Friday Five: Musings on Blogging

Hi! Today’s Friday Five is a big huge long “thought dump” about blogging in general. I just realized – can’t believe I missed this – that Sunday was my 2-year blogging anniversary. Instead of writing another post about what I’ve learned about blogging, I thought I’d just share some of my thoughts and observations of this journey. Warning – it’s kinda long, and there are no pictures.

1. The “Industry”

As an “old” millennial, I have the unique distinction of being someone who has long been fluent and comfortable with the digital world – well, most of it anyway – but also someone who vividly remembers life without it and remembers watching it become what it is. In other words, social media and blogs and all that stuff haven’t always been normal life to me. So when it comes to blogging, I have to admit I often find it strange that something that used to be a glorified e-diary is now an entire industry. Follows, shares, hits, SEO, promos, giveaways, “value blogging” (I get a kick out of that one)….it’s just like, whoa. Remember when this was something we did in high school just to share our shitty poetry and passive-aggressive rants with our friends? And now, there are some people doing exactly what I’m doing at this moment – typing up a blog post – but they’re making enough money in one month to pay off all my student loans. Is this real life?

2. Missing the Boat

Branching off thought #1, I have to admit, I’m not just bewildered but a little jealous. Sharing my thoughts and my writing with the world and making a living off of it is my lifelong dream. That’s not an exaggeration – since I was a little kid all I ever wanted was to be a writer. Blogging seems like it was made for me! But I missed the boat. I have no shot now because the blogging/freelance writing market has become so incredibly saturated that it’s almost impossible to break into. And even if it wasn’t, I couldn’t do it. The problem with something that anyone with an email address can do is that if you want to be successful at it you have to 1) be super innovative and really stand out or 2) be really popular and well-networked (or famous) so that you can say any ol’ thing and people will actually care and find it interesting. And I am neither. Also, I have zero interest in fashion, make up, beauty, video games or product reviews; in other words, my dream of making it as a blogger was dead before it even began.

Reading through this I realize it comes off as sort of a pity party, but I’ve actually made peace with it, in a way. Because in order to be successful (aka “make money”, in this case), I would have to do things that don’t interest me or suit my style of writing, that aren’t fun or fulfilling. So then really, what’s the point? Other than I’d get to work from home, another lifelong dream of mine.

3. Ebb and Flow; was it something I said?

Moving on to more personalized blogging topics: something that’s been on my mind recently is watching the ebb and flow of my commenters/followers. It’s a lot like watching the ebb and flow of real life friendships but in a much more condensed time frame. Most of my current “regulars” were not the people who were regulars when I first started this blog; many of them weren’t even regulars within the last year. Some people who read my blog eventually start to taper off, and then someone else takes their place. It’s just really interesting to watch how much the blog world parallels “real life” while also playing by different rules (see next point).

There are a few people who, unless they are busy, read almost everything I write and are very consistent commenters, not just on my blog but on others too. Then there are people who generally only read my blog when I post about something running related, because the other stuff I post about doesn’t interest them as much. There are people who pop in once every 3-4 weeks. And then there are a few blogs I consistently read/comment on where that person has never once checked out my blog (to my knowledge). And honestly, in all cases, I totally get it. I’ve stopped reading or not read blogs for all of these reasons. I’ve long since learned not to take it personally. I know that not everyone shares all of my interests or likes my style of writing/blogging, and I’m sure some people just don’t have time to read my wordy-ass posts. Some people prefer short, light, easily digestible content, or structured scheduled posts like What I Ate Wednesday, and they won’t find that here, so I don’t blame them for skipping over.

And then there are the people who were once regulars, but abruptly stopped. I know they’re still alive because I see them commenting on other blogs or active in their own. Again, I try not to take it personally – sometimes a blogger goes in a different direction, or a reader’s interests change, or maybe they just don’t have time to read my wordy-ass soliloquies. But I also can’t help but wonder if it was because of something I said or did that pissed them off.

4. Social Norms: IRL vs. Blogging

There is another type of regular-turned-not-regular commenter: the people who just straight-up disappear.  Sometimes they pop back in after a few months all “ohh haaayyy I’ve been so crazy busy!!” I’ve also noticed with a lot of running blogs that the blogger stops writing if they’re not training for anything because they don’t think they have anything to talk about. In a lot of these cases, I follow the blogger on other social media so I at least know they aren’t dead and I can keep in touch. But sometimes I don’t, so I find myself wondering if they’re okay. And then – sorry, this is kind of morbid – I wonder if something happened to me, how would my blog friends know? I imagine everyone finding out through the grapevine and it all just seems so sad and awkward. But, enough. We’re not going to morbid-land today (but really though I’m not the only one who’s ever wondered this…right?).

What this really got me thinking about is how we’re in a very interesting stage right now, where people are developing close relationships online via blogging and YouTube channels and stuff, but the set of social norms hasn’t quite caught up. If you have a close circle of personal friends and one of them just suddenly stops talking to you and stops coming around, you’d probably be like “OMG what’s going on?!?” or “dude, what the hell? What’s your deal?” But if that happens in the blog world we kind of just shrug our shoulders and say “eh, it’s cool, they just needed a break,” or something. Sure, a blog relationship and a real-life friendship are a little different…but how different are they, really? Bloggers often form very close bonds and friendships, sometimes moreso than they do with people they know in real life. And yet, we’re expected to treat those friendships impersonally and with more distance just because it’s through the internet. I don’t know, I just think it’s strange and interesting.

5. My Place

Finally, with all that said, I just want to say – I think I’m in a good place with my own blogging and I have no regrets. I don’t have a ton of followers or commenters, I’m not the most popular or interesting blogger, but I really feel like I’ve developed good relationships with the people who comment here and that, in the end, is what’s more important to me. That’s what I always wanted to get out of this whole experiment – the opportunity to connect and form relationships with people. But I also understand that not everyone wants that, and that’s okay. While some people prioritize more followers and traffic and bigger networks, those things aren’t fulfilling to me, so I’ve learned to stop lamenting the fact that I don’t get them. And while I do a lot of self-deprecating harping on myself for writing such wordy, verbose, dense posts, it’s a reflection of my values and priorities.

The reason I don’t usually write lighter, more easily digestible stuff is because ultimately that’s not the kind of feedback I want (although let’s be honest, I do still need to work on my wordiness! Brevity is the soul of wit, as they say). I want to start conversations and get to know people better, so I really appreciate when my readers open up and share their thoughts, even if that means ultimately getting fewer comments.

 

So, to those of you who read and put up with my long-ass writing, I thank you, and I appreciate your friendship. Even if you suddenly disappear from my blog one day 🙂

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25 thoughts on “Friday Five: Musings on Blogging

  1. You know I’ll read these kinds of posts whenever you want to write them 🙂 I feel you on #2, it’s the same way for me. To make more of a living off blogging I’d have to stop rambling about my “deep” thoughts and switching between workouts, recipes, general life, and pictures of puppies. Which would mean blogging isn’t fun for me anymore.

    1. Thanks Alyssa! Back at ya. We really are birds of a feather in so many ways!

  2. Haha! This reminds me a lot of what it’s like to teach yoga. Students come and go, people replace the students that leave, and I’ll sometimes see the ones that were once regulars in other classes. It makes me wonder if I did something wrong, but ultimately, I think it has nothing to do with me at all. People like change and sometimes like to bounce around. Your blog has always been one of my favorites, but sometimes I just fall off the blogging planet for a few weeks just because I need a break. Hopefully one day we get to meet IRL at a race or something!! 🙂

    1. That’s a really good point, that some people like change and want to mix things up. I never thought of it that way!

      I hope we meet up IRL too! Maybe one day when my schedule finally allows me to run that Rocky Mountain half. It looks so awesome!

  3. I really enjoy reading your blog, Hanna. I have had trouble the past few posts commenting (technologically challenged here). I was on my phone, or maybe I am being given the boot??? Actually, this is my second time writing this…
    I think you do have a spot for your writing–it is insightful and beautifully written! I think that a lot of your posts should be submitted to running magazines–or their blogs!
    I have missed seeing your day to day on Strava (I get why you are off it though). At the risk of sounding creepy, I have often felt like we have been training partners for races.

    1. Awww Cheryl that is so sweet! That means so much coming from you. I’ve missed you on Strava too. Maybe I will have to start creeping on there again without using it myself, haha. I agree I’ve felt like we were training together, especially this Spring. I’m so excited to follow you on Monday!

  4. “Remember when this was something we did in high school just to share our shitty poetry and passive-aggressive rants with our friends?” This may be one of my favorite things you’ve ever written – so accurate!

    1. LOL right? When I was in high school it was all about Xanga. I don’t think those old pages exist anymore, which is probably both sad and relieving for all of us. Everyone got a Xanga page and just used it to talk about their trip to Target and their informed, passionate political views (lol) and how “Rob and I are officially a couple now!” and how “I hate it when people do this” when they’re really talking about one person they’re mad at…OMG those were the days…

      1. I didn’t use Xanga, but I don’t remember what platform it was that I used. I found it years ago and deleted it all! Most of it was written with code names and I couldn’t even figure out who I had been talking about. Still embarrassing though so it had to go!

  5. This was a really interesting post that got me thinking! First, I’m the type of person who pretty much only reads (and writes) running, fitness, or activewear posts. Honestly, if I want to learn more about a person in general, I’d rather use the time to keep in better touch with my IRL friends, which is a challenge. None of my IRL friends run, which is why I love being part of the blogging running community. That said, yours is one of the very few blogs where I *do* read non-running posts because I like not only your writing, but I also like how well you let your real personality come through. (Knit by God’s Hand is another blog that does a great job of this. She is one of the few bloggers I follow who writes about things I actually have no personal interest in, but I love how well her blog shows her personality.) You are also probably one of the most thoughtful bloggers I know. Your posts make me think and give me ideas and inspiration. Second, if you want to be a writer, you haven’t missed the boat! There are so many different opportunities, not just in the blogging world. I’ve been a professional writer for most of my career, and believe me that is is *very* hard to find good writers. Whenever we want to hire someone, we always struggle to find people. Also, whenever I go to non-writing conferences or events, people from other organizations always ask me if I’m looking for work or know writers. Good writers are very hard to come by! Granted, you’re not writing your personal thoughts in a professional writing job, but I’ve always found that writing about a particularly dry and boring subject can be very challenging and gratifying (I once wrote about R&D in homebuilding…if insulation isn’t boring, I don’t know what is!) Maybe you already have a prof. writing job and are talking about blogging only, but I wanted to mention this in case not.

    1. Awww thanks so much for your kind words Jen! I had no idea you are a professional writer (and no, I’m not one IRL). Makes sense – I mean, it seems the unwritten code among bloggers is that most of us don’t talk about our “real jobs”, for many reasons. I do some writing in my job (grants) and it’s great, but I wouldn’t really consider it a writing job, if that makes sense. And it’s interesting to hear your perspective. Like I said, I totally get why some people only read the running stuff (or the nutrition stuff, or whatever their interests are) for any blog, and no judgement at all. I often have to remind myself that not everyone comes to the blogging world looking to make friends, and that’s okay. In life we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people so I always enjoy hearing the perspective of people whose preferences are different than my own. And there are certainly some blogs I only read the running stuff myself, because their other interests don’t interest me, and vice versa. I knew going in that “renaissance” blogs tend to not do as well and that the blogging world heavily favors the niche market. But I’ve also had some people tell me they actually like when people talk about other stuff and that they find 100% running blogs too boring and impersonal. Can’t please everyone, we all just have to do our own thangs and appreciate the people who stick along for the ride 🙂

      1. Just to clarify–I actually started a project management job a few years ago but before that was a mar/comm writer, a tech writer, and an editor.

  6. I disappeared last year for awhile after my divorce….but it will do that to you! I just needed a BREAK! haha! I like your writings…all of them. I don’t comment a lot because sometimes people say things that don’t need comments.
    I think about the blogging world a lot, it is saturated but I also think about the benefits we have. The documentation of our lives that we can look back on. How we felt, what we thought etc. I like that. Plus its typed out. I can’t keep a journal cuz I write like shit! 🙂

    1. Oh I love the benefits of the blogging world! I love how I’ve connected with runners all over the country (and the world!) through blogging and you’re right, it will be interesting in 50 years to look back and have such thorough documentation of our lives. We are really the first generation in history that will have that luxury. I agree, sometimes you can read something and like it but feel like you can’t really say anything else – I totally get that! The hard thing is that comments and likes are really the only feedback we have for who is reading and what they think. I sometimes link my blog on my Facebook, and no one will say anything, but then later I’ll meet up with someone I haven’t seen in ages and they’ll be like “I love reading your blog!!” Wait, what? I had no idea they were paying any attention to my posts!

  7. Everything your wrote I though to myself and wondered how i fit in to the blogging picture and how to maintain it all!
    Many of us react different when we have personal drains in our real life, and sadly, I keep suffering my share and I find myself writing very quick generic posts for quite awhile now because that is about all i can handle…I am not sure why i feel that protects me, but somehow it does, it gives me a fun way to say hi and stay a little in the loop, but doesn’t reveal the struggles.
    I am challenged trying to keep up with blog reading like i did before, but I keep trying to pop in with friends and see how things are going. I really am in this blogging thing to connect and have people to chat with, more than getting free stuff and products…that is nice and it happens rarely, but the connection is what really matters to me.
    Happy blogaversary!

    1. Thanks Karen! I think you bring up a great point that a lot of it has to do with the fact that we all have different ways of coping with the personal issues (and the running issues) in our lives, and that is reflected in our blogging style. And I agree that the light posts definitely have some value. I recognize that more now and I’ve made it a goal of mine to try and incorporate more of those posts in my own blogging – I think it will add a little more texture to my blogging voice, and it does help people connect in its own way. Everyone gripes about the fact that people always talk about the weather. And yet, we keep doing it. Why? Because it works. It may be a banal, overused topic of conversation but it gets people talking. The value of “light” topics is that everyone feels like they can contribute. Thanks for your perspective!

  8. In a way I’m glad I don’t follow my blog stats at all because I think it would drive me nuts. I do notice comment numbers because I reply to each comment, and when they dip really low I consider the post and WHEN I hit publish (I’ve found weekend posts get the least comments because people are out having lives!), but I rarely put too much thought into it.

    I always feel so guilty when I have to stop reading a blog for a span of time…usually a combination of being really busy and topics that veer off my interest. If I have free time and I LOVE the blog/blogger, I’ll comment and read even if the topic isn’t really that interesting to me, but spring is the busiest time of year for me so I tend to step back from blogs until June or so. 😦

  9. I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit for your potential as a freelance writer. So many publications only use freelancers these days because they can’t afford to employ people full time, and people who DO freelance full time tend to charge a pretty penny for their work, because they have to if they expect to make a living off it. But since you wouldn’t be making a living off it, you could manage to charge much less, which would lead to jobs, which would build a portfolio, which would give you ground to stand on if you wanted to move into part-time (or even full time) freelancing, asking for more money and writing for bigger publications. Plus you do already have this blog as a portfolio, too. I think if writing is something you really want to do, you should at least give it a shot! No harm done in exploring if the freelancing world is right for you!

  10. I wouldn’t want you to get too popular and then end up with your own thread on GOMI!

    Seriously though as someone who has been reading running blogs for YEARS, I do not understand how some bloggers have gotten so popular. There’s a few good ones, but so many now have sponsored posts shilling crap I doubt they actually use. Often they are horrible running ambassadors… I don’t care how fast you run, but they rarely run/ train yet get all these free race experiences. And don’t even get me started on some of the bad writing that’s out there….

    I have enjoyed reading your blog and have found some other awesome inspiring bloggers from your commenters. I just love to read about how others train and the ups and downs of running that we all go through.

  11. This post reminded me of a conversation that I had a couple weeks ago online, which really irked me: when you decide to call yourself a blogger. There’s this “niche” (lack of a better word) of people who believe that you *can’t* call yourself that unless you’re supporting yourself through your blog. Now, I’ve been blogging since around 2002 before that was even a thing to do — and despite my best intentions to make enough money to just pay my hosting fees — YOU BEST BELIEVE I call myself a blogger! The heck?!

  12. Hanna – I always enjoy your posts. Yes I like the running stuff because I am always interested in how other people approach training/racing/running in general. But the blogs I enjoy most are ones where you get an understanding of the bloggers personality/interests/life views. I will care more about writing if I feel like I “know” you – as much as you can really know a stranger over social media. I started reading running blogs a couple of years ago and good God so many of the really popular ones have zero interesting content and constant shilling. No thanks! As soon as a blog becomes a living the standards and my interest usually go down and it loses the thing that made it special in the first place.

  13. What in the world is “value blogging”? It sounds terrible!

    When it comes to commenting there is only so much time in the day. There are blogs like yours, Megan’s, Ali’s, etc. that I read every day even if I don’t always comment. There are certain post types that I simply don’t like (such as weekly recaps), so I usually don’t comment on those because I’m never really sure what to say besides “nice job!” which seems so boring. If I comment on those it’s usually because someone had a super long run or a super hard run or it sounds like they’re in need of extra support for whatever reason.

    There are other times where I think established bloggers like you guys will always get comments, and since there is only so much time in the day I’d rather take time to comment on someone who is just starting out. I know for me blogging only really became fun once I felt like I was part of a community so I like to drop a comment here and there for the newbies! haha (Do people still use the word newbie?!)

    I think you’re right that blogging friendships do mimic real life in a lot of ways. When it comes to my closest friends I hardly ever comment on their Facebook posts or even Like their posts because we’ve already talked on the phone, through text, etc. When it comes to other friendships where my primary means of communication is through FB I’ll comment/like their posts a lot more! I love that you and I are following each other on Instagram so that we connect daily even if we’re not always commenting on each other’s blogs! 😀

  14. You’re a blogger whose posts I always look forward to reading. When I started reading running blogs a few years ago there were quite a few bloggers I found who I loved. Sadly, there’s only 1 or 2 left from that group who I still regularly read. Most stopped blogging and the rest rarely blog about running anymore. I do like personal posts, but I like there to be a regular occurrence of running posts too.
    Internet friendships are such a funny thing, At my wedding I actually had an entire table of friends that I’d made through an internet wedding planning board! But I didn’t dare admit to anyone else that’s how I knew them. My two main reasons for starting a blog were to hold myself accountable and to hopefully find other bloggers who had similar goals to me – whether it be running the same race, pace goals, or looking to get back in to running after time off. I’ve been happy to find a new group of bloggers that are interesting and motivating to me and you are one of them!

  15. I know how you feel about missing the boat! When I started blogging, I had visions of fame for about three seconds before I realized it was not going to happen (especially not without investing a butt-load of time *and* money into the “boring” side of blogging [i.e. not writing or reading other blogs] with a very small chance of ever seeing a return on those investments).

    As for writing for a living, if you are really interested, you might look into copy writing… basically, where you write product descriptions for retailers. My boyfriend, who has been a hobby cyclist for years, somehow landed a job writing copy for a bike retailer, and he really enjoys it. Plus, it has opened up doors for him to do other types of writing for the company like race previews and such.

    Also, I am incredibly verbose too. I wonder if it turns people off my posts as well… but I just can’t write less! I suppose a couple of years of 20 page papers as a grad student will do that to you!

  16. I’ve had all these thoughts at times too. I rarely ever check my stats or anything like that as I know they are small, I do wonder why some people who used to comment all the time stop. The only thing left to infer is that it was something I said. Which makes me sad but I’m not going to not be me either so it’s a stale mate. When bloggers just stop posting I wonder what happened to them, I am usually concerned that it was something bad. Unfortunately most times that was proven true when some of them eventually came back. But sometimes life happens right? I’ve fallen behind on commenting lately, I just can’t seem to stay on track with anything lately. Oops.

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