dealing with blogger burnout

Blog Series | On Reader Entitlement and Blogger Burnout

Anyone else read Young House Love?

If you do, you probably already know about the comment section drama last week, which culminated in  bloggers John and Sherry announcing they’d be taking an indefinite blogging break. For those of you who DIDN’T spend last weekend reading Young House Love’s comment section from behind your open fingers, this is a blog which had previously stuck to a pretty rigid posting schedule. Last week, however,  YHL only managed to publish one new post, which they later updated to ask their readers if, during times when it was difficult for them to post their usual content, they’d prefer to see a small post, or no post at all.

I always think it’s brave to ask for feedback on the internet. No matter how simple, or how specific the question is, it almost always opens the doors for feedback on EVERYTHING – and that’s exactly what happened here. By the end of the weekend, Young House Love had almost 1,500 comments on that post – almost all of them offering feedback and criticism, not just on the “short-post-or-no-post” question, but on every aspect of their lives, their blog, their home, their parenting choices …the list goes on.

While much of the criticism was respectful, and clearly came from people who genuinely wanted to help, getting THAT many negative responses to something you’ve spent years creating HAS to hurt, so I wasn’t surprised when, having taken a few days to absorb it all, John and Sherry came back with a very honest and thoughtful response, in which they announced they’d be stepping away from the internet for a while. They didn’t say it in these exact words, but I suspect they’d hit blogger burnout – which brings me (AT LAST, I hear you cry) to the topic of this post.

My blogs obviously don’t even come close to the level of followers that Young House Love has, but even with my much smaller readership, I have had a couple of experiences in which my posting schedule has slipped for one reason or another, and I’ve had angry emails from disgruntled readers, writing to tell me that this is my job, that they are my customers, and that my performance just isn’t up to scratch.

dealing with blogger burnoutThose readers were right, of course. I touched on this in my first post in this series, but I really think that if you want to be successful as a blogger, consistency is key. People will tell you to blog “for yourself”, to post “when you feel like it”, to NOT blog when you DON’T feel like it, and while that’s all well and good if you’re blogging as a hobby, it just doesn’t work if you want to turn it into a business. Can you imagine running a shop, and just opening and closing whenever you felt like it? Blogging doesn’t have to be quite that rigid: I’m not suggesting here that you need to have set “opening hours” and stick to them, but the fact is that readers DO expect to see new content on a fairly regular basis, and if they don’t get that, they’ll get bored and give up.

They might also get angry. I remember a few years ago, our hosting company somehow managed to crash our server and delete every single one of my blogs. (Yeah, funtimes…) Luckily we had backups, and we managed to get everything up and running again within a few days, but unfortunately I lost all of the advance content I’d written to cover my holiday that year. I worked round the clock, and managed to re-write most of it, but I wasn’t able to re-do the posts I’d written for my beauty blog, which didn’t get updated for a few weeks due to the combination of the crash, the holiday, and then Christmas, which came right after.

I didn’t really think this would be a big deal – it was the smallest of all my blogs, and it didn’t exactly have a frequent posting schedule to start with – but at the end of those few weeks without posts, I got one of the angriest emails I’ve ever had from a reader, who said she was DONE waiting for new posts, that I was totally unprofessional for not keeping the site updated, and that she would be unsubscribing from all of my blogs immediately.

I was absolutely flabbergasted, but then… not really. I already knew by that point that a large part of the success of my blogs depended on there always being something new to read on them, and a few months earlier, I’d had more proof of that, this time with The Fashion Police. It’s hard to believe it now, but at that time I was publishing multiple posts per day on TFP: one morning, my first post of the day was a little later than usual going up, and as soon as it did, it started to get comments from people complaining about it. I remember one person asking, “is this SERIOUSLY going to be the only post of the day?!”, and freaking out a bit, because at that point, yes, it WAS.

Experiences like those thankfully aren’t the norm for me, but they do happen, and they illustrate an important point about professional blogging, which is that when readers start to see themselves as your “customers”, they also start to feel you “owe” them something – and to have no hesitation in complaining bitterly when they feel you’re not meeting your side of the bargain.

This kind of situation can be really difficult to deal with, and can very quickly lead to burnout. I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but I’d guess that many people who get into full-time blogging do it because of the flexibility it offers. I know I did: as I said in this post, I badly wanted to be able to set my own schedule, to be my own boss, and to not have to answer to anyone.

It doesn’t really work like that, though, because as soon as you start to feel like you HAVE to publish a new post every day (or even a few times per week) in order to keep the visitors coming, or that your readers will be angry if there isn’t something new for them to read at 10am on the dot, that flexibility rapidly disappears, and so – if you’re not very careful – does the quality. No matter how passionate you are about your subject matter, once you feel under pressure to post something at X time on X day, blogging can really start to feel like a chore – and if you know that failure to produce that new post might get you some angry comments from annoyed readers, it’s tempting to just post ANYTHING, purely to please those readers. And that, of course, is when the quality drops, and you end up losing them anyway.

[Aside: I think one of the things a lot of non-bloggers don’t realise is that there’s no such thing as a truly “quick” post. Even a post which is quick to read can take a while to put together, and sometimes you just don’t have that time. I also read a lot of suggestions on the  YHL thread that bloggers should “stockpile” posts for emergencies. That’s a great idea in theory, but not only does it require your content to not be time-sensitive in any way, it also requires a LOT of time to create that stockpile. As an example, when I go on holiday, I generally start writing advance content at least two months before, sooner if I can manage it: I can only find time for a handful of extra posts per week on top of what I write anyway. This sometimes means vacations can start to feel like more trouble than they’re actually worth, which is also a fast-track route to burnout…]

The other issue that comes from the “reader-as-customer” scenario is that it can be a REALLY tricky relationship to manage. On the Young House Love comment thread, I saw lots of people comparing the  blog to “a real job”, and making the point that if it WAS a “real” (i.e. “traditional”) job, the bloggers would be forced to view their readers as customers, to acknowledge their complaints, and to do whatever it took to make them happy again. The problem is, however, that blogging is NOTHING like a traditional job: that’s both the best thing about it, and the most difficult thing about it, too.

In a traditional job, there are very clearly defined roles, and everyone knows what to expect from everyone else. You’re the customer: I’m the service provider. My job is to provide a service – if I don’t do that to your satisfaction, you have every right to complain, and to demand that I “fix it.” In blogging, however, those lines are very blurry, and it’s not nearly as clear-cut as all that. The issue is that blogging is inherently PERSONAL: even if you’re blogging about DIY, or shoes, or makeup, a large part of the blog will ultimately be about YOU, and that’s something that no “traditional” job can really prepare you for.

As a blogger, your readers tend to see you first and foremost as their “friend”. (This is one of the GREAT things about blogging for a living, by the way…) You give them insights into your life, pictures, stories. In return, they’ll often tell you a little bit about themselves, too, and you’ll start to build up a relationship: it’s lovely, really. It’s one of the main reasons I started blogging in the first place, actually, and I expect there are many bloggers who’d say the same. So you have your readers, and your readers feel like friends… right up until the point when you do something they don’t quite like, and at that point your “friends” suddenly start to tell you that, actually, they’re your customers, and you OWE them.

This sudden switch can be really confusing the first time it happens, especially if, as is often the case, you got into blogging as a hobby, and only later transitioned it into a job. Up until then, your readers have expected you to respond to them as you would any other friend: now, all of a sudden, they want you to be “professional”, and to behave like a business, rather than as a person. And, of course, they’re right: you ARE a business. You SHOULD be professional. And although they may not be paying directly for the content you create, they ARE your customers, in the sense that THEY are what makes your blog successful. Without readers, you don’t have advertisers. Without advertisers, you don’t have a business. It’s that simple.

It’s also that DIFFICULT. I don’t mean that in the “OMG, MY LIFE, SO HARD!” sense, obviously. I mean it in the, “nothing in my life or career up until this point has taught me how to deal with this,” kind of way. And it really doesn’t. For people like me, blogging is a JOB, yes: but it’s unlike any other job you’re ever likely to have, because it’s so very personal. When criticism comes, it’s not JUST about your work: it’s about your SELF – and sometimes about the people connected to you, too, which is particularly hard to deal with.

When I hear people criticise bloggers, I often hear them make the point that, “If you had a REAL job, you’d have to deal with feedback: blogging is no different.” Actually, though, blogging IS quite different. I’ve had a number of different jobs in my life. I’ve worked in McDonalds, in a call centre, as a journalist, as a press officer… In all of those jobs, I got feedback – and sometimes criticism – from both managers and customers. In none of those jobs did that criticism include comments about my appearance, my personality, my family – anything, in fact, other than how well I was doing my job. (I’m not saying there aren’t ANY jobs in which people receive personal criticism under the guise of feedback, by the way: just that if any of my managers had ended a performance assessment by saying, ‘Also, you look fat in that dress, and your husband is obviously gay,*” I’d have gone straight to HR to lodge a complaint. And if a customer had done it, they’d have been asked to leave…)

dealing with blogger burnout and reader entitlement: how to cope when your readers want more than you're able to giveBloggers, however, DO get very personal criticism, as the Young House Love drama demonstrates, and the REASON they get personal criticism is that their JOB is personal.  When your job involves sharing your life (or aspects of your life) with the internet, there are some strange consequences to that, and one of them is that your readers will sometimes feel a sense of entitlement towards you. They’ll feel you owe it to them to tell them MORE about your life (or your clothes, or your home, or whatever it is you write about), and they will also feel entitled to criticise you on a sometimes very personal level. They’ll want you to treat them as a friend… except when they want you to treat them as a customer, and it’s up to you to work out how to navigate that.

No, seriously: it’s up to you. Because I don’t actually have a point to make in all of this, and I don’t have any particular wisdom to offer either: I’m really just thinking aloud here, about some of the issues the Young House Love drama highlighted for me, and how totally, unbelievably WEIRD professional blogging can be. I guess my main point – because I really feel like I should have one now – is that if you’re considering blogging as a career, there are three things you really need to consider:

1.

As with any other job, there will be days – maybe even weeks or months – when you don’t want to do it; when, no matter how much you love it, it will feel like a chore. And, as with any other job, when that happens, you’ll have to get on with it, and do it anyway.

2.

There are some aspects of blogging which nothing can really prepare you for: intrusive questions, very personal criticism, even people who can be downright creepy or stalkerish. There’s also a loss of privacy which comes with living your life online, and the difficult balancing act of being professional, while also being personable. In other words: it’s not all posting photos of your shoes on Instagram, and waiting for people to tell you how awesome they are.

3.

 Despite all of this, it’s still the best job ever. Or I think so, anyway…

* No one has ever made those comments to me, by the way (or not to my face, anyway): they’re just examples of very personal criticism I’ve seen levelled at other bloggers!

COMMENTS
  • Suze

    REPLY

    A brilliant article and food for thought.

    Just wondering, when you received the nasty emails/comments from your readers complaining that you hadn’t posted often enough, did you reply to them? Not sure how I’d handle that myself, after the shock had worn off that is!

    I can’t believe the cheek of some people but in an online environment such as ‘Blogland’ it’s all too easy for people to make the kind of critical and negative comments which they wouldn’t dare make in a ‘real life’ face-to-face setting. (And if they WOULD say such things to my face, then quite frankly I wouldn’t want them ‘hanging around’ anyway!)

    I guess with blogging, as in everything, there is scope for becoming a victim of your own success but, no matter how much I loved reading a bloggers work, I just can’t imagine ever going out of my way to complain directly to them that they weren’t fulfilling their end of an unwritten and basically non-existent ‘bargain’ because they simply weren’t prolific enough. Bonkers!

    And I understand that bloggers want to keep all of their readers present, engaged and satisfied but surely there comes a point where constructive criticism becomes overly negative / unhelpful / unreasonable and you just have to think, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to stick around – there are plenty more blogs out there that are soooo hung up on purely racking up followers that they’ll take any abuse just to get their stats up”…..or is that view perhaps a tad overly simplistic?!! Maybe an easier stance to take when your livelihood doesn’t depend on your stats.

    Personally I am way more bothered about great content rather than frequency/abundance of posting. Of course the two things are not mutually exclusive but I reckon I am realistic about how much time/effort goes into putting a post together so I really don’t get too hung up on frequency and, to be honest, I follow so many blogs that I doubt I’d really notice a longer than usual gap between posts unless it really was waaaay longer than normal….and even then (assuming it was a blogger that I especially liked) I’d probably be more concerned about that person’s welfare than anything else.

    One thing that I do find a bit tiresome though is when bloggers are constantly apologising for not being around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely that bloggers care what their readers think and feel the need/desire to post more often and it’d be fair enough to occasionally apologise if you felt the need, but some bloggers are CONSTANTLY apologising for apparently not sticking to some mythical pre-set schedule which was never actually set up in the first place and just end up sounding like a broken record. I understand that there’s peer pressure and expectations and I totally understand that life can get in the way etc but on seeing the long-awaited post I’d much rather be greeted with fantastic content rather than an over the top apology, especially when with some bloggers it seems to be their standard opening line. Just accept the rhythm you’re in and post great stuff whenever you can, I say!

    I do wonder if reader entitlement/expectation generally varies between the different types and categories of blogs as well, with Fashion & Beauty blogs being generally more susceptible to reader dissatisfaction than others, I’d imagine. And | reckon younger readers probably have much higher expectations than their more mature counterparts. I’m not young enough to have grown up with blogging so I see it as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a given – maybe that is a factor in my seemingly laid-back opinion regarding my ‘entitlement’ as a blog reader.

    September 14, 2014
  • Linda B.

    REPLY

    Wow, Amber, thanks for sharing this perspective. As a person who loves to read blogs, and who has sometimes wondered about starting her own blog, this was quite an eyeful! I honestly don’t comment very often, and almost never read comments by others, as I am there to see what the actual blogger has to say. So I am saddened by the idea that people feel free to be so negative, and possessive of the blogger’s time and energy.

    There are certainly times when a blog that I have been following gets more sporadic or disappears entirely for a while–and never would it occur to me get angry. I always figure someone is going through a hard time that makes posting impossible–and as you so ably described in this post, over time I have developed a feeling that this person is my friend after reading so many lovely, personal posts, so as a friend, I just wait patiently for things to get better, and I actually worry about the absent blogger. Are they ill? Is there a family crisis? A personal crisis? I miss them. . . but I would never be angry about it!

    Why do people feel so entitled as “customers”? (Honestly, this is a question that I am asking myself a lot lately at work too, as a new position I started August 1 has a large component of taking customer complaints, and I find I am hating it.)

    Sorry for the length of my comment. And thank you so much for all your hard work, and both your thoughtful and exuberant modes of posting.

    September 14, 2014
  • Linda

    REPLY

    I always find it amazing when people get mad at others, such as bloggers, for not posting more often. Why? This is free content. These folks aren’t paying for this. I assume like most, you monetize through advertisements. People reading, such as myself, are paying nothing to read your wonderful blog. In other words, folks need to lighten up a bit.

    Keep doing what you do.

    September 14, 2014
      • Linda

        REPLY

        I can see that perspective I guess. I am hoping for less mean people is all.

        September 15, 2014
  • Bex Miller

    REPLY

    Very interesting post Amber! I don’t follow Young House Love but hearing this I feel so sorry for them- and clearly all the comments have actually made things worse for the customers who think they ‘owe’ them something as now they won’t get any new posts at all for a while! Which seems a bit self-defeating. It does seem a difficult line to balance- as you say with a traditional job sometimes (alright everyday really) you don’t want to work but you have to make yourself, and it is difficult to establish where the lines of personal/work life balance lies. As with the other commenters though I am more concerned about the blogger herself and hoping she’s ok and not having a crisis of some kind.

    Perhaps as well it depends on family situation- the more people/animals/responsibilities in your life and the more likelihood that something else might require your attention, like if your child is sick then obviously that needs to be your priority. It’s tricky, personally I would never comment and be spiteful about things like that, I would always try and understand that is a real person who has other things to do as well! And like someone else said I would rather have a video or post once a week or 2 weeks that is amazing and well thought out and lovely to read that just posting content for the sake of it.

    September 14, 2014
      • Bex Miller

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        Exactly, the vast majority of people who are reasonable would understand! Even working in an office like I do it’s surprising how you can have one capable person off and suddenly it all falls apart because they only know how to do something! We will totally understand in the event of jury duty so stop worrying 🙂 x

        September 14, 2014
  • I can’t believe people would be so rude as to question why you needed a break! Blogging being such a personal full time job means that you’d think people would realise they can’t complain like they would about another business/service. Pressure never helps with creativity (or so I’ve found anyway), and I really admire you for being able to keep it up! Your blog is one of my favourites to read and there isn’t a post I don’t enjoy. It kinda makes me sad to see that there aren’t hundreds of comments, because you really do deserve it for the amount of effort that clearly goes in!
    lily x
    http://www.jolihouse.com

    September 14, 2014
      • You’re very welcome! More posts like yours, exposing the darker side of what seems like a frivolous industry, might open people’s eyes and slowly it’ll change!

        September 14, 2014
  • Wow… I feel like my eyes have been opened or I’m very naive, as I genuinely didn’t realise that this kind of criticism was even out there! It’s an important lesson I probably had to learn though, so I’m thankful for that, as might prepare me for if and when anything similar happens! I do feel like it’s outrageous for people to demand content. Surely the best thing about blogging is that it’s done completely on the blogger’s terms – the fact there are people out there who feel like they’re ‘owed’ posts is quite beyond me! If a blogger doesn’t post for a while I genuinely start to worry something bad’s happened and I’ll be inclined to drop them a comment to make sure everything’s alright – it wouldn’t occur to me to get mad at them for taking a break! Even if this is your job, blogging is still flexible thing and there’s no rules about what you HAVE to do. Geez, people can be jerks. Great post – has given me food for thought!

    September 14, 2014
  • Robin Stevens of Royal Banter on FB

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    You made many brilliant points. I’m a long time blog reader of many, many blogs, including yours (obviously). I freely admit that when new content doesn’t come up, I am disappointed. If I read a blog, it is because I like the blogger. Therefore I consider new content a present I am always hoping for and I’m a little disappointed if I don’t get it. Key word here–DISAPPOINTED. Not enraged and hostile towards the blog/blogger. It seems to me the out of proportion nastiness that pervades the internet has to do with the anonymous nature of the reader-blogger relationship. The blogger is known. Everything about them is out there for the world to see and judge. The reader is hidden. For some people being safely protected behind a veil of anonymity brings out the worst in them and they feel free to say things in comments that they would NEVER say in person to anyone. It’s a sad commentary on crumbling civility.

    Second point (as you can tell I’m a bit word-y) re: “customer” rights. I understand that this is your business (yay-you!) but since I, personally, am not handing over my cash to make up your pay packet–I don’t feel you have an obligation to me as your “customer”. Your advertisers are your actual customers and I am the happy benefactor of your business relationship with them. I don’t read your blog every single day. Sometimes I wait so I can read several posts at once. My reading habits affect your daily visits total, which impacts your advertising rate. As a reader I am messing up your business relationship but you don’t post nasty rants at readers to tell us to visit every day. So my thought here, which is a little hard for me to explain apparently since I’m wandering all over, people need to be nice. They need to not act like jerks. So yay you, Amber, I love the blog and you can post whenever and whatever you want and people who don’t think the same are not cool. :O)

    September 14, 2014
  • I think being a blogger is more like being an author. We don’t really think of an author’s readers as their “customers,” although I can see why people would make that comparison. An author, while she obviously cares about her readers, is going to post on her own schedule based on a number of factors (how quickly she can write, how quickly it can be edited, how quickly it can get into production) and we don’t expect that authors produce content always on a set schedule. Additionally, we also don’t expect authors to write the story how we want to see it written! Just because 100 people told JK Rowling they wanted the Harry Potter books to end a certain way does not mean she wrote the story that way.

    I guess what you said is pretty true – people just don’t know how to mentally categorize bloggers because they’re such a unique type of profession.

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

    September 14, 2014
  • Such a beautiful, brilliant, thought out post!
    I think the world of blogging is still in its infancy, its going to take some time to figure out all the nuances.
    Having worked retail, I am not a fan of the “customer is always right” mentality, I feel like that makes for an unpleasant power dynamic. Everyone needs to understand that the person providing you a service is just that, A PERSON. And that should be respected.

    September 14, 2014
  • diane

    REPLY

    Wow! As my mom used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I don’t know why, but I continue to be surprised at how the anonymity of the internet seems to give people permission to say what they would never say to someone’s face. Like Robin, I look at blog posts as a gift. When a blogger I follow doesn’t post when I’d normally expect them to, it doesn’t make me mad but rather makes me wonder if they’re okay! I admire your tenacity to pursue what you love. You’re a gifted writer and I’m glad I found you!
    PS. I respect how long it must take to put a post together – you should’ve seen how long it took me to write a few sentences of a comment 😉

    September 14, 2014
  • Robin Stevens of Royal Banter on FB

    REPLY

    I know what you mean, Amber, about the effect of having very few comments on a blog. I had a personal blog for a few years but I eventually gave it up because although I knew people were reading my posts (site meter), I didn’t get any comments. Feedback lets you know is the content funny? boring? what people are interested in? It isn’t enjoyable sweating over a blog post and getting no feedback from readers. That said, I now feel guilty that I don’t comment more and I resolve to do better. ;O) And just for the record, your posts are extremely funny and I adore your shoes and wardrobe and hair and…hmmm, now I sound a little stalker so I’ll shut up, except to say, Nigel the International Man of Mystery—so clever.

    September 15, 2014
  • Sometimes I get sad that my blog isn’t more successful or that I don’t have more followers. But then I read things like this, and I’m appalled at the way people behave. I honestly think if falls back to celebrity culture. Except bloggers and youtubers are handed the hater comments directly instead of through tabloid blogs. I couldn’t imagine feeling entitled to know why a blogger’s been gone. It’s also why I don’t really reveal anything to personal on my blog, and why none of my family is posted on it. I try to keep my blog very separate from my personal life.
    When I do adore a blogger I may check their blog every so often, but I usually find that I miss a few posts here and there. I don’t wait patiently for their blog posts, but then again I don’t freak out if my favorite show’s not on that week.
    Mana
    Fashion and Happy Things

    September 15, 2014
  • Nellie

    REPLY

    Okay, now I feel guilty for never commenting before (I’ve just been a little shy about it). The thing that I love most about your blog, Amber, is your writing. You have the ability to put into words things I have thought about, but don’t know how to articulate, and you bring in new insights that I hadn’t considered. I love how funny your stories are. I enjoyed your post about casual Fridays because you talked about how important it is to take care of ourselves every day of the week. I still chuckle when I think about your disasters prior to your Christmas party, and I still cringe when I recall the mud on that divine pink satin skirt. Thank you for the lovely photos. I think Terry is a talented photographer. I am quite fashion-challenged, so I love the ideas from your photos. I love the photos of Scotland since I’ve always wanted to visit there, but don’t know if I ever will. Pretty clothes can make me feel good about myself , and I love the inspiration you provide. I know that this is your job, but I hope you know that you also help a lot of people, myself included. Sorry to hear about the rudeness. People like that are missing out on the joys of life that come from gratitude and patience.

    September 15, 2014
  • I can’t add much to this that hasn’t already pointed out. But my two pence is:

    1. Whether or not a blogger feels that blogging is completely different, exactly the same or better than a full time job, if a colleague or customer spoke to me in the way in which you’ve been addressed by angry people waiting on a 10am post, their head would roll. Nothing in the world warrants that sort of response from anyone – particularly not a friggin blog post (even when they’re as good and as much of a treat to read as yours Amber!).

    2. No person is a machine. No one can be creative and “on it” 100% of the time, no matter what they do. I’d suggest that the people writing to you have no idea of the energy and time it takes to produce that kind of content. Not when you’re a one man band I’d like to be bold enough to suggest these people’s expectations are pretty unrealistic.

    That doesn’t help you in any way. But you know what… life’s too short for anyone to be hung up on the negativity of a few. Keep doing what you’re doing love.

    Lea x

    September 15, 2014
  • Great article and certainly good food for thought. I don’t agree with everything you say though. For me too, blogging is my full-time business. As you say though it’s not like a traditional business. The big difference is that readers (customers if you will) of my site don’t pay me anything. They get everything for free. For that reason, I really don’t think there should be a lot of entitlement from readers and I certainly don’t feel that I have to blog every day just to keep them happy, just because my blog is a business. I certainly don’t feel that they would have any right to get angry. Of course I have standards for myself. I treat my blog as a business, therefore I hold myself accountable and make sure that I’m reasonably consistent. That is my business decision. It could also be my business decision to take a break. And just as with other business decisions I should face the consequences of that. Just as readers can make up their mind every day if they come back or not. So long as there is no payment involved from your readers, I really don’t think that they can make any demands of you. I think many of the comments on Young House Love were out of line. If any readers don’t like the blog anymore, move on to something else. How dare they make judgement on personal decisions from this couple? There is so much to say on this topic and I could ramble on here, but I feel that ultimately the blogger(s) should stay true to themselves and make the decisions that are best for them and their business. You will never be able to please everyone, so you may as well keep yourself happy and healthy. I truly hope that the YHL bloggers realise that and just do what they love to do and do what feels right for them. Clearly many readers love them. They should not listen to the naysayers so much. Perhaps changes or slowing down may lead to a decrease in business but the opposite could happen too.

    September 15, 2014
      • Sorry Amber it seems that we do agree. I got the impression the first time that you did feel it was our duty to post very regularly. Yes, it’s definitely a balancing act. I struggle with it too. I like posting almost daily and interact with readers, but feel that I don’t have enough time for other aspects of the business like getting a design upgrade for example. I’m not complaining; I love being a blogger and my own boss.

        Keep up the good work on yours Amber. I’ve been a quiet reader but enjoy your writing and fabulous photos! (just adore your beautiful red hair!)

        September 15, 2014
  • Flagless

    REPLY

    Thanks for a well-thought out answer. I am not a blogger, so I don’t really know how any of that kind of work functions. Still, as a reader, I never expect more from a blogger than a nicely written post that I’ll enjoy reading. Anything else – the schedule, the content, the focus of a post – is up to the person writing it. If I like it, I’ll read it; if I don’t, I’ll read something else, because the Internet is a huge place where literally anyone can find something they like. What I find most disturbing is the fact that a lot of the time people confuse someone being friendly with someone being their friend. I am a lecturer, and while I always try to be nice and approachable, and my students make use of that, I also very consciously keep them at arm’s length from anything truly personal about me. I might chat with them in a friendly way, but our relationship is still unequal, I am still in a position of authority over them and no amount of friendliness is going to change that. And in all honesty, they don’t really want to get to know their professors either anyway, they would just really really like to say that they are personal friends with Professor so-and-so.
    A lot of the entitlement issues, I think, stem from the combination of alienation and self-centredness that structures functioning beings of today. The people who get on their high horse about a blogger daring to disappoint them personally are the same people who get upset when someone doesn’t answer their text immediately upon receiving it and who are very clear about their rights, but not so clear about their obligations. Which is a phenomenon of a larger scale that manifests itself in different ways, but they all kinda centre about self-entitlement.
    So basically, all this ranting is to say: I don’t know how bloggers do it. How you manage to balance the personal-but-not-too-personal and professional-but-still-making-it-look-like-you’re-only-in-it-for-the-fun-of-it is utterly beyond me. That’s some serious skillz. 🙂

    September 15, 2014
  • Jill

    REPLY

    This was a great read, Amber. I think you make a lot of excellent points for both sides. I think one of the things bloggers need to start working on is learning how to distinguish between criticism and personal attacks. You make the point that blogging is personal, so it’s understandable that bloggers get so upset when someone writes something negative, but to assume your blog/business is perfect or without mistakes is unrealistic. There are too many bloggers out there who think any criticism is an attack (for example A Beautiful Mess deletes almost anything negative–including when they advised their readers that it was perfectly fine to consume inedible glitter, or a more recent one when they created a light installation in a baby’s room that included hanging cords that could choke a child), and they dismiss any constructive criticism or concerns as ” Jealous Haters.” When a blogger does that, I think it starts a snowball effect in terms of creating a really negative overall reaction to a blog. I think John and Sherry started doing this as of late in their comment section & that’s why everyone came out of the wood works with criticism in that blog post. Unfortunately, I think they dismissed really good criticism as “haters” for too long, and didn’t realize they had a much bigger unhappy audience until it was too late. I hope they take some time off and figure out a good balance.

    September 15, 2014
  • Stephanie

    REPLY

    I have always looked at reading blogs as my bonus that I have good information to read. I have never thought they owe me anything! I read one for a while that she started posting very infrequently (she had a large following) probably because she wrote similar articles for a website and she was very active on her blog’s FB page. People commented things like “She’s abandoned us for her FB page” etc. (said with much snark). I looked at it as her right to do what she wanted and my choice if I wanted to follow. Disappointment is understandable…But I am not your boss and we have no written contract that you will supply me content at a certain time. On top of it, there is the continual issue that the internet seems to enhance the feeling that people can say whatever they want. Things that would not be said in person.

    Thanks for letting us in on your life and being entertaining. It is your life, I choose to read about it. 🙂

    September 16, 2014
  • TinaD

    REPLY

    Unfortunately, the internet is that rat-and-food-pellet psychological experiment writ large. If the rat hits the lever and the machine dispenses food reliably and identically every time, the rat hits the lever when hungry. If the machine dispenses food at varying times and/or in varying amounts, the rat goes a little nuts and gives up all other pursuits in order to push the lever. (This is probably why people who can’t be trusted around fruit machines and one-armed bandits are just fine when confronted by soda machines.) The internet gives you push notifications rather than food pellets, but I would imagine the emotional impact of an empty blog roll (do those happen?) is the same as that of a pressed-lever-no-pellet event. It is my belief that all that reader…vituperation… is a mask for panic in the face of the threat of disconnection. So perhaps the thing to do is not to point out the paucity–don’t say “I’m going away” and avoid, as you so wisely suggest, “sorry I wasn’t here.” Because it may be that the readers who do notice the absence are too invested in your relationship to criticize, and those who would otherwise complain are too busy elsewhere evaluating the digestibility of other people’s posts.

    September 16, 2014
    • TinaD

      REPLY

      Sorry. I realized after I pressed “post” that this sounded more like dissertation than dialogue, and some might construe the rat analogy as insulting to your readership. Not so intended. (The very fact of my presence here tars me with the same simile.) I enjoy your blog for its variety.

      September 16, 2014
  • I have to start by admitting that I didn’t know of this blog, but I’m sorry to hear that they got that kind of feedback. I feel that, because I only have a smaller and smaller limited amount of blog-reading time, I only really scratch the surface on the blogs I read and that there must be so many more out there which are also wonderful. I don’t find time to read all of the posts on my Bloglovin’ accoutn as it is (each time I log in there’s at least 500 new unread posts and it’s a struggle), but I guess a lot of readers must have more time / be more up to date / read less blogs / whatever. I certainly wouldn’t notice if someone posted a little later than usual, or maybe not even if they missed a day or two and I have to admit I can’t stand those “sorry for not posting, bad blogger, blah blah” preambles you so often see. But some people must appreciate them or I’m sure nobody would ever say it.
    I’m so glad that I don’t have any aspirations to be anything other than a hobby blogger because frankly things like those comments or emails full of insults and complaints would be more than I could deal with. My blog is tiny and rubbish, but even I came very close to deleting it when I found a hate thread about me on one of those forums.I think that when people hide behind a computer they fail to realise how much their big words can hurt people. And yes, I guess by virtue of the fact that we blog we “put ourselves out there” to a certain extent. But some things go too far.
    I don’t think my comment is going anywhere. Sorry if it’s not at all helpful. x

    September 16, 2014
  • Liz G.

    REPLY

    Wow, this is crazy. It never occurred to me to complain if a blog wasn’t updated. I figure if a blog isn’t updated today I’ll just check it tomorrow. Plus I don’t have time to read all my favorite blogs each day so why should I expect a blogger to update their blog each day since, God forbid, you may have other things (like life) getting in the way. People take this stuff way too seriously. Your blogging is a full time job and it does take time to write, edit and publish the content that may only take me 5 minutes to read. I love your blog and the dozens of others I read. Keep on blogging and ignore the jerks!

    September 17, 2014
  • Oo gosh, an interesting topic Amber! I’m so sorry for you that you had those angry rants directed at you, how awful! I can never imagine as a reader sending that kind of thing, like Cici said, I’d be more likely to drop them a message to check they’re ok. I think because blogging is in the ‘arts’ (in my mind: it’s creative, it’s about fashion and photography etc.) that it IS different to your usual customer/product relationship. In music for instance, or books, fans can get impatient waiting for the new album or book but I can’t imagine them sending abuse to the artist saying they’ll never listen to/read their work again?! I think sometimes people don’t read enough blogs, because then they wouldn’t notice so much that there was no new content on a specific blog on whatever day – honestly, if they want something to read there are a zillion other options!!

    Your blog is fabulous, and I will enjoy it for as long as you continue to write it x

    September 23, 2014
  • Amy

    REPLY

    I love my feed reader. I subscribe to the sites I love and I read them in date order as soon as I have time. Unfortunately, this means that I only saw this post today. So as much as I love many sites (including yours!) and would love to comment more I end up looking very odd because I’m always so late to the party.

    But I am here and I love your work and I thank you for sharing so much of your life with us.

    September 27, 2014
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