The existential crisis

Food blogger Adam Roberts wrote last month about why he parted ways with his ad company, why "food blogging" as a career became impossible:

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"I realized I could no longer rely on food blogging to be my sole source of income. That sentence is funny to re-read because could anyone ever really rely on food blogging as a sole source of income? Well, at the beginning it wasn’t clear; and for a while, it seemed possible (supplemented with book deals and TV shows and magazine columns, if you could swing it). But now the writing’s on the wall: to do this full-time, you’ve either got to be wildly successful or you’ve got to be a shill. I’m not the former, for a while I was (uncomfortably) the latter, but now I have to stake out a new path as a food blogger and that’s what I’m trying to figure out."

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Via Kottke, who thinks I'm retiring. Now, If I read what I wrote correctly, I think it says (and stop me if I'm wrong), "I have no intention of shutting this space down. There are too many memories in these pages, and frankly, I still like to write stories." You will read so many persepctives on what happens when you make your passion your living, and I will not wax poetic about that now. What I will say will reveal my privilege in just one of its many disgusting shapes: when you take a look at your DSLR camera and think, "I cannot possibly take another photo of my dog," you've hit one magnificently ridiculous wall.

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19 Comments

  1. 1

    ...and I still like to read the stories. But I’ve been wondering for a while now what is going to happen to blogging as we knew it. Storytelling online is changing already. I notice my own attention span reducing to flea-like levels. I wasn’t too surprised to see you make this move, but I am still at a complete loss to say where this is all going. I hope we don’t reduce everything to tweets and Facebook posts. Perhaps it’s time for something completely new. Wherever this all ends up, I hope to see you still in the lead, making me think and laugh.

    writes Megan on May 6, 2015 at 2pm

  2. 2

    I agree, Megan. After having been a dooce follower since right after Leta was born, I have felt like this is the constant in my life I can count on. In this age of technology, life changes on a dime and what was here today is often gone tomorrow.  Heather, I hope you will continue to share your life with those of us who don’t want to squint at a phone screen and feel compelled to respond or retweet just to remain involved. There have been many times I’ve gone back and re-read your posts or looked closer at a photo of Leta or Marlo or Chuck or Coco just to make sure I didn’t miss something.

    writes Jacqueline D. Olsen on May 6, 2015 at 5pm

  3. 3

    I will continue to share my life with you, but I have to get back to a place where the idea of a “publishing schedule” doesn’t give me crippling anxiety, a place where a publishing schedule does not exist. The joy I used to experience when sitting down to craft a story has disappeared, and a lot of that has to do with not having adequate time to write. I don’t have three-four hour blocks of uninterrupted time to explore my creativity anymore because my time is consumed with the management of the backend and business side of things. Thank you for following along, and again, I’ll still be there at dooce┬« occasionally making fart jokes. I don’t know how *not* to share my life with you.

    writes Heather Armstrong on May 7, 2015 at 11am

  4. 4

    Heather~  I am what I like to call myself a “blog junkie”.  I started out reading one blog & now read about eight including yours on a daily basis.  I found your blog by fluke & am so glad I did!  Your blog is my absolute favorite.  Most generally you make me laugh out loud reading stories about your dogs or kiddos.  When a day goes by that you don’t post over on “Dooce” I wonder, “is she okay? why hasn’t she written today?  is she sick? are the kids sick? dogs okay?” & on and on.  You get the picture.  It’s a mystery to me why I like reading about other people’s lives whom I’ve never met before.  I guess it explains my addiction to reality TV as well.  I just seem to find other people’s lives so intriguing & interesting.  I guess what I’m saying is PLEASE don’t stop blogging.  I look forward to your posts everyday.  I have two daughters that are close in age with your girls so I can relate to a lot of things you go through.  I also have two dogs, so yet another similarity.  Just so you know, when I found your blog several years ago I read thru EVERY. SINGLE. POST.  Every single one until I got caught up…. and then was disappointed that I caught up because I’d have to wait for you to blog something…lol.  Told you I was a junkie! Guess there are worse things in life to be addicted too…...just sayin’!

    writes Rachel on May 7, 2015 at 11am

  5. 5

    Too funny that you spend all this time focusing on people being mean to you, when you have bullied so many. Moderating your life must be exhausting.

    writes Julia on May 7, 2015 at 7pm

  6. 6

    Julia, if coming here and leaving comment after comment after comment attempting to demean me in some way makes you feel better about what it is in your life that is hurting you, then please stay. Linger here for awhile. This space is all yours. I’m sorry you are in pain and sending you love.

    writes Heather B. Armstrong on May 7, 2015 at 9pm

  7. 7

    Where does the article continue?

    writes J.W. on May 8, 2015 at 2pm

  8. 8

    I think it’s less an existential crisis than a financial one. At a certain point, a blogger has to decide. Is this my hobby or is this a business?

    As a business blogger, it’s easier for me to do that dreaded word “mmmmmonetization” because it’s how I started, and I’m largely talking to other entrepreneurs - but it’s also a lot less work to make money out of running ecourses and writing books than I imagine it is to work with brands and chasing the advertising dollars. Not to mention the hate that seems to come from the “mommyblog” space.

    I think monetization can be a dirty word in the traditional blog space and I think that’s a shame. I’ve heard many bloggers have their audiences turn on them if they dare to make money out of their work. It becomes doubly thankless if you have an audience that regularly sends you hate mail.

    But seriously - the blogging industry needs a shake up. It’s okay to make money out of something that makes your audience’s life easier - even if they *can* in theory find that information for free. Entertainment counts too.

    Obviously B2B blogs have it easier, but I’ve bought things from other types of bloggers recently - an eyebrow tutorial ebook and a batch cooking / freezing guide. I CBF’d scrolling through pages and pages of archives. Give me the good stuff and fast. Solve a problem I have NOW.

    So yeah - I don’t blame bloggers for quitting AT ALL, but there is another way - away from brands and advertisers. Own your own content, package up your content, provide services for people who want closer connection with you. It can be done.

    xx Denise DT

    writes Denise Duffield-Thomas on May 9, 2015 at 1am

  9. 9

    Here’s an interesting thought related to some existential crises I’ve had in my own career.  I have tenure, which means I have job security and freedom. And I have about 20 more years at least before I retire.  At some point, the idea of doing exactly what I’ve been doing for the rest of my career made my head pop off my body and spin around the house.  So, I took some time, tried on a few different hats, took most of those hats off and decided, I actually DO like what I’m doing and doing it for 20 more years because I’ve chosen to do it is not so bad.  Of course, I’m getting rid of the parts I don’t like and trying to start some more lucrative ones. 

    I’m happy for you to start a new phase, but I am very sad to miss hearing about Leta and Marlo b/c they are so close in age and temperament to my son and my twins.  Marlo and my squirrel are very similar. 

    Have fun trying on hats.  And good comment about love.  I think that is the correct response.  I’m trying it out with people in my life, too.

    writes Anita Blanchard on May 9, 2015 at 6am

  10. 10

    Wow you got 6 whole comments. I excluded your own and mine. Lmfao.

    writes Julia on May 11, 2015 at 10am

  11. 11

    Still sending you love, Julia. You’re human, too.

    writes Heather B. Armstrong on May 11, 2015 at 1pm

  12. 12

    Long time Dooce Lurker. I look forward to see what you are going to do next. My favorite era of Dooce was when you lived in that cute little house. I like a lot of people related to that seemingly cozy little lifestyle and your honest humour and awesome witty writing. Then you became mega famous and wealthy so things have to evolve to suit your new life. I would love more stories of your success. It’s excellent to see a woman do well. I want to see more. I wish people didn’t have a pathological need to diminish a women’s achievements. I say let your rich business lady flag fly!

    writes Hi Heather on May 13, 2015 at 3pm

  13. 13

    Long time Dooce Lurker. I look forward to see what you are going to do next. My favorite era of Dooce was when you lived in that cute little house. I like a lot of people related to that seemingly cozy little lifestyle and your honest humour and awesome witty writing. Then you became mega famous and wealthy so things have to evolve to suit your new life. I would love more stories of your success. It’s excellent to see a woman do well. I want to see more. I wish people didn’t have a pathological need to diminish a women’s achievements. I say let your rich business lady flag fly!

    writes Hi Heather on May 13, 2015 at 3pm

  14. 14

    Sorry for the double post and my name isn’t Hi Heather. LOL

    writes Heidi Goodman on May 13, 2015 at 3pm

  15. 15

    I agree!  This site is neat with the colorful borders and everything! Some ppl just gotta hate, but keep up the good work!

    writes snort on May 13, 2015 at 5pm

  16. 16

    I do not ’ hate’ Heather, and I doubt her many other critics do either. I simply think that she is completely disingenuous. Her ‘tribe’? People come and go and then are never heard from again..Cami, Jon, Tyrant, Dane, etc. Her divorce? Just some vague posting to make her seem sympathic. Boyfriend Matt? Vague posts, then gone. “Loves” to spend time with her girls, yet dumps them on her mom constantly, not usually for money-making ventures either. A little truth would go a long way, but I know better than to expect that. Feel free to delete this comment Heather. I know you would never acknowkedge that your critics might be right about anything. Plus this site hurts my eyes. I won’t be back.

    writes Julia on May 15, 2015 at 5pm

  17. 17

    The personal attacks are completely unnecessary.

    The changing background on the site, however? Ehhhh. Look, I get you’re trying to be cool and awesome and hip and all that, but the speed of the shift in the background distracts from the text and there was a moment where my scroll wheel was seemingly possessed and I had to walk away from the computer because the bg literally made me sick to my stomach. It’s a cool trick, please change it if for nothing else than to make your site visually accessible to people with disabilities. The blues and reds vibrate on all of my devices, and there are a great many of them. If you’re not intending to change it, then I think the least you could do for people who want to read and yet can’t stomach this design is to make an rss feed for it that shows the entirety of a post and not just a tiny little blurb that links back to the blog anyway. I think, from a design perspective, I understand what you were trying to do, but it’s not working and on some level it reminds me of the days of geocities and homestead and tripod websites where we just did a bunch of things simply because we could. You are a classy human. I may not always agree with you (clearly,) but I just wish this website showed that. Speaking of, why is my comment being typed entirely in bold italics? Who is that helping?

    writes Roxie on May 17, 2015 at 11pm

  18. 18

    The colors are stimulating! And I feel so fancy typing in this comment with the italic font!  SO MUCH FUN HERE!!!!11!

    writes snort on May 18, 2015 at 3pm

  19. 19

    Heather,
    I’ve been reading your blog for years! I cried when you got a divorce, but understood why you wouldn’t want to share every detail of your life with everyone (who would?). I emailed you a short little fan-mail email once in college (about 6 years ago!) and I was so thrilled when you kindly answered.
    Thank you for creating a space of openness and realness online. I fear the future is turning into nothing but perfectly-filtered coffee pics accompanied by the occasional shallow quote. I miss the days when story-telling was the focus of blogging. Now, blogging seems to be about purses and dresses and high heels and THINGS. But it used to be about sharing emotions, I think anyway.
    Thank you for all the time you spent writing one of my favorite sites ever (and inspiring me to start my own incredibly tiny blog).
    Joyce Novacek

    writes Joyce on May 18, 2015 at 5pm

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