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Why I Think You Should Break the Blogging Rules

It's totally okay to break the blogging rules and NOT listen to the blogging experts. In fact, it can be a GREAT thing. And here's why!

A friend emailed me a few weeks ago distraught over what she should do as a blogger. She wants to write. She loves writing. But she was feeling so frustrated and stressed over all the stuff she felt like she “had” to be doing in order to keep up her blog.

She didn’t want to have to invest most of her time in updating Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram, interacting on Twitter, networking, writing guest posts, and trying to figure out Google+.

She just wants to write and live her life. I get that.

While I love my community on Facebook, have met incredible people on Twitter, and have recently discovered I really love Instagram, I’m not a rule-follower. I don’t want to be chained to a blogging and social media schedule.

I want to live my life and write as I’m inspired. Because if I spend most of my time trying to crank out posts and feed the social media beast, I have no life. Just a blog that rules my life.

I want this blog to be a blessing to my family, not a burden. I want my blog to be an outpouring of my life instead of blogging to be my life.

The only way I’ve found to do this is to break the blogging rules. Seriously.

Chuck them out the window and find the freedom that comes from not being tethered to your laptop. It’s a beautiful thing!

In place of the long held rules, here are two of my mantras that you are free to adopt:

1. You Don’t Have to Do What the Experts Say

There are a thousand and one things you are “supposed” to do if you want to grow and monetize your blogging platform. These can be helpful. These can work well. But you are in no way under any circumstances obligated to do them.

And you know what else? There’s no stinkin’ way you can do them all — unless you want to drive yourself crazy and have a physical breakdown.

I think it’s easy to forget that the bloggers who blog often and have lots of different sections and tools on their blog didn’t start blogging yesterday. They’ve been at this for years (usually). They’ve put in a lot of hours, gradually added parts of their site, learned how to do things more efficiently, set up a lot of things that run themselves, and brought on people to help them with all the details that pertain to running their site.

So if you’re a newer blogger, please don’t let the seasoned bloggers intimidate you. Also, don’t compare your blog to theirs or feel like you have to be doing exactly what they are doing if you have a shot at succeeding.

Pick the things you love and that work well for you and stick with those. Leave the other things be. Your blog will be just fine without them. And I guarantee you’ll end up enjoying it a lot more, too!

2. You Don’t Have to Do What the “Cool Kids” Do

Can I just say this? I sort of despise Pinterest.

Back when I started blogging, I had a white background, a text header, and a free blog template on Blogger. My pictures — when I actually posted them — were atrocious.

But here’s the thing: nobody cared. I had thousands of readers on that plain white blog and they never complained.

Why? Because there wasn’t this almost-impossible-to-reach standard set up where you had to have a snazzy blog design, magazine-worthy photos, and maybe even a graphic design degree in order to blog.

You just wrote because you were passionate about your subject matter. And people listened.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m inspired by the mouthwatering photos and incredible ideas on Pinterest, but most of them are far beyond what I could accomplish myself. I pretty plain Jane and most days I’m doing well to get some posts written and a few photos on a few of my posts.

But people still come here and read. So I’ve come to the conclusion that while I won’t ever win Best Photography Award, it’s okay to be me.

It’s perfectly acceptable to write about whatever I’m passionate about. To share less-than-perfect posts and photos. To not always get my posts up in a timely manner because real-life trumped blogging.

Instead of having a perfectly timed post with an amazingly-put together photo shoot, people seem happy to read about what’s on my heart whenever it is that I get it posted. So I’ve stopped worrying about what the cool kids are doing and have just started being who God created me to be.

And I’ve been a whole lot happier that way. 🙂

Photo Credit: dearsomeone via Compfight cc

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  • Kelly says:

    Yes! This is so true, Crystal. I think most new bloggers are just trying to get noticed – which is a lot harder to do now. But I still don’t think there’s a magic formula, other than working hard and being yourself. My house is not Pinterest worthy, and I just don’t have a ton of time for Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and Google +. It’s completely overwhelming! I think those are just added distractions to keep the real work from getting done – at least it is for me.

  • Luba says:

    Thank you for your honestly, Crystal. You are such a blessing and inspiration to me as a newly wed working from home (starting my own business).

  • This post came at the perfect time for me! I have been getting overwhelmed by everything I have been reading about what I “should” be doing. I try not to compare myself, especially to well established bloggers, but it’s hard to not get discouraged. I really appreciate you sharing this, it has relieved a huge burden for me, one I knew I needed to let go, but I think I needed to hear it from a seasoned blogger, that it’s ok to not keep up with the “Jones'” of the blogging world. Thanks so much Crystal!!

  • Thank you so much for this article! I found it very helpful and encouraging. We are two mommas, who are trying to blog and help our community in the area. I work full time and I only can blog in the afternoon – it is true we schedule some posts on Facebook to be fed sometimes in the morning. But, honestly we do not want to be or become one of these blogs who are posting non-stop. That volume of information becomes too much and often times great information become buried. We are trying to post only things and tips that are helpful to our readers and truly saving money. So thank you, I have been following you for a long time. I have learned a lot and continue to learn. Reading your advice just now, put a big smile on my face and gave me even more confidence. Andrada

  • Thanks for this post, Crystal!

    I love how you go against the grain.

    I’m learning to find my own way in this blogging world. It’s sometimes hard to let go of the expectations I feel others have of me (or that I have of myself), but I’m getting better at 🙂

    I’m grateful for your encouragement.

  • Kim says:

    Thank you! I could hug you right now.

    I am almost finished with Platform, by Michael Hyatt. Love the book, but, feeling overwhelmed when it comes to Twitter, etc.

    My website is still in the infancy stage and I am working on getting things in order before I actually make it public. While I know that God is giving me inspiration for what is to come, I tend to feel defeated by all the “you need to” expectations that seem to come with the blogging world.

    You will never know how much I appreciate you.

  • One of the many reasons I love your blog. No fancies and you are a see what you get person. You come across as someone who struggles just like we do. And you are willing to share and help us grow. It takes a lot of “guts” to admit you messed up and go against the grain.

  • Melanie says:

    Thank you for your inspiration once again Crystal. As a newbie blogger I am trying to stay focused on my passions and what God wants me to share. I want to be uniquely me.

  • Johanna says:

    Thank you so much for this! As someone who is in a crazy season of life, I needed this encouragement to just be me and not worry about the “rules.” 🙂

  • emily e says:

    As a non-blogger, I have to say that most of the things bloggers feel they ‘have’ to do are pretty annoying. I’d far prefer people stop pinterest-ifying every single thing they post. Blogs have gotten so self- promoting all the time that it’s off-putting. Obviously, not every blog is this way but a lot are.

    • Aleah says:

      I agree! One of the things I like about Money Saving Mom is that you don’t post product promotions every day like a lot of bloggers. Even when they are accompanied by a giveaway (which is nice!), I feel like I’m being pushed something when really, I just enjoy the glimpses into others’ lives or the information they can share with me that might help my family. I know part of keeping the blog going (if it’s a business for you) is that you will make money, but I hate to see people losing the “social” part of blogging to the business part of it.

    • Chelsea says:

      So good to hear this kind of feedback! As a blogger- I’ve wondered if people will be put off by my blog because I don’t have “enough” going on. My blog is pretty small, so I don’t have many companies hunting me down to post about their products. Also- I don’t have a nice camera, so my pictures are pretty basic and un-pinterest worthy. 🙂

      • Crystal says:

        Just to encourage you, some of the photos that I’ve seen repinned a crazy amount of times on Pinterest were ones that looked very far from magazine worth and weren’t taken with a fancy camera. They were just great ideas or recipes with interesting pictures and they went viral. A nice camera is great, but it’s totally not necessary. So be encouraged. And I think you’re doing a great job with your blog. You inspire me; keep it up!

      • Vanessa says:

        Chelsea, I also don’t have a fancy camera with all the bells and whistles and it was something that really bothered me until I read this post: She says the same thing Crystal said…you don’t have to have a fancy camera to take nice pictures and she shares some simple photography tips that anyone can do to improve picture quality. I hope that helps a little bit!

  • Shelly says:

    I have been overwhelmed at times and had to back away from doing some extra things with social media. It hit me one day when I realized I no longer had time to do the things I loved to do.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love the encouragement you give to others.

  • Cassie says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! This was exactly what I needed to read today! I blogged for a year ad a half and then got overwhelmed trying to keep up that I just got burned out. I walked away and Only recently started blogging again after almost 3 years. This time I am blogging for me and we will see where it goes!

  • Kathy B. says:

    I have been blogging for only a couple of years. Just wanted to tell you that I find your take on the stresses of blogging, refreshing. I have several larger blogs tell me that if I do this, or that then I can grow my readership. Well, other than doing a few projects on Bloggerdise for products, I have never taken a penny. I find freedom and posting what makes me happy. Kudos to you! God Bless.

  • Thanks Crystal! I think people love to hear from you because you’re so honest and encourage others to be true to themselves also. I can’t and won’t “follow the blogging rules” for many reasons and it is great to be reminded that these are just social rules not moral or legal ones that we actually have to keep.

    I think it is so great how you know what is most important to you and spend your time on that. Like with your home, you’re awesome at keeping it clean and organized, as evidenced by when you post “messy pictures” everyone else says that is their clean, and that’s important to you so you invest your time in that instead of the thousands of crafty DIY wreaths and things on Pinterest. I tend to be a little more messy, sometimes because I have craft projects going, so therefore shouldn’t compare my messy to your clean. We’re all good at different things and it is awesome how you embrace your strengths. 🙂

  • I’m so in love with you at this moment. Thanks for the wonderful words of wisdom!

  • Deb says:

    And at 250,ooo likes, I would have to say that you are doing something right! 🙂 And I personally don’t mind less than perfect photos, then we know you actually LIVE in your house and have children who make messes!

  • Karen says:

    May I just say that being yourself is so much more interesting than doing what all the “experts” tell you to do.

    Personally, I’m pretty turned off by the amount of marketing that has taken over the blogosphere. Everybody seems to feel a need to push their FB, Pinterest, twitter, etc. and I’m just not interested in all that. Bloggers who do their own thing are a breath of fresh air.

    • Karen – exactly. I agree with you on the marketing part 100%. I’m not a big fan of it, either. Being yourself and sticking to your believes and goals is so much better.

  • SharingMom says:

    Thank you for this. I have been feeling overwhelmed lately myself. I have to continually remind myself that if it is God’s will, it will happen with or without me, facebook or twitter. I have to keep the blog and book writing from taking over my life. Thanks for reminding me that this needs to be a blessing to me, my family and the moms I am trying to help NOT a burden. Your words of wisdom blessed me today! 🙂

    • You’re not alone. I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed too. But it will get better. I hope you get to feeling better soon, also!

      • SharingMom says:

        Thanks for they reply and encouragement. I hope the same for you! Keep in touch. Perhaps we can keep each other accountable and encourage each other! 🙂

        • I’d love that! Sounds great!

          • SharingMom says:

            Wow, God is amazing! I just went to your website to figure out how to keep in touch with you and your post today touches on Rest! That is what my book is about! It’s called Being Still: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Experiencing God’s Rest. I have a facebook page if you are interested in following it.
            I’ll leave my email here: Please drop me an email so I can stay in touch with you. Actually my sharingmom blog is about something else entirely: Gluten-free, Dairy-free recipes and tips for raising a special needs child (in my case Aspergers).
            But both projects are passions of mine – and thus time consuming and overwhelming!

  • Thanks so much for this post! I started my blog because I want to share the information I have with other people in hopes that it will help them as it has helped me. Then I started feeling all this pressure to do this and do that.
    I started trying to do all of these things I “needed” to do and realized it was turning into something I hated! I would love to have more followers and better stats but I don’t want to sacrifice what I wanted from blogging to begin with. Its a slippery slope and I hope I can climb my way back up lol

    Searching for a happy medium 😉

  • Silvia says:

    So agreed on the idea that Pintrest stuff is way too fancy. I’ve never liked it and I think that’s why. I look at something and go “oh, that’s pretty” and keep scrolling because there’s no way I’m going to put the time into making fruit balls when I can just eat the darn fruit. 🙂

  • Such good advice, Crystal. It doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” situation (that is, you can do what you want to/can do), and plenty of people are really successful while breaking plenty of the blogging “rules.

  • You’re so right! I see what other bloggers do as inspiration to branch out using my own ideas and remain “me”. I know that I have a choice. I pay for my hosting and it’s my blabby mouth that got me here in the first place, so I’ll do what I want, when I want and how I want!

  • Thank you for this! I sometimes feel I am in high school again. It overwhelms me and what I am trying to say isn’t genuine when I worry about getting the words or content “just right”. I feel like I have permission to just be myself and not worry what the big blogs are doing right now.

  • Cindy says:

    THANK YOU! I have broken just about every rule known to the blogging world. It’s ridiculous how successful bloggers tell others “Do this, this, and this, and you will be successful.” just because they happened to do those things and come up successful. You know what? Just write good. Do the things that make sense to you and develop a sense of what works as you go. You’ll be fine. Or, you could end up like me, languishing in a sad little corner of the internet because you didn’t do what worked for all the experts. Oh, well. At least I’m happy. 😉

  • Amy says:

    Oh, if we could all forget about what the cool kids are doing and just enjoy our lives, how much happier we would all be!!

  • This made me smile. I remember your blogging for income posts and the information that you and others put forth about it being neccessary to blog at least 3 times a week.

    I’ve been following two highly successful blogs for years and they both post once a week, and sometimes less. Both have published books now, and they have done lots of other things, thanks to their blogs.

    I don’t post 3-4 times a week. I post 1-2 times a week. My readership is still growing.

    Would it be nice to make money? Sure. But–it isn’t the reason I started writing, nor is it the reason I continue to write. That surprises a lot of people who think that blogging is only for making money.

    • Crystal says:

      If you want to grow your blog, I still think it’s good to blog 2-4 times per week, 🙂 but consistency in regularly updating your blog — be that once a week or every other week or multiple times per day — is more important than the number of times you blog. (i.e. Don’t blog ten times a day for two weeks and then disappear for months at a time.)

      However, if this is stressing you out or just doesn’t feel right, just forget about the number of times per week you blog and blog whenever you’re inspired to do so. 🙂

      • Deb says:

        I so agree, if you are going to keep a blog, then at least update it and if you aren’t going to update, like in months or years, then take it off the blogosphere so it isn’t linked from other sites. As a blog reader, but not a blogger, I find that I most appreciate the blogs that either a) update first thing every morning or b) on the same day every week. I also really hate blinking advertising or ads that make me click on them to get rid of them. Too many blogs to deal with annoying ones that make you feel spammed just going to the main page!

        • Tara says:

          Oh my Deb, yes….ads/promos that pop up drive me nuts especially since I read using my tablet and phone and they are a pain, I stop going to blogs if they have pop ups. Tara.

    • Aimee says:

      Brandy, your blog is one of my absolute favorites. Though you don’t post that often, those you do post are so informative and everything you do is GORGEOUS! I’m willing to wait for your beautiful posts. 🙂

  • Thank you so much, I needed that as I just started my blog. It can get discouraging, thanks for the encouragement!

  • “I want my blog to be an outpouring of my life instead of blogging to be my life.”

    Yes to this. Thank you so much…

  • Denise says:

    As a brand new blogger, I appreciate these words of encouragement!

  • Thank you, I really needed to hear this today. It is so hard to not get caught up in a comparison trap with other bloggers. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement.

  • Julie C says:

    Who proclaimed them the “experts” anyhow?!? 😉

    Be yourself bloggers; real people like real people.

  • I think a lot of these blogging “experts” write these books and articles in order to create traffic for their own site and not actually with the intentions of helping others. It seems like the natural progression of blogging to write the book after a few years or to start being the expert adviser and it is hard to not feel the pressure to do this – especially as women! Admit it or not, we are our own harshest critics and do tend to compare ourselves to others and this is where we can get stuck.
    It’s always good to stay somewhat on top of things/trends/ social media but there is a big ole world out there and it’s a whole lot more fun than posting deals and staring at a computer all day!
    Great post!!!
    (PS – I despise Google+ 😉 )

  • Pamela says:

    I enjoyed reading this post, though I will never blog! I really hate writing (maybe because I just finished my dissertation??!?), so that thought of writing on any sort of regular basis makes me want to run away screaming. I sure am glad others like to write though, because I do enjoy reading. 🙂

  • Thanks for writing this! I’ve just been lamenting those same things on my blog, and even quit for a short time out of discouragement. I’ve been blogging for 2 years, but with 3 kids 3 years old and under, and a tight budget, I just don’t have the time and money to make everything Pinterest-perfect. Thanks for writing from your heart!

  • I have two blogs and was about to throw in the towel with my hyperlocal blog a few days ago when a friend and fellow blogger encouraged me to step back, re-evaluate my goals and to take a break!

    Both of you are right; there were things that I was doing because I felt like I had to! So, thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! What an encouragement to see a seasoned blogger encouraging those of us that are newbies!

  • jennifer says:

    This post has been a real blessing for me. I’m trying to launch a food blog and “everyone” says if you’re going to have a food blog, you “must” have great food shots. I’m really not into photography. I have to take photos regularly for my day job. It’s been 13 years and that’s still the one part of my job I find tiresome. So I don’t want to arrange food and make it look pretty then take pretty photos of it. I want to write about food and what I’m making my family. So that’s what I’m going to do. Thanks Crystal.

  • I’m so glad to hear you say this 🙂 Over the past few months I have been making myself crazy trying to keep up with all the things I’m “supposed” to do with my blog, and I became so stressed out and was neglecting my kids, husband and home.

    Thank you for taking the time to encourage us 🙂

  • After nearly 10 years of being a webmaster, I still need to be reminded that it’s not important to follow every single rule a “guru” sets. It’s all about you and you alone. Thanks for the reminder.

  • What a timely article to read today. I am hearing too many writers feel discouragement over there lack of “growth”. I just want to be me and write what God designed for “me” to do. Yes, I want you to come read it. But just like I come to you, it is for sincere real words. No hype. Great words, thank you

  • Daree says:

    Preach Crystal! I decided a long time ago that I would not commit to blogging daily or creating new graphics for each post. I don’t compare myself to other bloggers or others in my profession. Excellent post and I agree 200%.

  • Tammy Doiel says:

    Thank you for this post. Your blog is such an inspiration to me, and I have just started a little blog. However, I have 5 children ages 2-10. I just went to a homeschooling conference today (even though I don’t homeschool.) And it convicted me again of my need to get to bed earlier and to be more present and available for my children. The blog might die–but my children need me right now! (And the blog might not die, but I can only spend so much time on it.) 🙂

  • Sometimes I feel like the marketing and blogging “experts” are constantly ringing in my ears – do this, do that, post on FB regularly, interact on twitter, grow your Pinterest following, get into Instagram because it’s the new thing for marketing, don’t forget about Google+ if you want to rank in Google search, etc!

    Anyway, I have ditched some of the rules and some social media altogether. My blog has grown more when I started blogging only once a week but ALWAYS once a week. Most of my posts are long, detailed, have pin-worthy photos, etc, so I do better when I can focus on one great post rather than a bunch of posts just to post. I really think it’s better to focus on what you really can do, rather than have barely attainable plans that constantly leave you frustrated.

    I will say, however, that while I do believe it’s great to ditch a lot of advice of the experts, that should not be confused avoiding the aspects of blogging that you don’t like. I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business (or myself), if I hadn’t done quite a few things that I really didn’t enjoy because I knew they were good for me and my business.

  • Amanda says:

    I am so happy I saw your link in my Twitter feed! This was exactly what I needed tonight! I have some what lost my way with blogging by trying to do what I thought was the right way and in the mean time lost the love I had when I first started blogging.

    In many ways I am going to scale back so I can get back into why I wanted to start blogging & love it again! Being a successful blogger has a different meaning for each of us. I never have a desire to be a big or expert blogger, just love what I do, encourage others and be able to stay at home with my children.

    Thank-you for sharing Crystal!

  • Chelsea says:

    Wonderful post, Crystal! I have no idea where my blog will take me or if my traffic will *ever* increase. I just have to be myself and trust that the Lord has a plan for it even if I don’t understand it.

    This part especially resonates with me: “I want this blog to be a blessing to my family, not a burden. I want my blog to be an outpouring of my life instead of blogging to be my life.”

  • Megan Acosta says:

    I have followed your blog almost since its infancy and one of my favorite thinsg here is your photography! I love that they aren’t perfect, bokeh, photoshopped-to-death pictures! You are getting better with your new camera and I will miss your poorly lit pictures of food 😉 Seriously!! I have had to stop following some blogs because it seems all they do is post gorgeous pictures of their baked goods and whimsical, Pinterest-worthy urban homesteads and herb gardens. I decorate with Fisher-Price toys and cardboard box forts so I just end up feeling bad about my lack of artisitic talent. Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Jenna says:

    I’d still follow your blog if there was a plain white background and a lack of pictures. :-). Thanks for the time you put into this. It’s important (in my opinion) to love what you do!
    I think the points you made were very relevant not only to blogging, but also to life in general.

  • Jen Stults says:

    As a new blogger, I cannot thank you enough for this post! 🙂 I’ve been struggling with the idea of “marketing” myself (for one thing, it takes a lot of time) or with waiting for the audience to come that will really appreciate what I have to say. I’m still trying to find the balance, but it’s good to hear a successful blogger say that it’s okay not to “follow the rules” and just write.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this, I am contemplating starting a blog but wasn’t sure how much time I would be able to devote to it. So this post has come at just the right time for me.

  • Kathleen says:

    I SO needed this today. What an encouragement, and so helpful to hear from a rockstar blogger such as yourself. You are one of my blogging heroes and I constantly remind myself of those very things (you’ve been doing this for years, you have a team, etc.). Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Kimberly says:

    I just breathed a sigh of relief. 🙂 After blogging for a few months now (and mostly feeling overwhelmed and discouraged), this is quite possibly the most encouraging thing I’ve read–and I’ve read a lot!! Thank you!!!

  • angi says:

    Thanks for the reminders. I blog for several reasons but mostly because I like to write and it gives me a platform to become a better writer. But I also really love sharing what I’m learning about living simply with others.

    I recently had a conversation with a friends and your blog came up. She said, “What I love about Crystal is that she just puts it out there. She’s not the best photographer and yet she posts her pictures. She’s not the best knitter and yet she shows us her dishcloths. I need to learn from that.”

  • Mel says:

    When my friend and I started blogging, all we had to go on was my ability to set up a website and our mutual desire to talk about TV. We were late to the Twitter and Facebook page parties, still just dabble on Pinterst, and Tumblr makes no sense to either of us.

    Fast forward 6 years and we’re still blogging about TV, have hundreds of thousands of readers, have been interviewed for national magazines and newspapers, host our own video podcast, and have written literally millions of words in our niche. And now we have people asking US for advice on “how to build a good site”. We’re happy to provide guidelines based on our own experiences – in fact we launched a separate site just to be a resource for bloggers in our niche – but more often than not we tell them “write what you’re passionate about, the readers will find you.” It might take longer, but it really is that simple.

  • Jo Lynn says:

    I cried while reading this post and all the comments. Blogging has been such a healthy outlet for me but I let myself get so caught up in what “they” say I should be doing and it became so overwhelming and unenjoyable. It feels so good to know I am not alone in feeling like this. I love your humility and honsety and genuineness. Your advice is such a breath of fresh air. Lol I felt like ending this cmment by saying I love you and then thought how akward, but seriously Crystal I do love you and the way you minister to so many of us. I can’t even begin to explain how much of an inspiration and blessing your blog has been to my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do for so many of us through this blog and for opening your life to us. You are very appreciated and I pray for many many continued blessings for you and your family.

  • Lana says:

    ah, thanks, great post. Its funny. I started blogging a few months ago I(religions blog) and get several hundred viewers a day. I haven’t done any guest posting on any major sites and just follow and comment on a very few blogs. It may take me a lot longer to get some places, but blogging is able to be a hobby and passion of mine this way rather than a burden. It’s refreshing!

  • Sylvia says:

    WoW this post could not have come at a more perfect time.. My blog is about 6 months new, its my very first blog and a couponing/money saving blog at that so most things are time sensitive. Just today I attempted to come up with a schedule for my blog posts and Youtube videos but fell miserably. Not only am I responding to comments on my Youtube videos every day but also on Facebook which is extremely time consuming.
    I post on the blog in the AM and in the PM and at times it takes up most of any free time I have.

    I too have listened to the experts and initially signed up for Twitter, Pinterest,etc and couldnt keep up with everything. Just recently, about 3 weeks ago, I decided I wasnt going to post any deals on Sunday and take the day off but would post only one blog post titled Lazy Sundays with Sylvia where I share whatever I feel like sharing. I can say this little break on Sundays make a world of difference because Im refreshed by Monday. Now I have to figure out how to scale back or allow myself to scale back before things get too chaotic.

    Thank you Crystal for such an awesome post and somehow always giving me the info I need.

  • Amen, Crystal… what a great post!

    I read your blog way back when it was just “plain white”… I loved it then and I love it now.

    Thanks for this encouragement!

  • Katie says:

    I like this – as for Pinterest – many of the recipes that have looked good – are pretty gross when I’ve tried them. This has led me to believe that Pinterest is a looks/image site rather than a content site. I have been reading a blog since 2006 with great recipes, ok photos, but wisdom and inspiration and that’s where I go. I like your blog when your write from the heart. Keep on breaking the rules! 🙂

  • Love this, Crystal! I just took two weeks off from blogging…completely. It goes against all “grow-your-blog” theories, but I was feeling too overwhelmed with other things (like prepping our house to sell). I knew that something was going to give and I didn’t want it to be my kids. So I prayed about it and announced I’d be taking a couple weeks off. And of course, the Lord’s timing was perfect. Not only am I back this week, but I’m filled with new ideas and new passion to share them. Thanks for the encouragement that it is ok to break the rules! 🙂

  • I love this advice!! I think when I try to jump through all these hoops about having the “perfect” blog, it gets exhausting pretty quickly and I am left with nothing intentional or helpful for my readers. I’m trying to slow down, think about what my readers truly need from me and provide that, instead of worrying about doing a hundred other things I don’t have the time for. It’s a lot more fulfilling way to blog and I think more effective, too.

  • Lana says:

    This is exactly why I will not start a blog even though many have been telling me I should!

  • Heather says:

    I love this! Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging. I love your site for all the deals and saving tips, and as a brand new blogger, I also appreciate that you share what you’ve learned with new bloggers like me. Thanks so much!

  • Crystal, it’s so good to hear these words of encouragement. When I started blogging (just last October), I promised myself that I’d wait at least a year before measuring my success at all–but it’s been hard to keep to that. There are so many amazing blogs out there that I love; writers whose work I really admire. And I like following them and learning from their material (e.g. Michael Hyatt). But whenever I try to “be like them,” I lose my own personality and style and then blogging isn’t fun. So I’m trying to get a grip on just being me. But that’s easier said than done, sometimes.

  • April says:

    I’m in the minority of women that don’t like Pinterest(it all comes back to I’m not a browser…I don’t like shopping wither…) I get Twitter and Fb, the rest of it, not so much… it just adds to my stress level and I definitely don’t want to be on the computer all day

  • Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Wonderful post, I often seem to forget that I don’t always have to do it all

  • Misty says:


    This is all so true, trying to be a full time career woman, a caregiver, the right kind of future
    wife, make time to be able to serve my church, and community, and blog is hard enough. Personally, I’ve backed way off of the social spectrum even though it’s my profession, because there just isn’t time for it. I write, and blog, because it’s not just my passion, but it’s also my outlet, and way to get a clearer perspective on what is going on in my head, but I genuinely believe you are correct when you say there is no right, or wrong way to do it, and sometimes breaking the rules is the best way to still get followers, and make time for yourself, your family, and even your career.

    I really enjoyed this post, keep up the great writing.

  • Karen says:

    Thanks, I needed to hear this. I have been casually blogging for a few years and never thought of doing anything more with my blog until recently. Now I read articles and hear all this advice of the things you MUST do in order for your blog to be successful. It is great to hear you put in all in perspective. People ask me why I blog and I tell them because I love it. I hope that never changes.

  • I believe you are absolutely right.

    You can’t let the blog rule your life. You can only do what you can do. A lot of people say content is king and I believe it. If you put out good stuff, people will come whether you’re on Pinterest, Facebook, or anything else.

  • Yvonne says:

    Thank you so much for this post!! While I have been trying to blog more intentionally this year (3 posts a week), there are times when I wonder if what I am blogging about really matters to others. But then I remember that the posts I share are what I feel are important in my life and I pray they are a blessing to others. Thank you again for being real with all of us!

  • K says:

    Thank you for this post.

  • I love this post, Crystal. Thank you so much for writing it. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I haven’t been blogging for very long but I have already felt overwhelmed by all of the things that I’m “supposed” to be doing. I am trying to simplify my life and adding more social media and other aspects of the business of blogging into the mix, I can see how burnout can occur. Thanks again for reminding us to simply write for enjoyment.

  • I posted a comment earlier which was very negative, critical and discouraging. It’s clearly been deleted – and rightly so. This post caught me in a bad moment this morning and all my insecurities came to the surface. I was wrong to write what I wrote.

    There is so much wisdom and encouragement in this post & I simply discouraged you – as a human being, someone with a gift of encouragement and who loves encouragement, and as a fellow writer that hurts me. It was wrong.

    This is a positive post in so many ways, and I truly mean that. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Chrissy says:

    Thank you for this post Crystal. I just started my blog and have barely gotten one post up yet because I keep reading all the “seasoned” blog posts about all these things you need to do to be successful and its overwhelming !. I have a 2 1/2 yr old and an 11 month old and I am a stay at home mom. I want to get everything done at one time and reading your blog is a refreshing reminder to slow down and take things one day at a time. I love what you said about the blog being a blessing to your family and not a curse. Thanks for all that you do and for your inspiration to us moms.

  • Heather says:

    Once again you write with such wisdom and simplicity. I visit your site daily and appreciate the realness of it all. Blogging can either be exhausting or inspiring – and the beauty of blogging is it’s OUR choice. I’m shocked when I step back and breath, how I’m a better blogger, better mother – and I love it so much more. Thank you, thank you Crystal. I’d follow your blog no matter what it looked like.

  • Lindsay says:

    Thanks for that! I’ve been feeling the frustration of loving to blog for the writing and relationships part, but have been feeling handicapped in my lack of know how when it comes to blog design, social media, etc. It’s a good reminder not to compare how your blog looks to those that have been doing it for a lot longer.

  • deborah says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! We all get bogged down at times or caught up in what we think we “should” be doing. Blogging takes a good bit of time and effort, whether your blog is simple or complex.

    There are things I really enjoy about blogging and then there are times I feel like I’m wasting my time. 🙂 I have loved learning about the techy things and nuts and bolts behind- the- scenes of a blog.

  • Julie says:

    Thanks so much for a timely reminder! Lately I’ve really been thinking about just selling my blog because I don’t feel like I have time to do it right. But it is something I enjoy, it has provided some great opportunities and friends, and it has helped us financially.

    I may never be a “big dog” blogger, but that’s ok. Thanks for the freedom to succeed on my own terms, not by the world’s definition of success.

  • Jamie says:

    THANK YOU! I’m just starting out and have been feeling pressured to add a ton of content all at once; my site is very bare bones right now. You just gave me permission to chill out a bit. The web site will grow and a normal and reasonable pace and I will not stress over it.

    God bless,

  • Lisa says:

    Oh, thank you for this!! My goal is not even to be big or monetized. All I really want to do is share my heart for the issues I’m passionate about, but I haven’t felt like that was good enough. I have honestly felt like I need to learn so many more things or get my ducks more in a row before I can even put my writing out to the world. This was just the nudge I needed to just WRITE as God leads.

  • Rebecca says:

    Oh, thank you – I have this love hate relationship with Pinterest. I just think – it’s another place to get lost. If you can truly use it as a tool to find something…that’s great. All too often, I find it to be a place to waste time. I can’t thank you enough for this post…

  • Wonderful words of wisdom, Crystal!

    My Achilles heel is Twitter. I have never been able to get into that platform but joined because I felt I “had to,” went on for a while and haven’t been back in over a year.

    (I do *love* Pinterest though. I don’t care if my pictures aren’t up to par, I do the best I can and post them anyway!)

  • Rachel says:

    Very true. I have been writing online since before “blogging” even existed…going on 17 years! I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, LOL. While I LOVE finding new ideas to try, it has made me have to really step up my game and take better photos, write better articles, etc. It IS a lot of pressure. In the end it has improved my web site a hundred fold, but sometimes I have to remind myself to just take a break…because Facebook and Pinterest will always be there beckoning me, no matter how many hours I work! Competition these days is fierce but it’s important to keep everything in perspective.

  • LifeorDebt says:

    Thanks for this post! It is certainly overwhelming when you think about trying to connect in a real way to the blogging community.

    I nearly always navigate away from blogs that have a lot of “stuff” happening on the homepage. It’s information overload for me.

    Not everyone can, or should, be a writer/photographer/crafter/DIYer/fill-in-the-blank. Self-knowledge is huge–because, as you know, conformity is a dangerous beast– even well into adulthood.

  • Victoria says:

    Thanks for this! I am taking it easy this summer since I want more time with the children, and I was feeling bad for paying less attention to my Facebook page and for skipping twitter parties. I also cut out a post a week. Strange thing is the week after I made the changes I felt in my heart I should make but in my mind I thought it would hurt things, and wouldn’t ya know it I had my best week selling affiliates yet (still only in the coffee money stages but at least I am past the breaking even point). 🙂

  • Erin says:

    Love this!! And it’s true, not just for bloggers, but for everyone in every part of life! Great reminder 🙂

  • Kate says:

    Thanks, I needed that! Love that you said you wanted your blog to be a blessing not a burden. Great advice. Glad you had such success to start without fancy designs or pictures… my photography skills are really terrible too 🙂

  • Christin says:

    Love. Love. Love. Thank you!!!!!

  • Nikki P. says:

    i so needed to here that. i am guilty of trying to maintain a presence on several social media sites and blog at the same time in order to do what i think is the right thing. its too hard to keep up with all that and do all the stuff i am supposed to do at home as i wife and mom. it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. i can have a good blog even if i am not stopping every five minutes to tweet about it. thanks for this. 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I feel the same way. I don’t do Facebook, I rarely tweet, I don’t do Pinterest or Instagram… I blog my way and it works just fine. 🙂

    And I don’t think people care nearly as much about pictures as the WORDS you have to say. It’s only been very recently in the blogosphere that everybody and her sister has to be a professional photographer to feel like a blogger. It used to be *writing* that mattered. This is a big gripe I have… our attention as a culture has become so impatient that we have to see or hear everything (video) in order to get the information.

  • This post couldn’t have come at a better time, Crystal! My last two posts were about how frustrated I am with blogging and the pressure of it all. Looks like I need to break some rules!!! THANK YOU!

  • Great post, you’ve obviously hit a nerve and given a lot of hope to a bunch of us. I especially love the point about not having to do what the cool kids do. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with what everyone else is doing that I just get stuck and don’t do anything! And when I try to do “what the cool kids are doing” I’m not myself, and it shows.

    But I just wonder if the concept of letting go of the rules is an ideal that we all wish for, but just isn’t real. We all know how we wish blogging could be, and how it was when it first became possible and popular. Just write about the thing that moves you and people will come and read it. And they’ll keep coming back. I just don’t know that the simplicity that built loyal followings ten years ago is going to work now, no matter how much we think it should. The rotary dial phone that hung on the wall was pretty cool when it first came out and it got a loyal following. Try to sell one now. People have moved on to flashier things. The internet is a big place and it seems like newbies have to play by a different set of rules just to be heard.

    I don’t mean to sound so negative and I’m certainly not challenging you or your advice. I just wonder if new people have the option of just blogging without all the hamster wheel activity. It would be nice, but I’m just not sure.

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks so much for your input!

      I think it’s totally possibly to just blog without all the hamster wheel activity. You might not have the biggest blog ever or build your readership as quickly, but I know many people who are doing it very successfully — some who are newer bloggers.

      Ultimately, I think you’re a better writer, a better blogger, and a better person when you focus on what you are most passionate about and write/develop your blog in the way that works best for you instead of feeling obligated to have to do everything a certain way someone else tells you you must. At least I know that’s how it is for me. 🙂

  • Trina says:

    Thanks for your grace-filled advice, thanks for putting it in a post, and thanks for your example of embracing joy and freedom. Hugs, Trina

  • Annie Kate says:

    Yay, Crystal! That is all so true, and at the end, God won’t ask us how our blog did, but how we lived. Thanks for putting it into words!

    As it is, I can’t imagine how you do all you do. I’m learning Pinterest because it’s a good way to display the books and curriculum I review, but don’t do the other social media. Saves a lot of time 🙂

  • And ironically, my first instinct was to pin this because it was awesome. 😉

    • Crystal says:

      I almost felt weird including a Pin It button on it. 😉 However, I think there’s a lot of great inspiration on Pinterest — so long as being involved in it is a blessing not a burden! 🙂

  • Tonia says:

    Found you via pinterest and happy I did. I’ve been saying this forever! So called expert bloggers will have you crazy if you listened to every single thing they say! I happy to know that I am not the only person that feels this way.

  • Sharla says:

    So glad that I read this tonight. I have been feeling the pressure to do more, not just more of what I know how to do and am doing and enjoying, but to try to keep up with the ever-changing beast that is the internet. It’s exhausting. I just heard yesterday about some new up-and-coming social media platform that I “had” to be on. I am already refusing to join LinkedIn just because twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ are more than enough for me. I’m still trying to figure out Google+ let alone adding another one!

    My next ebook which I’ve started to write hasn’t had a word added to it in weeks because I’m trying to keep up with things that probably will not make that much of a difference in the reach or profitability of my blog and I should be ignoring all the shiny new things and concentrating on what I do best.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and for letting me feel like it’s ok that all the pictures on my blog are ones that I take on my phone!

  • Amy says:

    Blogging has been hijacked by advertising. It’s not about good content anymore.

  • Cyndi says:

    Just want I needed to read, I have been driving myself crazy the past few months!

  • Delores says:

    I’ve been blogging for 3 and a half years and recently decided that I needed to live my life, not let the blog be my life. There is just so much competition out there to be noticed and I kind of don’t care anymore! I just keep posting what I’m passionate about and the rest takes care of itself. The blog has a life of its own! And so do I! Great post, glad to have discovered you (from Pinterest). ~Delores

  • Tamboliya says:

    I just wanted to encourage you; thank you for writing such an encouraging blog entry, for sharing grace or permission to others to LIVE life instead of being bogged down/tied down to media trying to “advertise” life instead of living it. Good for you! You are doing your family and others a favor. God bless you. Love, A fellow sister in the Lord

  • I’ve always loved your blog for it’s focus and visual simplicity. Blogs with tons of buttons and bars and links and ads are “over-stimulation” for me!

  • Kemi Quinn says:

    This has been sitting open on my computer all day. Crystal you always seem to know what’s on my mind. I won’t tell you all the things I “don’t” belong to because I just don’t have time. I use occasionally for ideas and goodness do I ever forget to ‘pin’ my own photos. But that’s okay.

    I started my website over 10 years ago as an outlet during an incredibly painful time. I didn’t start to blog until much, much later. I have a love hate relationship with my blog. Many times I’m too busy living to think of posting but there is much I need to share rather than trying so hard to improve my online presence. This post is a reinforcement of what I’ve been thinking. To go back to the beginning when I just shared and my site was doing very well. If you write from the heart they will come. So I’ll try to keep that in mind as I post and write, create, and occasionally photograph.

  • Kelli says:

    I’ve been blogging for a little over two years, and I still feel like a newbie.. sometimes I get caught up in the “ooo I need to do this, I need to do that” and then reality hits me square in the face! I work full-time with a somewhat hefty commute and I just don’t have the energy to do all that I really want to do! I enjoy blogging and sharing my home with whoever is willing to listen, and I guess for now that is just enough. Thanks for reaffirming that thought!

  • Catina Mount says:

    Crystal….thank you.
    This full-time working momma/newbie blogger needed this post.
    You are amazing!

  • Jackie says:

    Thank you so much for this, Crystal! I have been blogging for nearly 6 years and I don’t really follow the rules. When I try to I get burnt out and end up disliking my blogs. I enjoy blogging the most when I am writing posts that I want to and not worrying if I am following “the rules”. Thanks for letting us all know that there really isn’t a “right” way to blog. 🙂

  • Whew! I just breathed a sigh of relief because your post was a verbal “picture” of me & my blog! I started it as mainly a “journal” of my and my families life. But I found I lost sight of that MANY times, resulting in frustration & just flat out not blogging, which is SO not what I wanted from it. Just this past week or so I have tried to re-focus on, and be at peace, with that: just a lil’ ole’ journal of me & my life. And if others wanna hop on board & peek into it, “welcome on in, y’all!”.
    Thank you!~TJ

  • As a very new blogger this was a great reminder for me since I am really struggling with all the things I feel like I have to have to be successful. I need to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint and to stop trying to keep up with the people who have been doing this for years.

  • Julie says:

    What great advice & great encouragement for bloggers trying to stay afloat in an overwhelming and sometimes intimidating environment. I, too, have adopted your philosophy in blogging and while I don’t foresee myself becoming rich & famous in this profession, I do enjoy it and my family is still first in my life. Good for you for using your influence to encourage!

  • I’ve been blogging a long time and I still struggle with this. I just wrote this week about the self-imposed rules I saddle myself with and the one rule I need to try to keep.

    Blogging experts aren’t my problem. I am plenty enough problem on my own.

  • Thank you, Crystal. I’m having one of those blogging moments where overwhelmed would be an understatement. I love to write, but oy! All the extra stuff is bogging me down. I had already decided I would be cutting back, so this confirmed that decision. Bless you!

  • Sissy says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I so needed to hear this, I still am not sure if I will continue my website or not.
    I know there are so, so many wonderful couponing websites out there and I feel many days, why am I doing this….. but I have a lot of friends that tell me they still don’t get it, so my site is very simple with detailed instructions.
    Thanks again for you words of wisdom!

  • Amelia says:

    I can’t say AMEN enough! : ) I’m a 52 year old homeschool mom with four daughters, ages 18 to 30. Trust me, you have made a wise choice for sooooooo many reasons. You won’t be sorry.

    Blogging is fun and a blessing but I have found it must be done with an “It’s good enough” attitude. I just love peeking into lives, and sharing mistakes and victories, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. Some days a recipe, some days a sewing blunder, some days a good ol’ 40s movie, some days a prayer request. It’s life. Life.

    Blessings! ~amelia

  • AMEN and AMEN! I was just discussing this with my husband the other day. All these RULES that don’t really matter. I just want to write what God places on my heart. Sometimes I forget to do all the social media or follow the “rules”. My blog isn’t huge nor does it make money. And I need to be ok with that cuz that’s where God wants me right now. Comparison is evil. All the posts about what the pro bloggers do just overwhelm me. And I need to mother my babes and be a wife. Those are my priorities.

  • Ashley Kling says:

    Thank you! I have been feeling some things along the same line as your friend! This is just what I needed!

  • Kristen says:

    I agree!!! I do not follow other bloggers rules and I do just fine!!! I have over 13,000 Pinterest followers by breaking the rules!!

  • Tamara says:

    Thank you so much for writing this at a time when I really needed to read it! I also feel that my blog needs so much behind the scenes work before I can actually start writing. I have so many ideas, but don’t get writing because I don’t feel that my blog is ready. I will take your suggestions to heart. Thanks again.

  • Jane N. says:

    Great Post. Write for fun. Write what you love, I say…

  • Kasey Werner says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I just started blogging about 8 months ago and I really struggle sometimes with how my blog measures up. Sometimes I stress out when I don’t have some really profound to write about every week and I feel like I don’t measure up because I don’t have 1000 readers a month like other bloggers do. Thank you for encouraging me to be who I am and just write because I love writing! 🙂

  • Tara says:

    Crystal, thank you so much! I feel like the chains just broke and I am free to be me. I can see we all really appreciate this liberating advice. Tara (The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary & One Faithful Arrow)

  • Kate says:

    Beautifully written, and that is why people will return to your blog 🙂

  • Thank you for this! I have come to hate the new millions of Martha Stewart blogs, with a dozen photoshopped photos and “Pin it!” on every post. I have two blogs that I’ve kept for years and they’ve always had loyal followings. Lately I’ve felt more pressure to make every one have a photo and look more perfect, and my blogging has taken a dive as a result. I’m going back to just yapping to my fun readers and playing with my kids. 🙂

  • Debbied says:

    Write from the heart for the audience of one…the ONE.

  • I’ve followed not following the rules for years…and it works! Wonderful advice for new bloggers. Follow your bliss, my babies!

  • Tasha-Ann says:

    Thanks so much for making this post. It was very inspirational to read. As a new blogger, it reminds me to think of why I started blogging and never forget that.

  • I just love entertaining people, and the way that I do that is through writing my blog and making videos! The more people who watch/read, the more people who might laugh or at least smile! 🙂 That’s my goal!

    I tend to get a little irked when I feel like my traffic isn’t increasing much, but honestly, slow and steady wins the race and I do love my return readers/watchers! I appreciate them so much!

  • Valerie says:

    Thank You! I am a new blogger. I’m just learning about blogging and find I’m getting deeper and deeper into a pile of things I need to or should be doing. I don’t even have a lot of time to write. I can be a “by the book person”…so this was a great read. And although all my comments come from the heart..this one is not linked lol.

  • Erin says:


    I SO needed to hear this today. Ever since I decided to stop treating blogging like a hobby and tried to put my all into it, I’ve come across a million and one what you should be doing articles, expensive online or real life conferences I “should” be taking, strategies I should be employing to be successful and I feel so stinking overwhelmed. Even though I only launched a little over a month ago I’m already sweating the “cool kids” and feeling pushed around on the blogging playground. I really needed this message today so I could just pour my heart out like I used to and trust that God will use my words for His purpose whether a ton of people read it or just one! Thanks again!

  • Christie says:

    This is such refreshing advice. I have had a couple of blogs in the past but am just researching things to begin a new one that I can monetize and the to do list is amazingly long lol! Thanks for being so honest and giving us “new bloggers” a chance to just be who we are!

  • Thank you for your post! I wish I had seen this before. I have blogging for the past few months but have felt overwhelmed at times because of trying to keep up with what I am “supposed” to be doing. Now I truly feel encouraged that anything I can do is “good enough”. Thank you!

  • Kristie says:

    I enjoyed this post! I have a blog and I want it to bless my family also. I don’t want the blog to run my life. It is hard to find a balance, but I love your line about being who God created you to be. That gives me hope, because if God is behind me, then I know I can be successful. Thank you for this post! At this point I have decided that I am only going to be concentrating on certain things. I have never even been on Instagram or Twitter (either professionally or personally). And I like it that way right now, so I don’t feel so scattered. And who knows maybe one day I will branch out! 🙂

  • Becky Wolfe says:

    I love this Crystal. I was feeling so overwhelmed last year that I quite for a while. Blogging was taking up so much time that I couldn’t keep up with it and it was taking away from my family and our other businesses. But… I Missed writing. I love to write and help people and I felt like that wasn’t even fun while I was trying to keep up with all the big bloggers. Maybe my blog will never take off, but I have to believe that the people who need to read my blog are. Thanks for letting us small bloggers know that it is ok to be who we are.

  • Tammy says:

    I am new to the blogging world and am a new reader to this blog as well. I really like what you have said here Crystal! What I read can be very overwhelming. However, even before I found this post I had already decided that I was going to be ME! I will build at my speed, work one social media platform at a time – until I have figured it out – and try hard to enjoy each phase and moment of my journey. I want my girls to see their mom LOVE her life and her journey with blogging. Thank you Crystal for this wonderful blog! 🙂 It is a true source of inspiration and encouragement for me as I travel this really cool journey.

  • lisa says:

    picture” of me & my blog! I started it as mainly a “journal” of my and my families life. But I found I lost sight of that MANY times, resulting in frustration & just flat out not blogging, which is SO not what I wanted from it. Just this past week or so I have tried to re-focus on, and be at peace, with that: just a lil’ ole’ journal of me & my life. And if others wanna hop on board & peek into it, “welcome on in, y’all!”.

  • Jade says:

    Yes! Thank you. Photos stress me out so much, especially on Pinterest, I’ve even thought about not doing Pinterest at all. This post is my inspiration now.

  • Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I really needed to read this today.

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