I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for a remodeling show. Or a remodeling blog. Or anything featuring a cringe-worthy Before and an open-mouthed After. Ever since my first sweet hit of “Trading Spaces” in 2002, I cannot get enough radical transformation.
I would love, love, love to make money writing a blog about home projects, home improvement, homemaking, and other domestic engineering pursuits.
I would also like a unicorn with wine udders, and a side of unlimited cheese.
For one thing, I don’t have the money to generate content for that kind of endeavor. Even blogs that feature on-the-cheap projects are expensive to produce. Think about it. If you’re publishing a $20 “budget” project five days a week, that’s nearly $500 a month. I don’t have $500 a month to sink into hot glue guns and spray paint.
Blogging has become a big-money game, and with those increased stakes is the pressure to brand yourself. The cute couple at Young House Love started out as intrepid DIYers, but ended up pulling the plug on their cult-followed blog in 2014 after realizing they had become two-dimensional puppets. (Don’t worry, they still have a line of accessories at Target and Home Depot.) From NYMag.com: “Family outings had to include something “bloggable,” like a stop at an antique store. Each holiday required fresh seasonal content. The Petersiks were also picking up all those side projects that felt like huge wins, but required a tremendous amount of additional work.”
The quest for content is unstoppable and invasive. One blog I follow, Merrick’s Art, recently posted a tutorial for a DIY slouchy t-shirt dress. It featured lovely photographs of the blogger, in her postpartum room in the hospital, hanging out with her 24-hour-old newborn in said slouchy t-shirt dress. Her hair and makeup are perfect. Her pedicure is on point. Her hospital bracelets look like a bold accessory choice.
This is insanity.
If this was a woman who worked in an office, and she was answering e-mails and holding conference calls from her postpartum room, we would give her a bit of the side-eye. We would encourage a bit more work-life balance. But because bloggers aren’t seen as real workers, we expect them to be accessible to us, the readers, in every facet of their lives. They’re not entertainers, they’re our friends.
Bloggers also tend to get pigeonholed. Heather Armstrong, Dooce, rose to fame with her honest account of postpartum depression. Jenny Lawson, the Blogess, turned social anxiety into blog-and-book-deal gold. Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, has parlayed her isolated ranch life into a line of cooking gear at Wal-Mart. If any of these women grow beyond their “one thing” – say, if Ree ditches her ranch for a cool urban loft, or Jenny finds the right combination of therapies to enable to lead a life free from anxiety – their livelihood is threatened.
When I started this blog, I envisioned it as a way to work through my own divorce and the creation of my blended family. I could share the ups, the downs, the legal hurdles, the emotional punches, and tips for those going through a similar situation. At the time, it seemed like divorce was this endless process, that I could write about it forever.
I was wrong. Thank goodness.
It’s been over eight years since my divorce was finalized. I now feel it would be unhealthy to continue rehashing my own divorce, thinking about other people’s divorces, or otherwise dwelling on that part of my life – solely for the purpose of getting blog hits.
I’m a different person now. Life has moved on, and taken me with it. I myself am radically transformed.
As an aside, I imagine it’s hard to find corporate sponsors for blogs on depressing-but-not-edgy subjects like divorce. Maybe Ben & Jerry would take on “Ice Cream for Dinner Again? Hell Yes.” And Kleenex could help me out by funding a post called “You Will Cry at the Drop of a Hat, so Be Prepared.” Bose could underwrite “Belting Power Ballads to Cope With The Frustration of Another Enormous Legal Bill.”
I will always enjoy a dramatic Before-and-After, but I also recognize that, for the most part, they are experiences carefully orchestrated for my consumption. My life is not orchestrated for anyone but Jason and myself.
And that’s good enough.