6 August, 2012  |   166 Comments

On dance floors

For he's a jolly good fellow

There are a lot of people not having fun with their blogs right now.
And it makes sense.

I’ve always thought of the internet (and blogging) as a big dance party.
And it sure was fun when we started dancing.

We danced together,
we danced alone,
we made up new, weird dances.

Supported each other, spun around and around.
Fell on our bottoms, laughed and helped each other up.
Who cared? ‘No one was watching, everyone was watching.

We danced.
This was fun.

Then things got weird.
Blisters, cramping and messy toenails.

Self-proclaimed experts came to the floor.
Everyone came to the floor.
Salesmen and marketers.
Sheisters and shuckers.

Here came the new dancers, it felt crowded, as new blood always crowds the old.
Dancers didn’t understand the new rules,
made weird power grabs,
drew lines around themselves.

Old dancers didn’t have time for us.
New dancers tried something we weren’t into.
Old and new dancers grouped up in ways that didn’t have rules, and couldn’t be anticipated.

Then maybe it felt like everyone was doing a different dance.
We felt awkward and in the spotlight.
Like everyone was looking at us,
or worse,
like no one was looking at us.

The dance floor got crowded.

Some people got invited up on the stage and were paid for dancing. But it didn’t make sense who and why. They were all dancing. Sexy dancers, dramatic dancers, dangerous dancers. Risky dancers, mostly.

Why were they being paid for dancing and not me?
Is this metaphor getting tired yet?
I’ll stop now.

Blogging got confusing.

It wasn’t Dooce, it wasn’t Gawker. It wasn’t Poop on Peeps. It wasn’t Facebook or Twitter.

Maybe it was Pinterest.
But not on purpose.

This medium has gotten a little away from us.

It seems to me like that the last time blogging was fun was a few years ago.
It was when blogs became less of a reflection of a way things were and more a reflection of what people wanted.

I’m going to say that again, because I feel it’s the main point of what I’m trying to say:

Blogs became less of a reflection of a way things are and more a reflection of what people want.

See, longing and hoping is a terrible way to live.
It’s empty.
It creates jealousy.
A soul-hole. A void.

Back when we started blogging/dancing, we talked about our now, our pasts, our dreams. We shared what was real and happening in our lives. We weren’t promoting an aspirational lifestyle, we weren’t selling up.

We were in it.
We created connection through that real story.

It wasn’t “Boy, I wish I had this thing.” or
“Boy, you should wish you had this thing that I got for free.” or

There’s no connection really that can come of that, other than, “Wow, that’s cute!” or “I want that too!” or at worst “I wouldn’t choose that.”
That feels empty to me.

I suspect, it might feel empty to you.

That’s okay, we’re just tiny scientists. We have lots of time to evolve.
We can course correct.

This medium is our medium.

When we share our realities, the truth we’re experiencing right now, our collective wisdom, dreams and connections, we crack open the REAL opportunity of the internet.

This medium holds that opportunity, more than newspapers, television, radio or bull horns.
This medium holds the opportunity for real human connection.

Let’s not forget that.

And that dance floor?

It’s bigger than a football field,
bigger than 72,000 football fields,
bigger than the whole, wide world.

And all this time, we’ve been crowded in 20 square feet.

That’s more space than we know what to do with.
Let’s dance.

166 thoughts on “On dance floors

  1. 1
    joanne says:

    Noooooooo! Don’t leave me!
    (not that you even know I’m here, but I am, and I read you and love you….)

  2. 2
    Helen Jane says:

    I’m not going anywhere! As long as there’s electricity and the internet, I’ll be writing.

  3. 3

    Fantastic. So good.

  4. 4
    Ann says:

    I’m having a hard time putting my finger on what exactly makes this post so amazing… but I’m having a hard time deciding. Is it the fun metaphor? The invitation to connect and reclaim? Maybe it’s the sweet and forgiving notion that we’re all just tiny scientists (love it!!) … I’m not sure, but it surely got me thinking about my own blog and what I’m putting in it. Thank you!

  5. 5

    I’m not sure how I found this through the haze of so many posts on Twitter this morning, but please, dance on. This is exactly what I want to be reading, and contributing to myself.

  6. 6
    Sweetney says:

    This is precisely what I’ve been feeling/thinking/saying, and thank you for putting it all more coherently and beautifully than I ever could. YES. To all of this. Let’s dance. PS: LOVE YOU OMG.

  7. 7
    Roxanna says:

    Yes. Maybe this is why I don’t understand Tumblr, because I’m old, and because there are so many pictures from magazines?

    • 7.1
      Roberta says:

      Thank you for saying/writing this. I thought I was the only one who didn’t get Tumblr.

      • Alyce says:

        A lot of bloggers I’ve loved reading went to tumblr when creating a post on their blog felt too… something (burdensome maybe).
        It is less personal, less insightful, and lacking in connection – it seems to place a distance between post and reader.
        Some do it in a way that I enjoy following along, and many more still I simply don’t care for. To each his/her own, natch. This is a lament not a complaint.
        I respect the distancing and yet I mourn the loss of the connection (however tenuous) I felt there was.

        In other words, I don’t get tumblr either.

  8. 8
    Emily says:

    I love this too. I haven’t written regularly in a long time and I am not exactly sure WHY. Life got complicated? That’s too easy. I want to get back in it but it is sometimes hard to find an in. Even to your own blog, your own space, your own dance floor. etc. Keep trying! xoxo

  9. 9
    Schmutzie says:

    Personal blogging, the yous and mes out there, is still here. It’s not gone away or died or even changed that much. What happened is that, over time, the blogosphere grew up, it diversified. People with a wider range of drives and goals started to use the medium, too. It grew by millions. It became a whole constellation.

    You and me and those who do it the way we do it are still here and always will be. There is a lot more noise out there, there are many more platforms, but video didn’t really kill the radio star.

    • 9.1
      Helen Jane says:

      Big dance floor.
      Room for everyone.

      Even the monied, video stars,
      scheisters and shucksters.

      And that’s pretty great.

    • 9.2

      Yes, this. You’re so awesome with words. You should be a blogger 🙂

      • cheflippe says:

        I do not feel that way. Maybe because my reasons for dancing are selfish, because I dance as an expression and an extension of who and what I am, and i don’t care about those on stage or on the spotlight. I dance because I love dancing, It comes from within like a visceral primordial spasm I cannot and do not want to control or stop. And independent of what happens around me, if we cross paths and my dance makes you smile just a little, and you decide to follow me and dance with me, even for a short moment, then we will have been together as long as it lasted and hope it was as good for you as it is for me. Come dance, I never stop.

  10. 10
    Lisa Gaumond says:

    Helen Jane, you are a genius. Once again, you pinpointed the thing that has been bugging me that I haven’t been able to identify. You did it so plainly and so accurately that I spent the entire time reading this post nodding my head and mentally high-fiving you. If I ever meet you in person, I am so going to hug you.

  11. 11
    Angella says:

    You know I love you, and this is another reason why.

    So glad we had some time to chat, and I know we’ll be seeing each other on the dance floor for many years to come.

  12. 12

    Beautiful and thoughtful. Aspirational = consumer culture = keeping up with the Joneses = Yuck. It’s tough because aspirational sells ads, of course, but I think it does damage the conversation.

    • 12.1
      Helen Jane says:

      And as you know, I’m not slamming aspirational content — Done right, it can be incredibly inspiring and lucrative. I guess, I’m trying to just let us all know that there’s more room online than it seems sometime.

  13. 13
    {sue} says:

    Yes, exactly. Still trying to locate my tribe on the dance floor.

  14. 14
    Ally Bean says:

    I agree with you. I’ve kept a personal blog for years now & have been fascinated/horrified to see how the medium has changed. Still, I think that there are & will always be a core group of non-aspirational bloggers out here who just want to tell a story, have some fun, make a friend. To each their own, eh?

  15. 15
    whoorl says:

    YES YES YES YES YES YES. I’ll leave it at that.

  16. 16
    Michele says:


  17. 17
    Nell says:

    Great post — I’ve noticed that a few blogs I used to read regularly have become links and product promotions, and then it is just not interesting anymore, at least to me.

  18. 18
    Angela says:

    Yes. And also, I’ve never been a good dancer. That whole “dance like no one is watching” thing makes me squirm, as does Lee Ann Womack HOPING that I dance. All of this to say: Yes. You nailed it.

    • 18.1
      Helen Jane says:

      Love this!

      My blogdancing is weird and elbowy and sometimes I want someone to do it with me (heh) and sometimes I want to do it alone and then I just want to make a disco song with the refrain INTERNET PEOPLE, I CAN’T FIGURE YOU OUT RIGHT NOW and then I realize, I should never write dance songs.

  19. 19

    I’m always having to remind myself to keep my eyes on my own work rather than what she or you or her over there is doing (and getting and having). It’s tough because economics are pressing all of us. But what Schmutzie says–yeah. When I blog, I’m still out there trying to start a conversation, no matter the topic. It would be nice if fortune smiled on me and I must admit I’m having fun pushing my blogs into the world of BRANDS. But it’s the communication–the dance, if you will–that is why I’m still here.

  20. 20

    This is beautiful, beautifully written, and so very true.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Love from,

  21. 21
    Mai says:

    Yes! I love you HJ. You put into words things that feel like pits in my stomach. (Also, I missed my tenspeed blogspot today…)

  22. 22

    You post really resonated with me and has clarified what I felt during BlogHer. I decided to attend the conference at the very last minute after thinking that I should wait longer before I attended. I had so many long time bloggers telling me to go.
    I have been writing this in my head since I came home Sunday night but worried I would dig a hole for myself. I am going to share this here since you were so honest.
    I logged on. I started telling stories and I have been upfront in saying, “I dream of producing a sitcom” but it is because I have this family in my head. This family that is us but not and I Iove telling stories.
    So that is my truth. My honest thoughts and dreams, and I still feel like I am being judged.
    I am not trying to make money. I don’t even have an ad, yet. I have been blogging because I have enjoyed it. I went to the conference and I felt there were the people that have been at this a while and I felt like they didn’t want new meat and they weren’t interested. Then I felt you had all the people trying to get something for free and then you had people like me, disconnected.
    Your post inspired me to just keep at it, to just keep writing and I will see what happens. After all, I had been writing these stories down for years, but I just never shared.

  23. 23
    redneckmommy says:

    I needed to read this. Today. This very moment. It was the song I needed to hear for the dance I love to do. Thank you. My girl crush on you rages on.

  24. 24

    I’ve been writing letters to nobody since 2001, and they are fewer and further between lately. Maybe it’s the noise on the internet, maybe it’s the climate of blogging-maybe it *is* the shifting landscape and expectations of the medium.

    Lately, I’ve been writing longhand, in a paper journal every morning. Three pages, before I get out of bed. I might start publishing some version of those, just to get my feet wet again. Thanks for the push.

  25. 25
    Kristine says:

    I’m a new reader to your blog, and I find this post so beautiful.

    “See, longing and hoping is a terrible way to live.
    It’s empty.
    It creates jealousy.
    A soul-hole. A void.”

    Beautifully said.

  26. 26
    Laura Mayes says:

    This. This was our dinner. This and four little weird pies. And a hot toddy. Love you.

    • 26.1
      Helen Jane says:

      I love blogging conferences like BlogHer because it allows me to articulate all of these FEELINGS I have about the current state of the internet.

      Also, those pies were SO weird.

  27. 27
    Miranda says:

    I’m clapping in my living room right now. It’s a slow clap that’s building to something awesome and loud and raucous. Because YES.

  28. 28

    Hi. I’m new here. I’m in love with everything you just said. I hope you don’t mind if I obsess over your space for the rest of the day slash week. I’ve been blogging for 3 years and just got back from my 3rd BlogHer… reading this feels like stumbling upon an oasis in the desert.

  29. 29

    Wow! Becca posted your link on FB, which I rarely get into and I’m so glad she did! This is just wonderful and I, for one, am thrilled to have discovered your blog and relish in all you said! I’ve been blogging on Marmelade Gypsy for nearly five years and I love it and every one (almost!) who has ever come by. I discover new things and people every day. But I have had observations similar to yours. Well said!

  30. 30

    I love how you speak truth so clearly and yet so gently. That’s a rare art. This says so much of what I’ve been–what many of us, I think–have been struggling with formulating. There is so much market-driven content in my current google reader folders, and it’s been subtly corroding my opinion of blogging and bloggers. I created this monster through my own curation — now I need to adjust my course and just dump the feeds that don’t nourish or speak to me anymore. As Schmutzie wrote, above, there are still plenty of genuine voices out there on the edge of the dance floor.

    • 30.1
      Helen Jane says:

      Thank you for understanding that this is not a condemnation of people who blog for money.

      Hell, my entire LIFE is now spent figuring out how to get bloggers more money.

      It’s about looking at why so many bloggers (“successful” and fledgling) are tired of the whole damn medium. And then doing something about it!

      Much love to you!

      • Kyran says:

        I’m a huge fan of commercial success, myself 🙂 I think the emptiness (and joylessness) happens when the content starts existing to serve the market. That forced, chipper, pitch voice comes in, and I feel like someone’s flipped the channel to HSN. Maggie and Gabby’s sites never feel like they are selling product — they are selling delight. And I’m their happy customer.

  31. 31
    Les Kertay says:

    What you did was remind me why I started to write in the first place. Thanks – I’d lost track of that for a minute!

  32. 32
    kristysf says:

    Oof. I am really conflicted about all this stuff. (Not about you and your stuff, HJ.)

    Like you, I’ve been a blogger since the early times, and, like you, have WORKED in blogging since before almost anyone else.

    Here’s what is MOST important, I think, for all the bloggers reading this and cheering you on to think about and internalize:

    “This medium is our medium.”

    If you, as a blogger, are disgusted or turned off or uncomfortable or angry about how others have changed “your” medium, ignore it. DO IT YOUR WAY. It’s still your medium, just as it’s theirs, too.

    You don’t have to do this blogging thing to get paid or get free stuff. No one is forcing you to do that. Brands certainly aren’t. (But boy-howdy, they’re happy to help you if you are!)

    If you want to write for writing’s sake…please yes. Do that. I’ll read it. Your readers will read it, because that still exists and is important, even if it’s not as loud by comparison.

    Just, please. Don’t waste your energy getting mad at how this world has changed. The new bloggers, even if you don’t like what they’re doing, aren’t taking anything away from you. From us. “Blogging has changed!” yes, and it’s going to keep changing!

    People were saying “blogging used to be better a couple years ago” in 2007.

    As I interpret what you, HJ, have written here, there’s room for everyone. Keep doing what you do, so long as it makes you happy.

  33. 33

    I really, really, REALLY love this. Thank you for saying EXACTLY the words I needed to hear.

  34. 34
    Nakedjen says:

    Not that you give me permission, not that I even need permission, truthfully, but I have been very naked and bare and honest on the Internet since 2003 and need to share that I have been contemplating lately just how naked and bare and honest I have been.

    I adore you, as you know. Thank you for showing up to dance so long ago and for continuing to write so beautifully and for reminding me that there’s an infinite space filled with all kinds of interesting and inspiring ideas and that if I want to keep dancing naked because that’s what makes me happiest, than that is perfectly okay to do.

    You are a beautiful dancer, HJ. Just beautiful.

  35. 35

    I marched right over here from Chookooloonks to say THANK YOU! Your post… it’s what’s for dinner. Really. You’ve put into words what so many of us have been feeling. My blog is still young (2.5 yrs.) and I thought about shutting the whole thing down some months ago because it wasn’t doing it for me. There was something missing. Oh, yeah, that missing thing? It was me. I’m a writer. I need to do just that: write. All the good things that can grow out of blogging (friendships, connections, enlightenment, laughter, compassion, etc.) can only happen, in my opinion, when I return to the thing that matters most: writing. So, this is me, walking back on the dance floor, ready to get my groove on!

  36. 36
    jodifur says:

    Love this, so, so much.

  37. 37
    KeAnne says:

    Thank you. I’ve been blogging off and on since 2007 (I think that makes me a teenager in blog years? Maybe a tween?). I just want to write in my little space. I’m not a great dancer (at least outside of my own head), but I do love to.

  38. 38

    I have blogged since before blogging was a word, yet it has only been recently that I started doing it regularly. Maybe for that reason I am still having fun. There are other ways to build community, but I do think blogging has its own special quality.

  39. 39
    Briar says:

    Thank you for this.

  40. 40

    […] are feeling it, too, and writing about it better than I can. But there is something there at the heart of this problem. Maybe it’s […]

  41. 41
    Erica says:

    I totally agree. It seems like it’s a blog eat blog world out there sometimes. I created my blog to share my inspirations and projects and hopefully connect with others doing the same, but sometimes it seems all anyone wants these days is to be ‘top’ blog rather just being ‘my’ blog.

    This isn’t a dance competition, it’s just a dance and we should all be able to have our chance to twirl the way we want too…

  42. 42
    Rose Shawhan says:

    A friend posted a link to this entry on Facebook. As a new blogger (with very few readers) the title piqued my curiosity. I very much like your perspective on writing your reality, rather than posting stuff you wish you had. I was rather gratified to think, “Wow, that’s what I’m doing.” It may not be of interest to everyone, but I’m just writing about my life. Thanks for validating that choice for me!

  43. 43

    I needed to read this. Exactly this. I have been putting off starting my blog. I bought a domain, set everything up, made sure I had everything secure and ready to go …. and then stalled. And it was because of this “what people want” atmosphere – you articulate this so well.

    Now I am ready to go. It’s ok to have a blog about here and now. Here and now is where we are, where all possibility exists, where everything stands still, where everything rushes forward and back. Here and now contains the whole universe.

    Thank you!

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Sara says:

    Helen Jane, i don’t know you but i love you just the same. You have a way with words, girl. Don’t ever stop.

  46. 46
    Lisa says:

    Discovered you from a link on Chookooloonks. So happy to have clicked. I say a huge “Hell, yes!” to everything here. Thank you for the lovely reminders.

  47. 47
    Roberta says:

    This is such a well thought out post. Thank you. I love blogging and have for years, even at the beginning when all I ever heard was how self-indulgent it was. I didn’t care, I blogged on. You have written what so many of us are feeling. There is a great community of bloggers out there and I’m happy to be part of it.

  48. 48

    Excellent post! I struggled with this SO MUCH for the longest time when I started blogging. Even though I wasn’t trying to, I realized that I was blogging as a way to be marketable, instead of just blogging to write. I took several months off blogging, because I completely burned myself out on trying to make the blog marketable and trying to please everyone. Once I stopped doing that, blogging became much more fun!

    • 48.1
      dkzody says:

      I’ve been writing a blog for almost five years. I do it for me. I have a tiny audience, but that’s ok. I just enjoy writing and will continue to do so. However, I am awestruck by those really popular blogs. How do they do it with such crummy writing?

  49. 49

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  50. 50
    talleygilly says:

    Beautifully, perfectly said. I am very new to blogging and my favorite bloggers (of which you are one of course!) stay true to their own passions, interests, concerns and are honest. I never get tired of that combination. Thank you for the added inspiration!

  51. 51

    Thank you, HJ. Your wisdom and the welcoming way you write about it is always like a blast of oxygen.

  52. 52
    Kim Z Dale says:

    I only recently started blogging in earnest. All the negatives you describe are why I have had a problem getting excited about the medium. Luckily I’m having fun so far.

  53. 53
  54. 54

    Obviously you hit a nerve, a good one. I’m very much encouraged not just by your post but by all the comments that are saying exactly what I’m thinking, “Yes! You nailed it! This is exactly how I feel too!”

    Story tellers. Story tellers are what built this medium, and I believe in the end, story tellers are what will remain– whether they are paid or not.

    • 54.1
      Helen Jane says:

      Thank you!

      I’ve been hearing about real pain (REAL) in those who live and work online. I choose to believe that they’re growing pains, and the only medicine is storytelling.

  55. 55
    Sasha says:

    I think the ‘just-for-fun, dance-like-there’s-nobody-watching’ dancers are still here, they’re just harder to find. Check behind the bleachers 🙂

  56. 56
    Alyce says:

    I’ve never been a blogger, just a reader. And often a passive one at that. But I have seen and sensed what you write about here. Thank you for articulating it do delicately and succinctly.

  57. 57
    Andi says:

    That may be the best blog post I’ve read … in years. It reads like you just exhaled after a long time of forgetting to breathe. And that honesty resonates, its meaningful, and its pretty bold. I hope the feeling spreads among your community, because it is absolutely going to lead to better connection – the thing that started blogs growing in the first place.

    I’m a blogger too, one with a small family/friends readership. As much as its really okay that my blog will always be just what it is, I admit to feeling a longing to be part of the cool blogger gang from time to time. Hell, ‘Attend a Blogging Conference’ is on my ‘life list’ ….

    Participating at any level in the blogging community, or any community, is only positive if done for the right reasons. I suspect many are enticed for the cool factor, for personal gain, or to rub shoulders with some ‘it’ crowd. And, yep, I think some of the inner blogging circle may know it and capitalize on it.

    Easy to vilify, but is that a bad thing? I work in marketing, so … tough for me to say. Supply and demand. I tend to err on the side of true intentions. I think it will take thought leaders like yourself to build a new path … or sweep away the debris to find the old path, er, dance floor.

    Go find your favorite shoes and shine ’em up! Hope you can get back to dancing with reckless abandon!

  58. 58

    […] Helen Jane wrote an amazing post, one Karen also references, referring to bloggers as dance partners.  I think she made a lot of valid points on how this environment has changed over the years and why it’s important for us to go back to the roots of blogging.  It’s not a long read, but one worth your time.  At the heart of her message, it’s about intention.  My favorite word.  Here are what I find to be two of the best take away lines in her post: “Blogs became less of a reflection of a way things are and more a reflection of what people want.” […]

  59. 59

    […] man, I suck at this. 6 years later and I’m still HERE. Like a hamster on a wheel. And then I read this. And I’m still HERE becomes I’M STILL HERE HELL YA LET’S […]

  60. 60

    How do I say “I love this” without repeating every other comment above me? Who cares? I love this. And yes. And amen. And ditto.

  61. 61
    Britt Reints says:

    This post makes me want very much to be your friend.

    That’s weird, right?

    Actually, I feel like *that* is what I’ve been bumping up against lately.

  62. 62

    Just keep keep dancing on .. keep keep dancing .. sorry. Habit of changing the lyrics to Bleeding Love.

    Anyways, this was a lovely post and thank you so so much for writing it down and sharing with us. (:

  63. 63
    Elaine says:

    I know all that is going on on the dance floor but I’m the kind to just do my own dancing with my eyes closed and not even pay attention to anyone else’s moves, you know?

    Great analogy, thought-provoking post… 🙂

  64. 64

    I came across this post via one on Karen Walrond’s Chookooloonks blog – “On Growing a Blog” was the post, I believe. Anyway, what you’ve described here is precisely what I (and it appears, many others) have been feeling. Posts that I write no longer feel like I’m sharing something but instead feel like a sales pitch – even when I don’t WANT them to sound that way. I’m in the midst of a revamp of my entire blog writing philosophy. I think it’s ’bout time I got to boogaloo again [dusting off dance shoes]; thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  65. 65

    […] love LOVE Helen Jane. She has another great/thoughtful post about […]

  66. 66

    Helen Jane, I love this post. I just started blogging three years ago. When I started my blog it was just a way for me to get back into writing again, so it’s always been personal. Now I share some of the stuff I like/love/want and occasionally sometimes work with sponsors, but I always include “real” stories too. Honestly, I would be bored if I couldn’t write about my life/past/ideas. Thank you so much for writing about this.

  67. 67
    Katrine says:

    You said this so well! You put into words exactly how I feel. And it has also fired me up to get excited about my blog again. I like to blog about what my life is!

  68. 68
    GingerMae says:

    What did I ever do with my day before blogs came around?! I for one, like to find people who keep it real and simply write about their everyday lives. What is interesting to some may not be to others. That is what I love about blogging and the internet. There is so much space for everyone!

  69. 69
    elle squared says:

    Thank you for acknowledging the elephant in the room! Very nicely worded, and compassionately conveyed.

  70. 70
    jkaplun says:

    Beautifully worded, Helen Jane, and so true. The joy of blogging for me is going back to blogging about what has happened, how it happened and how I feel about it. And that is how I have connected with my online friends and community. There is space for everybody and when there is too much noise, I simply try to tune it out.

  71. 71
    laura says:

    Thank you for your beautiful words and a reminder of why I started blogging in the first place.

  72. 72
    Kristen says:

    You are brilliant and this post is brilliant. Thank you!

  73. 73

    Seriously, seriously, seriously. I end up talking about this a lot: sharing in an authentic voice and showing your vulnerability. You hit it on the head. And you’re an amazing writer. I knew I liked you for a reason. Power on crouton.

  74. 74
    Stacey S says:

    I am totally new here and your post is right on the money. I see a lot of parallels with portrait photography where there is so much competition to be popular and to be the next “it” photographer. I’m never going to be the darling or the popular girl and that’s okay. I’ve watched others on forums where I participated move ahead and become the darlings out there and I just had to acknowledge that and realize I didn’t have that type of time to promote myself or my decent photography. I go to bed at 10pm (if I’m not still doing laundry). I don’t get up at 4am to write (unless I have too much on the brain like this morning!). I barely have a chance to get my photo shoots up on my blog when I also really want to just blog about everyday life. And that’s where I’m at. I also started a food blog several years ago. Deleted it. Started one again later. Deleted it. Now started one I’m sticking with because I know it’s my passion – always has been and always will be. Maybe I’ll find my voice through that blog. I just turned 50 and it’s funny how it helps you to realize that no, you really don’t want to follow the crowd or to compete with the “young things” out there. And just like blogging, there are many, many newbie photographers out there flooding the market. Some have training; some don’t. Some are known as “moms with a camera” which has become a term with a derogatory slant. They will be there for a while, and if they don’t have business savvy or expertise, they will eventually fade away.

    Are they taking my business away (i.e.readership) with cheap prices and crazy deals? Yes to some extent. People who want a bargain will flock to them.

    BUT they are not meant to be my clients (or blog readers). I’ve stayed true to my pricing and my brand and what I offer and the fun a photo session is with me – and it’s finally “paying off” in both client and my personal satisfaction.

    I am trying to find like-minded bloggers in the food spectrum to develop friendships and to support what they are doing because they are the people and the recipes and the philosophies that appeal to me. I’ve been following and doing as much posting as time has allowed lately with these wonderful food bloggers because I actually like them. I like their voice, I like their recipes, and I like hearing about their lives.

    And that’s where I would like to be.

    Thank you for such an insightful post.


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    Ironically enough, I came across this post on Pinterest 🙂 Loved every word of it!

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    […] read this post yesterday, and it really helped me understand how I was feeling about blogging in […]

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    […] … two posts on the difficulties many bloggers (myself included) are feeling in today’s blogosphere: on growing a blog (via chookooloonks) and on dance floors (via helen jane) […]

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    Katie says:

    HURRAH! Hear hear! I quite agree, I will be dancing with you 🙂 xxx

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    Love this. I love dancing and I love happiness and I love this. Just, great advice.

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    Jennie says:

    Just shared this on my blog Facebook page! And I’ll be linking to it in my own blog as well. It is wonderful and I love this post. Beautiful.

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    […] I’m not about to get all melancholy, and I’m not closing up shop. It’s just that I read a wonderful, wonderful post last week, and it has made me think. A lot. If you’re a blogger, or if you enjoy reading […]

  82. 82

    […] Read this smart writing on blogging by Helen Jane. […]

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    Judy says:

    Like good poetry. Reminding me to keep my eyes on the real reasons I write a blog…needed this today. no accident that Joy posted a link to this today when I needed it most. Thank you both.

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    jenhavice says:

    Terrific post! Glad I found your blog. I’ve been blogging for 3 1/2 years and it’s been in the last few months that I hit an impasse. I took a month off just to figure out why I was still doing this and if the cost/benefit ratio still added up. It is all about connection. There are a few that have made it into a money making venture but for the vast majority of us it’s simply a way to express ourselves.

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    Mark says:

    I love this post. Keep writing forever.

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    PeaSoup says:

    Finally! You have so hit the nail on the head. None of it makes sense anymore but I keep blogging because I love it. I do it for me and my few loyal readers and because I can’t yet imagine my life without sharing my food, taste in clothes, home decor ambitions… life ambitions. It allows me to sort things out in my head before attempting to sort them out in the real world. Thanks to Joy for linking to this, it’s nice to know some of us are in the same boat and maybe feel a little bit adrift in this new blogging world. Will definitely be back for more of your wisdom:)

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    hailey says:

    Thank you so much! I have been feeling…frustrated? distracted? disconnected? from blogging late, im not really sure. but this has perfectly described it! I find that lately i keep getting comments “follow me! why havent you followed me? please follow me?” and i find them frustrating, can’t we just make friends and find what interests us? and write about what makes us happy?
    thank you!

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    DK says:

    I think I love you 🙂

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    rachel says:

    This is so much what I’ve been feeling lately and so well said. Thank you!

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    […] I was reading Joy the Baker today and clicked on some links in her post…and I’m SO very glad I did! I completely and utterly identified with this post by Helen Jane, “Don’t quit your blog…”. […]

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    Janet says:

    wow, wow, wow!!! I am so glad I clicked on the link in Joy the Baker’s post and saw your beautiful post. I’ve been ambivalent about blogging for awhile now…”I’m not making money, isn’t what these blogs are for, no one is going gaga over my photography, woe is me”. Oh please! Thank you so much for this, you inspired me 🙂

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    […] just read this amazing post at HelenJane.com and after flipping through it and thinking “YES” and […]

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    only a movie says:

    Yes! That’s what happened… 🙂

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    Noelani says:

    Lovely writing!! I could not agree more.

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    I was just thinking something similar the other day. I started my business many years ago and allowed it to grow organically. After a year+ of blogging I am amazed at how things have ratcheted up and feel out of my grasp- So I decided to return to the organic place. Which is the place of passion and good feeling.

    Thanks for this post- very very well said.

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    Yes. Just yes to all of it. If I had a proper office in my home, I would print this out and hang it above my computer.

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    “And that dance floor?

    It’s bigger than a football field,
    bigger than 72,000 football fields,
    bigger than the whole, wide world.

    And all this time, we’ve been crowded in 20 square feet.”

    So true about blogging, but also life in general. Great post!

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    AmyRuth says:

    Value of the written word, even if on the internet, is what we all are shooting for, or is it? Yep you are so correct about many marketing to the marketers. Whoring their talents …. yes, writing and photography are talents. Wish I had them but I’m a work-in-progress. So as I read and clapped and agreed with your eloquent dance, I struggle with just how vulnerable I can make myself. How much truth shall I speak/type. he he Is it really about your passion, baking, crafting, photography? Or is it really about writing? Is this a comment or a post? okay ha ha so sorry. Your writing spoke to me and the timing was ironic. Thank you for being bold and not only sharing what’s on your menu plan but letting us know what you think as well.
    Happy Saturday! Happy Menu Planning

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    Duck says:

    Such a great post, although yes, you possibly carried the metaphor long 🙂

    “It was when blogs became less of a reflection of a way things were and more a reflection of what people wanted.”

    This is exactly what I feel about the internet right now. And unfortunately it’s what’s happened to my blog too. I need to rein it in, keep things in check and be more realistic… But it’s easy to get carried away with what others are doing.

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    tea_austen says:

    I love you, Helen Jane. I do. xox
    Here’s to keeping on dancing.

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    Sandra says:

    Thank you for this! You completely summed up my exact feelings.

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    Carina says:

    I’m still having fun on my blog, so come on over to my house.

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    How beautifully you expressed this. My thoughts too, and ones that have been bothering me of late. Dance on lovely lady! Have a great weekend!

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    Dani Meyer says:

    I love this. Thanks for writing this. It pretty much sums up my entire blog frustrations. I feel this pressure to create a marketing plan and “find my niche” and figure out how all of this is supposed to pay the bills and SEO and on and on and on……it’s good to remember that that’s not why I blog. I blog because I love it and I want our little slice of digital home to be comfy and welcoming just like our real home. I am now going to go dance around said house.

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    Becky says:

    Your blog sums up what I have been feeling for along time about the medium. I still want to dance, but the dance floor is becoming increasingly crowded. You have given me inspiration, that there is room for everyone, no matter what model they are.

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    Lauren says:

    What a great post. Thank you!

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    Leslie says:

    Helen Jane, you rock it yet again. Beautiful metaphor. SO many great comments too. There has never been more opportunity for creative careers because of blogging and the internet, it’s no wonder everyone wants in on this amazing revolution. It’s very important to be aware of the history though, to respect where things have grown out of, where they started and to understand how everything fits together. There is a lot of noise now, and I think the way to stand out is not to shout louder, but to simply be ourselves and be clear about who we are. Clear, transparent and honest. We also need to be inventors forging new paths, and continue to tell the stories that are important to us.

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    KnittedFox says:

    This is such a wonderful post. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this. I’ve been blogging for close to a decade and never knew how to put into words how I was feeling while I experienced all that you wrote. It’s exactly how I feel but now I am ready to DANCE!!

    Thanks! [waves]

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    […] I read a blog post that someone else linked to and something in it really resonated with […]

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    I love this post. LOVE. I wake up wanting to blog and then log in only to feel discouraged lately (after blogging for 8 years).

    I always think “I have nothing to sell. I don’t have a book deal. I’m not great at home decor or baking or any of the rest.”

    But then I remember I started blogging because I love to WRITE.

    Thank you for this!

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    Zo Zhou says:

    Ohhh, so so so true. What a wonderful way you’ve written this too. Thank you.

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    […] this is not to call out anyone, but to call attention to a theme i’ve noticed. after reading this post and having a good skype chat with one of my favorite bloggers, i knew i wasn’t alone in […]

  118. 118

    […] a blog existential crisis? Read this piece from Helen Jane. It’s a good reminder not to take your online life so seriously. And more […]

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    Chase says:

    I needed this!! Thank you

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    Noelle says:

    Blogging is still lots of fun for me, and I’ve been doing it since 2003! Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be doing it, I’m not making any money or getting anything from blogging whatsoever, besides a place to write that isn’t Facebook or Twitter. Tumblr just makes everything easier, whatever you want to post, pictures, videos, links, it gives you those options right there. I understand Tumblr, and the fact that it’s convenient, but I don’t understand why it has to be all teenagers and so photocentric. I kept a linkblog on Tumblr for a while before switching it over to Blogger, (for accessibility reasons.)

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    Jen says:

    Yep, I hear you. I’m a couple of weeks into my new (fifth, if you’re counting) blog, only this time it’s so different. I stepped away because it was becoming … I don’t know – like the songs all changed and I didn’t really like them anymore (just carrying on with the metaphor). I was also craving real writing and less Pinterest, fashion and interior design. And now I’m just having another go, with very few comments or followers… but it’s kind of nice like that.

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    Emma says:

    I love dancing metaphors and I love this post. Keeping it real with Saturday Night Fever every time :o) xx

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    […] Helen Jane summed up my love for blogs and blogging and how things have changed… and how they can still be the same…. […]

  125. 125
    Amanda Blog & says:

    Yes yes yes! Yes! Thank you, this is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately.

  126. 126

    Yes yes yes yes! This is exactly how I have been feeling lately!

  127. 127

    […] LOVE LOVE LOVE this post on a post about the blogging world being like a dance party. […]

  128. 128
    Mundie Moms says:

    Love this!! Well said! Dance parties are meant to be fun!

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    Giggles says:

    sniff sniff.you’re right and i love you for actually talking about how we have all been feeling!

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    […] reading this blog post I’ve realised that I don’t share too much of my personal life on my blog, which is […]

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    heathergibs says:

    Best. Post. Ever! Thank you! You are an inspiration!

  132. 132

    […] when I wrote about how blogging can be like dancing, and about how I plan my meals, and then I shared my Mom 2.0 […]

  133. 133
    Amelia says:

    I probably fall into the “new dancer” category but I love this post, and am a big proponent of bloggers staying authentic and true to their values.

  134. 134

    […] love this post by Helen Jane. I love blogging, but occasionally when I have no inspiration about what to write, I […]

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    Yvonne says:

    great post! thanks for saying it.

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    Jeannette says:

    I love this. and it rings so true for me. I stopped blogging for a while because I thought that if I wasn’t getting paid for “dancing,” that I wasn’t doing it right. I got frustrated and a bit sad and quit. and now I’m back. and having read this, I’m glad. because quite frankly, I don’t care if people enjoy my dang blog. I enjoy it. thanks for reassuring me that that’s totally ok 🙂

  138. 138

    […] Do you know Helen Jane?  You should.  She invented blogging, she’s both wise and hilarious at her core.  She is disarming, she has really nice handwriting, and she wrote about being in a blogging in the most perfect way. […]

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    Mila Furman says:

    What a beautifully written piece! As someone who has been in and out of the blogging world for 6 years, I could not agree with you more! Remember the days of the blogger reader…ahhh those were the days 🙂 When all your blogs are in one spot. You do write about blogging in the most perfect way 🙂 Glad I stopped by.

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    Mimi Johns says:

    I am, as usual, late to read this excellent post. Must agree with Mila in the post above.

  142. 142

    […] to this blog for so long was that I didn’t have pretty enough pictures. Then I read this blog post about blogging (meta!) and when she wrote ‘Blogs became less of a reflection of a way things are and more a […]

  143. 143

    […] Don’t quit your blog quite yet, for us (Helenjane) […]

  144. 144

    […] Do you know Helen Jane?  You should.  She invented blogging, she’s both wise and hilarious at her core.  She is disarming, she has really nice handwriting, and she wrote about being in a blogging in the most perfect way. […]

  145. 145

    […] on blogging from people who came at blogging from a different perspective (see TinyTwig and HelenJane). A perspective that felt a bit more genuine and one that made me feel that I could be myself and […]

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