Not a blogger, a writer

In an effort to keep it really real, here is a picture taken by my 2-year-old daughter.  We were packing up our Washington townhome.  Dirty hair, up in a clip, sitting on the floor.  I thought this picture was fitting for this post.
Recently, I got an email informing me an article I published on an aggregated content site for bloggers was going to be featured on this site's sister site.  I had gotten a few of these emails before, so when I looked at my phone, I thought cool and moved on with my day.  Then yesterday, I got another email informing me it had been posted.  I went to the site and immediately wanted to throw my phone out the car window (don't worry I wasn't driving).  The title had been changed in a way that, I felt, completely misrepresented my voice.  It made me sound like an angst-y 15-year-old with a chip on her shoulder.  When in reality, the body of the article sounded nothing of the sort.  It felt like I had just received a magazine I had done a photoshoot for and my entire appearance had been photoshopped, altered to appease editors and appeal to image-obsessed consumers.  Myself, unrecognizable.  

My eyes welled up.

Now I know by publishing my work on this site, I was signing over rights for my work to be tweaked.  But, in my eyes, what they had done wasn't a tweak, it was a makeover, one that I didn't sign up for and one I wasn't happy with.  So I emailed them and kindly asked them to change the title, or take it down.  If it meant I needed to disassociate myself with the site and delete my account, fine. But I rather save the integrity of the piece then get more clicks.

To their credit, they did work with me to get the headline changed to something that I thought better represented the piece, which is why I'm not naming the sites or the article.  Because, ultimately, this post isn't about that instance.  It's about what this situation got me thinking about, something that's been on my mind for a while now.

When I fist started blogging, I didn't really have a big picture idea of what my blog was going to be.  I had just left my job and was in the early transition phase of entering stay-at-home momhood.  I had always had a passion and great love for storytelling and writing, so I thought what do I have to lose? and began writing, primarily sharing my early journey into motherhood and how that ultimately effected my lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression.  To make sure I wasn't in it for clicks or to get recognized, I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to share anything I published on my blog to Facebook or Instagram for the first six months.  After that 6th month, if I was still committed and serious and consistently blogging, then I'd allow myself to go beyond my Blogger walls.

And I'm glad I did.  Over the course of these past three years people have commented on FB and messaged me privately with kind and encouraging words and, more touchingly, I've been sent messages of thanks for helping someone to better understand what a sister has been going through with an anxiety battle.  I've been thanked for letting someone know they aren't alone in their own battle with anxiety.  I've been consistently told I'm "real" and I'm proud of that. Through this blogging journey, I've grown to never sacrifice being real for making money or getting more views.

I didn't reach this mindset overnight, however.  When I was pregnant with Archer, a couple brands reached out to me to work with them, and I was ecstatic.  Who wouldn't be?  Someone noticed me! I thought, somehow immediately being transported back to 2004 in high school.  Getting paid to post on my blog?  Being reposted on a company's Facebook page?  I felt so important.  I thought I had really made it.  But what did that mean?  I was pregnant, so a company wanted me to wear their cute shirts in a post so some other pregnant ladies might buy those shirts and some other pregnant ladies might use an app to track their own pregnancy journeys.  It really had nothing to do with story or connecting with people or empathy and my gut told me so.  But against my better judgement and my longing to have the caliber that comes with having sponsored posts, I agreed.

But now when I look around and see practically all bloggers (and YouTubers) making money off their audiences' interests through outside companies' advertisement and sponsorship, I'm saddened. Because even though I didn't entirely realize it when I fist jumped on and hit "create new blog" I didn't "get in this" to make money by showcasing the latest Aveeno product.  I got in this to share in a journey with anyone who decided they needed to walk next to someone even if it was for a brief time.  I began writing to help someone feel they weren't the only one in the world who broke down in sheer panic when they hit a red light in a left turn lane, or to help someone feel a little less alone when they were having their first child away from everyone they loved.  And that's because I felt alone, and I thought maybe someone else felt alone, too.

Since I hate generalizations, I don't want to universally discredit the authenticity of every blogger and YouTuber out there.  There are some out there who I really enjoy following.  They're characters seem so honest and genuine.  But this medium has clearly become the new way of advertising, and it's left me finding myself questioning every time I land on a  sponsored post or video asking do they really use that product?  Would they have bought that product or service if someone didn't reach out to them?  Some would of course answer "yes" to this, but not all would...It's taken away from the connection.

It's taken this three-year-long blogging journey to recognize, I'm not a blogger.  I'm a writer.  A writer who is trying to improve her craft by consistently writing and sharing the journey along the way.  A writer who values the transparency that comes with sponsored-free content and believes in showing her true, authentic self through her work. Yeah, I have Google Adsense on my blog, I thought I could make some chump change while I was at home taking care of my kids.  I'm currently at like 8 bucks.  Eight bucks that will eventually go to the student loan payments.  Sponsorships though?  You won't ever find them in this space.  Not anymore, at least.  And that's a scout's promise (that's more serious than a normal promise, right?) This space is a writer's space, not an advertiser's.

After having a couple kids, and learning who to surround myself with, and going to therapy (many times) and working through any weird past demons I may have had, I now know who I am and I don't need to be validated by someone who has a bigger following than I do.  Does it feel good to be validated by a company or someone who has a bigger following than I do?  Bet your ass it does.  It feels good to be noticed, recognized, told you're worth someone's time.  But is it needed to get up the next day and hit "new post?"  Absolutely not.

So, I'll be here tomorrow or maybe next Wednesday (working has thrown my writing schedule more than I'd like) with another new post on paying down student loans while raising kids, or one on the growing pains of raising two little ones who have their own personalities, or a post on gratitude during the Christmas season, or a post on having to wean off anxiety medicine to have another baby.  

And that's all my posts will ever be - you, me, and life.  No strings attached.


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