Blogging is not easy. Or maybe it is, if your main aim is to just give the occasional quick rundown of your experiences and share a few photos. I figured out pretty early on that I was not content to put together a fast post that read like a laundry list of what happened in a day on the road. I wanted my friends and family to get a real feel for what we were experiencing. And that takes time.
This writing business is not my forte. I don’t generate words worthy of reading in a rush. I need twenty minutes to think about it, another twenty write it, and another fifteen to edit with a fine-tooth comb (because I HATE typos). An additional thirty minutes is necessary to upload, edit, resize and watermark photos (because I really detest photo thieves). Then there is the additional thumb-twiddling time caused by geologically slow internet or time spent tweaking parts of the website. Add that all up. A blog can suck a LOT of your time away.
There were entire days we did not write about because we made the decision to live our life instead of blogging it. There were things we simply did not feel good about sharing with the entire world (oh, the stories there!). There were evenings when we just needed to turn off the screens and be a family. It’s part of why we left the city in the first place.
That brings me to the subject of social media in general. It is a double-edged sword.
We all know that email, Facebook, blogs and Instagram can be a great way to stay in touch with those who are physically far away. And I think we all can agree that, “I’m just going to check for messages real quick,” can quickly become a lost thirty minutes or more spent scrolling the news feed. More than once the time I spent uploading a shot to Instagram meant missing some cool critter or experience on the trail right in front of me. I tried to learn my lesson.
Want to know why I haven’t blogged much lately? It is not a lack of things to say or photos to share. It’s a desire to not model a screen addiction to my impressionable kids.
The flip side is that social media is the reason we were able to connect with so many cool people. Without the blog we would never have found the Boyinks, whom we hit it off well enough to spend a total of eight weeks with exploring the country. Our blog brought us other families who were aiming for their own RV trips or just a major simplification of their lives. We were able to help them, in several cases actually meeting in person. In more than one case, we made friends for life.
I know some families attempt to make money from their blogs. I too had dreams that this might work out for us, but I can now tell you that making any real money in blogging is really, really difficult. AND it will be a full-time (or worse) job. I have friends with more than 10,000 readers who never see more than $5 in a single month. And it’s not for a lack of marketing skill. Our blog scored us a very brief travel writing gig that earned enough to cover a couple of pricey outings, but real money? Even just gas money? Nope.
So would we do the social media thing all over again? Yes, but with different limits. I could have blogged just as effectively with fewer posts and less photo content (shaving editing and upload time would have been huge). I could have uploaded my Instagram shots later, so as not to miss cool stuff staring at a phone. And I could have ignored Facebook entirely and not missed a single thing over the course of the entire year. Really.
As with all things in life, the key is to set some firm limits.