(Flickr – Kristina B)
Through February, I’m going to run a mini series of posts that I’m calling “Talk Shop Saturdays.” The idea is to share some of my thoughts on blogging and give bloggers an opportunity to chat about a variety of topics. I’m chosen to run these on Saturdays, when deal posting is generally slower. I’d love to know what you think about this idea! If you have topics you’d like to “talk shop” about, leave a comment or email me at angela @ thecouponproject dot com.
When you start a blog, one thing that gets pounded into your head is how important it is to drive in traffic. So you dive in, commenting on other blogs, networking with bloggers, maybe dabbling with AdWords or Facebook ads, writing guest posts, and building strong content. This has definitely been my strategy in the four years since I launched this blog. But over time a contrary thought has occurred to me… “when do you decide you’ve got just about the right amount of traffic for you to manage?”
The Truth about Big Traffic
In the pursuit of big traffic, it seems to me that many bloggers don’t stop and consider what the cost will be of having all that traffic come to their site.
Let me share a story of my own to illustrate. At the end of my first year of blogging, I submitted a post for consideration to a number of top bloggers to share in my niche. And then, I promptly forgot about it and went to bed. You can imagine my surprise (and shock, quite frankly) when I logged on to check my stats and found I was getting upwards of 1,000 hits per hour to my site. This was more than I’d been getting in a single day. While it was exciting – I was quickly struck with another emotion – stress! My site quickly was flooded with comments, questions, and criticisms. I found that my site was being discussed in a forum and people were picking my site apart. I remember some people saying I was “just another one of those coupon mom blogs.” OUCH.
The truth is more traffic can mean proportionately more stress and responsibility. More ad revenue, yes – but more chances for your site (and you!) to receive criticism. More people depending on a high level of quality content. More pressure to deal with tech issues that may arise. More pressure to stay up on your niche and topic. If you’re not careful and deliberate about it, you can quickly find your life being consumed by your blog.
Where is your “enough?”
To be clear, I will still accept partnerships and opportunities to get my blog in front of new eyes and I’ll still work to push the limits of my creativity and professionalism in how I build my business. However, I’ve decided that running this blog at the expense of my family, my sanity, and my other interests in life is simply not worth it to me.
About a year ago, I was expressing my frustration to my dad in wanting to keep my blog growing and moving. His advice was perfect: “remember, Angela, you do not have to be the best.” And he’d be totally right. I don’t have to be the best at everything I do, but I can decide what my best is, and let it be.
Today I thought I’d give you a little inside peek to the choices I’ve made about “my enough:”
- My enough means I will reduce the amount of time spent working on evenings. I’ve shifted to working earlier in the day and when my kids are in school so I can have the evenings to engage with my family and even just relax. I’ve spent some time reading some really fantastic books and even been reading a few non-couponing blogs.
- My enough means I will reduce the amount of time spent working on the weekends so I can be with my family. This has meant I’ve no doubt sacrificed some weekend traffic, but my family is worth more than 500 or even 1,500 hits on a Saturday. I also feel energized coming into Monday because I’ve had some time to rest. Also, my house has started to get cleaner as I’ve made some clear work/home time separations.
- My enough means I will choose to make time for my friends. I’ve consciously made an effort to connect (and in some cases, reconnect) with friends. I’ve decided that participating at church events, special girls’ nights and my awesome book club is worth it. Friendships matter!
- My enough means being OK with not being the best. At the heart of it, I’ve learned to accept I won’t be the biggest coupon blogger out there, and that’s OK. My goal in running this blog is to be able to stay at home with my kids. I blog so I can stay home, and not the other way around. I’m also super blessed to be able to help support my contributor, Lori.
- My enough means setting a pace I can manage for the long haul. I post somewhere between 4-8 posts per day. By my niche’s standards, this is very light. But I refuse to commit to a breakneck pace of 20-30 posts per day. I would far prefer to focus on sharing quality posts than worrying about how to fill up my blog’s schedule for the day (particularly on those days when deals are few and far between!).
- My enough means working smarter, not harder. For example, for my Eating Healthy on a Budget series I enlisted the help of readers and brought on a guest post instead of writing all the content by myself. Bringing on Lori to help with coupon matchups helped free up considerable time for me to be with my family or develop additional content without being overwhelmed.
I hope that you won’t see what I’ve shared here as down-putting of me or my site. On the contrary! I’m extremely proud of what I’ve been able to create here and I fully believe I have a unique, important voice to contribute in the couponing space. I’m also fiercely proud of the intelligent, caring, and loyal community of folks that participate at this blog regularly. But I’ve also come to be content and appreciative of “my enough” – it’s definitely enough to keep my life busy and fulfilled, but not more than enough to where I’m overwhelmed and left spent.
If you blog – no matter the size of your blog – I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you taken the time to define your “enough?” If you feel overwhelmed, are there things you could do to back off or look for help?