For this post, I'm talking to you fellow bloggers.
The bloggers I read (who are of course, witty and insightful, with a frequent edge of sarcasm) are quick to disavow blogging for “popularity,” numbers, hits, fans, or followers. They blog for posterity, for the love of writing, for community. I would consider myself as a member of this camp. But there's something we're probably not all being totally honest about.
When I started blogging it was when I was working in a refugee camp to catalog my experiences and help people “back home” more deeply understand what I was going through. No one I didn't know read what I had to say, and I didn't much care. I did nothing to promote it to a wider circle.
Later on, I wrote another blog, simply called “Musings.” In the old sense of a blog, it was really an on-line journal of my thoughts, but done in a way that recognized the narcissism and hubris of it all. I think my tagline was “unimportant thoughts that no one cares about except my husband. And I think he's pretending.” Not only did I not promote it, I barely told anyone about it.
So, this is my third blog. A blog is kind of the ideal forum for an expat living abroad. I can keep in touch with far away friends and family and carve out a community of like-minded people when I can't always find that in my direct neighborhood. I moved to a rural Kenyan town and was the only ex-pat parent for miles in any direction. So, I really did want to finally use the blog for it's “worldwide web-iness.” I wanted a community -- of expats, moms, and people struggling to navigate another culture.
But, lets be totally honest. A blog allowed me to pontificate, expound, snark. I've been writing for my job for years, but it's always been for an institutional product that was reviewed, changed, reviewed again and changed back, only to have some director change it yet again into something even more mind-numbing. This blog allowed me to create something mine. My words, my thoughts, my humor.
And this time, I did promote it. Partly to find that community of like-minded people. Partly because, again, let's be totally honest, I don't just spew my complaints or catalog my day and hit “publish.” I work hard on each post to craft something I like. I write something, re-write it, delete the whole thing, start again. They're not all gems, but I work at them. And it's awfully nice when someone else reads it.
I'm still not all that slick. I don't have watermarks over my pictures or a button or unique social media buttons that match my overall aesthetic. I'm baffled that so many people know how to do this stuff. I have a twitter account that I neglect and I'm stubbornly refusing to even investigate pintrest.
But I've found a link up that I love called yeahwrite, and I've started writing for some other expat blog sites. I've found some fantastic blogs that I admire and that inspire me. And... people who are not my mom have started to read my blog. Not a lot but they're there.
And it's heady. It's heady to get compliments, to start conversations and to be read. So, I have done things to increase my readership, the whole time telling myself that I'm “finding an online community.” And I am. There are a dozen bloggers out there who I feel I know and know I like, and probably feel the same way about me. There are real friendships.
And then there are statistics.
And then there I am “working” on increasing them, nose in the computer, commenting on sites, linking my blog to others and playing around with fonts, screaming at my son to “be patient, I'll come play in a moment!!” And then it feels like an ugly addiction. Like crack. Or facebook.
One of the more successful bloggers I follow admits to spending 3-4 hours per day on “the blog.” It's not just writing, it's reading and commenting on others' sites, participating in link-ups, doing SEOs (OK. I don't know what that is, but it seems important) That's what I imagine it would take to really get some “numbers,” unless of course you are the Bloggess, Honest Toddler or naked.
I barely have a slack 30 minutes, much less 3-4 hours. Much of my spare time, I'd like to make up for my baby-induced sleep deprivation or try and be more present for my family. Maybe make a sandwich. I love this blog, but to do it "right" might start to feel like a job.
So, I've been trying to strike a balance, but it's not easy. I've been trying to only write only those posts that flow from me easily. I'm visiting only the sites that inspire me or make me laugh. I'm no longer envying those more trafficked sites and I'm trying to ignore my statistics. (Afterall, any post that has the words "vagina" or "poop" has a lot of those coveted "stats.") And I'm shutting the computer when my child wants to play.
Anyone out there feel the same way? Or have you all figured this out?
(And yes. I just did that cheap comment-generating gimmick of closing a post with a question. But this time it's not a gimmick. Tell me I'm not alone.)