Having started back in 2007, I’ve seen the blogging world change beyond all recognition. But does that mean I am now outdated and irrelevant? Or, when I look at myself in the mirror, do I see someone who still has something to offer?
Six months ago I had the blogging equivalent of an existential crisis. For the first time, I questioned whether I should call it a day.
Obviously I decided not to, seeing as you’re reading this post. But I did take a long look at myself and ask exactly what my role is in the community these days.
The middle age of blogging
I found myself asking the same question when I was at the BlogOn conference in Manchester a week ago.
It’s hard not to, really. Yes, when I go to blogging events I find lots of familiar faces. But increasingly I find myself surrounded by the fresh-faced, eager-eyed enthusiasm of relatively new bloggers, many of whom I don’t know. I suspect many of them don’t know me from Adam either. Who’s that old codger, then?
It’s a bit like being middle-aged. (Which, as my greying hairline and expanding stomach will testify, I can no longer deny I am.) You reach a point where you stop celebrating marriages and births and start mourning divorces and deaths instead.
Being middle-aged in blogging can be similar. You start noticing the absence of contemporaries who no longer blog or whose blog domains have lapsed. You’re no longer part of the ‘it’ crowd. (Not that I ever have been, really.) It means skipping sessions at conferences because you know those subjects already. And it means you read fewer blogs because you’ve seen the same posts written a thousand times before.
I don’t want to be that guy – I want to be this guy
You look at the man in the mirror and see a jaded and cynical reflection staring back at you. That’s not who I want to be.
I don’t want to be that person who sits there constantly moaning about how much blogging has changed. Banging on about how it used to be all about the writing rather than the commercial collaborations.
I don’t want to be that person who sits there jealously watching on as newcomers inevitably overtake me, earning views and income that I can only dream of.
And I don’t want to be that person who is so stuck in his ways that he is incapable of change.
Instead, this is who I want to be.
I want to be the blogger who isn’t afraid of reinventing himself, as I have done a number of times previously over the past 11-plus years.
I want to be the blogger who knows exactly what he wants to be, even if that flies in the face of what most other people are doing.
And I want to be the blogger who can look at himself in the mirror and see a subtly different person looking back.
Michael Jackson had it right when he sang:
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
I know that what I am doing is still of a decent quality. I’m proud to be a finalist in BritMums’ BiB Awards again this year. I’m proud to be top-three in Vuelio’s dad blog rankings. Most of all, I’m proud that I have maintained a clear sense of identity. I know who I am as a blogger and I won’t compromise on that.
But I’m also not afraid to embrace change. I may have already told all the ‘standard’ stories that parent bloggers tell – but there are plenty of other stories to tell in my own unique voice. I’ve often blogged about music and in recent years I’ve added parody songs to my repertoire. More and more, I find music references are creeping into my posts – this one being a case in point – and that’s fine by me. It’s a big part of who I am, what makes me unique and, most importantly, it’s fun.
So, yeah, when I look at the man in the mirror, I can look him in the eye and feel that he is changing his ways. And if that runs counter to what is perceived as the ‘right’ way to blog in the modern world, I’m good with that too. I don’t want to be a sheep.
For better or for worse, this is me. But that’s a different song for an entirely different occasion.