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Why My Blog Failed…And Why That’s Ok

2018 February 5

I started this blog in August of 2009. Almost nine years ago. A semi eternity in the online world.

I remember it clearly. My husband was away on a business trip and I was home alone, trying to balance work, my toddler and a creative itch that was not going away. I had wanted to write for years, wanted to be a writer. And as I was toiling the day away at my PR job, a blog seemed like a natural outlet.

I thought the name was quite witty (and honestly, still do). I had admired Gwyneth Paltrow as an actor and a tastemaker long before goop and I had always considered her an interesting, stylish public figure. I also knew many people didn’t understand or wanted to deny her allure, so thought it might intrigue the haters as well in some way.

It began with a random post about McDonald’s. No image to accompany it. No real purpose. Just a random post.

That’s where it started to fail. The very first post.

It set the tone for the blog. Random. Some days I wrote about motherhood, some days about home design, some days about food. Rarely about Gwyneth Paltrow, actually, despite what industry experts recommended I do. I never found a niche that captured my attention long enough, so I decided to be a generalist instead. I think that’s fine when you’re trying to grow your passion, but not necessarily when you’re trying to grow an audience.

Nonetheless, the blog grew through the early years. I added some imagery (most of it terrible until recently), I did interviews with other interesting moms, I contributed to other web sites and blogs, some of them well known. Gwyneth Paltrow started to follow me and even retweeted me once. One of my posts went semi-viral and ended up on the front page of Yahoo! and The Huffington Post and AOL (when it was still sort of a thing) all in one day. My audience was there. Ready to grow.

And then I let them walk away.

The day that that post went wild was a defining factor in my online future. The comments were largely positive but as with anything online, negative as well. And I dove into the negative ones headfirst, barely coming up for air. People hated my perspective, my writing, my marriage. It was all there in black and white, and it left an indelible mark on my creative heart. I felt so vulnerable and insecure and right then and there I subconsciously decided that my public persona would never really be public. I rarely allowed myself to deep dive into my content after that. Everything stayed marginally superficial for the most part. I didn’t talk about my real life the way I could have. I didn’t write from the heart the way I wanted to. As social media evolved and became such a huge component of growing an online audience with “authenticity” and “personality”, I held mine back. I didn’t want to open myself back up to that feeling of being attacked and ridiculed and judged by complete strangers.

So I let them hold me back instead.

I continued to write and look for content to share and some of it was (is) really good. But it wasn’t consistent. Some weeks, I would post every day. Some weeks, not at all. People that liked my point of view and my voice didn’t know when and where they could find it and trying to keep up with a main blog, a Facebook page, an Instagram and a Twitter (when it was relevant) made it even harder to share on a consistent, quality basis. I was terrible about self promotion and that’s more than half the challenge online so while I should have been cross-linking and doing loop giveaways and spending hours per day “engaging” with other bloggers and potential readers online…I didn’t. Instead I came and went when I pleased.

And my readers did the same. But mostly going, instead of coming. I didn’t blame them.

Which brings me to today. Almost nine years later. Still at this same URL. I see how most traditional blogs have largely gone away in favor of highly personal social media stories and beautifully curated image feeds. I follow some of the bloggers that I followed in the early days and their stories and mediums have changed along with everyone else’s. I see the ones that propelled to true success, their faces shining alongside their words, their fears and insecurities tucked to the side while they put their hearts out there and really engage and inspire, not only through their stories but through their personalities. I follow a lot of them, in awe at how fearlessly they share. Their beautiful work and their intimate, personal approach to such an impersonal medium.

And I look back at my little blog. I silently thank the people that still stop by every once in a while. I come at it sporadically, when the mood or inspiration strikes. Choosing to share less than more. I even started a second one because I still like the medium very much and don’t want to give up on it. I took a long hard look at what failure means to me. My sister recently told me I am afraid of it. I don’t know how to deal with it, apparently. It’s why I am a perfectionist and a clean freak and a multitude of other type A things. I was raised that way. But I disagree. I don’t have millions of monthly followers – on this platform or any. I don’t have brand partnerships or speaking engagements or the book deal that was really the dream at the start of it all. I don’t have a persona that people know and recognize because of my work. Not even after nine years of publishing it.

And I’m not afraid to say that in a lot of ways, it failed.

And I know why.

I’m not afraid of that at all.

Because I still have my vast, general approach to content that I actually care about; my highly inconsistent, widely unread musings – some good, some just fine; my semi private approach to a public forum. And I am ok with it. All of it. Because it feels like me. Like how I want to do it and stay true to myself. At a slower, quieter pace than most. Just the way I am doing it. Maybe the way Gwyneth would do it, some day, in some other place.

And I realized that maybe – just, maybe – that failure is really a win, after all.

*photo above via Death to the Stock Photo 

7 Responses
  1. Kirsten permalink
    February 5, 2018

    Thank you for being so genuine, honest and raw! I think that is why I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog and posts. You aren’t fake in the social media world. You are true to yourself and that is refreshing!!

  2. Karsha Chang permalink
    February 5, 2018

    I was SO sad when you took a break from blogging. You took everything I was feeling and put it into beautiful, funny, heart breaking, perfect words. You put food on my table (because I stole your menu planning ideas). And now that you’re back, you keep wrinkles off my face (because thank GOD Raluca bought and tested all those exfoliators so I don’t have to…and yes, I think of you every night in the shower while I try to erase my age spots with my Kate Sommerville scrub). You have DIRECTLY impacted my mood of the day, my drink of the night (damn you for suggesting a little less wine), and where my hard-earned PR dollars are spent. If that’s failure – we should all be such losers.

  3. Lara permalink
    February 5, 2018

    I love reading what you write – your writing is always so eloquent and captivating – you have a way with words and i enjoy what you have to say. My husband and i meal plan and I often look at your meal plans for inspiration. I hope you to continue to blog – i quite enjoy your random musings!

  4. Miuliu permalink
    February 5, 2018

    In your case at least, a so-called failure is a definite win 🙂

    Love, love, love your blog. You have a knack for writing that balances sense and sensibility in a unique way. Your own voice can be heard, which is quite rare these days.

    Keep the posts coming!

  5. February 6, 2018

    You’re one of my favorite stops online, whenever you stop by. xo

  6. February 9, 2018

    I totally relate to this. I never tried to make my blog anything other than my own personal musings and never tried to find an audience. That said, I felt the appeal, especially in the early years of figuring out the platform. And it felt good when I let that go and wrote what I wanted to write when I wanted to write it. I love that I feedly allows me to stay connected with my favorite blogs, and I enjoy when they pop up in the feed – it doesn’t matter if they post every day. I enjoy when yours pops up. Keep doing you.

  7. February 15, 2018

    I’m not quite sure I’ve ever introduced myself… but you have a reader/fan in Argentina who really enjoys each one of your random posts! 🙂

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