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 🙂