The things I won’t blog about

Edna in Paris by Joe - Expat Edna

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been picking up my blogging game lately. I’ve missed writing as often as I used to, about travel and food and sports journalism and expat life.

But I’ve learned something difficult over the past year and a half: I am not one of those people who can balance a full-time job with full-time blogging.

Something will always suffer: my blog work, my work work (which I get paid for, so is kind of important), or my social life. Sometimes, you just can’t have it all.

So for a long time, I chose my career and a social life over my writing.

Oliver typewriter, Shanghai by Expat Edna

In the meantime, I’ve had blog posts pile up, I’ve watched my numbers steadily decline, and, to be completely open and honest: I’ve stood on the sidelines while other bloggers who started later than me, who are younger than me, who have posts just riddled with bad grammar and typos, grow exponentially and leapfrog mine.

To say I’m not envious would sound so wonderful and not at all petty — but it would also be a big fat lie. I am.

I am envious, and I am angry at myself for letting my blog slip just when it was starting to do really well.

The adult in me says it shouldn’t matter. Of course it doesn’t matter. Who cares if so-and-so has a kajillion instagram followers? Comparison is the thief of joy, right?

But who are we kidding. Sometimes, it does.

Cafe Loustic, Paris by Expat Edna

Salt on the wound is the fact that some blog topics or photographs or styles will always prove more popular than others. And as tempted as I am to peek in, venture over to that side for a hot second to see what it’d be like, I have to also stick to my truths:

There are some things I will not blog about, and I would never blog about just to get more readers. I’d rather have a small community of people who truly enjoy my company, than a large one of people who only ‘like’ me after I’ve misrepresented myself.

So I’m putting it out here, both to manage my audience’s expectations of me and who I am — but also as a manifesto for myself as I begin to blog regularly again, to remember what I am and am not about, and the things I won’t do in the name of silly numbers (because really, they are quite silly, aren’t they?):

 

The Things I Won’t Blog About

(because they just aren’t me and if you’re looking for these things, this isn’t the blog for you)

Fashion.

Nope. I don’t get fashion blogs. I don’t get their astronomical popularity (seriously Bloglovin’, stop inserting fashion posts into my daily feed) — probably because I don’t get fashion. I live in shirts bought from H&M five years ago and wear zero makeup.

You will never find me talking about who I’m wearing or the latest line from Fancy McHouse of FancyPants — and the only time I’ll refer to a “Spring/Summer collection” is when I talk about gelato flavors.

Children/Motherhood.

Now this is nothing against mommy bloggers. Everyone has a niche, and I am happy for my friends (both on and offline) who have discovered the joys of motherhood, and who have readers who love to ooh and ahh over the latest photos of their offspring.

But this is a club I will never join. I do not want children. I do not like children. In the famous words of Margaret Cho, I ovulate sand. I lack anything resembling maternal instinct and would rather talk about how Dalian’s beer scene has really turned around, have you been?

Lifestyle Blogger Link-up Giveaway Whatevers.

Once in a while I’ll stumble across a blog post where at the end, the person announces they’ve linked up with 38204893205 other lifestyle bloggers for a cash/corporate/goodies giveaway because it’s WISHFUL WEDNESDAY or TYRANNOSAURUS THURSDAY or something like that. You know the type of blog I’m talking about.

If that works for you, I’m happy for you and your readers who win free things. (I’m friends with some of you and I do enjoy your posts!) It’s simply not my style and you won’t see me joining the herd, even if it would get me a few more eyeballs every month.

Know-It-All Judgments.

Longtime readers may notice: I avoid superlatives whenever possible. I never say something is THE BEST EVER. I say it’s one of the best macarons I’ve had — or one of the top cocktail bars in town.

Even if I swear by my opinion — and this happens often, as I’m passionate about a lot of things! — it’s still ultimately an opinion, and I try to refrain from making such resounding judgments in print.

Aggressively Motivational Posts. 

Just because I’ve chosen to build a life abroad, doesn’t mean I’m going to shove it down your throats that you should, too. It is something I strongly believe in, and will try to show you via my experiences how beneficial it can be — but I refuse to be one of those bloggers aggressively telling you that life is a waste if you don’t travel and live abroad and LOOK HOW WRONG YOU ARE.

Because taste, travel, choices: everything in life is subjective. My tastes won’t match yours, so I simply try to give informed suggestions based on my experience — and let you take it from there.

Clickbait Listicles.

I loathe clickbait listicle headlines that lead to a bland, mediocre post clearly written for SEO. (Although I have to admit, the ‘Top 10 Worst UN Decisions of 2014’ was a unique one, Buzzfeed.) If you ever see a headline like that on here, either assume I reeeeeeally believe in it, or I’ve been abducted by marketing aliens.

Recipes.

Now, I’d actually like to share my recipes: I make a mean crêpe these days, and food blogs are prettttty. But there’s a reason why I write about food I’ve paid other people to cook for me. If I started shooting recipes I can only imagine how quickly my camera would be covered in flour and oil, and seeing as I keep breaking lenses, I really don’t need to tempt fate on this one.

Rant over — I’ll be back to writing about travel and food tomorrow. But I’d love to hear your comments: Have you ever felt the same? Do you disagree and actually love clickbait listicles? Any feedback for me as I return to blogging regularly? Bloggers, where are your limits?

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Comments

  1. Hi Edna!

    I totally agree with you about juggling a blog, a full-time job and social life. Right now in Taiwan I don’t have much social life, but I don’t know how I will maintain a balance in the future..

    I think being envious is sometimes unavoidable when we really care about doing well with something and we are not there yet. Developing a blog takes a lot of dedication and patience, so it is easy to feel frustrated during the process. I try to shift my point of view and use other websites that are more successful than mine as references to improve what I do and hopefully ge there one day.

    As for writing down the things you won’t do, I can’t be so strict with myself. I see my blog as a growing and evolving creature with its own life. Who knows what I will end up doing in the future? I am sure there are topics that right now are far from my radar, but maybe one day could fit into my work, so why writing them off from the beginning?

    Good luck with your “blog resurrection”!

    • Thanks for the comment Marghini! My frustration especially comes from the fact that I was already doing well, I was already ‘there’ — and then let everything I had go. I feel if I hadn’t done that, if I’d kept it up, I wouldn’t have to go through these feelings and avoid having to ‘resurrect’ in the first place!

      As for the things I won’t do, I think you might have misunderstood — it’s quite simple, they’re not me. I’m not being strict, I’m being honest.

      As I wrote, why be fake and do something that’s not me just to get more readers? So this list is to tell my readers exactly what they can expect from me — and if they’ve come here expecting fashion posts, then I won’t waste their time or mine because they know upfront that I do. not. like. fashion. (or children, or listicles, etc).

  2. This was an interesting post for me to read, as I have spent some time wondering exactly what I wanted from my blogging experience. I started my travel blog after my second trip to Europe. I am an English teacher and natural storyteller. I have also always loved photography, especially travel photography. Then, I moved abroad and found the expat blogger community. I totally got sucked into it. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I kinda lost my way. Then, I realized that I don’t really care all that much about Bloglovin, Twitter, or reaching a particular # of followers. What I do like is connecting with people in a genuine way, not in a way that feels like a popularity contest. So, I just wrote what I wanted, when I could (like you, I am juggling a full time job and a real life offline that I love), and I have been pretty pleased with the results. While I only have 100 or so “followers”, they are people I actually enjoy interacting with on a regular basis. I think all bloggers have to figure out what they want and how to get it. Now that I have sorted out answers to those questions, blogging has become much simpler/authentic.

  3. Geeta says:

    Hi there,
    I absolutely loved this post. I do not blog, find my opinions are just that – mine. I do share them with friends and family but in a medium that encompasses them all.
    I do love reading, opinion polls, people’s view of life and things, travel, food.. But I’m glad you don’t overtly do any of those “you don’t want to”.
    Happy Writing!

  4. zanne says:

    Love your blog for what it is, and especially love your writing style! Please stay true to yourself!

  5. yeah I also find it very hard finding time to blog on top of having a full time job and a social life! looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

  6. I can relate to this so much, Edna! I’m still shocked how some blogs with five letter sentences and stock images only can become this successful, but I strongly believe that being true to yourself and delivering good content will always pay off in the end. Good stuff from honest people will always be appreciated — it might just take a little longer! I’m looking forward to reading more from you again!

  7. Brilliant Edna. I loved this. You managed to actually blog about fashion, lists, headline catchers, motherhood, recipes and lifestyle give aways without blogging about any of them at the same time — if that makes sense. I am happy you are back to writing. You sound like you have such an authentic voice that’s nice to read. Lately I keep coming up with names of blog posts as I walk. Is that normal? The latest one I want to write was something along the lines of things I’m not. This post reminded me of that.

  8. What a great post – although I’d LOVE to see you start doing more modelling and telling us about where your clothes came from, hahaha. Do you not even want to include my scone recipe too? ;) x

  9. Haha, way to be honest! I definitely have moments of envy and anger when I see these upstart young bloggers with terrible content have so much success. But my blog is and always will be just a hobby for me, so I’ll continue to write about what I like. Glad to know I’m not alone :-)

  10. I think it all comes down to being authentic and writing what you know. If you’re not interested in fashion, then it wouldn’t make sense for you to write about it. If you don’t have kids, it’d be weird to take any sort of mommy blogging angle. I don’t think anyone expects any blog to be a be-all–it doesn’t need to be travel AND lifestyle AND fashion AND personal memoir. It can be whatever you want it to be, so enjoy that freedom! :)

  11. Better to be real and have a few less followers than be fake and have a bunch of randoms following you! It’s way better to connect authentically with your audience. I love your blog just the way it is!!

  12. I’ve been so enjoying your new publishing frequency. And I think that you’ve established yourself enough as a blogger that your readers know what to expect from you. There’s a great quote (that I can’t remember) that says something along the lines of “Be the best at being you rather than mediocre at being a version of someone else”…

  13. I really loved this post Edna; 1) because I’m glad I’m not the only person who cringes at the bad writing and grammar in blog posts (occupational hazard when you’re a journalist I suspect) and 2) because I’ve also looked at new blogs going gangbusters and been torn at following a path I don’t want to go down.
    It’s something that plays on my mind a lot but each time I tell myself that I’d rather produce quality content that I truly enjoy writing (and am good at) than whack together a top 10 list that anyone with access to wordpress can do.
    You’re a brilliant writer so stick with what you love and have faith your readers will value and enjoy it.

  14. Stick to the principles! And write more–you’re one of the few travel bloggers I truly enjoy reading. I’m also envious of the poor-quality writing that attracts so much traffic–I can still pretty much name my readers after three and a half years. The only reason I’ll write about things like fashion or click-baity lists is because it’s funny.

  15. I feel like the second I made a list like this, I would immediately do all of the things. Because I’d be like “well, now I kind of want to try that…” Like I would enjoy sharing a particularly fetching outfit. Or attempting to cook and sharing the struggle. Or participating in some link-up (that had a writing theme perhaps.)

    I read some blogs that have all of these things and it’s ok. I prefer reading simple blogs that’re just about someone’s life, but it is surprisingly hard to find that. Such is the blogging world. If I cared about numbers, my blog would be far less entertaining or satisfying. (My favorite part of my own blog is rereading myself. Also comments. But never the numbers. Perhaps because they’re so nonexistent, haha.)

  16. This approach is smart. :) I’m a big believer in the power of deciding who and what you aren’t. The narrower your focus and style, the more you stand out.

    And as you said, it’s about available time. When time is limited, you can’t out-blog the most prolific folk out there – and your quality suffers if you try. Far better approach: subvert the genre. Be weird, interesting, heart-on-sleeve enthusiastic. You can even show what’s wrong with lazy clickbait by tackling the same topics but doing it *right*.

    One post like that can outperform ten attempts to blog-by-the-numbers, especially when Google search gets hold of it…

  17. Great post, Edna! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, and I’ve always loved the honest & non-judgmental approach you take (and all the food!), so I’m glad to hear that you’ll be writing more often again. And I hope that at some point our paths in the world will cross! :)

  18. Hi Edna, great post. Blogging and working full time is really hard! Sometimes I get too busy and have to let my blog slide, and then it can be difficult to not feel down when you see others soaring. I think you have to be so driven all the time to get those huge numbers, which is hard when you don’t have time to dedicate to it. But I just try to concentrate on my posts and not think of that, but it’s not easy! :)

  19. “I do not want children. I do not like children.” LOL. I LOVE this.

    One thing I will never “write” is a list of things I want to buy, found on Pinterest. Ew.

    I love your blog exactly the way it is! :)

  20. I love how honest you are about this. Not every topic is for everyone. I also don’t really see myself writing about children, though I have one, but my co-author writes so well on that subject so we cover it. Being true to your own style really is the best way to go.

  21. You never lost me in your number ‘slide’ lovely lady! Keep on doing what you do, the way you do it, and who cares what else happens? Be true to yourself and what you need and everything else will work out as it should :)

  22. CatherineRose says:

    I love this. I’m sick of seeing some of the things mentioned above splashed around the internet, and I dislike being disappointed by blogs that promise cool and interesting things and then tell you to “remember to pack your phone charger.” I enjoy your unique storytelling (and reading about all the food I must eat the next time I’m in Paris.)

  23. I think I just fell in love with you for this.

    I think my blog’s kind of all over the place: Even though I mainly write about living abroad, I do throw in my opinions on politics/feminism/society, etc. every now and again. I’ve never labelled myself in one category though.

    I love your blog and don’t ever change what you’re good at doing. :D I’m so fussy when it comes to reading other people’s blogs. There’s very little I can tolerate. I don’t really understand how the most “popular” blogs with 32o58306986 followers are just filled with sponsored posts and very generic reviews. But if that’s what people want to read, they’re welcome to it. I like a blog that has a personal touch and personal anecdotes and stories. And that’s why I keep coming back to yours. ;-)

  24. Edna I can relate!
    I’ve dropped off my blog but while living as an expat for 2 years in Spain I began writing again to document my experience, to share with friends and family back home and capture moments. Then I began following other blogs and began comparing myself. Some started after me and had lots of followers, many changed there writing styles as it became more about “likes” and “followers” rather than content. I questioned if I should take the leap and took too long to make the decision. Now I’ve stopped writing all together ( I wish I hadn’t). I still continue to read travel blogs and there’s a part of me wonders, “What if?” “Could I have turned my blog into something more?” but deep in my heart I know that I have to write because I want to, because I have something to share with the world or something I feel like sharing for myself rather than playing the silly Numbers game. Or to please someone else. Or to get a free trip (though that be nice). I finally converted my blog into a website and then I stopped writing. Silly really… Now I’m on the road again for a 6 weeks and I don’t have an ounce of interest in blogging. I wish I did. Maybe I have to see it differently.
    I’ve always enjoyed your blog and your honesty!
    Keep writing for you. And stay true to yourself. That’s what keeps me coming back to your blog 3 years later!

  25. Good for you for sticking by your beliefs! I actually have the opposite problem; I want to work more topics into my blog but it always comes off awkward!

  26. What a great blog post. Be proud that your blog had already achieved success. I have been blogging since 2011 and have not “arrived” yet, but there is always tomorrow.

    Blogging is like having a full-time job. I Even though I have not yet achieved blog success I still had a decent number of people visiting. When I went back to school in 2013 I could not keep up writing posts on a regular basis. My blog suffered big time, but school and working had to come first. Now I am all done with school and I can return to focusing on my blog.

  27. PREACH! I am just not into fashion blogs. Sure it’s partly because I could never afford the shoes they are hawking (not even just the left one), but it’s also because it makes us forced to see this false life they are living. Do they really go around wearing that to luncheons (in my mind that’s what they do during the day)? No, I prefer blogs that speak the truth, about good days and bad days.