So, it finally happened.
Having been blogging for close to 17 years, I now must admit that the way I've been blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com no longer works for me.
After writing drafts upon drafts of potential new blog posts over the last few weeks - but never getting around to publishing any of them - I had to ask myself why. What is it that I'm holding back? Why do I keep stopping myself from posting, when I've actually been trying to commit to blogging here more often? Since I keep failing that commitment, it makes me feel rotten. I hate not being able to deliver what I wish to deliver. So, surely, I should just blog whatever comes to mind, right?
Then, it struck me: The blogs posts I've been writing are not the kind that I wish to write anymore. And, perhaps, that's the reason I've been a 'blocked blogger' for some time. I just wasn't sure what to do about it.
Oh, of course, I have some ideas. And, I considered each one accordingly. So, I decided to share with you my thought process (more or less), to help guide you in your decision-making about your own blog…
Just Shut Down The Blog
In 2009, The New York Times wrote a piece about blogs slowly closing doors and leaving ghost towns online. With the rise of social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, more and more people found it easier to post social updates than write blog posts.
While the premise of the article was a bit of an exaggeration, we've definitely started seeing a big shift in the blogging world even back then. Personal blogging has been pushed to the side to make way for niche blogging. Comments started dwindling and mostly re-directed on social networks, where blog post links are shared. The rise of The Big Blogs made a lot of 'little' and newbie bloggers feel a bit inadequate and overwhelmed. Hence, many end up abandoning their fledgling space on the web.
Although I have stopped updating (and even shut down) some of my other blogs, it's tough to think about that option for ShaiCoggins.com. However, for the first time ever, I have considered it in the last few months. I started to wonder if I was better off making this blog into a portfolio website and leave it at that.
As many have learnt over the years, blogging is hard work. Even harder work if you're aiming to do the good kind of blogging that brings value to readers' lives.
Since I started off as a personal blogger, it's tough to shake that out of my system. When I tried to make this into a more professional/less personal blog, I lost readers. But, keeping it personal, I lose readers too. As a hybrid of personal/professional, I keep confusing and losing readers as well.
To be honest, it's a miracle some of you still stick around. That's why I'm so grateful for you who have stuck by me through the many iterations of this blog. You're the reason I keep going back, no matter how much I struggle. You're why I want to keep improving my blogging practices.
Yes, YOU. + My relentless wish to keep holding on to my identity as a blogger. After all, I've stuck around this long, why give up now, right?
But, if you're a fellow blogger who has come to the end of your blogging rope and you wish to know if it's time to call it quits, you can read this post from Problogger - and see if you're really ready to move on from your blog. If you find that quitting is definitely for you, there is also a follow-up post on how to quit a blog.
Start A Different Blog
What if you want to take a different route? A route that's not quite quitting, but still moving on from the blog that you have now on to something else?
While considering my blogging retirement, my natural tendencies kicked in: Why not start a different blog if this one's no longer working? Keep ShaiCoggins.com as a website/portfolio, but work on building a new blog to reflect a new blogging direction instead.
I know one of my good blogging friends have done this recently. When I was running the 52 Weeks of Blog Community project here at ShaiCoggins.com a few years ago, Nenette was part of this wonderful group of bloggers through her blog, Life Candy. Recently, she decided to change gears and shut down Life Candy to start The Hula Chronicles. With this change, her excitement for blogging has returned. And, I'm really happy for her and wish her all the best.
That's why I also considered if it was something I could do. Maybe blogging under my own name has been a hindrance. Perhaps, if I blogged under a different name, I might feel less restricted. So, I started considering my options.
Of course, being the scanner/multipotentialite/renaissance woman/slash-dash professional that I am, the challenge of choosing a niche is always an ever-present dilemma. It's one of the many reasons ShaiCoggins.com has been my catch-all blog in the first place. What would make the new blog different? Is it just a matter of changing the names? Changing direction?
While I may be able to choose a specific niche to work on for some time (as I have been doing so over the last decade and a half), I know that eventually, I may not have as much time and energy to bring the blog up to a level that I'd like it to be.
And, that's the thing. Over the years, I've been spreading myself too thin by trying to compartmentalise my many, varied, and changing interests. Instead of spending all my time, energy and resources on building one big brand/blog, I kept on dipping in and out of my many small blogs.
Add the fact that I'm also blogging professionally for other businesses and helping to build their brands, at the end of the day, I'M ALL BLOGGED OUT. I'm even having trouble maintaining my own work-related blogs.
So, why start a new blog for me to build up from scratch? I know starting a new blog would be like starting a new relationship - fresh, exciting, and invigorating. That's why I can see the potential for growth in this approach. But, I'm not sure if it's the right move for me. At least, not right now.
If, however, you wish to do what Nenette did and start a new blog, read what Jeff Goins has to say about what it means to quit your blog and start over with a new blog. And, I wish you all the best in rejuvenating your love for blogging.
Shift The Focus and Direction Of The Blog
Not ready to quit your blog and no inclination to start a new one? How about trying to refocus your blog?
Admittedly, this is not a new concept for me. In fact, since I've been doing this at ShaiCoggins.com a few times now, I've lost count of which version number I'm on by now. Needless to say, it's my go-to strategy whenever I feel like I've outgrown my blog.
The fact that I've done this approach so many times also presents a huge challenge: How would a blogging shift make any difference this time? After all, whenever I work on the changes on this blog, I seem to be doing all the right things - soul searching, worksheet-filling, researching, planning…
That's why it's easy to say that it probably won't make any difference whatsoever. I mean, I've known a lot of the blogging rules from the start. I've even written some of them (and even got quoted in places like Fast Company + honoured as an influential blogger once upon a time). The rules are ever changing too, of course. But, for the most part, I've kept up. Yet, here I am, in my own messed up corner of the blogging world. Feeling stuck and unable to change gears. Again.
I've been losing my blogging mojo over and over. Yet, all I could do each time is push through it. But now I realised that I've been pushing the wrong way.
It's been a well-known advice to people that in order to fall in love with something (or someone) again, you have to remember why you fell in love in the first place. Then, find ways to relive those early days of fresh love.
While there is merit to this advice, it doesn't always apply. We change. The world changes. We have to figure out a way to love what (or who?!) we've always loved in new and exciting ways.
And, that's what I aim to do from hereon. Figuring out new and exciting ways to love blogging at ShaiCoggins.com again. As part of this shift, I'm hoping to record this process along the way.
So, while it may take some time to get into a blogging rhythm that I aspire to, I am currently working on the premise of "An Evolving Guide to Inspired Living" here at ShaiCoggins.com. I'd love it if you can join me in helping to shape this concept.
If you're a blogger who's also looking to work on a blogging shift, I'd appreciate hearing from you too. What have you done since you've felt that urge to move on from your current blog? You might also want to check out this post from Thinking Outside the Sandbox about refocusing one's blog.
Now, whether you decide to quit, start a new blog, or refresh your current one, I hope that you can make the most out of that new direction. It's never easy making changes! So, here's hoping we can continue to grow with (or without) our blog.