The irony of this post’s title is not lost on me. I’m barely keeping up with writing a blog, as you’ll soon read. Life is hectic. I feel like that’s such a piss-take to some – I don’t have any kids, I’m currently working from home, and I generally have no more than one social event a month. But for some reason, it still is. Work is still busy and being at home means that it’s tempting to work later than I should, and rather than sitting down and resting when I do finish, I immediately dive into some form of housework, and then bam. Dinner, clean up, shower, bed. Sometimes I attempt to read just as a desperate attempt to switch off for a bit, but it’s not always possible. Evenings just fly by. And again, I feel like I’m taking the piss when there’s people out there who do all of this and more, having kids, second jobs, a social life, all of that grown up crap.
Anyway, I went off on a tangent there. It’s been a while since I ticked something off my 30 Before 30 list, and as that date approaches ever closer, I feel I probably should get cracking. So, I’m starting with something that feels quite apt when it comes to my lack of time for blogging. Let’s look at my futile attempts to keep a blog running over the last 3 years.
So, let’s go back to the beginning. After a couple of months working in a new job, where I was discovering how much I enjoyed writing, I decided to take the plunge and start a blog. It wasn’t going to be like the piss-poor excuse of one I attempted at 15, I was going to do things properly. I did my research, I wrote down ideas, I made a plan, and I was gradually starting to learn about SEO in my job. While I didn’t have a niche as such, I went under the massive umbrella theme of “Lifestyle,” but at the same time, I wanted to talk about my mental health and raise awareness of OCD. The overall aim? To become a full-time freelance writer. I’m actually quite surprised that little negative-Nellie me was that optimistic, but yes, I was starting out from scratch and wanted to take things full time. It was with that, I launched Sassy Cat Lady in 2019.
It took a while to get things going, but I felt as though once I discovered blogger comment threads on Twitter, I started to get more of a following, and more importantly, I started to make friends within the blogging community. Over time, I had a good routine going – every day on my lunch break, I would try to read and comment on as many blogs as possible, both the ones I was following, and at least five new ones per day. Realistically, my lunch break became the only time I had where I could work on my blog – evenings were just too hectic after a near 40-minute commute home and I didn’t really feel as though I could properly get into the swing of things. However, there was a flaw in my lunchtime plan. It took up a lot more time than I thought it would, and as time went on, things got a bit much. I was spending more time trying to keep up with other blogs than I did working on my own content. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get the balance right. I feel like that’s such a piss poor excuse, because I know loads of bloggers who managed to get theirs off the ground while having a full-time job and other commitments, but I literally don’t know what else to tell you. I tried loads of different forms of time management over those few months and nothing worked.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I turned to blogging in a bid to distract myself from the absolute shit-show that was going on in the world. While I was still working full-time, albeit from home, having the commute taken out of the equation meant that I had well over an extra hour every evening. I still aimed to read and comment on other blogs over my lunch breaks, but the extra time in the evenings was a godsend. Plus, at weekends, with all aspects of socialising removed (aside from the evening Zoom sessions), I had more free time to work on my own content, even managing to get into writing some paid and gifted posts. While I was nowhere near making any decent money from blogging, it felt as though the possibility of being a freelance writer was becoming slightly more realistic.
It was almost as though I had finally got a good routine going. However, what you may already know, is that during the first lockdown, we bought a house. Ultimately, we completed at the end of July, eventually moving into our new place in August, which meant there was only one priority – packing up the tonnes of crap we’d accumulated over the last six years and getting our shitty rental property sorted before we moved out. On the blogging side of things, I took nearly two months off purely so I could focus solely on getting things sorted with the new house, gradually building up a bit more content. When I came back at the end of September, I started to feel like I had a routine going again.
Ah, 2021. What a strange year. You’ll know if you’re a regular reader that my job went to crap (or rather, it was crap to begin with, I was just relieved to be out of retail and the novelty then wore off), and it affected me mentally and physically. Funnily enough, being spoken to like a piece of shit every single day by your boss and enduring regular misogyny, sexist/racist/homophobic comments and highly inappropriate remarks that any HR department would have you reprimanded for can take quite the toll on your confidence.
I would spend all day writing crap I didn’t give a shit about that would ultimately get shot down because it “wasn’t good enough,” so it’s no surprise that by the time I sat down at my own laptop to work on my own stuff, that I was too mentally exhausted to even bother. Somehow though, I managed it to stay on top of having content prepared in advance.
It was in July 2021, that I started my new job, when things got behind yet again. I was actually going into the office each day which meant that I was losing a good hour or so every evening, and quite often I was just shattered from doing a job that I was actually enjoying for the first time in years. I started falling behind again, and in between keeping my house clean and generally having a life(ish), blogging always took a backseat. It was in August that I took the executive decision to take some more time off, and I think that in hindsight I probably came back a bit too soon, as once again, I fell behind just before Christmas. I eventually just thought “fuck it” and decided to come back in the new year. Again, I didn’t really have a proper break, because I was writing content non-stop in the time I wasn’t publishing anything.
I wish I could tell you that I sorted my shit out and that I’m back on track. But I’m not. At the time of writing, this post is late going out, and the only reason I’m working on it is because I have the afternoon off work and decided to put it above cleaning my house for once. In January, I created the perfect plan for my content that would help me stay on track, but I fell off the wagon a few weeks ago, and I was genuinely pissed off at myself because I missed 3 days’ worth of posting.
Looking back on the original goal I had when I first launched Sassy Cat Lady, I think I’m okay with the fact that my blog hasn’t really taken off in the way I wanted it to. I don’t do paid posts at the moment because I don’t have the time and I know I won’t be able to meet the deadlines. My engagement has dropped because I don’t spend enough time reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, and I barely have the time to respond to comments on my own (rest assured, I do read them though and I’m so grateful to you for leaving them). Any free time I have for my blog goes into writing new content and updating existing stuff. It feels selfish, but right now it’s all I can manage. But things are different – the main one being that I’m happier in my day job. I wasn’t before, and that was a big factor in why I so desperately wanted my blog to work. Now I’m lucky enough to have a job that I’m happy in, it doesn’t feel like I’m a failure if I’m not getting the engagement I’d like each month.
The ultimate reason I set up my blog was for me rather than anyone else, because I enjoy writing. I feel like over the last couple of months, I forgot that. I was treating it and seeing it like a crappy job I wasn’t even getting paid for. But at the end of the day, no one’s forcing me to do it. I can stop this anytime I want, but the fact that I’ve kept it up for so long, even when I’ve not been enjoying it, says that maybe deep down, I don’t want to stop.
So, the original item in my 30 Before 30 list was to “write a blog and stick to it.” I didn’t set any targets that were more specific than that, but I think overall, the fact I have theoretically kept a blog going for just over three years is something of an achievement. Especially when you consider that I normally give up on stuff when it’s not going how I want it to – look at me attempting to learn the ukulele.
Would I still like writing to be my full-time job? Absolutely. But for now, I’m happy where I am career wise. I’m happy for blogging to take a backseat, but I think I need to give myself a break. I feel as though right now – if I’m being 100% honest – my content isn’t good enough to warrant collabs and paid posts and gifted posts and all the other stuff that the bloggers I admire get. And that’s okay. I’m doing the best I can in the time I have.