I’ve been on social media since AOL first came out with AOL Instant Messenger. I signed up for Facebook long before it was accessible to businesses, and I’ve jumped on more “latest and greatest” bandwagons than I can count. There is something in the way God created me that makes me see the inherent value in tools that connect people around the world, and an ability to fearlessly figure it out as I go.
I spent a large chunk of this past weekend answering questions about Periscope, for example.
But as much as I love social media, blogging, and the latest and greatest, I’m learning that there are many, many things I’m more than happy to try – and some things I’m simply not willing to do to gain followers.
I know, for example, that large numbers of followers look impressive to publishers and people who control exciting opportunities for influencers – but I’m not willing to show inflated numbers because of spam followers. If you follow me and you post things that are gross, rude, or overtly sales-y, I will block you.
I also know that there are a few things that make blog posts and videos go viral. But I’m not willing to use this space for controversy, gossip, negativity, cat videos, or exploit my child (no matter how cute I think she is) to gain followers. My cats are anti-social anyway, and I want my 3 year old to play freely, not worry about whether or not she has to pose for mommy’s next blog post.
Maybe I’m just really bad at self promotion. Maybe I would have had more than 200 email subscribers in 6 years if I’d done some of those things. Maybe I should do more, hustle more, strive more and then maybe those opportunities would be offered to me. Maybe I’d make some money from blogging.
But I’ve considered the cost, and it’s not worth it.
I want to build authentic, inviting community. When I look at my social media platforms, I see people – not numbers. And when I write in this space, there is something beautifully freeing to be able to write what I want, when I want, when God asks me – without wondering if it will bring in enough engagement to make money.
Don’t get me wrong – I know and admire many women who have been much more successful at blogging and social media than I will ever be. Engaging with large numbers of followers comes as easily to them as the latest & greatest social media platform does to me. Finding ways to monetize their blogs is fun for them and necessary for their families, and I love watching them in action.
But it’s not me.
And the longer I blog and the longer I spend time in social media, the more I value the importance of being ME. Authentically me. Flawed, full of mistakes, horrible at self promotion me. A jack of all trades but a master of none when it comes to all of this. But goodness, I still have fun doing it.
I get to love what God has created me to love.
That is my gut check when advice and opportunities come along. That, and a few questions – if I take that advice…:
- Will I still love doing this?
- Will my family get to do what they love to do without feeling like they live in a photo shoot?
- Will it make me look like something I’m not?
- Will I be striving in my own power or obeying an opportunity God has gifted me?
At the end of the day, I will always choose people over platform. I will choose my people – my family – over social media growth. And I will choose you – each of you – and the message God puts on my heart to share over the popular & potentially viral choice.
What are your gut checks? Do you have boundaries when it comes to growing the space God has given you online? How do you balance well meaning advice with your own personal preferences?
This is so good. Not only would the cost not be worth it, but if you didn’t focus on building an authentic community, you probably wouldn’t be having as much fun. It’s so encouraging to hear about someone who cares more about God’s people than the numbers.
I especially love what you said about family. I am with you. I think my daughters are adorable, but keep their darling faces to myself. 🙂
Wonderful article, Crystal! I found you through the How They Blog podcast with Kat Lee and ran right to your website after hearing your authentic voice and style. This post is the awesome content I’m looking for out on the blogosphere- Thank you! I am a newer blogger at ACreativeCulture.com and am currently balancing making my social media channels appear interesting to my readers AND my family/friends without being too salesy and still trying to grow my little community. It’s a hard balance. I appreciate these little gut checks, I will definitely consider them the next time I go to share something.
Marie Gregg says
YES! (Sorry to shout, but I’m excited). I completely understand what you’re saying here! I had a Facebook page for my blog for about a year, and it just felt…wrong. I’m very uncomfortable with the whole self-promotion thing. One tweet is pretty much all I ever say about anything I post. I’d much rather connect with people in this strange online way than, as you say, spend my time just trying to crank out viral content.
Dawn Paoletta says
I so agree…and was just pondering this this morning over coffee and a Writing magazine. I just struggle with the idea of desiring manipulating people or feeling manipulated…that always causes me to pause and question motives and desires. The way I know Jesus in me…never quite is at peace with the jockeying for place I see happening commonly in the free world.
Joy Lenton says
Crystal, I love that you keep things real here and you’re true to your God-given calling. I’ve only been blogging about half the time you have and it is still a huge learning curve for me. Even just hearing (or seeing) the word ‘platform’ can send shivers down my spine because of all it can imply. We already have enough things in life suggesting we are ‘less than’ and ‘not enough’. Who needs another one? These words you’ve shared especially echo what my heart feels too:”I value the importance of being ME. Authentically me. Flawed, full of mistakes, horrible at self promotion me”. You could have been reading my mind here! Thank you and many blessings on your blog ministry as you open your heart to all God calls you to write. 🙂 x
Such a great post and exactly how I feel! I’ve tried several blogs over the years, but I’ve decided to stick with what I love, and that is God first on my blog. It’s what I’m passionate about. If I gain a few followers or earn a few cents, then good. But I want to share what I enjoy and love. Thanks for the great post, love your blog!
This is one of the things I’ve liked about you from the beginning. There are days when I wish my blog felt more “important” but in the end I have to believe that if I write the words I feel led to write, then I’m doing what God wants me to do with it. I’ve done the rare link-up but it’s not my style. If I have something ready that works, okay – but I don’t like it if I have to alter my voice to fit the guidelines of a link-up. (I’m such a rebel!) I’m cautious about posting anything that has a “sales” tone to it, although I make an exception for things like Fair Trade Friday Club and Mercy House, and a couple others. And for me I have to be cautious about reading other blogs too much because I catch myself mimicking the writing style of others, either consciously or unconsciously. I went through an Ann Voskamp phase a couple of years ago until I came to my senses and realized that Ann herself does a much better job of it. 😉
I have to be very cautious about that same thing – my brain can easily begin to mimic what I’m reading so this year I’ve really limited who and what I read – and when. I write my blog post first, THEN go read what others are writing 🙂
Jennifer Kostick says
What I’m not willing to do anymore to grow my platform is link-ups with specific themes. I’ve found that the more I become caught up in linking to other blogs, the more I limit what God wants to speak authenticity to me and through me for my readers.
Don’t get me wrong, I think link- ups are great and if I write a blog post that fits, then I will participate. However, I cannot write according to someone else’s guidelines. I have to be true to my own writing purpose and the gift God gave me.
Great post today!
Ooh yes – I could have added that here, too! I appreciate so much the freedom to write when and as God leads, without trying to fit my words into someone else’s plan. Keep being YOU, gal!
I have always loved this about you…well, the 2+ years I’ve called you a friend. 🙂 The way you love people and make them feel special and important is something I see as far greater than having a huge platform. You’re living the beautiful life He’s called you to…and living it well. Miss you, friend…hoping it won’t be too long before we share coffee and a chat again.
I adore you, Mel! I do hope we get to have that coffee chat soon!
Keri Snyder says
So encouraging!! I love finding like minded bloggers. This has been one of my biggest struggles, is trying to determine what to do and what not to do. Thanks for sharing your heart and being open to what God wants you to do
Thanks so much Keri – I’ll admit, this one was a little scary to write, so your encouragement means so much!