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Friday, September 16, 2011

Things They Can't Say: My Front Porch Swing

A friend through blogging can become a real friend. Today's guest poster is pretty much my other half and the one who came up with the name of this new feature. She is "balancing life, marriage, parenting, and social media while pursuing the perfect glass of sweet tea."  Please welcome Ashley from My Front Porch Swing.

I sold my soul to blogging.

No, not really. In fact, it would actually be more accurate to say I sold my blogging soul- but only a little.

In the blogging world, there are innumerable posts that appear from frustrated bloggers. I just can’t keep up, they say, I can’t keep posting every day, visit all these blogs, and return all these comments. The overwhelming sensation that you are letting someone down in the community you find in blogging can be almost unbearable at times. Not everyone understands this; but then, not everyone understands this phenomenon. Not everyone can understand the need to spill your words out of your soul onto a computer screen before the flow of energy has stopped. Not everyone can understand the need to share things with the world you do not know that you just can’t quite share with the one you do.

Not everyone is a blogger.


I started building my blog. In the beginning, I learned anything and everything I could. I lapped up knowledge from experienced blogs (The SITS girls being the place that kept me going and trying to understand) and devoured blogs as fast as I could. I would stay up late reading and commenting, read articles on how to be a better blogger. I saw my numbers climbing much more rapidly when I started applying the things I learned.

Then, I did a review for a company. It was not a compensated review, beyond a free trial of their product. But, it was a product I was genuinely interested in and wanted to learn more about its use. So, I dove into it as I do with any project, and focused my energy on delivering the best post I could. I enjoyed the staff members I worked with, as they were genuine and dedicated and answered all of my questions. In a few follow-up conversations, they had a few questions. I answered them, happy to take a minute to respond to a company that took such good care of their customers.

This led me to working in social media. It was part time at first, and more fun than I ever had earning a paycheck. I was suddenly in a new world of all of this and learning by the minute. Then my role expanded, and I got to experience the world of social media marketing at its craziest. And even that was awesome. In its own way. Working like crazy from home with two young kids is a challenge, but this position led me to being able to do just that. Although I eventually left this position, it opened up the door for other opportunities.

During this time? I didn’t return every comment. I didn’t respond to everyone. I didn’t blog every day. My numbers no longer do a fast climb as they did when I focused all of my time and energy on my blog –which is truly the best way to grow. They still inch up a bit here and there (and hopefully continue to do so), but when I get a chance to write and blog, I do take the time to respond at the very least, and connect with them in some way. Because finding people, connecting, that is what blogging is all about. Even if it is not at full speed ahead.

But if you are one who seeks opportunities and want to grow beyond your blog, do not feel like you have to always give 110% in every area. You cannot. Eventually, you will start to lost your mind. Blogging is amazing and something I love. Now, so is working on my own business with a few amazing colleagues- whom I met through blogging. Sometimes opportunities arise that are too great to ignore and something has to give. You shouldn’t feel guilty for that.

I’m a mom, a social marketer, and a blogger.

In that order.

Please leave Ashley some comment love here and then follow her blog My Front Porch Swing. You can find her tweeting as @porchswingmom and on facebook.

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Anonymous Galit Breen said...

I love this post. Prioritization, and knowing what you want, is so very important- difficult to remember at times, but so, so very important.

September 16, 2011 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Excellent points that would heed us well in many areas of our lives! Hope to visit Ashley later today. For now, I overslept, am running late, and must get in the shower!

September 16, 2011 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

And priorities shift all the time, well except maybe that mom thing.

And I think the other important thing is to not fall victims to those who judge you for the decisions you make. The decisions are your own so own them!

September 16, 2011 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Singedwingangel said...

Like her I love blogging and am slowly working my way to being a social media blogger as well. But I love the interaction as well. With my mom's eventful summer I feel as if I am starting all over again.. sighs.

September 16, 2011 at 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

I love that her priorities are in that order...
I think its safe to say that we as blogger sometimes lose sight of that...what's really important ;)
I'm addicted to blogging and re madness of it all. I'm glad it sucked me in ;)

September 16, 2011 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Alison@Mama Wants This said...

Ashley, you've definitely got your priorities right. I am recently finding myself overwhelmed with blogging and all that's required (reading, commenting, etc) and I think I need to step away from the blogger role in my life, and just be me, a mom and a wife. I think it's great you found great opportunities through blogging!

September 16, 2011 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger The Woven Moments said...

Good for you for having your priorities in place! Way to go, Mama.

September 16, 2011 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger JDaniel4's Mom said...

Ashley is right! She knows what she loves. She took the time to figure out what is most important. She lives with balance.

September 16, 2011 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Dolli-Mama said...

I love this post, and I can relate to it right now. I have been spending a lot less time on my blog and social media because I have been focusing on being a wife, mom, and friend. Shell, I love the new feature! It's fabulous!

September 16, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

That's exactly where I am right now. I love to blog, but being a blogger is about fourth on my list of priorities right now ... thanks for this. It helps me know I'm not alone in my blogging woes!

September 16, 2011 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I love her priorities! She is so right! Blogging is amazing but I don't ever want to forget that I'm a wife and mother first.

September 16, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

Very well said! I think there can be too much pressure to respond in kind every single day. I have to stay focuses on the big picture -- blogging is not my job but a fun outlet.

September 16, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a new blogger, I was blindsided by the demands of the blogosphere. Then I realized if i kept focused on what was important to me, my family and my writing, it would be enough. There is never enough time for absolute perfection, but there is enough time for priorities:) Thanks for sharing; helps me to ease up on myself about not having to do it "exactly right."

September 16, 2011 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Evonne said...

Setting your priorities can definitely help with balancing it all.

I also think we should be flexible with our priorities and not feel guilty when we have to more time into one thing more than the others on the list.

September 16, 2011 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Di said...

Yes - to all this. I don't even try to keep up anymore. There may be entire weeks I don't post because I too am a mom first.

Love this post!

September 16, 2011 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Tina @ Life Without Pink said...

So true! I've learned to accept I can not possibly do it all. I love blogging but I also have to make money to support the family. I do what I can...and I'm trying not to be so hard on myself :)

September 16, 2011 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Cindi said...

Neither of you could have any idea how much I needed to read this today! (LoL)

Thanks Shell and thanks Ashley! (Now a follower Ashley).

September 16, 2011 at 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your priorities! There is no way that I can go visit and comment on every blog that I love. There just aren't enough minutes in the day!

September 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger By Word of Mouth Musings said...

So very happy to hear you say these things Ashley ... do what makes you happy!

September 16, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

A truly interesting post - I always enjoy reading how other people balance the world of blogging.

September 16, 2011 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Completely identify with this post and have learned to find more balance which has meant cutting down on my blogging quite a bit. Love you both!!

September 16, 2011 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Mandi said...

Loved this! I always feel so guilty for not committing to my blog like I could in the past... :)

September 16, 2011 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger MommaKiss said...

Reading this as I have approximately 40 comments that I haven't replied to. I'm OK with that. I've had to shuffle. For many many reasons. And I'll never make an excuse for it, because the minute this blogging thing isn't "fun" for me, well, then why do it?

Love this, and you (both of you).

September 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Blue Cotton Memory said...

I'm in an ideal position for blogging. There's a lot I want to say to my growing sons - and so I blog basically telling them those things for when they will have time to savor them.

And my boys aren't itty bitty anymore. I need something important to do when they are off doing - well, I'm talking to them now, 5 years down the line, 20 years:)

And, it is prioritizing - 'cause my fam is #1:)

September 16, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger RoryBore said...

Love how she ends with outlining her priorities. Some days it would be so tempting to just read and comment all day long. but I am a mother...

...and the house wouldn't survive it I didn't step away from the screen every now and then. I suppose someone should cook and clean too :)

September 16, 2011 at 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Melissa {momcomm} said...

Amen, sister! I've learned this too. I just can't do it all. After being a mom, my next priority is what brings food to the table: getting paid for my consulting. I try to ebb and flow in where I spend more time in the blogging world.

Plus, I post fewer times per week than many people but use that "extra" time to build my online presence, interact with others and expand.

Great post, Ashley!

September 16, 2011 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

This is a great post. I set a goal for myself to have 45 followers by the time the summer was order. I'm at 50, and have been for awhile, and was getting sad that I hadn't gained any new followers. But I also haven't become a new follower.

September 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Emmy said...

Yes, you have to find the balance that works for you. Sometimes I think I want to get more into the PR side of it- but then I tend to forgot why I started it all. Someday when all of my kids are in school- then I might just take it to the next level.

September 16, 2011 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Jessica | The Frilly Coconut said...

You know what's funny about this entire subject? I feel like so many bloggers so along the same exact path.

Excited about blogging...working their butts off to develop a strong readership...giveaways...reviews...a feeling of being overwhelmed...pouring out their feelings about how they're overwhelmed...learning that there are others just like them.

Blogging is such an easy thing to get pumped about. It's a fun world that we all live in and, like you said, brings amazing opportunities to many of us, but when you get to this point that so many do, you have to step back and remember your priorities, like you said.

Thank you for sharing! xoxo

September 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger JamieAnne of A Dash of Domestic said...

Wonderful article!

September 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger The Mommy Therapy said...

Great perspective Ashley. Feeling an overwhelming need to write, read, comment, and market myself in general is something I struggle with daily.

I started this blog to give myself an outlet and gain a sense of community with out women, it has given me so much more, but it also can cause me anxiety that I'm not doing enough or working hard enough. I want it to retain the joy that I started with, while always stretching to make it better.

Thanks for the reminder that the priorities have to be in check though, it's so very true.

Congrats to you on your success!

September 16, 2011 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Desperate Housemommy said...

Oh - I so hear you. I am just entering that branching out phase...the social media aspect, my first sponsorship and product review...and you are right. You can't do everything at once. Well, I guess you *could*, but it would kick-start a nervous breakdown for me. Love your perspective. Above all? Mom first.

September 16, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger MrsJenB said...

Well said! Your priorities are, I think, just where they need to be. I hope to get solidly to that point myself. I keep feeling myself slipping - it's so easy to become consumed.

September 16, 2011 at 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Mya Maternity said...

That is great you have your priorities. I think it is important for everyone who does many things to prioritize what is important. As time goes on that list might change. Great post.

September 16, 2011 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Hines-Sight said...

This was great words to hear on this Friday. I'm new, and once I got into social media, I felt a drained. I've pulled back because I owe it to my children. I want people to read what I write, but it is hard to keep up so I'm just slowly working to build a community that likes what I write. Thank you!

September 16, 2011 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger AB HOME Interiors said...

Its all about priorities. Ever one needs to have them and they need to have boundaries!

September 16, 2011 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Amen to that!! Great perspective on keeping things prioritized. :)

September 16, 2011 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I am ALL about that logo/name. And I clearly have not devoted myself to blogging enough - I don't think I've ever put that much effort in!

September 16, 2011 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Gotta echo the sentiments repeated over and over. I commend you for finding the balance.

September 16, 2011 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Ashley - this is so helpful and informative. And it feels good to hear from someone who's been "around the block" in blogging, so to speak, that it's ok to miss things here and there. And to prioritize.

September 16, 2011 at 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Paula @ Simply Sandwich said...

Through experience you have really focused on your priorities. Thanks for sharing them and helping the rest of us re-focus too! :)

September 16, 2011 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Brittney said...

I couldnt agree more when I first started blogging it was every single day and I would spend hours on the computer before i realized it. Now I am trying to make blogging last because i was missing out on all the moments that gave me something to blog about.

September 16, 2011 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger I'm Jennifer. said...

Thank you for this insight, Ashley. As a blogger I'm at that place where you feel like your blog is starting to take off. But I also feel that, to keep the momentum I'd have to keep giving 200%...but I can't. I'm a mom first, and my job can't be ignored either. It's good to hear that it's OK to prioritize...even if it puts blogging in third place.

September 16, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

What a great post! This mentality is so true of all areas of life. We have to find priority! It's easier said than done. Great feature! Also, I love the new name of the feature, and kudos to her for coming up with it. :)

September 16, 2011 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Mom of 12 said...

What exactly does a social marketer do? I might not mind a job like that.

September 16, 2011 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger KSK said...

This is a great post.. and I needed it! I feel like all of my spare time is spent blogging, and I have recently stepped back.
It's certainly fun to see numbers grow.. but I need to remember why I started my blog in the first place, and that's for my family that doesn't get to see LB on a regular basis... which is why I've been doing more LB photos.. :)

September 17, 2011 at 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Leah, aka, Far From Perfect MaMMa said...

I have not been blogging for long and am happy that I already hit my "guilt" phase for not being able to post as much as I want. I have to say though, to those of "us" looking to grow our blog and looking at the numbers...we do have to do a lot of work. It is just like any other area in our life.If you want to succeed at it you have to do a lot initially and then if you have done it right, it will take off. It's not just going to happen. But yes, thank you for the reminder that you have to prioritize first and keep that balance.
My name is Leah and I'm a wife, mom, WFHM, blogger.

September 17, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Kate F. @katefineske said...

As most all the other commenters said I totally relate to this post. As a mom of three, a part time work-from-home staff member of a non-profit, AND a newbie blogger... I have learned to set limits (most of the time!) It is so good to know I am not alone!

September 17, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Venassa said...

Very well said. I don't put as much effort into my blog as others do but I like my blog to feel more like a journal and hobby of mine, not like something I'm required to do. I used to get stressed out when I was behind on reading blogs or writing in my own, but I've learned it's better to just put in the effort that I can, without worrying about it.

September 17, 2011 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Hopes@Staying Afloat! said...

This is, well...it's just fantastic! I'm a newbie to blogging. Like not even out of diapers newbie. But I think the not knowing all I need to has helped me some. Sound strange? Probably. But I write when I have something to write. Comment on other blogs when I can. But I always put my family first!

LOVE this post!

September 18, 2011 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Kristy said...

Off to check her out! Love this post. I have recently started branching out with some things beyond my blog and it is hard to figure out where to devote your time. I want to do it all!

September 18, 2011 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger SoMo Mom said...

Amen to that sister! Great post ... and spot on... heading on over to your blog now!

September 18, 2011 at 7:34 PM  
Anonymous tracy@sellabitmum said...

Mom first. So true dear friend. xo

September 18, 2011 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger Lourie said...

I would love to be paid to write. My MIL swears I will be one day. Well I hope so. For now...I just write more for fun.

September 19, 2011 at 12:47 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This seems to be the natural progression I have noticed for bloggers. Start out strong with growing the blog and then learning other aspects that take up time and eventually a switch is made where something else takes up most of the time and blogging goes on the side which is perfectly okay. Just have fun with blogging and don't let it stress you out.

September 19, 2011 at 3:07 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

So so true. I read that so many bloggers feel an immense pressure blogging which of course I understand. Everyone wants to do their best and be recognized for hard work. But you have to realize that if you don't make a living from blogging, then it's a hobby and should be fun and fit into your life, not be your life.

September 19, 2011 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger angela said...

I love this post. I am unsure about where I want my blog itself to go, but I know that I would like to freelance a little (writing,) and I have found a couple of projects that are more in line with that goal. It means, though, that I am not reaching out, reading, and commenting in the same way I was for a while (though I would never say my numbers were climbing like crazy LOL).

Prioritizing can be hard, and I do feel guilty. But burnout would be worse.

September 20, 2011 at 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Tim@sogeshirts said...

Great post Ashley. It's all about making goals and priorities and going out and meeting them in whatever order you see fit. Balancing everything and not getting burned out is definitely a key as well. I am trying to get better at not getting burned out and taking a break sometimes.

September 29, 2011 at 3:56 AM  

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