Okay, this one’s a ramble, a full-disclosure sort of post. More accurately, a let’s get a few things off my chest sort of post. I might be stepping on toes or losing some readers (I hope not), but…you’ve been forewarned!
Every year on the blog’s anniversary or birthday or whatever the heck you wanna call it, I reflect on this blogging gig I signed up for. The other day, I asked myself, is this my job now?
Is blogging/writing about cancer from a personal perspective a job anyone would want?
Umm…no. But here I am.
I still consider myself an educator at heart. For many reasons, I no longer stand in front of a classroom. As another new school year gets underway, I still feel wistful. I miss that sense of excitement and optimism about a fresh start. It’s a feeling like none other. I miss those kids! But that chapter is closed.
As I’ve mentioned before, when people ask me what I do now, it’s uncomfortable. People start squirming pretty fast when I mention I blog about cancer and grief and have written three books, all about cancer. Talk about a conversation clunker. I get it. I do. It is what it is.
But talking and writing about cancer or grief is NOT a downer, not to me anyway. Not talking about hard stuff, now that IS a downer.
Cancer causes havoc on every part of your life and your work life is certainly one of those parts, and a darn important part at that. Some people keep working during treatment and beyond. Some don’t. Some can’t. Some change careers. Some are lucky to have partners to fall back on and, of course, others do not have that financial luxury. Sadly, divisions exist in Cancer Land regarding work too. My friend Beth wrote a terrific piece about this called, Competing in Cancerland. It’s really good. Check it out.
Like we need more walls in Cancer Land, right?
I intend to further address cancer’s impact on careers here on the blog, as it’s such an important topic.
In last week’s post, I mentioned I was going to share a bit about my blogging experience, how it’s evolved, my goals and answer a bothersome question I was once asked that’s always lingered. I said I’d also address a change or two I’ve made and why I made them. And there’s that pesky blogger/writer pet peeve that’s been on my mind.
I aim to keep it real here too, so ready or not, here I go with some reflections on blogging thus far.
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Evolution of a blog, well, this one anyway
Starting a blog is a big undertaking, but so worth it.
It’s risky business putting yourself out there. Literally, out there. Especially when you’re an introvert as I am. But I have no regrets. Blogging has been a real life line for me in more ways than one. I had no idea I’d find myself part of such an amazing community, and I am grateful for that community, which includes you, my Dear Readers, every day.
So, if you wanna start a blog, just start. Every voice matters, and there’s always room for one more.
This blog has evolved into quite a collection of my ramblings.
This post is #588. Amazing, right? Thus far, there have been 16,293 approved comments, which btw, are often way more interesting than what I write. I read every single comment and reply to as many as I can. So really, roughly half of those comments are mine. Interestingly, I’ve only had to delete a handful due to extreme cussing and name calling.
After eight years, I’ve got a fair number of archived posts. Many are still relevant. Probably too many, as things in Breast Cancer Land haven’t changed as much or as fast as many of us would like.
Changes – Why an email list?
If you’re a blogger who wants more readers (and who doesn’t?), I highly recommend sending out a weekly (or monthly) email or newsletter. I dragged my feet on this because it’s extra work, but so worth it.
I became frustrated with Facebook’s algorithms because it seemed no one was seeing posts I shared. Having your own email list puts you and readers in control. In my weekly emails, besides new posts and a couple archived posts, I also share articles that have been in the news, or that I think might be of interest to subscribers. Sometimes I share something personal, and I often bounce around ideas. I love my subscribers and always value their input.
I use Mailchimp. It’s an easy setup and free up to 2,000 subscribers. Don’t worry about how many subscribers you have. It takes a while to build a list of readers that truly want to read your posts. The ones that stick around are gems. Yes, gems. (If you’re one of those gems, thank you!)
Goals for the blog
My goals remain the same. Since day one, my goal has always been to talk candidly about my personal experiences with breast cancer and grief and whatever else I feel like writing about. Breast cancer most definitely is not just a bump in the road or one year out of your life. Neither is grief.
But this blog is not just about my experiences. That would get boring pretty fast for everybody, including me! Specifically, my main goals are to: Inform. Listen. Support others. Share and talk about hard stuff. Vent. Keep it real. Encourage. Never sugarcoat. And did I mention, never sugarcoat?
Of course, the goal nearest and dearest to my heart is to advocate for those dealing with metastatic breast cancer.
In year nine, I plan to keep the #MetsMonday Featured Posts going, for sure. The contributions so far have been just great. Thank you, ladies! (If you want to be a contributor, let me know.)
There is one other goal that some people frown upon.
It’s secret reveal time!
I try to make a few bucks. After all, Dear Hubby and I have bills to pay. Hence, the addition of ads a while back.
It’s hard to admit this is a goal too. Why this is, I am not entirely sure. Okay, I do know. It’s about feeling judged by others. Kinda crazy so much judging happens even in the Cancer Land blogosphere.
But again, I’m aiming to keep it real here too.
Which brings us to that awkward question I mentioned that someone once asked me.
Why would anyone (meaning me) want to make money off breast cancer?
Well, I see it like this: I am not making money off breast cancer. That thought is repulsive to me too. (Think Pinktober.) I see it as making a living (okay, that’s a stretch, but you get my point) from writing.
Writing has value. Therefore writers have value. And yes, bloggers are writers too.
And now do you wanna know about that blogging pet peeve I’ve been mentioning?
If I step on toes, oh well. I can’t start holding back now, right?
So, here goes.
There are tons of sites out there looking for content. I don’t mean just cancer-related sites. But we all know there are plenty of those too. The annoying (to me) thing is, most of these sites want and expect free content. I get contacted about this all the time.
A couple years back I decided enough of that nonsense. No more of that for this writer.
Again, writing has value. Therefore writers have value.
Writers, you need to know and appreciate your value.
Writers (and bloggers) should stop selling themselves short. If sites want your content. Great! But it’s not wrong to ask for fair compensation for your work, if and when you want to.
Just because you are a writer/blogger with breast cancer as part of your resume, it does not mean you must be a writing martyr.
(I could write a whole post on this, but I’ll spare you. For now.)
And yes, writing/blogging is work. For me, it’s a full-time job sort of work. Sure writing is therapeutic, but it is also work. Sometimes the words just flow and other times, not so much. A finished piece of writing you want your name associated with takes, you guessed it, work. And time. But it’s work I love. And when a reader reads a piece I’ve managed to hash out and shares that she/he appreciates it, well, that’s like icing on the cake. (And yeah, I know writers are supposed to avoid cliches. But once in a while, they’re fine.)
Still with me?
Whew! Thank you. I was worried no one would make it to the end of this one.
So, is blogging and writing about breast cancer my job now?
Maybe so. It’s a huge part of it anyway. And this is okay with me.
Am I letting cancer define me?
But more on that another day.
If you like this post, why not share it? Thank you!
How has cancer impacted YOUR career, or has it? (I want to address this more in future posts, so feel free to share.)
If applicable, do you ever feel judged because of career choices you’ve made due to illness?
Did/do you work while undergoing cancer treatment?
Do you feel some websites take advantage of bloggers/writers when asking for free content?
Do you ever feel like cancer is your job now?