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Monday, June 17, 2013

In Which I Think Long and Hard about What This Blog is About

Last week I was sitting at this computer, again.  I was working on this blog or a review.  Or something.  I don’t remember exactly.

offcomputer-001Peter (age 7 and expressing exasperation in a way only Peter can):  “Mama, when are you gonna be done on the computer?!”

Me:  “I’m working!”

Peter (after a pause):  “Mama, Daddy makes enough money.  Stop working all the time.”

Ouch! 

In case you are wondering, Homeschooling Hearts & Minds is not a money-making blog.  I don’t get a paycheck.  I don’t sell ads.  I’m not a brand ambassador.  I don’t post paid for reviews.  I very rarely get a payment for a purchase through affiliate links.  I don’t even sell the products I receive for review---I either use them or pass them along to someone in need when I’m done with them.

The content I provide here is for you.  That includes the 1000+ word rambles, reviews, free printables, links to deals, and so on.  No strings.  I have always considered it a gift and a ministry.  I get my therapy by laying out what’s on my heart, and you get some good stuff for letting me do that.

But lately I have been trying to cash in a bit.  Because I’m going to be totally upfront with you---providing quality content truly is hard work.  It costs time and energy.  While I do enjoy doing it (ok, some of the technical stuff I could do without), it really is a big investment of my time.  Let’s take a “for instance.”

Suppose I create a printable for my kids, like the free preschool butterfly printables I posted last month.  It took a few hours to create those printables.  I was ok with that, because I was creating it for my own child (first) and for you. 

But then I had to create screenshots for “views” of the product, upload the files to Google Drive, create a post, put in the hyperlinks, create a pinnable image, and then link that post to linky parties and on social media so that people would actually find it (because after you’ve already spent several hours creating a printable and getting it online it  feels like you’ve wasted several hours of your time if only your best friend downloads it ;).

The point being that the actual creation of the product only accounted for a part of the time spent on it.  You only see a small glimpse of what I’m doing behind the scenes.   

I invest too much of my time.   Those hours I spend fixing something nice up for you are hours I spend away from my family.  I started to think that some added income to compensate me for my time would be welcome and might help me to justify the time spent, so I started incorporating more affiliate links. 

I’ve also been saying “yes” to more review/giveaway opportunities, which aren’t moneymakers for me, but they do bring traffic to my site, which may in turn lead to more affiliate sales…well, you get the picture.

But the truth is, it feels like a rat race.  Between all the “rules” that need to be followed and the fact that I couldn’t take my family out to dinner on the amount I’ve made in affiliate sales (yeah, I must be a bad at sales), it hasn’t been worth it.

Sadly, it may also not be worth it to continue to provide freebies.  That butterfly printable pack I mentioned?  It got over 700 visits.  And 2 “thank you” comments.  2.

That’s not a complaint.  Merely an observation.  So many are surfing on mobile devices these days that comments are not always user friendly.  Plus the internet is flooded with quality, free content---there’s really no reason for anyone to become a loyal follower of this blog based on 1, 10 or even 100 great printables.  Or even to say thank you.

There will always be something else to download or pin elsewhere.  I don’t need to provide it.  I can do a 10 minute search, download it, and save myself a lot of aggravation.

On Sunday I was sitting there witnessing the Mass.  Emma was sitting sweetly in my lap.  For a split second, anyway. Smile

I kissed her little head and thought to myself, “I miss this.  I am missing this.”

Because for every moment I’m feverishly typing away on my keyboard, no matter how many readers I might bless or inspire, I’m missing something

My husband and I had a heart to heart last night and I’ve decided a few things:

I’m going to be taking a week long blogging break shortly.  I’ll schedule a couple of “best of” posts with links to some of my favorite older content during that time (enjoy!), but otherwise I’ll be silent.

I don’t like ads, disclosures, “nofollow” tags and all that jazz.  I am strongly leaning towards dumping all affiliate links.  How do you feel about affiliate links?  Would you like to see an ad-free blog?  This is your chance to let me know. 

I’m re-evaluating everything that I offer here, including freebies and reviews.  I do have some reviews coming up that I’ve already committed to, but I may be cutting way back in the review department.  How do you feel about reviews?

How do you feel about things like printables and other freebies?

How do you feel about links to homeschool deals and giveaways I find on the web?

How do you feel about my rambles?  You know what?  It actually doesn’t matter, because I suspect the rambles aren’t going away. Winking smile

I’m looking for honest (but polite, please!) feedback.  So, lay it on me. 

12 comments:

  1. I don't have much to say, other than... I have been having similar thoughts! In fact, I posted about what my blog is about. I was starting to focus on the reviews and affiliate links (haven't made a dime on affiliates yet, lol)... and was losing the whole point of my blog... to write for family and share as God leads me to about other things! Saying a prayer for you!

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  2. I'm with you in that my blog is not monetized in any way. Sometimes I find it very tempting to try and become a 'mommy blogger' but I'm too aware of what it would take in term of time, and I'm afraid my family is already a full-time job. I am determined not to let it take time away from my kids, and in that regard, I very much appreciate your post. When I first started I had to ask myself a very hard question...is this something I want to do, or is this something God wants me to do. I'm still afraid of the answer...I suspect it's just something I want to do. Be encouraged. There are many if us making the same evaluations. Seek God first in all things. Be a wife and mother next. Everything else comes third...especially when you know that God has blessed you with enough. We get by on one income. That is enough. I'm not going to allow myself to get sucked into the numbers game. God will bless who he chooses to bless, and if he uses my blog to bless someone, that is His business. My blog is not my business, it's just somewhere I put thing online when I have the time. I don't have a schedule. I don't do series of posts. I just blog a bit. I'm not even really a blogger I guess! Just a Mum who puts stuff online.

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  3. Yes. Exactly. And I knew, simply knew God was whispering in my ear in church on Sunday. Because I instantly felt at peace when I heard.

    I like that description, Teacher@Home. I'm just a Mum who puts stuff online. ;)

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  4. I can somewhat relate to this post. I blog for fun and when it ceases to be fun I will stop. I used to do a lot of Amazon affiliate links and I got about $8-12 a month on an Amazon gift card. It was fun to order a book or two. That said, it is kind of a pain to put in the links. For now I do reviews so my family can benefit from the free stuff. Other than that, I don't want to feel obligated to blog. There are just too many homeschool bloggers out there to compete with.

    Follow your heart.

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  5. You are speaking my mind, minus the affiliates { I haven't got to those just yet, and I might just skip them based on what I've read here today and in the comment section }.

    I have often made freebies available through my blog, but yeah, short on comments and thankyous at this end too. Ha ha ha ha. Never mind, I'm not doing it for those things anyway. :o)

    I have had to cut my internet time down, and I'm glad I have too. It just ends up consuming valuable time that my children have missed out on just because I wanted to follow a rabbit trail of nothingness and twaddle on a facebook wall - I quit fb by the way.

    Really liked your article today. :o)

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  6. Sometimes I feel like the shine has worn off blogging in general. I started blogging in 2008---a lot has changed in those 5 years. In fact, I've gotten so I don't read blogs much anymore. I mean really read them. I visit for this or that article or resource, sure. But something's missing. So often comments sound like "tags" rather than real conversations. So often blogs seem slick like magazines. I've been feeling for a while like I want to do something really radically different.

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    1. I completely agree that often times blogs read like a series of 'tags'. The one I find my spirit railing against the most is when I read after an obvious one-liner. Somehow it just seems like the ultimate ego trip. Don't decide for me what sentences resonate with me.

      I think 'radically different' these days is to simply be offline. I'm not on Facebook, Google Plus, MySpace, LinkedIn, our any of those things. I have a twitter account I never open, and a Pinterest account that I don't advertise on my blog. My real name doesn't appear anywhere, and there are no photos of my kids, my house, my husband or me. WE are not online, just some of our school stuff, and sometimes other random things that either the Lord lays on my heart, or just takes my fancy (I almost gave an example there, but it sounded too much like a 'plug').

      Some people seem to be cut out for a blogging career. I know I could do it. I just won't at the expense of my family. In this season of my life, I'm just a dabbler. Anything more is just wishful thinking.

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    2. Hehe I accidentally used html in my reply and it left out a vital phrase!


      The one I find my spirit railing against the most is when I read ---tweet this---after an obvious one-liner. 

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  7. One more, and then I'll leave you alone, I promise!

    I am a phone surfer...I'm on dialup on my home computer. It used to be that faster was not available in our corner of the world. Now that faster IS available, we're still on dialup. How can we ask God not to lead us into temptation if we're diving in head first of our own volition. It's why I don't keep ice cream or chocolate in the house. If it's there, I'll eat it!

    So thanks for not making me type up strange combinations of letters in order to comment! I don't moderate comments on my blog either. The spammers haven't found me yet, and they're probably not likely to!

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  8. I usually read you in my email, and I don't comment - but today I am compelled simply to say, I absolutely understand. Even without affiliates or monetizing I sometimes get too much on my to do list and it stresses me out.

    My boys are at the point where it would be weird if we hung around together all day, so I guess when I have stuff to do online during the day they might be relieved, but I try to do the blogging at night, and the rest of it on the fly during the day while I wait for them to finish assignments, wait for them to finish practices, wait for them to get ready for bed, etc. Enjoy your week off and I'm sure you'll figure out what works best for you.

    You are a very kind and helpful writer. Your series on how to use Live Writer was great. I wish I had found something like that as I was fumbling my way through figuring it out!

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  9. Teach@Home,
    Ha, I hate Captcha! And certain captchas seem to hate me, too (they invariably tell me I typed the wrong code the first time every time). I did have to remove the "anonymous" comments option because I was getting a ton of spam. Most of it didn't post (blogger's spam filters are good), but some did and all comments go to my inbox---I was getting inundated!

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  10. Thank you, Catherine---
    And I always love to hear from you (but I understand, I don't leave as many comments as I use to, either).

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