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To Blog or Not To Blog – BlogPodium Recap Part 1

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I have a confession to make. Up until BlogPodium I had been considering deleting my blog.

No really.

I love writing here. I love making crafts and showing them on here to help other people do them. I love meeting other creative minds from all over the world the share this love of DIY projects.

So what’s the deal right? Why would I want to stop?

Several reasons. The first being that I felt like my blog wasn’t pretty enough to make it. By pretty I mean perfect. Because as much as we all cry foul that we want bloggers to be real and showcase behind the scenes life, we always in the end go back and Pin the pretty images. They sell. They inspire. They are the ones that appear in magazines. These are the bloggers who in the end get into publications. And I am not always a pretty blog. I will tell you when things go wrong, I won’t lie if I had a bad experience with a product in the hopes of working with a sponsor. And most of all I don’t pretend to live out of a catalogue because I don’t. We have stucco ceilings, we live in the suburbs, we have a 10 year car that has siphoned off over $1500 in repairs in the last 6 months and real life finances don’t always allow you to re-do and redecorate your home when you want to. That’s a process over time.

The second – time. Simple as that. My kids are growing up and I spend more time on my computer than I’d like. I want my time to be with them.

The third is I felt alone in being a Canadian blogger. It wasn’t until I joined Twitter that I realized how many Canadian bloggers are actually out there. The catch was most of the ones I was meeting were all Parenting bloggers and I don’t consider myself a Parenting blogger. That is I do crafts with my kids a lot, but I would lean more towards DIY/Crafts/Lifestyle because I don’t discuss parenting issues or how to raise your kids on here. Not that it’s not a great idea to follow a blogger from a different genre than yours because by all means you can learn something (God knows food blogs save my non-existent culinary skills), but reading about sensory projects with macaroni for toddlers when you’re passionately searching for designer fabric to reupholster your couch, is probably on a different end of the spectrum of the blogs you actually choose to follow. Now I follow both, in which case this is a very bad example. But the idea is that common ground is very helpful because it allows you to relate to each other.

So where were all the Crafty DIY lovin’ Canadian girls? The ones building things and spending weekends at Home Depot and Lowe’s, asking for Gift Cards to Michaels for Christmas, being really, really, really excited about the IKEA catalogue arriving every year? I had met a ton of them from the US and UK. I would read all their recaps from the Haven Conference. I’d see lots of whom were working together for Holiday themed posts or working with sponsors, all chatting in Facebook groups. They shared work opportunities that I really couldn’t participate in because of the non-Canadian companies they worked with. Here it felt like when I found a Canadian blogger who did that, they were just as perplexed as to how to build these working relationships with brands as I was. And those that did, were very few and far in between and felt like they were on an isolated ship.

Why did it feel like we were all over the map and unable to figure out how to do what the U.S. bloggers had already discovered? I mean they’re discussing DFP for blog monetization and we’re like so, anyone got a PR contact for Michael’s for some craft supplies?

The week before BlogPodium I emailed one of my blogging friends in the U.S .and I told her this and then some. I said I felt frustrated at the direction of the future of my blog. I felt like maybe this wasn’t working. Maybe it was taking too long to grow my audience. How a lot of what I put on here was starting to dig into valuable family time that I’d never get back. I was at a crossroads.

But I went to the conference. Because I wanted to see if it would change my mind. Because I wanted to connect with some of the amazing voices I had been chatting with online.

The first thing it feels like when you get there, as it has been reiterated in the many BlogPodium recaps,Β is that it’s a lot like the first day of school where you don’t know a soul. Well some people did and we did know each other virtually but in a manner of speaking we were still strangers to each other. I wasn’t feeling inspired, I was feeling nervous. It is daunting to go to a conference by yourself. If I could give anyone attending one piece of advice, get someone’s cell phone number before you go or arrange a meeting spot. That way you’ll have that someone or a group of people to instantly connect with. Don’t walk in blindly and then go “What’s the WiFi code for the Hyatt?” so you can tweet them and ask where they’re sitting (this happened many times). It will help with your comfort level especially if you are socially awkward like me and very nervous at the idea of introducing yourself to a group of people.

Once I found Lynne who was sitting with Danica and Andrea, I took a deep breath and sat down with them at their table. Then I saw Tash and Kes walk in and then we used Twitter to find BeckyΒ and Thalita. When Thalita and me hugged instantly a huge deal of my anxiety disappeared. It felt like we had known each other for years. Suddenly that feeling of being alone in a sea of 250+ people, disappeared.

Sometimes you just need a hug. I may not show it on this blog much, but I am a very sensitive and emotional person. It’s one of the reasons making these personal connections via blogging is so important to me. I want to be able to support other bloggers. I want to be able to share their creative genius and work with them. I want to be able to talk to them about their frustrations, help each other during blogging slumps and share advice and tips. Most importantly I want to encourage bloggers to connect with each other so they don’t ever feel like they’re trying to scale a brick wall and not getting anywhere.

It’s not fun blogging alone.

And I felt like in Canada, this was sorely missing. I think that’s why so many of us attended BlogPodium, because we want to make those personal connections.

So when I write my Part 2 of this recap I’ll get into the Day’s events and some of the key lessons I learned. I promise it will be a more lighthearted post than this one. I felt I needed to write this post first because I know I am not by myself thinking these things. So much so that when the conference was done, I came home and made good on a promise to start a Facebook Group to connect us all together. To keep the discussions and support going.

You’d think there was one already for this genre online? Nada. I mean how is that even possible?

So we started the Facebook group to connect us all. Canadian Home, Decor and Lifestyle Bloggers.

I registered it but let me make this clear, it’s not my forum. It’s our forum – by our I mean yours if decide to join. Β That and I am not a good moderator because I would totally be the one to forget do the daily share threads because my child would choose that morning to spill grape juice all over their head before picture day. So with the help of several other amazing bloggers, they will be doing that as co-admins to help make sure we’re all happy campers. By campers I mean bloggers. Where everyone who has a passion for their home, DIY’s, crafts, decor and design is welcome to come network and support each other. So that when you go to the next BlogPodium, especially if you’re a first timer, you won’t feel like it’s the first day of school.

You’ll feel like it’s a reunion.

It goes along with one of the best pieces of blogging advice I have ever read and something that was reiterated at BlogPodium. And that was from when I read Becky from Infarrantly Creative‘s Blog Story. And the advice is very simple. You can’t blog alone. You need to build a community of bloggers around yourself. Go read her story. It will open your eyes.

This experience made me do a lot of soul searching in terms of deciding whether a life online is what I want for myself right now. What it has helped me figure out is that I need to spend more time with my kids away from the computer. Because blogging, especially DIY and craft blogging, takes a lot of time my time away from them. And any blogger that is a parent can understand how hard it is to balance their corner of the internet with family life, especially when there are weeks where all you’d rather be doing is hanging out with them outside. If that means I do one post a week and a round up of notes every Friday so be it. When they’re in school I’ll have a lot of time to make stuff then. They are more important to me right now and my youngest is on her last year at home with me. I will never get this time back.

So in the end was the experience of going to the conference worth it despite my wavering state? Let me put it this way. Anything that helps you make a positive decision for your life, is well worth the experience you had. Even if that means saying Goodbye. Which I think I’d be pretty stupid to do right now, given that the next chapter of blogging in Canada is just beginning for a lot of us.

Especially when life tosses you a bit of serendipity on top of all of that.

As I was writing this post, feeling extremely vulnerable (which I realize is very mellow dramatic, I mean come on it’s a blog not brain surgery) I got an email from a woman named Emily who showed me a photo of her wreath that she was inspired to make based on my Let’s Talk About WreathsΒ post.

And I sat there and thought I have never had anyone do that. No one in the entire time I have been blogging has ever actually shown me if anything I had shown on here, had helped inspire them enough to think “Hey that’s a great idea, I am totally going to do that,” and had actually gone and made it. And it put the biggest nerdy smile on my face like you would not believe. I wrote back to thank her and she wrote me back the sweetest email and said it was “refreshing” to read my writing. No word of a lie I was so humbled.

So Thank You Emily, I told you your email could not have come at a better time.

And Thank you Canadian Blogging Belles and all the future Blogging Belles for finally giving this blogger her tribe.

34 Comments

  • Reply
    Martina
    September 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I’ve been feeling much the same way Alex, deleting my blog has been in the back of my mind for at least a year now. Being a remote blogger (as in, there are literally zero other local bloggers to connect with) leaves me in Internetland-limbo a lot of the time as I can’t feasibly do meetups, conferences or other blogger events (unless someone wanted to Skype me in to the next one haha), and blogging alone sucks.

    The fact that blogging was eating up a lot of family time & it felt like it was a zero sum game with no reward made the decision to go on “vacation” this summer a lot easier. And you know what? It was worth it. I know consistency is the big thing in getting readers to invest, but even when I was consistent M-F there was minimal reader investiture.

    You do you. And for me that means spending more time laughing at my kids antics before he morphs into a sullen teenager and posting when/if I’ve got something to share.

    I’m never going to regret not blogging more, but I sure as hell am going to be kicking myself if I miss out on making memories with my family today.

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      That’s a big thing. When I look at bloggers who sacrifice immense amounts of time away from their families, kids, real life best friends, I think are you going to look back and think Damnit I missed a Tweet?. Not that I am saying people online are insignificant. Quite the opposite.The people I have met this past year have helped build a different type of friendship and getting to finally meet them was awesome, b/c it takes away that awkward hey how do I meet friends as an adult thing. But I think there has to be a balance.

  • Reply
    Kay @ anchorend
    September 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

    <3 I'm glad you haven't stopped blogging. It was wonderful meeting you xo.

  • Reply
    kitchencounterchronicles
    September 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Wow…it’s like you read my mind. My blog has evolved and changed over the years. What started out as a place to share my lifestyle posts has evolved into focusing more on kid stuff as of late. But, only because I found a supportive Kid community. I have been missing sharing all of my crafty and home improvements…maybe joining this community will lead me back down that path. Which I would LOVE. I’m off to request to join. Thanks so much for helping create a community for Canadian bloggers. PS so glad you didn’t press “delete”

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      My blog is night and day from what I intended it to be which was a home renovation blog. Def let your blog evolve if it makes you happy. I am much happier doing crafts with my kids, holiday decorations and home decor projects. As for the kitchen reno…when it happens it happens. Come, enjoy, network, chat! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Time With Thea
    September 30, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Hi Alex! Thanks for starting up and having me join the Canadian Blogging Belles. This is an absolutely brilliant idea. I too find blogging quite lonely. I love the writing, photography and creating but it is the connecting with others that is the most rewarding. I also always in awe and so inspired by the amazing posts that bloggers produce (yours included). It will be nice to connect with other Canadians! ~Thea

  • Reply
    Jennifer Flores (@ramblingreno)
    September 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I’m nodding my head in agreement with your post. Blogging can feel like a vast empty playground sometimes and really, only when you transcend that online to offline divide do you get that real sense of community, of belonging, of understanding. That’s why I built BlogPodium. There wasn’t that opportunity to connect with other Canadian bloggers but now there is, and like with your FB group, those opportunities are growing. So glad you came.

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I think every blogger should go to BlogPodium at least once. Just to meet the people behind the screen. It will change all that awkwardness of feeling like you are doing it alone. Thanks for starting it Jen!!

  • Reply
    Victoria β€’ Restoring our Victorian
    September 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

    You cannot ever, ever, ever leave us!!! We adore your non-perfect blog just the way it is.

    Sounds like blogpodium was fantastic in the best way– meeting others and feeling connected…

  • Reply
    Danica
    September 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Another week, another great post written that really hits home. It’s funny how sometimes you feel so alone in your thoughts when there are so many other people out there thinking the same thing.

    I too have thought about deleting my blog….on most days I feel my writing skills are inadequate compared to some of the other blogs I read. I felt that my content probably doesn’t engage that many readers and it was a struggle and a toss up as to why I was doing this. I mean does anybody really care. Let’s not even touch on the subject of trying to get people to follow along. I felt like I was a mad stocker following other blogs, commenting hoping somebody would want to come visit my page as well.

    And then I found kind people who I actually enjoyed really conversing with, whether it was on there blog, twitter, facebook….people that had the same interests as me, the same sarcastic sense of humour. I reminded myself that this place where I write is a place for me and so long as I keep that in check I will continue writing. The other stuff like making new friends & attending events is just extra happiness that comes along with writing.

    I thoroughly enjoy following you and am so happy that were able to meet!

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      I don’t know about you but for me Twitter changed the whole follow thing b/c suddenly it wasn’t just me leaving comments and getting random sporadic responses, suddenly I was chatting with all the names of the people I had been following in real time. And it helped me hone in who the people I actually clicked with were and who gave me the time of day was eye opening. I loved meeting you too! πŸ™‚ You made an nervewracking day way easier.

  • Reply
    Danica
    September 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Clearly I can’t spell either…stalker not stocket….ugh

  • Reply
    Marie
    September 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I’m not a blogger but I enjoy your writing and ideas. Indeed, it is your genuine life that makes this a better blog. I have car repair bills, tight budgets, and second hand furniture. I feel disconnected when I see perfect million dollar homes while my dust bunnies are forming a nation in one corner of the bedroom.

    As for time, it will be there if you want it. I run a local parenting newspaper from home while raising 3 children. Plenty of people work and spend lots of time with their children.

    Other busy parents wiill appreciate your challenge. Remind yourself, are you writing for bloggers or people? We working moms with creative dreams don’t have time for 3 blogs a week. It makes us feel bad when all we can manage is 1 project a month, if the house isn’t too dirty.

    Keep it up. This blog is good for you and good for me….even down here near Disney.

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you SO much for taking the time to write this! Really. It is so humbling to read that. I definitely write for myself. If I do a project it’s for our house or with my kids. I don’t know when it clicked that I didn’t need to write a post if I didn’t want to but I would rather have something funny or personal to share than write a half assed post feeling like oh crap I need to get something online. Hope you’re enjoying sunshine! It hasn’t left our area either – my tomatoes are ripening when I should be in pumpkin farms.

  • Reply
    now at home mom
    September 30, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Alex, thank you so much for writing this today, please know that you are not the only one thinking these things. PLEASE, don’t delete yours because I enjoy reading it okay! πŸ™‚
    You know, I have been thinking of deleting my blog too.
    Lately, I’ve been dealing with personal issues and blogging has not been in my priorities. Writing something once a week is hard for me now but I admit that I do enjoy connecting with others.
    Anyhow, Alex you don’t know how great your post made me feel this evening.
    Some days, I really want to delete my blog because I don’t know if anyone is really reading it. Also, wanted to thank you for creating this Canadian FB group; I’ve been reading others blogs and I’m so happy to have connected with some of them! πŸ™‚
    can’t wait to read part 2

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      I read it and I would be sad if you deleted yours b/c I always recognize how sincere and sweet you have always been with your comments and conversations. I love what you’ve done with your kitchen and your projects and seeing your blog evolve like mine has from the early days is crazy to see how much we both have learned. Don’t leave!!

  • Reply
    Cul de Sac
    September 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Wow can’t believe that we are all tought of deleting our blog! I haven’t written on mine for the last 5 months… Talk about vacations πŸ˜‰ i, too, feel like i put a lot of pressure on myself for that blog and that is not as nice, well looking and interesting as others. I mean, my life is not as exciting and i do have lots of struggles with my kiddos. Since i feel like it is a burden right now i just took time off, and don’t know when i’ll come back to it… I feel even more lonely in QuΓ©bec as a blogger (besides wonderful Ingrid!!) since french poeple in quΓ©bec are really not into DIY and crafts πŸ™ i’ll go look the group up! And thanks for speaking your mind as thruthfully πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Come join the group! Come chat! I think you already have as I am terribly late in replying to comments this month. I think the DIY/Crafts area in Canada is very new compared to our US counterparts and there really isn’t a lot of us yet. Which in many ways I think is pretty cool b/c maybe we can be some of the first to change that. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to getting to know you!

      • Reply
        Cul de Sac
        October 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm

        i’ve joined the group but am not ready to be participating yet πŸ™ still need to sort through some stuff but am reading what you are all writing!

  • Reply
    Carolyn
    September 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Another non-blogger here who enjoys what and how you write. What makes your blog interesting to me is your style – you seem honest and real. I feel like I’m reading a friend’s diary. Keep it up (I hope)!

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you so much Carolyn! Much appreciated! That’s a high compliment b/c I never want someone to come here and think I can’t do that, I can’t have her home, etc. It’s why sharing when things go wrong in projects is so important to me. First it makes for great blog fodder b/c if you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at? But also b/c people really relate the content. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Becky
    September 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Alex – you really touched a nerve with this post. Not just with me but judging by the comments with a whole community. You captured the isolating of blogging perfect. My hat is off to you for being honest and not glossing over the hard parts.

    So many blogs present that glossy finished surface but you don’t and that’s the very thing that makes you so appealing.

    Plus you saw a hole in the Canadian blogger community and you’re working to fill it in with relationships, support and communication. It’s a job well done and it’s only started.

    I hear you on the pull between family and work. I think every mom feels that no matter their situation. You put it very well when you said you wouldn’t regret stepping away from the blog but you would regret missing out on the kids. That statement really resonated with me and I’m going to keep it in the forefront of my mind in the future.

    Thanks for putting this out there for all to see – warts and all. It’s hugely appreciated.

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      I think blogging connects us in ways that we couldn’t even imagine – I mean if you had told me I would have met and made friends this way a year ago, I would have laughed and been like who does that? Surprise! I just met you and damn I am like where has Becky been all this time? We should write a letter to Danielle.

      I want people to come here and laugh and try out a project at home or say “That’s awesome that she made that for $5 I am totally going to do that and not spend $300 at….” If I can do that and make someone relate to me and not feel like what we have or can do is out of reach, then that’s golden.

      Onto the next chapter… πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Lisa Canning
    September 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    What a wonderfully honest post. I am glad as a result of BlogPodium I now know your blog and got to read your story. I look forward to reading more!

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks Lisa! Welcome! I think I have stalked you in Instagram so congrats on your pregnancy!

  • Reply
    Veronica
    October 1, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Sensitive and emotional…hmmmmmm now u tell me Betty!

  • Reply
    Danielle from Storypiece
    October 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    You, my friend, are a serious rocks star and it blesses my heart to read about the email you received in the midst of all of this. I can’t wait to see what happens in the Canadian blogging community because of you.

  • Reply
    Jo-Anna
    October 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Alex! It was so great to meet you today, and meeting you was such perfect timing…just like this post…it’s like you read my mind too! I loved our chat today and just wish we had more time! And please keep up with your blog – it’s so great, plus we need to be in this community together! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      I am totally devouring your tweets from BlissDom – you need to email me all the details after! πŸ™‚ It was great meeting you at SheBlogs!

  • Reply
    Amy
    October 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Alex, it was great meeting you at Blogpodium. I wish we had a chance to chat a little more because I love your blog! I’m heading over to checkout the Facebook page now! Looking forward to reading more of your posts πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Erica
    October 4, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I am a former Canadian lifestyle-ish-mishmashofeverything, blog with my sisters blogger who needs, longs, to return to the blogging community!! This post helps urge me on πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Come back when you’re ready. There’s a group of 85 + bloggers and growing everyday that will say hi whenever you want… πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    gemma@thesweetestdigs
    October 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    What a wonderful post!!! I can totally relate to what you’ve been feeling. Enjoy and make sure to take that time with your kiddos, but don’t leave this blogosphere.. You are a refreshing and fun read, and I know there are lots of us who love your little corner of the internet! πŸ™‚

    So nice connecting (albeit briefly) with you in Toronto. Love the facebook group idea (just joined it) — and hope to continue to build this little community!

    XO

  • Reply
    PersonallyAndrea
    October 10, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Alex, I love that I found this. Thank you for this post. I’ve started blogging this year and am loving it except for wondering where all the other Canadian bloggers like me are??? So I set out to search you out…I knew you must be “out there” somewhere. Subscribing to your blog and hopping over to request to join the facebook page now…

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