do blame you in making another blog. Personally, I don't think I could ever keep up with two blogs, but if you have the time and it's what you want to do, you do that! :D I think we all show signs of these eventually, it' what we do about it that matters :)

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