I started this blog just a few days after moving to San Diego to document my journey as an East Coaster-turned-San Diegan. I wanted to find cool shops, delicious restaurants, scenic hiking trails, great coffee, and more. It has served me very well. It forced me to get out and experience a city in which I had no friends, no family, and no job. It was speed dating.
But this wasn’t a passion project. Seasoned bloggers say, “Never start a blog to make money,” but from Day 1 I wanted this blog to make money. Of course I wanted to do so organically, but making it a business was the goal. I’ve already done the just-for-fun blog thing—first about food in New York City and second about backpacking around the world for a year. With My SoCal’d Life, I was ready for the big time.
In many ways, building the blog was easy. I was freelance magazine writing from home, had very flexible hours, and attended events for work that I could cover on the blog. Slowly, surely, and naturally, I built a brand, point of view, and voice. Cut to this summer: I started getting opportunities to monetize—not much, but a stepping stone. At the same time, I took on a full-time writer position at San Diego Magazine. Now I was juggling a 9-5 office job, freelance work, and a blog that was growing.
These last few months have been awesome in many ways—a stable job! an expanding blog!—but in other ways it’s been a huge struggle, whether it’s because I never had time to unwind, was constantly multitasking, or asking my boyfriend to take photos of me in some ridiculously posed manner. I felt like I was missing out on life and its simple pleasures. I felt like I was suffocating and gasping for air because I wasn’t getting the downtime that everyone needs to feel sane. I was becoming grouchy, distracted, forgetful, and a bit anti-social, too.
It took getting out of San Diego to realize I had to make a choice. I was in New Orleans for a press trip and started seeing various signs that I should take a break from the blog. It’s a bit of a long story, but the end result was like coming out of a fugue. I needed to let go of something because I was doing too much of everything.
I took these last two weeks to see how it felt not to blog. It was sad, and I felt a bit like a failure, but quite honestly, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. Two weeks later, I’ve decided that the blog is the thing that has to go.
On the practical side, my full-time job and freelance writing generate money; blogging, less so. On the abstract side, I’ve been watching blogging devolve in a direction I don’t like and I’m not sure I want to be a part of it at the moment. The numerous hashtags, the ill-matched sponsored content, Loop giveaways, the hyper-stylized Instagrams—it can come across as wildly phony. I don’t think it’s coincidence that at the time the brilliant Socality Barbie Instagram account debuted, I decided to take this blog break. I wanted to give the gal behind this Insta a virtual high five when she said: “People were all taking the same pictures in the same places and using the same captions. I couldn’t tell any of their pictures apart…I get it, it’s pretty to look at. But it’s so dishonest. Nobody actually lives like this. And it’s so overdone that it’s becoming boring.”
But guess what? I’ve done it, too! I’ve styled my lattes, typed the copious hashtags, and made Teddy pose with me (though he likes following me around anyway). The tipping point was signing up for a sponsored post that in the end would’ve seemed very off-brand. (I didn’t end up going through with it.) And look, I understand that bloggers gotta get paid. We’re writers, photographers, graphic designers, stylists, publicists, and videographers rolled into one. It’s hard!
But do I have the energy and time to devote to it, to grow this business in an organic way but still have beautiful photos, frequent social media updates, and creative content? I do not. And I don’t mean to slight the industry because some bloggers do an exquisite job of naturally infusing sponsored content, like A Beautiful Mess, Advice From a Twentysomething, and Wit & Delight. And I like looking at beautiful, well-styled images, too, if it feels real-ish. I’m not a hater, but at this point I’d rather be an observer than a contributor.
Some friends have said, “Why don’t you just blog once a week or once a month?” Frankly, I get my fill in other ways. I write about San Diego for work already. Perhaps if my blog was about fashion or music, it would be a nice escape, but writing about the same topic for all facets of my life became boring. Now I’d rather spend that time expanding my mind in a different way—reading a book, volunteering with Teddy, trying a new hike, etc. And it’s not like I’m swimming in free time; my freelance work keeps me busy in the #werkafterwork grind. I’m kind of amazed I was doing a blog on top of it all!
The blog has given me a beautiful thing—a platform from which I could explore my city and use it as an entryway to freelance writing. It was a lesson in branding, a vehicle to shape my voice, and a way to make friends. But when it feels like a chore, it’s time to step back. So that’s what I’m doing. Like I said, I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I’m sure this time away will be time well spent. (Just last week I laid in bed at 8 p.m. to listen to the rarity that is rain in Southern California. And then I passed out at 9 p.m. And it was amazing. We all need a little do-nothing time in our lives.)
What can you expect now? Instagram, which is essentially micro-blogging. I will continue to contribute there because I love that platform. It’s a place where I can share my favorite restaurants, beaches, experiences, pictures of Teddy, and the occasional styled caffeine beverage. I hope to see you there.
So until I’m back, thanks for reading, commenting, sharing, and loving. I’ve grown in many ways because you lovely people have kept reading. And the blog has been such a big part of my San Diego move, so big that I felt the need to write a novel about hitting pause :) Thank you for the love. Big hugs. xx