Thursday, March 25, 2010

so in conclusion

It took me a few days to figure this out, but I think the real issue here is not that I don't have anything to write about. Nor have I lost my passion to write. If I could, I would update this blog three times a day. I'd write about so much more, if I only had the time.


The real issue here is that this blog isn't my career, and I highly doubt it ever will be. For the past several months, I've seriously thought about what it would take to get my blog to the next level. I've considered doing a total overhaul on my format and redesigning the layout. I've thought about marketing strategies and building an audience.

When the internet is pickled with success stories, it's hard not to imagine. It's hard not to imagine doing something that you already enjoy doing while earning a living. When you hear from person after person (after person) who suggests, "You should advertise! You should network! You are totally missing out an opportunity!" you can't help but wonder if you really are missing the boat. Especially when there are people out there who are making a fortune off their blogs.

Since we'll have four children heading off to college at about the same time, we could really use a fortune. Of course in fashion typical for me, I haven't done anything about any of this, but just having those thoughts swirling around my mind has damn near paralyzed me. Instead of sitting down with a passion to write about something that is important to me, the thoughts dance through my head that my blog isn't currently good enough and what do I need to do to improve it?

When you are a blogger, you try to remain cognizant of what you write because you are fully aware that blogging is a social activity and people will read your words. The problem is, if you are overly concerned with how you are portrayed, you stop writing what is real to you. Take me for example. First, I must stop griping. If I need to gripe, I'll do it in a private forum. Then, I must not write about anything that has anything to do with religion or donating to a cause. Because those two things are BIG turn offs. Then, I must be funny and thought provoking all the time.


What does it take to have people like me?

It's like being in fourth grade all over again.

What with raising four children - and working a full time job - now I've got these asinine thoughts about popularizing my blog and if it doesn't work, will I be a failure? And in the quest to grow, will I totally lose sight of who I am?


Like most damaging behavior, this is all self induced. But in the midst of it, I do receive actual requests for advertising. None of those requests have included anything about "real" compensation. They are requests that I spend my time writing about their product. Then again, maybe if I wax really good poetic about chocolate milk, it will be a leg up to bigger and better things.

A blogger can dream...

In the end, I don't want to give up writing. And although I genuinely care about the people who read this blog, I don't want to care whether or not they like me. Sure it would be great if all of a sudden something landed in my lap, but I don't have the energy to pursue it. As for now, I want to get back to where I was when I started this blog four years ago, today. The days before statistics meters and when the number of page views and comments I received was not a gauge of how well I was doing.

Last night, I was feeling so disgusted by this modern age of computers and popular influence marketing, that I turned off all the electricity to our house.

We ate dinner by candlelight.


We brushed teeth by candlelight.


We tucked the kids in to bed by candlelight.


And it was the most peaceful I've felt in months.


  1. I love the no electricity idea!

    Makes us slow down and be thankful for what we've got. PLUS it's eco-friendly! What more could one ask for?

  2. I can understand the siren call of the blog. Once you start getting feedback from people all over the world, it becomes addictive. But, I definitely think being true to yourself is what makes people read Amazing Trips. I don't think you gripe, but you are a real person with issues and I think your readers relate to that.

    I feel the same urge to be funny all the time, but it's good to just put your real self out there too. You summed up what most blogger are really thinking - why do I do this?

    PS. I DO think you could be one of those mega bloggers, you are a very gifted story teller and writer. Although I think you are already mega cool anyway!

  3. You know something? I think you should just be yourself. This is something I always say when I see people considering similar scenarios. My blog is rarely updated. I write when I feel like it, and even though I would love to be one of those crazily funny people, it doesn't always come across that way in my posts.

    By the way, I've never considered you to be a griping person. :)

  4. Why dontcha just stay the real you? We all come here just to read about you and your family. I like you just the way you are, and so does Mister Rogers. :)

    ~Cindy! :)

  5. Jen- I am a longtime reader and very infrequent commenter. I just feel compelled to say that one of the things I love about your blog is that you aren't like all the rest and don't go on an one about going to blogging conventions, doing reviews and giveaways, etc. I feel like it is a journal, pure and simple. I love Michele's Four times the Fun for the same reason. Even more though, I just love your voice and your humor. No matter how you package it, with advertising or without, once a week or every day -- I will always be here reading! You crack me up all the time.

  6. And you took photos with your digital 21st century camera :)

  7. I personally enjoy reading your blog because you DO gripe occasionally and talk about your religious thoughts and pursuits, and your kids, and your REAL life. Real life is REAL and that's what makes it worth reading about. Sure, other folks may be making a fortune off of advertising but who wants to read about someone who is happy and upbeat and perefect ALL THE TIME?! That kinda hooey just bothers me after a blog or two. *laughs* But, maybe that's just me and I'm in the minority. *shrugs*

  8. Jen - have you seen "Julie and Julia" yet? Great movie about a blogger who guess what? not only did her blog but also got a movie deal...! Sweet! Never stop dreaming! Kids are ADORABLE! Can't wait to see you all.

    P.S. The only failure is in not trying!

  9. Sooo glad this post isn't announcing your blogging retirement! I love reading
    your posts, you are an amazing woman abnd an amazing writer. Don't change!

  10. I totally agree with your thought process on this subject. You have to evaluate WHY you're doing your blog..Is it for your family? For memories? or WHO are you writing to? Thanks for the reality check..This being said as I just added a counter to my page today!

    Writing is an outlet for me. Period. And for a keepsake for my kids. I need to keep it real! Thank you, Thank you for the wake up call!

    But I love reading your blog and others do too, so who knows? Maybe you can do both, Make money and keep it real. People love to read about "real" moms/people/families. Good luck!

  11. Well, there's no pressure here. I just enjoy your blog. So when you're overwhelmed, just remember that there is a gang of us out there that just enjoy you and don't want to make you feel like you have to write, or be at a certain blog success level.

    Because in my mind, you're there!

  12. Good for you!! I often have the same thoughts-- and then I remember why I blog... for me. For my kids... for my sanity-- I don't want to put more thought into it!

    Maybe I will turn my electricity tonight. Then again-- that would mean I would miss the little piece and quiet that I do have-- while Thomas the Train is on!

  13. I have BlogHer ads. Other than placement on my blog, there isn't anything else I have to do. I get a check every 3 months. I'm sure if you applied, you would get accepted. If you needed help with your layout let me know, I would be willing to do it for free.

    I figure I'm writing any way, why not? I won't write a post for chocolate milk, but the checks could go to said college funds. :-)

  14. So - maybe you have just answered your dilemma. You do what makes YOU feel good and other's expectations don't have anything to do with your own boundaries - and those of your family.

    For myself - I have always enjoyed your blog - even as you moved from one issue to another. You write well! If you felt like cutting back on frequency, we, who enjoy you just as you are, will continue to enjoy you just as you are.

    Keep writing!

    (BTW, it always is easier to "solve" someone else's dilemmas!)

    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  15. I like your blog a lot more than the "money making" big blogs.
    You are one of the bigger blogs I read, and I STILL read yours after getting rid of the 5 gazillion blogs I "follow." Why? Because you write about what I
    Don't change a thing. We need blogs like yours that are big, but not full of advertising, and click here to win this, or whatever they have posted.
    Please, don't change a thing. I would miss it.

  16. Well, I like you just the way you are. I don't think you need to change or "re-vamp" anything.

  17. Just wanted to say that the second photo in your post (I'm sorry that I don't yet recognize your girls by sight!) is absolutely gorgeous. The lighting is amazing, and her expression is priceless.

    On occasion, I think about what it would take to expand my blog audience and maybe make a little money off of my blog (though I'm certainly small peanuts compared to most bloggers, I do have a small but dedicated readership). And in truth, in order to broaden my readership and potentially attract actual paying advertisers, I'd probably have to start being someone I'm not. I offend some people with my tendency toward foul language. I offend some people with my liberal politics. I offend some people with my discussion of what some people might consider intimate topics (though if someone can determine how to discuss infertility *without* discussing anything intimate, I'd love to know how!). And I offend some people just by having an opinion.

    But to blog in such a way, in an attempt to salve every potential wound, is frankly a little boring. I genuinely hope that my readers enjoy themselves when they stop by my blog. I hope I entertain people, and maybe inform a bit and I hope they enjoy hearing about the things I share. But if they don't, I don't think I want to change that just to get more readers, just to assuage the potentially offended.

    That said, I do use a little more care when I post lately, because I know that I have a tendency to come across as a little gripey. And I don't know that I want to put that face out there all the time. I'm genuinely a happy person. Things get tough on occasion, and I think it's appropriate to share those frustrations. But when the blog just becomes a place to dump out whatever negative things I'm dealing with, then it's not much fun for anyone.

    So yeah. I guess I'm just saying that I get the impetus to want to do what you love to make money, and I get the desire to change your subject matter to appeal to more people (and thus, potentially make money doing what you love). But ultimately, you have to write from a place of truth, I think. Otherwise, you can just see that what is being written isn't honest, and people don't like feeling like the wool is being pulled over their eyes. Just my $0.02 on the matter!

  18. Hi Jen, sounds like you're going through a transition. Not that you asked, but I think you should take a step back from blogging. I think it would be exhausting to go about one's life/day constantly asking yourself "is this bloggable", etc. It reminds me of the words of another blogger I was acquainted with. She stopped, stating something to the effect that bloggers run the risk of writing about their life instead of actually living it. To me, that was profound.
    Another thought is maybe you could "try on" writing privately for a while and see if you feel less stressed. Seems like you are stressed about pleasing everyone and it's zapping the joy of capturing your precious memories. Or venting or whatever. I have my own little blog for my eyes only. It is so refreshing to write, knowing that I am the only one to read it, and my husband if he wants, and my children someday. I've thought about creating a separate one for vents, or darker stuff, but I won't put that on my childrens' blog. And I know no one wants to read my "sunshine and roses" only blog, but I don't care. It's not for them. And it's the best feeling.
    Last thought: I noticed you said the candlelight was the most peaceful you've felt in months...doesn't then blogging it zap some of that? Ok one more: a guy I once worked with said that if you have a problem, state it: like "I haven't felt peaceful in months" then ask why? (and answer) five times. By the time you get to the last answer, you should have the root of your problem. I always thought it was compelling and I've tried it and it works (for me). I think it's a Buddhist thing or something. I think you're great, by the way. From what I read (granted I don't know you) I'm just not convinced blogging publically makes you happy, or that it's helping you LIVE. ~All the Best!

  19. I had a whole big long response to this post. And then I got distracted . . . . such is my life.

    I would LOVE to get paid a gazillion dollars to sit here and write all day. But.... 1) I don't have the time or energy to devote to figuring out how to do that 2) I'm not funny (ok sometimes I am but I can assure you that is always accidental!) and 3) you nailed it - for me blogging is much more of a social activity. I'm not a big blog but the folks I've met are people that I actually like! People that I would welcome into my home. People that I want to know. And that to me is completely where I'm at with the whole blogging thing.

    So for those that have the time & energy to make money out of blogging - go for it; I support you 100%; but I don't think that is for me. And whether you go "commercial" or not, that's fine with me; I just enjoy getting to know you.

  20. I like you - I really, REALLY like you!! :)

  21. I'm not sure if this would be helpful to you, but I just ran across this interview done with a popular blogger that successfully has navigated the complicated world of blog ads.

    I know nothing about this topic, so I thought the interview was interesting!

  22. P.S. I will add to my "ask 5 questions" thing that I think it's critical that one choose the correct statement: i.e., it might not be "I haven't felt peaceful in months" but rather "candlelight makes me feel peaceful" (to help you get at what's NOT making you peaceful).

  23. You write so well. You have such interesting thoughts. If you gripe and ask us to donate to worthy causes, that is OK - I will still be reading your blog every day!

  24. After reading both this post and the previous, I want to say that while I very much enjoy reading your blog, as you know you have absolutely no obligation to any of us strangers. Blog or not as it pleases you. Gripe if you want. (I actually like those posts as well as any shiny-happy-sunshine ones 'cause it's nice to know someone else can relate to your own bad days too!).

    Blog for whatever your original reason was (which I took to be a journaling of your family's moments as the children are growing up, and a way to keep distant family and friends updated?). Never mind the rest!

  25. I think you could build a huge blog. But if you did, you would have Haters. Just Google "Mckmama haters" and see the vengenance with which people hate her. Once you start doing something for money, you are fair game.

    I like you the way you are. But if you do go for it, I will not open an Amazing Trips Without Pity blog. Scout's honor.

  26. I think every blogger dreams that dream :) I for one am all for people writing exactly what they want without thinking about whether readers think it is attractive content. Keep on writing your heart out!

    Nutmeg Girl

  27. Jenna, we're so grateful for your blog and your support of Hilarious Givers. If it had not been for your blog, we would never have gotten started - what can we do to encourage you? (sorry, no chocolate milk here - how about a box of chocolates?)

  28. I also became obsessed with the hits on my blog at one time. Lucky for me the site I was using fir this just quit working. I didn't find another one.
    I was recently thinking that it has been a long time since I sat down and really wrote something with depth. I don't know why. I still love to write but am finding it hard to feel inspired lately. I want to write and have people read what I write so badly I can taste it. I so know how you feel. I often wonder if I just took the wrong exit somewhere and am driving around aimlessly as far as writing goes. I know I love it and know I have a talent but just don't know what to do with it.
    Just keep on keeping it real on your is what males people love you.

  29. I am amazed you didn't update your blog by candlelight - using a notebook computer powered by a battery! :O

    :::::::::::big cheesy grin:::::::::

    ~Cindy! :)

  30. Well. For the record... I like you, lots!! ;-)

    Recently Alexander saw me "once again" on the computer. He asked if What I was doing was more important than talking to him? It broke my heart! A few days later I read an article about becoming unplugged.... and with nicer weather finally peaking - that's exactly what we've begun to do!

    The boys have started to take notice and the change is good for all of us! Well anyway talk to you soon. For what its worth - big hugs! Love, Marg.

  31. Dear Jen,
    It sounds to me that you have been coming to this decision for quite sometime from many directions. (Your time constraints, the content, the weird access and story stealing) and though I will miss reading your blog, I think you are making a valid choice . You can always password protect it and keep it just for family when there is something you want to say. Good luck to you and yours, thank you.

  32. PS Just a thought, Jen. You've done a lot of good things through your writings and blog. You've brought a lot of great information, love and admiration through your words. All because of you - so many people are more aware of children in poor countries, Deanna and even of a man "Uncle Bill" who loved living life and family.... This blog brought you enough attention to raise over $20,000++ for cancer research!

    You've come a long way babe! Forever grateful for you(and your writings)!! ;-)

    Much Love, Marg.

  33. Jen, I just love you!
    Your blog is your blog...hell flippin Rush Limbaugh makes millions of dollars complaining about I really need to read something that you've scrubbed clean since I can't already get that in a magazine, a newspaper or all of the acquaintances on the street. Its like making friends and yourself.
    I'm finally coming to terms with the "phases of life" with my family and my career. Maybe right now with you having young kids and wanting to be part of this very critical time... its ok to just have your blog be your blog. Worry about the 2 gallons of chocolate milk when Henry starts 1st or 2nd are sleeping thru the night...etc...

    In regards to making something of your blog. I can totally see you as a Dear Abby or a "tell me about it" by Carolyn Hax, except your opinion would be about child rearing/family craziness. When I read the "Pioneer Woman Cookbook" website. It reminded me SO much of your blog.

    You are awesome. I totally appreciate how candid you are. Currently this week, my teenager has had 5 volleyball games in 6 days, my husband has been out of town, my youngest has an ear infection and my dog just ate 12 cooked chicken bones and at work it is tax season for me where I work 7 days a week for 6 weeks....reading your blog makes me feel like.... you... or SOMEONE out there in cyberspace...understands!

    But then I just drank 2 glasses of wine and its Friday..... big hugs and kisses to you!

  34. and p.s. I've thought a million times about quitting my day job as a tax accountant and selling my scones instead....

  35. Just be you! Your honesty is refreshing. You have an amazing ability to write and make your readers feel like they are sitting right next to you.

    I don't see why you would need to put pressure on yourself to do this a certain way. . .Just be yourself and see what happens.

    I'm all for a new blog layout or design (your current one doesn't reflect how fabulous your blog really is).
    And perhaps you could look into protecting your kids' photos better--

    (I love using to track the traffic on my blog.)

    Keep blogging! Yours is my favorite!

  36. Dear Jen, Don't you ever give up your writing, you are so good at it as you are in your Motherhood, I can't tell you how proud I am, and have been on all of your acomplishments. Your life is so good with the guy you have and the beautiful children, especially Gracie with the quilt over her head looking so sad and ill, I really wish we lived closer, you could really teach us all something, but this blog is so good, because it brings you close to all of us. Keep it up, it is truly wonderful.

  37. jen, i remember you wrote about pioneer woman's life, blog and career... that you were somewhat jealous (this may not be the actual word/feeling, i might have remembered wrong).
    i read this post, and i want to tell you that i think yes, she has a killing website, but i don't read her every post. i read yours. now, i'm not that much interested; in donations, 3-day walks, ... and i want to say this i will have follow you; i will continue to read you even if you decide to go on the blog-is-a-source-of-income path. please do keep writing as you are now. this is a wonderful "real" blog.
    p.s. candlelight dinner looks so cool.

  38. Aaahh. That's what I can say about NO electricity, NO television, NO lights, No stove oil heated houses, etc.

    We spent the three day weekend at camp, where we have no running water, no electricity, and pretty much spend all day hauling snow/ice for water, reading, cutting up old magazines, and playing Pick-2-crazy 8's!

    It is the WAY to live man....its my own personal defrag button. :)

  39. I'm going to be watching your blog with even more interest now. I have triplets and 2 singletons and I'm trying to decide whether to move us all halfway round the world. I'm thinking of hedging and not selling up where we are now and doing a year at home to try and make up my mind. I'm with you - I can't find peace either way. BTW you do a great job on the blog, sometimes I don't find time to sit down and read and enjoy yours, much less do one myself.