A Blogging Manifesto

Many thanks for your kind comments and e-mails after my "rally the troops" Handmade Holiday Grab Bag will-you-please-participate-plea post (say that fast three times over) yesterday. Since so many of you already have that book I'm offering the choice of my Autumn Spice Cake soap instead to the winner.

Now onto this post, which just so happens (I wrote this weeks ago) to come a day after I shared my vulnerability about hosting a Handmade Holiday Grab Bag. An unintended double whammy of blog navel gazing. 

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Writing about the behind-the-scenes of blogging seems personal to me, a bit like hanging old undies on a clothesline. Wait... I do that all the time and have no shame so it should be no problem to bare my blogging soul.

Gulp.

I'm going to get right down to it here (not my undies but baring my blogging soul) and then explain why I feel the need to do this.

Purpose & Mission

The purpose of FIMBY is to share the beauty and tell the story of our family life as seen through my lens as a mother, homemaker and homeschooler. In spite of challenges, hardships and the normal ups and downs of living, I feel my life is beautiful and I want to celebrate and be thankful for that gift.

My mission is to:

  • have fun (this blog is called Fun In My Back Yard)
  • grow my creative talents
  • meet people and participate in community
  • encourage and inform

That last point seems a bit presumptuous to say. So I want to clarify that what I share comes from my own experience. I am not an expert and I do not assume to have the answers for someone's life. 

The Message

I don't have an overarching message for my readers except maybe to live life to the fullest, plant some flowers, and be kind to one another (message to myself most days). 

I'd like FIMBY, but more importantly my life, to be a bright point of light in this world. Words are easily written but living is the real thing. My daily life is the true evidence of what I believe and value. What I share here, the words and photos, is just the re-telling of bits and pieces of our family story.


My first ever watercolor "painting", using our Prismacolor watercolor pencils

Monetizing FIMBY

I am naturally driven to do well at the things I value. And I desire to "do well" at blogging. Being a successful blogger though does not mean earning money. I am a successful mother and cook yet I have never earned a cent for either of these.

Having said that, I will not categorically turn down the opportunity to earn money from the effort I spend creating this blog. But I will not earn money at FIMBY with the promotion of overconsumption or irrelevant advertisements.

We envision this blog leading to opportunities for me to contribute financially to our family, when the time is right. 

I would be lying if I said I don't want more readers. I do. I don't intend to change my writing, tell a certain story, or compromise my values for the purpose of attracting more readers.

Blogging Professionally

I have a career. It's called full time homemaking, homeschooling and mothering. In this current life stage any endeavor, whether it be blogging or other creative work, must flow from that foundation, not take away from it. First things first.

In as much as my participation in blogging and other writing ventures allows me to accomplish my main life mission (caring for home and hearth) I will continue to do them. I also recognize that giving voice to my thoughts and pursuing this creative outlet contributes to my well being as a mother, wife and homemaker.

Why Now?

You may be wondering what brought on this barrage of blogging thoughts.  A few things actually:

  • I finished reading the ProBlogger book and was feeling some insecurities that I haven't monetized this blog. 
  • After watching the success of other bloggers in my "niche" (laughable really, I have no niche) I increasingly have felt the need to be clear on my own goals and purposes.
  • I am disallusioned with a lot of mommy pro-bloggers and frustrated with the rising Martha Stewart trend in blogging. I thought it was was more constructive to define what FIMBY is than to be frustrated about what it is not.
  • Recently I had the privilege of previewing the new e-book, Simple Blogging by popular blogger Rachel of Small Notebook. What a treat to read the scoop before it was released and offer my feedback. This my friends, is ProBlogger for the rest of us. Reading it got me thinking yet again about what I'm doing here and why I'm doing it. I recommend her book, which can be purchased here (this is not an affilate link).
  • Opportunities are coming our way because of our blogs, FIMBY and ADVENTUREinPROGRESS. It's pretty exciting but I don't want to lose sight of my purposes for this blog and reach for something I never wanted in the first place.

Looking Inward

Earlier this fall I had an intense couple week period of soul searching about this blog and answered a page of questions I wrote to myself. Here's a sampling of those questions:

  • What is FIMBY's mission?
  • What motivates me?
  • Is FIMBY unique? Do I care?
  • What is it I have to share?

But the question I kept coming back to was:

  • What inspires me?

Natural beauty, creative expression, a good story, and honesty. Mothers who love and serve their families. Families living unique and intentional lives. Relationships that are dynamic and healthy.

This might sound kind of odd but FIMBY needs to inspire me. Not because I want to write about an inspiring life but because I want to live one.

This is not a story I want to spin. This is the story I want to live.

Moving Forward

Ironically, in all the introspection and reflection that went into writing this manifesto (five pages of handscribbled notes), I found myself back where I started. My original purposes for blogging haven't changed all that much, just the look and feel (ie: better blog design and improved photography and writing).

I'm comfortable with the statements I have made in this baring of my soul. I have done likewise here and here and I like the accountability of making my intentions know to myself and to you, my reader. But I am giving myself permission to evolve in my blogging purposes, artistic expression, and professional aspirations. My family is growing and situations change. And I am open to the opportunities that will come along with that.

I want to thank you for reading along. This would not be the same rewarding experience without people reading and contributing. Your participation means more to me than I care to admit. Thank you.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • debbie

    debbie on Oct. 27, 2010, 12:16 p.m.

    i really appreciate hearing your thought process and seeing where you arrived after your soul searching. as always, i am inspired in my daily life by your sharing of yours...i hope this blog does for you what need/hope/wish for it to!

    reply

  • Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Megan@SortaCrunchy on Oct. 27, 2010, 1:52 p.m.

    Renee - thank you SO MUCH for this.

    I've become so weary with blogging lately. I've never been closer to quitting. When I can tune out the noise of what I should be doing with my blog (as in never, ever read ProBlogger again) then it's enjoyable. The second I let in any noise about The Rules, I just want to take a nap.

    Thank you for this powerful reminder that I DO have a full-time job and planting flowers and watching the clouds with my three year old takes precedence over the Compose Page.

    Really. Thank you.

    reply

  • Mackenzi

    Mackenzi on Oct. 27, 2010, 2:26 p.m.

    I am a stay at home mom, pre-homeschooler and LOVE being home with my kids (2 kids so far, a 3 year old boy and a 2 year old girl). Thank you for sharing your enjoyment of it as well, I feel alone in that a bunch. I also appreciate your desire for natural, simple and focused living! I have been reading your blog for a few months now and it is encouraging as well as imforming to me! Plus I miss the Northeast and get to see it through your eyes! All in all, thank you! I look forward to seeing whatelse you will share!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Oct. 29, 2010, 7:05 p.m.

      Mackenzi,

      Thank you very much for these kind words. Truly I love being a mother, homemaker, wife, homeschooler and taking time to notice and appreciate the beauty in all of that everyday. I am so glad FIMBY is encouraging you likewise. 

      reply

  • Debbie

    Debbie on Oct. 27, 2010, 3:13 p.m.

    I love when you share like this Renee. I know it can feel like the most vulnerable place to be in - to bare your (blogging) soul, but only when we embrace that vulnerability do we ever realize we aren't alone. Your blog is awesome - inspiring and engaging (like a great teacher) and of course completely authentic. I don't usually feel like this with the Pro-Mommy Bloggers sites. So, you've already got a hand up, as far as I'm concerned. :)
    I wish for you all that you want this blog to be...and more. And by putting your intentions out into the universe like this...it's bound to happen. Much love - Debbie

    reply

  • Kika

    Kika on Oct. 27, 2010, 3:27 p.m.

    I love reading your thoughts on paper; I feel like I can see all those thoughts & emotions swimming around in your head & heart and love that you are willing and able to get it onto 'paper' for the rest of us. Renee, I hope your blog grows in the way you want it to... but also would be disappointed to see it become overly commercial in the way certain other blogs, that I used to appreciate, have done. I can't exactly judge those authors - I mean I read their words for free and have benefited from them so they have a right to do what they want. However, it is a real turn off for me to have adds about vehicles and hair products (or whatever) distracting me when I am trying to learn more about simplicity, for instance. It looks like "selling out" to me. And then, those blogs that advertise more discreetly and only products and businesses that genuinely seem to fit the lifestyle they promote and live out, do not bother me at all.

    I've wanted to begin blogging but have had definite concerns, one of which was the notion (that I've read online) that I must 'give my reader what THEY want'. But can't I blog for me? Share my real story and life and if people find something helpful in it then they read it, if not that has to be ok, too. Otherwise it all becomes so fake, contrived and useless to me.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Oct. 29, 2010, 7:13 p.m.

      Kika,

      No worries about ads for shampoos etc.. Can you imagine me advertising a product I don't even use or personally endorse? That's what I don't get about advertising on blogs. I have had to wrestle with those thoughts regarding my writing contribution to other blogs with advertising. It's not easy for me to answer these questions but I do know what I intend for FIMBY and it's not that. 

      And I appreciate your honesty: "I hope your blog grows in the way you want it to... but also would be disappointed to see it become overly commercial in the way certain other blogs... have done"

      I need to hear these words. To remind myself that what I do matters here not just to me but to people that read this blog. I have high standards for myself and it's good to know you have high standards for me too (smile).

      And yes, you totally can blog for you. I mostly do just that but as my readership is growing I do think more about posting stuff that is either useful, inspiring or encouraging to other people. Like my "how-to" homeschooling posts for example. But often I just say "what the heck, it's my blog and I'll post about whatever I want". It's a bit of a balancing act right now as I would like to grow this blog but also MUST stay true to who and what I am.

      reply

  • Naomi

    Naomi on Oct. 27, 2010, 4:35 p.m.

    "FIMBY needs to inspire me. Not because I want to write about an inspiring life but because I want to live one." Yes!! Isn't that such a powerful motivator?! Blogging can become just one of those things on the to do list, but I often find it a fun way to notice the little things in my life that are worth pursuing more of. I hope blogging remains inspirational to you for as long as you choose to share your stories with us.

    reply

  • Leslie

    Leslie on Oct. 27, 2010, 8:29 p.m.

    Wonderful, honest thoughts about blogging. These are the reasons I read your blog and enjoy it and am inspired by it in my life as stay-at-home, homeschooling mama. :)

    reply

  • Jacinda

    Jacinda on Oct. 28, 2010, 12:32 a.m.

    Well said. I say it is perfect just as it is. This is your gift to yourself and others. It is your space and I appreciate that. Kia kaha.

    reply

  • Rana

    Rana on Oct. 28, 2010, 1:08 a.m.

    I haven't read any of the other comments yet, but I have to say FIMBY is inspiring to me whether you feel inspired by it some days or not. I love to come here and read and see what you and your family are up to. You have given me some great ideas on how to help my children grow in learning at home. You have helped me to become more in tuned to nature and natural living.

    I get what you are saying about the "Martha Stewart" style blogs, they are handy for certain things, but I like to read about real families living their lives to the fullest and your family is doing that. Don't stop doing what you are doing Renee.

    reply

  • Spring

    Spring on Oct. 28, 2010, 1:10 a.m.

    "It's pretty exciting but I don't want to lose sight of my purposes for this blog and reach for something I never wanted in the first place." I just LOVED this line, Renee. One of the things I most enjoy about your writing/life, is that with all of the wonderful things that can and do go on, there is always a steady pull of gravity to the center of the season you are in, of home and family, and your passion. It helps me to get back in touch with that pull in my own life.

    reply

  • Shelley R.

    Shelley R. on Oct. 29, 2010, 7:23 p.m.

    I believe I first bookmarked your chronicles via Simple Homeschool for I not only harmonized with the thoughts you shared there, but loved the pictures of the bookshelves! These paragraphs in the wind (so-to-speak) were really needed for me to observe today (the behind the scenes process of blogging) for I've been encouraged by some to launch my own blog and am terrified of beginning. The questions you asked yourself and security you revealed in knowing who you are first and foremost (a mother, homemaker, teacher) equip me with a little more direction on evaluating the decision I'm currently facing. And, it sounds like I should leave "ProBlogging" on the store shelf to prevent struggle if not a strong craving for chocolate cake.

    Whether I begin or not, know that FIMBY is worth every effort invested and has the capibility to ignite creativity and reflection for those of us that stop by to observe.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Oct. 29, 2010, 7:38 p.m.

      Wow. Thank you very much. I definitely recommend Rachel's book if you decide to start blogging and are wondering how to make time for it along with you other household responsibilities. 

      reply

  • Natalia

    Natalia on Nov. 3, 2010, 2:24 a.m.

    As someone who is just setting up her new blogging site, this is so inspiring, and timely, reminding me why I blog, and to keep up my perspective. Thanks so much for all you share Renee.

    reply

  • Denise

    Denise on Nov. 4, 2010, 8:40 p.m.

    Every other day I have been thinking about giving up blogging and some days I think I want to go "pro=blogger". What I end up with is just sharing my life. Simple life. Being me. I still blog for selfish reasons I guess. I like taking pictures and capturing my days through photos and a few words.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Nov. 5, 2010, 1:42 p.m.

      Denise,

      I don't think blogging for you is selfish in any way whatsoever. That's like saying reading, knitting or crafting for yourself is selfish. We all blog for unique reasons and blogging because you want to share your life is just as valid as any other.

      reply

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