Riding a Dragon named Purpose

by Chloe Jeffreys · 63 comments

in Women in Midlife

Jade by Deligaris

Jade by Deligaris

Have you ever noticed that every once in awhile your entire life goes to shit?

Okay, maybe it’s just me.

But I don’t think so.

I suspect there are others out there just like me.

There we are–living our seemingly happy little lives–when suddenly out of nowhere Zinga! we find ourselves writhing in agony from the depths of our very own personal hell.

Sometimes these life-derailments are through no fault of our own, and sometimes it really is our own damned fault, but either way it sucks, doesn’t it?

When Life Hands You Lemons It’s Time to Suck it (Up)

Last October I found myself in exactly the aforementioned position. Everything I’d been working towards blew up in my face. Unfortunately—because they lack a sense of humor, and don’t really understand the point of blogging–my attorneys have advised me to keep my opinions about the situation to myself. (Hint: Follow the money which I promise you never saw the light of day in any of my bank accounts.)  

So I’m going to have to content myself by allowing others who know nothing of the facts, or only a skewed version that’s been spoon-fed to them, spout off about what happened and why and whose fault it all is.

In the meantime, life must go on. Because short of killing ourselves when life doesn’t go our way what options do we really have when it all goes to shit? We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and go on. And so I have.

Blogging for (No) Dollars

After giving it nearly two years of concerted effort, I’ve come to the sincerely happy conclusion that blogging for a living is just not for me. This does NOT mean I won’t work with brands I love. What it does mean is that I’ve given up the silly notion that I can actually make a living doing it.

Why?

For one thing, my definition of “making a living” does not include having to turn around and spend every single penny I earn going to blog conferences so that I can try to win the chance to make more money so I can turn around and attend more blog conferences. (Amway, anyone?)

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to some great blog conferences where I’ve met some phenomenal people, and I’m sure I’ll attend some of them again. But I’ve also been to conferences where my social anxiety was so bad that I spent the entire conference hiding in my hotel room drinking pots of room service hot tea and watching Wheel of Fortune.

Imagine spending a thousand bucks–between conference tickets, airfare, hotel, and meals–to sit alone in a hotel room not getting laid.

Imagine coming home and explaining to your husband–who is working very hard supporting your supposed dream while also not getting laid—that you didn’t attend one single conference session because your heart was pounding out of your chest and you couldn’t bear to leave your room.

Why do I have these panic attacks?

Pressure.

The pressure to sell yourself while winning friends and influencing people just isn’t fun for me. Frankly I’d rather die from a thousand paper cuts to the eyeball than ever have to hand out my business card again and explain my blargh to anyone. Blech!

Show Me The Money

But my social anxiety and gut-wrenching aversion to blog self-promotion is not the real problem. There are meds for that. The real problem is that I just don’t think very many people are really making a living blogging. In other words, I think the Blogging Emperor has No Clothes.

I know.  There are some people claiming they are making a living with their blog, but 1) most of the time they have blogs I wouldn’t put my name on if someone put a gun to my head, and 2) I think my definition of “making a living” means making a lot more money than it must mean for them.

Because when I say I need to make money I mean real money. Not hand lotion, canvas tote bags with logos, and a little mad money check here and there money. And I most certainly don’t mean a free trip to a blog conference sponsored by YabbaDoo® Nipple Tweezers where I have to wear a YabbaDoo® Nipple Tweezer t-shirt in the back corner and hope I don’t get thrown out of the conference for outboarding.  (If you don’t know what outboarding is check out this article by CecilyK.)

Don’t get me wrong. Hand lotion, canvas tote bags, and even YabbaDoo® Nipple Tweezers (if they existed) are great, but that doesn’t even come close to paying my bills.

Baby needs shoes, and baby likes expensive ones.

I need money to live, but even more importantly, at 52, I need to make money to retire. How much money? I took this little quiz to see what my life expectancy is so I could start budgeting.

Holy Shit!

Life Expectancy

With an estimated life expectancy of 106(!), I’m going to need a lot of money if I want to retire and not be a financial burden to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I’m certainly need to make more than hand lotion, canvas tote bags, and free trips to blogging conferences!

And while I can’t deny that it is great fun having a popular blog, speaking at blog conferences, and having people retweet you and like your Facebook status updates, the cold, hard fact is:

You Can’t Retire on Popularity

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

When I was a little girl all I wanted to be when I grew up was a Playboy Bunny. When that dream fell through, I turned to academics. (Because if you can’t make it as a stripper there’s always college.)

I considered becoming a doctor or a teacher, but the truth is what I really wanted to be was a mommy. And when the babies came, a mommy I was. I poured myself into professional mommying with abandon (which, according to my sister-in-law, is apparently the only way I do anything).

I went so deep into it that I decided that even the public (or private) school system wasn’t good enough for my special snowflakes. In for a penny, in for a pound, I say. And so I decided that I’d skool ‘em myself! And a homeschool mom I became.

Fortunately for my future–that I never once considered during all of those mommying/homeschooling years—I also managed to slide in a nursing degree for myself somehow. The beauty of nursing is that it allowed me to work part-time taking some of the financial load off of my husband while still allowing me to be the sort of hands-on, hyper-present mom I wanted to be.

Fast-forward twenty-five years to my now empty nest–that I’d better darn well figure out how to feather lest I find myself standing by a freeway exit in the cold wind holding a cardboard sign and a tin can–and you’ll understand why I’m suddenly in a dither about money.

Time is running out!

Blogging, while a fun side-business, is a far cry from making the sort of living I want or need. And I don’t have time to recover from a catastrophic mistake like not knowing the difference between a high-risk, ego-driven speculation and a real financial investment that will pay dividends I can live and retire on.

The Dragon in my Dreams

During this time of upheaval and confusion, and right before leaving for Haiti, I had a dream about a dragon. This dream stayed with me for days.

Feeling lost and confused by both my situation and the significance of this dragon in my dreams, I sought out Rebecka Eggers to help me work this shit out.

Very quickly Rebecka was able to help me see that my external circumstances, which seemed very real and overwhelming at the time, were really nothing more than an annoying distraction preventing me from focusing on what was important: my trip to Haiti.

Rebecka led me through a stirring visualization exercise that helped me come face to face with my dream dragon who had much to say to me about where my life had been and where it needed to be going.

During this exercise it became clear that the call upon my life is now–and has always been–caring for mothers and babies

A happy coincidence is that this doesn’t include handing out my business card or trying to get people to like me, and it also just so happens to pay pretty well.

Where does blogging fit in?

Blogging is my form of self-expression—the means by which I communicate with others about the life I’m living and the unique way I see the world. Once blogging became an imperative instead of a choice I lost all joy for it. And once the blogging industry became an obsession that was consuming the rest of my life to the exclusion of everything else I became miserable.

And the fact that I was miserable while selling the notion that midlife is fabulous was making me feel like a liar and a charlatan, which I cannot abide.

This dragon in my dreams had come to set my feet back on their rightful path of meaningful purpose and give me the strength I needed to move forward.

During this exercise it became very clear that while I was sad about certain aspects of what had happened, it was actually the betrayal of myself and my purpose that was making me the most unhappy. 

If I came to peace with myself, then I could truly be at peace with others.

And I’m working on it.

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn Landau July 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Chloe, I came back from dinner and was going to leave a comment on FB. Instead, I hit your link and have fallen down a rabbit hole of wise, funny, wonderful blog posts! I think I’ve read 6+ now, and I just keep hitting the next link. This one really resonates, as I prepare to enter my first BlogHer. I’m not looking for sponsors, etc, but I want my work to speak for itself, and I want to feel good about what I put out there. I love what you have to say here and I applaud you for calling out the “establishment.”

I so wish I had read all these posts before dinner… now I have a dozen questions! That said, I love the organic direction our conversations went tonight. Four women, sharing honestly and without pretense. Maybe if I’d known you were so kick ass, I would have been tongue tied… doubtful, right? ;-) What a pleasure meeting you, but icing on the cake, reading your writing!
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My Inner Chick March 20, 2014 at 8:24 pm

***Imagine coming home and explaining to your husband–who is working very hard supporting your supposed dream while also not getting laid—that you didn’t attend one single conference session because your heart was pounding out of your chest and you couldn’t bear to leave your room.****

F#cking Superb Shit!!!!!!!!! Loooooooooove this post.
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pia March 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I relate to the panic attacks too well.

I began blogging in 2004 and was “successful” too quickly. This led me to blogging professionally but it was about disability and truly that depresses me–I’m not a victim or professional sufferer. It’s hard for people involved in this disability to understand that I’m in it for recognition, money and a living. I think I’m supposed to try out for sainthood or something.

So now I’m restarting my personal and really working on books because that’s what I want to do.

I wish I had the foresight you have at 52.
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Heather February 27, 2014 at 9:16 pm

As always … you are brilliant. And right.
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Ceri Wheeldon February 27, 2014 at 8:12 am

Hi Chloe, I so relate to this post! I started what has become a pretty busy blog/website in the UK. I started because I was passionate about changing perceptions of women over 50. Like you I am inundated with invitations for press events and product launches with offers of pots of cream, books bags etc. All of which take time and cost money to go to and none of which pay the bills! What started as a hobby has taken over my life. It is amazing how many large brands expect ‘bloggers’ to give up their time for free. I had one major retailer ask me to spend a week with them, going through their clothing range, to understand where they had gone wrong in catering to women over 50. When I asked them what budget they had allocated for this project I was informed they had no budget – but would I take free clothes?
Given that I was a successful headhunter and business consultant for 25 years I had the confidence to say ‘no’. My time and expertise has a value.
Like you, at times I have become overwhelmed by commitment of time and energy needed to keep a site and community fresh – although given the many thousands who visit every day I do not want to let others down and walk away. I am now looking at consulting opportunities drawing on my past and current expertise – who knows what direction that will take me in – and interestingly a number of my ‘super readers’ have stepped forward to say that they are happy to contribute regularly to the site to take the pressure off and give me a little breathing space. I am passionate about communicating the positives about life after fifty – but cannot afford to lose myself while championing the cause and the message.
I look forward to hearing how you get on with your new endeavours.
Ceri x
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Chloe Jeffreys February 27, 2014 at 10:27 am

Oh my, Ceri! You are one of my blogging idols. I am so excited you came and left such an honest and wise comment. I think we need to start being honest about what is really happening within the blogosphere. Women are being taken advantage of in droves. Only when we start being honest with ourselves and one another will this ever have even the possibility of change.

Again, thank you for your comment. I really am very honored.

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Magnolia February 17, 2014 at 6:34 am

I might get accused of conspiring in the politically manufactured “War on Women” when I say this, but I believe all the way down to my core that the majority of bloggers who DON’T make money are in deed, WOMEN.

There are many blogs I follow which are almost entirely run by men, and they are making money hand over fist. And when I say money, I mean waaaaaaay past 6-figures. They make money because they understand business first.

The average male blogger is not interested in “building consensus” or “community” That is a female manufactured bunch of hoo-hah, if you ask me.

I don’t buy into it (forgive the pun) because you don’t make money successfully by spending all your efforts running around focusing on how wonderful it is to join together as women.

Women who make money aren’t doing that, I can assure you. And they are usually vilified for not buying into the “sisterhood” crap (yeah, I said it :) ). But, I can also assure you, that if they have a business mind (and they do) they probably don’t care about that either.

Magnolia (waiting for the offended gasps)
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Chloe Jeffreys February 25, 2014 at 10:00 am

Sorry to take so long to reply. I was busy living it up in NOLA.

Aside from professional modeling, I’m not sure there is any arena where women make more than men, period. On top of that, I think many of the men bloggers write about useful topics that are more monetarily valuable like tech or business. Bloggers, especially men, who can tell interesting stories about tech and spout off captivating tweetable quotes about how to succeed in business without really trying will always be paid more than women who tell stories about the time their baby fingerpainted their grandmother’s antique armoir with poop and how the AWESOME roll of papertowels they were sent in exchange for writing the article cleaned it up the best.

As far as community goes? Men aren’t trained from the moment of birth to sublimate their personalities in favor of group think. Women learn in kindergarten that they will be censured by the other girls on the playground if they don’t conform to the pack. Worries about who your friend is today, and who will be your friend tomorrow, consume most young girls to a very unhealthy degree. Choosing to step out of that circus and stand up for yourself will get you isolated and made an example of by the bitches who seem to be running the show. God, haven’t I (and you) seen this shit over and over again?

And it’s only a million times worse if a person decides to risk their very livelihood on the shifting sands of public opinion and popularity. Only a blathering idiot or a con-artist would do that.

Now that I’m back in the labor room where I belong I see things much clearer. Online relationships can be wonderful, but they also can be shallow and opportunistic. Add in the fantastical promise of oodles of imaginary money and it’s a recipe for a lot of hurt.

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Magnolia February 26, 2014 at 6:20 am

I’m glad you’re doing what you love and are glad that you are. Sometimes we have to take the long way home to appreciate how great it is/was to be there.

The 50s are a good decade. Trying and difficult in a lot of ways, but deeply liberating as well. As I approach 60, I’m getting better and better at snipping away at the subterfuge around me.

The best part is truly not giving a crap if someone else doesn’t like it. It’s the gift of aging.

We are all socialized to some degree or another. I’ve heard men tell their tales of cultural and societal grooming that makes their lives difficult too. But, I tend to lean more and more to DNA being the bigger determinant of one’s leanings than cultural as I examine it more and more.

I sincerely believe that it is a natural bent for men to just “take care of business” and women to form communities where they emotionally bond. I don’t think either one is inherently bad or good, or better or worse. But when it comes to act of making money…..men are just better at it because they don’t make a social event out of it.

They get in, they get out. I like that.

Glad to know you enjoyed my motherland (Louisiana) so much. It is a magical place that can’t be described – only experienced. It sounds like you were able to take in some of the best it has to offer.

Just stay away from the levees. :)
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Suebob February 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

I’ve always been too lazy and/or non-entrepreneurial to try and make a bunch of money off of my blog. I have been blogging since 2005. In that time, I have made maybe $500 off of sponsored posts and done one brand relationship deal for at least 12 posts (thanks to a friend at an agency who pushed to include non-moms for once), where I got a couple of nice trips, a Kindle, a camera bag and an iPad.

The people I have seen make money blogging have had a few things going for them:
1) They got in early
2) They had a unique voice or talent, like Jenny Lawson, Dooce or Pioneer Woman
3) They worked incredibly hard
OR
4) They were willing to “hire” other writers for incredibly low or unpaid rates and turn their aggregated work into money for themselves, often pretty ruthlessly.

I’m glad that I’m generally too cranky to do the Nipple Tweezer posts. I’m still on the list of “sponsor opportunity” emails, and 95 percent of what I see isn’t a good fit for me because there’s no way I’m going to rave about Pumpkin Spice Chemical Mix Flavored CoffeeCreamer. I just can’t.

Everyone says they want you to tell the truth in sponsored posts, but no one does. I gave my honest review of a product that they asked for honest reviews of, and even my closest friends called me to say “What are you doing?”

I work for a major corporation for a good reason. I get to do work I like pretty well. They handle everything from payroll and HR to health insurance. And they pay me almost what I’m worth.

The blogs I’m drawn most to are the small blogs with good writing, an honest voice and no real focus. I had a friend that had a great personal blog, then she became an “inspirational” blogger and I can’t read now. Even though she tries to be authentic, she has forced herself into a topical corner, and it feels so forced to me.

So yay for small blogs. Yay for groups like CA, where we can support each other and tell the truth and make changes that truly support the lives we want to have, not merely sell each other a bill of goods.
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Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator February 15, 2014 at 4:07 am

Hi Chloe, I have just started a 3-month blogging break, for some of the reasons you mentioned, plus a health reason. It is such a relief to not have to “feed the beast”… and one of the things on my new “perfect job list” is (no shit): ‘I no longer EVER think about “making money from my blog.’”

Amen, sister.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 15, 2014 at 5:05 am

Hey Stephanie, nice to see you. It’s so freeing, isn’t it? You can’t put a price tag on happiness and contentment.
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Janie Emaus February 14, 2014 at 9:05 pm

This was a great blog. I can relate to everything you said. For me, it’s just all about the writing.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 15, 2014 at 5:18 am

Hey Janie! I think writing for the sake of writing is worthwhile in and of itself. And you are such a good writer.

It is so easy to get lost in the sea of blogging for money. Somehow it feels like everybody else is doing it and being successful, but I’m not so sure that’s really true. It isn’t that hard to look successful when you’re really not making a penny.

Years ago I attended a conference on how to make money with your blog. One of the speakers said that women bloggers needed to start being honest with each other about how much money they are really making. She said that men are very honest about this with each other and that in doing so it helps the other men know what prices to set and what they can expect financially. She started talking dollars and cents and asked the other panelists to chime in. Now remember, the purpose of this entire full-day conference was to teach people how to make money blogging. To a woman, not one other panelist was willing to talk about how much they were really making. Not one. And these were supposed to be the successful ones teaching the rest of us.

Now here’s the kicker. Later on I did some research on those panelists. Every single one was married to a man with means.
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House Crazy Sarah February 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Hi Chloe,
I recently retired my 2-year old blog which wasn’t super huge, but had a loyal band of readers. My page views were up but I still wasn’t making the kind of money I needed to survive.
And going through a divorce, being a single mom with 2 kids, it really is about survival for me at this point.
I put everything I had into my blog – every ounce of love, care, research and dedication – and my work was recognized with appreciation so I am proud of that. However, the real hard truth is that it is FAR too much work, and far too much time away from my kids to justify making just pennies.
Sometimes a labor of love just isn’t enough for real life. :(
That said, I do hope you continue your blog, even if just an occasional post now and then. I enjoy your candor and your insights, and being in my 30′s, reading your blog makes me look forward to what is to come in life.
Best,
Sarah
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Hi Sarah! Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m sorry to hear you’ve retired your blog. I’m guessing you’ll be back at it in the future. Once you start it is hard to give up entirely. But I do so understand. It is hard when you feel like if you just work a little harder, just a little longer, just a little more, that you’ll be making the big bucks LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

Most sponsored posts for my level of blogger with monthly page views around 20-30K pay in the range of $75-250 per post, plus product. To replace my annual nursing salary I’d have to write…wait for it…somewhere between 933 and 280 posts a year!!! Yeah. Like that’s going to happen. And like I’d have one single reader left if my blog was packed with that many advertisements. Or like I could actually spit out 1-3 posts worth reading a day!

Now of course there are other ways individual bloggers make money. I understand that Twitter parties and outboarding parties at the bigger conferences are money-makers. Sponsored posts are only a tip of the iceberg. But at this point there is no way in heaven that blogging can even begin to touch what I can make elsewhere.

Good luck to you in your endeavors. I promise you that the best is yet to come. I also promise that more shit will happen, too. That’s life. Take care!
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Barbara Coleman February 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Well said, Chloe! I believe as girls growing up in the time we did, we didn’t learn the art form of realizing (or even being conscious of) our dreams or fulfillment. We were brought up always thinking of those we care for. And now reaching our midlife years, when we are faced with yet another reinvention of ourselves we’re often perplexed or chasing the wrong dream. Bravo to you for realizing yours and sharing your journey!

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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Thank you, Barbara. I think you make some important and valid points. We grew up without good role models in the arena of money management and dream fulfillment, or at least I did. My own mother was penniless upon her retirement, dependent upon the kindness of others (me). It is not a position I want or wish upon my own daughter.

My mother squandered her last working years chasing after men (another pit women often fall into). I’m not going to waste my most productive years chasing after something even more worthless like popularity.
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Jen Lee Reeves February 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I struggled and struggled with this in the last few years. I chose to write and reach my community over making money. Will I work with a brand or a cause that matters to me? Sure. But there’s no way I can jump into blogging as my career. Instead, I’ll enjoy my small and sweet community and celebrate those who chose different directions. In the end, you’re right, our sanity and happiness matter. And obviously, the nest egg when we finally stop collecting a pay check.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Jen, you are so smart and savvy that it is hard to believe you struggled with this issue too. For some reason I’m always ashamed at how ignorant I feel when it comes to financial matters, and that I’m the only one who hasn’t got it all figured out.

Blogging is so wonderful in so many ways. I never would have met you if it weren’t for blogging.

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Debi Drecksler February 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Thank-you for sharing…You are very special and I am proud to call you my friend. Love, Debi

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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Debi, the feeling is mutual. I appreciate you more than you know.

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D. A. Wolf February 14, 2014 at 9:21 am

Simply put, we are not brands – despite what some would say – we are people.

We are not a single demographic market segment – we are individuals.

Some of us are writers by profession – and like most creatives, usually something else in order to pay the bills as writing (even in print) pays so little and has lost so much quality control in recent years as to be a shadow of what it once was, in my opinion.

“High risk and ego-driven speculation” seem like apt terms for what many seem to think will be easy money (and their 15 minutes+ of fame) in a society that has gone a little bit around the bend with notions of credibility, credentials, authenticity, quality… reality.

The Internet is the perfect playground for adults in limbo, adults in crisis, adults in discovery mode, adults in genuine search for information and connection and even caring – all of which are also possible.

We live in a strange world; blogging reflects it and magnifies it. There are no short cuts. Hard work, focus, perspective, a bit of luck. And remembering what really matters.

I’m convinced you know all this. No one “owes” us the (fictitious) monetary promise of blogging any more than anyone “owes” us what we get when we don’t check our sources and use common sense. What we owe ourselves – doing our best to hang onto real values, real friendships, our integrity, those we love, what we love, what we can give – without the bullshit.

You know how to do all of that.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 9:57 am

Thank you so much, D.A. I appreciate your comments because I know you are a real writer and journalist who sees the reality of writing for a living.

I think the saddest thing in the world is losing one’s values and principles over something as silly as blogging. The only sadder thing would be losing all of one’s money from doing it, too.

Anyone these days can call themselves a writer, but few really have the talent to legitimately do so. For me, turning ad copy into a meaningful post that resonates with my readers while not alienating my audience is a major challenge. That’s why sponsored posts are such agony for me and ultimately most are not worth it. I can’t rave about every product offered to me since not every product is rave-worthy, but on the other hand, I can’t be totally honest either lest I piss of the ad agency and scare away other offers. And I think eventually consumers are going to catch on if they aren’t already. That shrinking number of non-blogging readers are becoming more savvy, and more picky and aren’t going to waste their time reading crap like that.

As far as fame goes, it stuns and amazes me that people think that fame in the blogosphere means anything in the real world. Most normal non-blogging people, who I come into regular contact with through my real job that pays me real money, haven’t the foggiest notion who the big bloggers are with the possible exception of The Pioneer Woman, and she’s only so famous because she’s made the leap from blog to TV and books. It’s like attending a small, private high school and thinking that the people at the state university know who all the cool kids are. THEY DON’T AND THEY DON’T CARE!
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Beverly Diehl February 14, 2014 at 8:34 am

Even in the relatively short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve seen major changes in the blogosphere. There’s an ever-shrinking pool of readers, and an ever-expanding number of bloggers, many shrilly screaming (or the internet version of screaming, joining and promoting their blogs on every possible loop) to try to get attention.

IMO, very few “lifestyle bloggers,” and even fewer “brand ambassadors” are interesting enough to read their posts on a regular basis. Sorry if that’s hurtful.

I think being a blogger works IF you enjoy it (I do, mostly), or if you are trying to build a bigger brand, as a writer, speaker, etc. , and blogging is part of your platform. Blogging purely for money or pageviews, please! Unless you are really, really funny (aka Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess) or have tons of useful information that people can’t find elsewhere (like Walker Thornton, midlife sexpert), you’re just not going to see the traffic. Pouring tons of money into building a site and hoping to sit back and watch the ad money come in… unless things change radically, I’m not seeing it.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 10:02 am

Beverly, thank you so much for validating that I’m not the only one who sees the emperor has no clothes.

Like any of the other arts, I know there are a very few top-tier bloggers who are making lots of money. Then there are a few more second-tier bloggers who are making enough money that maybe you could call it a living. Then their are the coupon/deal bloggers who are supposedly making six figures a year, but who work every stinking minute of every stinking day. That’s no way to live, in my opinion.

There are plenty of bloggers who make a little bit here and there, but nothing even close to what I would consider a living.

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Mary Buchan February 14, 2014 at 8:04 am

Chloe you were the first midlife blogger that I discovered when I crossed over into my 5th decade. I have always loved your candidness. I relate to you as a RN, Midlifer, Homeschool Mom, Empty Nester, Exerciser, Blogger, Go-getter… You invited me to be a part of Generation Fabulous and I was thrilled to have found a community of women who were dealing with the same life issues. Thank you for being you and for including me. Mary

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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 10:08 am

You and I are kindred spirits, Mary. After the people that I’ve met who have been genuine and true, the best thing that’s happened through blogging for me is a re-appreciation for the craft of nursing. I appreciate what an honest living that is now. I care for others and bring them comfort. I get to see new life enter this world. What a privilege! AND at the end of the day I make an honest wage for the work that I do. It can’t get better than that.

I do think that I’m the sort who has to have a high level of control over my life (The fact that I homeschooled should be the biggest clue that I’m a control-freak when it comes to my life!). Finding a way to be a nurse that gives me the control I need over my life and my schedule has been the challenge.

Travel nursing has turned out to be fantastic for me. Two years ago, a friend and I were talking about wanting to find a job where people who pay me to travel. And now I have. I’m so grateful that I was not and am not dependent on blogging for anything.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Blogging is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.
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Nina Knox February 14, 2014 at 8:04 am

Dear Chloe, A truly excellent and insightful article. I can relate on so many levels. I came to the realization quite a while ago that the only people making money in this so called blogging industry are those self proclaimed experts that say they can show you the secrets to making “good” money on blogging! It’s like a big ponzi scheme or MLM opportunity. Let me show you how to make money blogging, then you can show others how to make money blogging, and so on and so on. I started out years ago with a blog because it was another creative outlet for me and it was fun. I had turned 50, and felt like I had finally found true happiness and the real meaning of what was really important in life, and I wanted to share that little bit of knowledge with other women my age. Well, then it becomes so easy to get caught up in that competition of gaining followers and “likes” and “friends”, that it becomes an obsession. You slowly lose the purpose and reason for why you started doing this in the first place. My blog is about “being happy over 50″ and I was realizing that the very thing that I was blogging about was making me miserable. Now my blog is back to being just a place for my thoughts, ideas, pictures, etc. A website about a woman over 50 and real life, and how we can make this life the best it can be – because life is hard for everyone. And blogging shouldn’t be part of the problem. I no longer feel a pressure to HAVE to write a blog post today! Or worry that followers may quit following! I’m not on a blogging schedule or deadline. I’ve now become a Happiness Teacher and Coach and have found that my blog serves me well in sharing my type of lifestyle and also gives me the satisfaction in knowing that a few others are maybe helped or encouraged by it. I’m glad that you have found your way back to your own life’s purpose and what truly is happiness in your own life. Sorry this is so long! I may have to put this comment on my own blog as a post! And BTW, if I had been at that blog conference with you, I would have been very happy sitting with you in that hotel room drinking tea and watching Wheel of Fortune!
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

Dear Nina, isn’t it the saddest irony when the reason you started blogging turns into your worst nightmare? And, knowing you and how important honesty and authenticity are to you, isn’t it awful when you aren’t the things you want to be in the message you’re sending out?

At the very end of Generation Fabulous in its former permutation, I went to someone I truly cared about and who I thought cared about me and told her just how miserable I was and how I felt my life was spinning out of control, and her response was that my feelings didn’t matter and I just had to keep doing it no matter what. Now maybe this would make sense if I was actually making any real money at it, but when you consider I was spending thousands of dollars, and losing thousands more, chasing after something that was ruining my life? That’s craziness!!! Why do I “have to” keep doing that?

I am too damned old to stay miserable for no good reason, and as a happiness mentor you know that misery is a message we give ourselves that we’re on the wrong path.
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Magnolia February 14, 2014 at 5:17 am

I’ve always been the girl on the outside looking in. It wasn’t that I wanted to be growing up, it’s just how it happened. I’ve carried that deeply ingrained self-image well into adulthood and it has certainly affected how I’ve approached blogging.

I’ve always kept very hard boundaries around my blogging life, what I want my blog to be, and my vision for my blog. Which meant, I too would rather take paper cuts to the eyeball than play the game of self-promotion.

Hence, why at BlogHer NY, I was running the streets of Manhattan with a 14 year old and 13 year old, than running the hallways of the Hilton Midtown Manhattan trying to win friends and influence people.

Midlife means finally accepting who you are, in my view – with no apologies and qualifiers to anyone. It also means you don’t give a rat’s behind what other people think about you. A nice way to say, you’re perfectly okay with being perceived as a bitch.

Finding our way in this life is not easy. But, when we do find it, it’s a far more peaceful and less panic inducing proposition. I hope you’ve found that for yourself too. It’s so much easier than pushing your way through a headwind, which I just find utterly exhausting.

Magnolia

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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 10:31 am

Mags, you’ve always been a big proponent of “I’m too old for this shit!” Which isn’t a bad thing at all. I am too old to be miserable for no good reason. And if people don’t like me as much now for whatever supposed evil thing I did then so be it. I can live with that because I know the truth. And living within one’s own skin is both the challenge and the blessing of being this damned old.
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Carol Cassara February 14, 2014 at 4:07 am

Chloe, there is so much here to respond to, but I’ll just pick a few. Panic attacks really ARE a signal that something must change in your life: kudos to you for recognizing it & doing something about it. Like you, I see that blogging is not a living for most of us–it IS an expression, though, and like you, that’s how I keep it. A few bucks here and there to sell your soul or to find a way to blog positively about something you’ll never really use is not a living, especially when it takes at least 4-6 hours of reading/commenting on others’ blogs, and being on line all day long. No. Not a living…and may times, no joy. Other times, well, I can see someone who really can and should be making al living because they provide a service of commercial value to their audience. I can name a couple I’ve recently mentioned it to. And finally, it’s always amazed me how some people simply have to have something to say see it a lot. In any situation the only people who know what really went down are the people involved and for anyone else to comment is simply mean-girl-in-clique behavior. I have no patience at all for this or for them. So, hey, glad you have come to terms with your passion, purpose and blogging. And moving on. or take sides on a situation they know absolutely nothing about. One side has to be the devil, the other side has to be the angel. I’ve seen it more than once. I’ve never given a crap about being Miss Popularity, I’d rather relate with honest, nice, kind people, whomever they are. So, you go, girl. Do your thing. Whatever it is, you’ll excel, that I know.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Carol you have been such a huge encourager to me in so many ways. I feel like you are one blogger who is doing it right. You write and you write well. You share and participate, but it is obvious you are living a life worth living.

Blogging for the sake of blogging is boring! The only people interested in reading blog posts about blogging are bloggers and when that goes on too long it eventually just turns into a daisy chain of suck.

You, my friend, do not suck. True grown-ups rarely do.
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Carol Cassara February 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm

(blushing) awwww, girlfriend!
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Yvonne Wray February 13, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I wanted to comment to let you know I’m behind you. Riding that dragon and having the courage to tell the truth about what you want is important to being happy. I’m glad you will blog for the fun of it again.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Thank you, Yvonne! I really appreciate your comment. Writing and expressing oneself for the sheer joy of it is loads of fun and highly fulfilling. Writing because you have to, for me, isn’t either of those things. It’s a painful exercise in horrible. Doing that for free is bad, but paying out your wazoo to do it is simply insanity.
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Jane Gassner February 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Chloe, it always amazes me (and I’ve told you so) how often we are working on parallel ideas. Great minds or what? I had my own epiphany in this regard sometime during the Fall and it has solidified as time has passed. I see that there are two types of bloggers, the entrepreneurs and the creatives. Unfortunately the entrepreneurs have taken center stage–we are a capitalistic society, after all. It is a given, then, that people measure their success in terms of how much money they earn. But creatives cannot measure their success by money; for us, it is the act of doing, of creating that brings the reward. What you’re saying and what I’m saying is that we realize we bought into a value system that was created for and by entrepreneurs–and we need to put on the brakes and remember who and what we are. In some ways, I see my surgery and the aftermath as a blessing because it has forced me to abandon all entrepreneurial efforts for the time being. I think your nursing is doing that for you as well. What we are getting back to is the joy of writing, of creating, of communicating, of sharing for its own sake.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Life teaches us its lessons, doesn’t it, Jane? It is obviously a symptom of the society we’ve grown up in that both of us feel on some level that there isn’t value unless there is a dollar sign attached. That’s ridiculous! Writing for the sake of writing is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself.
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Pamela Mason February 13, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Ah yes… not only does the blogging emperor not have clothes, but a whole lot of other “careers” are really only dragonesque distractions that are paid off in hand lotion and canvas tote bags. This era has us all leaping to the next big thing before exploring what we’re working on to its fullest potential, because we’re all afraid to be left behind.
It’s not so much hard honest work any more, but exploiting the latest marriage of tech and ideas to entertain the masses, and then moving on.
I’m glad you’ve discovered your true purpose and that you did not wish to become a blogging commercial. IMO, blogging is just a different version of home party sales. There’s not a thing wrong with home party sales, even in blog form, as long as it’s up front and honest.
If anything I love your integrity and bald honesty Chloe.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Pamela, you are exactly right. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with home party sales. What is wrong with them for me is that when I’ve been invited to something I think is a party only to discover that it really is a sales event and not a party after all I feel used. That’s just an awful feeling. Just be honest with me is all I ask.
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Mrsborch February 13, 2014 at 6:22 am

I need to have a sitdown with my dragon and figure out if he just want’s a snack and a juice box or if he wants me to haul my arse up and get moving in a new direction.

But I’m glad your dragon is gone and you’ve rediscovered your purpose. And I for one really benefited when you were blogging about your Groove. I’m finding that my favorite years are my 40′s although I’m no more popular now than before. ;)

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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Hey Mrs. B! Here’s the thing. For years I’ve bought into this notion that in order to fit in and be acceptable I need to slay my dragon. Who says??? My dragon came to me to protect and teach. Just because others don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t right and good. Embracing my dragon and mounting it has been the most freeing thing in the world. I highly advise it.
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Sandra Sallin February 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

So you are slaying that dragon. I so glad you found the pathway to your sense of purpose and peace. You’ve got your own yellow brick road to show you the way home. ( does that sound too icky?) Bottom line I’m glad you’ve found your way.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 14, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Hey Sandra! I bet you could teach a class to the rest of us on authenticity and making the choices in life that lead to joy. I wish to heck you would.

For myself, I haven’t slayed my dragon, I’ve embraced him and mounted him for the ride of a lifetime.
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Julie Chenell DeNeen February 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Amen and Amen. A dragon came to my house too and I feel better now that I’m honing in on what I want to write about. xo
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Chloe Jeffreys February 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Color me unsurpised that you have a dragon totum too, Julie.
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laura B. February 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

I do love your style of writing ~ and I most assuredly do understand when shit blows up in your face! And, yes – we have to ride that dragon, and slay the demons that haunt us!
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Chloe Jeffreys February 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

Thanks for commenting, Laura. It seems these derailments are really just opportunities for growth, but they hurt like the dickens. Each time I come to the other side I think, “Next time I’ll just grow before I have to have the pain.” But I never do it that way.
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Julie Danis February 12, 2014 at 10:22 am

I hear ya sista!

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Chloe Jeffreys February 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

I thought you might relate, Julie.
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Jana Miller February 12, 2014 at 7:27 am

I love the way you write! You need a column in a newspaper every day. Oh never mind…newspapers are dying and I guess that wouldn’t pay much either. Agree with the emperor theory and I’m sick of bloggers looking for “interns”. Basically they want free help and to look like they are busy. Glad to know I’m not the only one whose life has gone south.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 12, 2014 at 10:56 am

Jana, thank you so much. The intern thing always throws me, too. Knowing for myself how much money I was spending (and lost) trying to make it as a professional blogger leaves me to wonder. Either much of it is smoke and mirrors, or I really sucked at it. Either could be true.

I had to laugh at your last sentence though. Maybe our lives went south for the winter to get out of the cold. Too bad it got so cold there in the south, too.
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Heather A February 12, 2014 at 5:47 am

Yes.

I’ve long suspected the nekkidness of His Royal Bloggerness. Thank you for the confirmation.

This is the best you. Go be awesome!

<3

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Chloe Jeffreys February 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

Heather, I just happen to think that most of the ways of making money blogging suck and aren’t any fun. It is one thing to rave about a product you actually love and use, but quite another to have to write for products because you have to. I never started blogging because of my love of writing ad copy. I will not content myself with writing only about those things I truly do love and use and leave the writing of ad copy to others.
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Wendrie Heywood February 12, 2014 at 12:40 am

Glad that you found a way forward with your dragon. Soul searching is usually painful but the results are good.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 12, 2014 at 10:59 am

Wendrie, thanks for commenting. I think you are one of my longest readers and I appreciate you for staying with me through the years.

Soul-searching is painful! Why don’t we do it earlier when it would hurt much less?
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