The Menagerie


I have a meal plan for this week but it’s not going up. Some of you rejoice, some of you are disappointed, others don’t care either way. At any rate, I’ve been meaning to just sit down and write for some time and Brian Gardner’s post today (titled “It’s OK to Publish Crappy Content” with a roll of toilet paper as the header image – love) kind of gave me the kick in the pants that I need.

I used to write on my blog…long posts about nothing in particular. I spent my days literally attached to a phone and in front of a computer waiting for people to call me and remove all of the money from their mutual fund accounts (okay, that’s not the only thing I did, but that was mostly what I did). In between calls, I spent hours redesigning, organizing, tweaking, skinning, CSSing, validating, whatever- and everything-ing my blog because I didn’t have anything better to do. I like to look back at the posts I wrote however many years ago today to see what I was up to and sometimes I make myself laugh because I remember using the phrase “I’m so busy” a lot back then and now realizing I really had no idea what the word “busy” meant. Sometimes I cringe to think of how much I shared when I share so little now. And sometimes I just sit back and let myself remember what it was like for me back then. Living on my own at age 20 with just a cat to keep me company, a job I didn’t really like (but was thankful for as it allowed me to not live in a cardboard box on the street), a car that didn’t really like me, and not a whole lot of friends living nearby. It’s hard to believe it was only thirteen years ago when it’s so far removed from the life I live now. Is that even the same girl?

I’ve been wanting to write more here….but I hesitate. A lot of it has to do with subscribers, of all things. I assume you subscribe or read because you want to read something helpful or useful (though I probably only have a handful of posts that fall into either of those categories), not because you want to read my inner ramblings. So I post meal plans week after week because it’s safe and not really about me. I had planned on posting a free printable desk calendar because that’s safe and something to give you (please be my friend!), but I haven’t gotten around to finishing it yet. I had planned on posting holiday guides of all shapes and sizes, but they’re still fluttering around on the edges of my brain with probably no intention of landing in an actual post any time soon. Plans plans plans. It’s especially difficult as a VA to not get caught up in providing something for you so you keep coming back as it’s what I see on sites I VA for (not that this is a bad thing, especially as it’s why they exist) and I see that it can work. Not getting caught up in stats, Facebook followers, Pins, and the social networking menagerie that propels traffic is hard because when the numbers are up, my self-esteem is up and when the numbers are down, it follows. It’s ridiculous as I’ve been doing this for fourteen years now….you’d think I wouldn’t care. But I always have (as those who have read my site since the beginning can attest to) and probably always will.

So here we are….and I’m not sure where that is, honestly. But that’s what I’ve been thinking about. Do you visit because you want to read helpful or useful things? Do you visit because you know me? Do you visit because you like the personal stuff? Why do you drop by?


  1. Katie says

    I’m with Amanda. I visit (well, you’re on my feed reader, I only “visit” when I’m leaving a comment) because I know you. Which means I really enjoy when you post about what you’re thinking or what’s going on in your life! But I’ll keep reading whatever you post, so. :)

  2. says

    I want to send you some encouraging words…

    “Don’t NOT write what you want to because of your subscribers.”

    Most of the people on my list signed up to receive stuff on WordPress, business and design — so when I decided to get more personal and focus on living simple and authenticity, it took me a while to get going.

    I was fearful that my audience wouldn’t respond well, but feeling prisoner in my own house wasn’t so cool.

    So I decided to write what I wanted, and embraced those who unsubscribed.

    This is your home. Live how you want to live. :-)

    • reb says

      That’s a good analogy…..maybe I’m afraid to decorate the way I want to because I’m afraid people won’t want to come over if they don’t like the decorations. I’ve actually been pretty trapped by that as I have a hard time coming up with what I deem “useful” content, yet I don’t want to post the more personal stuff and scare people away.

      Someday I’ll get there. :) But reading your posts has definitely been a good step in that direction!

      • says

        How one defines “useful content” is relative — because we can all define it in our own way. For me, I decided that I didn’t want to focus on sharable content (think 5 Ways to Do X With Social Media) but wanted to focus on stuff that would drive conversation.

        There was a time between my two posts about my Macbook Air and Macbook Pro with Retina I was getting > 1000 uniques a day alone on those. But it was empty traffic, with bounce rates close to 100%.

        When I started getting long, thought out comments on posts where I shared … that’s when I knew I was heading in the right direction.

        • reb says

          That’s very true. I think by “useful content” I’m referring to the “5 Ways to Do X”-type of post. Those seem to be the ones that drive traffic, but then, you’re right….it’s usually not particularly deep stuff (though I’ve gotten a lot of help from posts like those!). And, ironically, I’d rather read the more personal stuff than the lists and how-tos…..I suppose I thought I was alone in that thinking, but based on the response you’ve gotten to your posts on this theme, I’m not.

          I was linked on Facebook by a well-known foodblogger not too long ago and my subscription and views grew exponentially overnight (though, of course, no where near 1000 unique [or otherwise] hits per day). I think that’s when I decided I would just post “useful” content since I didn’t want to lose those numbers. That’s also when I learned I was no good at it. :)

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