I’ve been grappling with this question for a while now: to blog or not to blog? That is the million-dollar question. It’s no secret that my blog and social media posts have been getting more and more sporadic (when I first started, I was churning out 2 to 4 posts a week!), which is, more than anything, a reflection of my lack of motivation and prioritisation of this blog.
Motivation is a crucial element when it comes to blogging, and I’ve been seeing bloggers that I’ve followed for years dip in their motivation levels and even pursue other interests outside of their blogs. I can’t compare myself to these bloggers, as I don’t blog for a living and I don’t rely on it as a primary source of income; however, I can imagine that the feelings of guilt over a lack of productivity and the inevitable comparisons made against the plethora of blogs in existence would be similar – whether your blog is your business or your hobby.
I hate doing things in such a half-assed manner, for a lack of a better term, and I wanted to start off the year with a firm idea as to how I was going to approach my blog this year – or if I should even have a blog at all. The following is a list of questions that I mulled over in determining the future of Curated by Cammi. (*cue dramatic music*)
What do I enjoy about blogging?
Surprise, surprise, for me writing is by far the most enjoyable aspect of running a blog. I love having a platform where I can lay my thoughts on a platter and share my recommendations for different travel destinations. There have even been instances when strangers have reached out to express how they have connected with a particular post, or wanted advice, particularly in relation to solo travelling while in a relationship. It’s exhilarating to know that reflecting on my own experiences has helped someone else in their own situation, if only in a minor capacity.
That being said, writing can also be the most difficult part of blogging for various reasons, from merely finding the time to write to, more importantly, finding the right words to convey what I want to say. Travel writing is challenging for me, and I realise how frequently I engage in lazy writing by immediately resorting to cheesy clichés and outdated idioms. I often feel that I am doing a disservice to the countries I am writing about because, yes, every country is one of contrasts, full of smiling locals and a buzzing street food scene – maybe even throw a snow-capped mountain in for good measure – but what makes its character unique? What is the underlying essence of the city/country/experience? If I invested time and energy in distilling all of these questions, I’d likely never post anything.
What aspects don’t I like about blogging?
Let me be frank: blogging is hard work, and I have the utmost respect for people who blog as a full-time gig. It’s not just a matter of churning out some words, slapping in a few photos and then hitting the ‘publish’ button. If only. There are also the ‘extras’: selecting and editing photos, organising mini photoshoots to get the right shots, SEO and back-end stuff, keeping all of your social media accounts up to date and more! As a hobbyist, I don’t do half of these things, nor do I even do a tenth of what bloggers have to do to sustain a full-time blog.
Why do I bother with any of these ‘extras’ at all? I suppose when I started Curated by Cammi I wanted, at least originally, to put in as much effort as I could to make it a legitimate blog. It makes sense that you would want to spend time on something that you can be proud of and that you want to show off to the world. I suppose this goes back to me not wanting to do things in a ‘half-assed’ manner, which is, unfortunately, how I’ve come to approach this blog anyway.
It’s also ironic that this blog is called ‘Curated by Cammi’ because I do feel that the world has become just a little too curated for my liking. Whereas blogs used to be a platform for regular people to voice their thoughts and opinions, they’ve now turned into viable businesses, which means that there are now financial targets to reach and clients to serve deliverables to. Whereas people used to start blogs as personal endeavours, people now start blogs specifically to earn money. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this – if your blog is your business, then you should focus on making mullah, right? – it has been disappointing to see so many blogs predominately delivering sponsored content, making them seem more like ad spaces than a place to genuinely share and connect with others.
There is a pervasive homogeneity and lack of diversity in the blogosphere, demonstrated through the perfectly curated IG feeds with carefully arranged cookie-cutter picture-perfect photos that showcase the same poses being struck against striking landscapes by insanely gorgeous women and hunky men wearing the same fashion brands – it seems to be a prerequisite for every blogger/influencer to wear Mister Zimi, Faithfull, Spell and Cluse – accompanied by the same motivational captions convincing you to ditch your day job and travel the world just as they are. Now, I too am guilty of these things. I mean, who doesn’t love a photo of oneself from behind, looking poignantly out into the abyss? People take these shots and share these inspirational captions because people hungrily lap them up – me included.
However, having the ability to have this ‘voice’ ultimately comes from a place of privilege, and I can’t help but think that it might be damaging for some people to be constantly bombarded with these messages advocating that a ‘better’ life is out there should you only have the courage to uproot your life and give it a go – especially if someone doesn’t have the means nor the resources to attain this lifestyle. It is also dangerous to present an overly saturated highlights reel of your life, which is something that we are all guilty of, but which has the potential to result in even more dire consequences in this age of social media and oversharing. It is encouraging, however, to see many bloggers offering a glimpse into the other side of their ‘fairytale’ lives, the side that is filled with doubt, insecurities, loss and pain – emotions that don’t merely disappear just because you happen to lead an unconventional life.
Is blogging a priority?
The simple answer to this is ‘no’, and most likely it will never be a priority. As a freelance editor/proofreader, I’m usually dealing with manuscripts and words during the day; so in the evenings, I don’t really feel like dealing with more words unless it involves curling up with a good book. To be honest, I just don’t want to keep looking at a screen, and I am making it a point to reduce screen time this year.
Also, even though the majority of 2017 was spent overseas, I spent even less time working on my blog even though there was a lot to share. What I’ve realised is that my love for the act of travelling travel far surpasses my love of travel blogging – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Am I still passionate about blogging?
I call Curated by Cammi my passion project – but is it really a passion? There has undoubtedly been a lack of passion towards my blog as of late, and it has definitely not been fuelling the fire in my loins. When I first started this blog, I remember wanting to spend every waking minute working on it, wanting to read every post published online about how to create a travel blog. But like any hobby, pastime or venture that is taken on, your interest in it will inevitably ebb and flow, perhaps eventually spluttering to a definitive halt.
As I mentioned before, I love travel and all that it has to offer, but I don’t necessarily feel the same way towards travel blogging. I’ve had travel experiences where I wasn’t able to wholly appreciate the moment because I was so concerned about taking good IG shots and photos for the blog, as well as making mental notes to incorporate into later posts. The fact of the matter is that I’d rather just enjoy the moment for myself.
What is the purpose of Curated by Cammi?
I suppose the crux of the matter lies in the question: what is the point of Curated by Cammi? What do I want it to represent for me? A forum to show off my travel photos? An online diary? A business?
When I started Curated by Cammi, it was because I was inspired by the number of travel blogs out there, predominantly of women who had quit their jobs/lives to travel full-time. I had no intention of treating the blog as a ‘business’ or to become a full-time travel blogger; rather, I wanted to share stories, experiences and thoughts with people, and I wanted to create the kind of inspirational content that I was devouring myself (my faves are Department of Wandering and This Battered Suitcase). Of course, if I could get a few freebie hotel stays here and there, that would be a huge bonus, and of course I was totally open to the idea of being sent to places for free – duh (and still am willing if someone wants to send me to the Maldives).
For a while, I kind of felt like a ‘faux’ or ‘quasi’ blogger. I didn’t want it to be my business and I wasn’t willing to prioritise it, but I wanted opportunities to arise from it. Of course, you need to work religiously and for a long time to get the kind of traffic and social media following that will make people want to work with you, which of course you can’t do unless you treat your blog like a business. Therein laid the problem. Nowadays, especially, there is a lot of pressure for blogs to be business ventures, merely because everyone else is doing it. Blogs have become commercialised and every which way you turn there’s a blog post or online course stating: ‘Make $100,000 in 1 month from your blog – just like I did!’ I think it’s important to remember why blogs came into prominence in the first place – as a platform for voices that wouldn’t normally have been heard and not just a potential money-making machine.
What is the future of Curated by Cammi?
I was all about ready to shut down Curated by Cammi and wipe my hands clean – but there was a huge ‘but’ lingering at the back of my mind. But you worked so hard on this. But you created this all from nothing. But it’s your (figurative) baby.
The hubby calls me an ‘all or nothing’ kind of person and thinks my reluctant to continue the blog is because I think it is not up to the standard of other travel blogs. There is truth to this. I didn’t want my blog just to be ‘another blog’, I wanted it to be the best blog I could make it, which hasn’t eventuated because I haven’t put in the required time and effort. He suggested that all I really needed to do was to align myself with the original purpose of the blog, which was to share and connect with others, rather than looking at it from a ‘business’ perspective. If I didn’t post on the blog or social media for 2 months, it wouldn’t matter because I’m not writing posts for anyone other than myself. If I wanted to dedicate a post entirely to snaps from my last holiday, then that was my prerogative. (If there’s one thing I know for certain: I married a wise and very encouraging man.)
So where to from here? Curated by Cammi is staying, but who knows when you’ll hear from me next – one day, one week, one month, one year? It might be a post about travel, a musing about life or an essay on astrophysics – okay, it most likely won’t to be the last one. Whatever the case, I need to remember that Curated by Cammi is a ‘me’ project, and I should dictate when and what I want to write about, without feeling the external pressure to have it be something that it’s not.
If you’ve made it this far, then thank you for hanging around to the very end.
I’ll see you when I see you.