Monday, October 19, 2015

Old Fool

This post is my response to a question that is bopping around in the blogiverse: Is Blogging Dead?  Bloggers, you know what’s up.  Non-bloggers, as always, thank you for reading.

* * *

As far as bloggers go, I am of the old school.

When I started blogging, writing was the focus.  I harbored a dream that I hadn’t yet had my big break, and that publishing houses would stop at nothing to get me under their roof after reading one of my missives. 

That dream crumbled about a month into blogging, but by then it didn’t matter; its hooks left permanent marks on my psyche.  Staring at my own words on a screen was intoxicating; never mind they were for an audience of one.

Not many people knew about the blog then; keeping it quiet preserved my genius fantasies.  Trial by anonymity seemed safer than revealing my self-importance to family and friends.  A regular fan base was necessary for back-up, proof that I had something before letting loved ones in on what I’d been up to.  This optimistic plan disintegrated when the first comment from a stranger threw me into a tailspin – I was convinced a stalking scenario was brewing.  Finger hovering over the ‘delete blog’ button, I wondered if Ernest Hemingway ever felt this insecure.

An early blog post, accepted for publication to a website, boosted my confidence.  Eventually, the blog came into the light and encouragement via fellow bloggers and loved ones kept me going.  Sharing stories was something I loved to do, and other bloggers were touchstones, giving me virtual pats on the head while I ran headlong into the jagged edges of the internet.  I settled into a corner and continued to plug away, some days spending hours writing words that wouldn’t see the light of day, all the while checking in with fellow toilers who live similar lives all over the world.

This trajectory is not atypical for most people.  We find our place among those who are like us.  Bloggers read and share each other’s blog posts.  We find each other on Facebook.  We are each other’s reader base, clients, and friends.  Some of us are busier at blogging than others.  For some, this is a paid gig, and for others, it is a hobby that takes a backseat when life gets busy.

For me, writing a blog was a hopeful start to a writing career – I thought I’d be Stephen King by now.  As years pass I settle into the realization that I haven’t done the work consistently in making this my job.  Writing comes after many other responsibilities.

Blogging, though around for a while, is a new frontier.  The landscape changes quickly.  There are many lists of things you can do to have a successful (read: money-making) blog.  There is no one formula.  The current trend for blogs is to tell stories or arrange your website to earn cash.  You can sell a lifestyle, using words in titles and content that draw the most click$.  I choose to tell stories using my own words.  It is the slow lane to little money, and the fast lane to none.

Monetization is the name of a blogging game I haven’t played well.  I try to read articles on how to make your website work for you and click out a few paragraphs in.  Commencing a blogging education today is committing to riding a wave that never ends.  I’ve dipped my toe in the water: a few ads earn about a dime a day.  Reviews net a few dollars and some personal items. 

Blogging conferences are held where bloggers network, pass out contact cards, and link up with brands to promote themselves and learn how to make their blogs noticeable and thus more successful.  Bloggers sit in on informational sessions, learning how to make their blogs stand out.  The sole conference I attended was really for writers, where I chose to ignore branding and marketing sessions in lieu of tips on how to improve my writing.

I’ve only been doing this for five years.  It’s not a lifetime.  Spending an hour or two a day on an activity does not a career make.  I like to write about myself and my family, share amusing snippets of life.  Building relationships with people around the world is a nice bonus, a welcome reminder of my cherished pen pal days.

Throughout all of this is something that I relish: connections.  Writing to get words out is one thing, and writing for money is another.  What I really love about having a blog is that it links me with others.  We have the power and the space to start conversations that otherwise wouldn’t exist.  Relationships begin and are encouraged through typed words.  They don’t have monetary value on their own.  The value is in the words and what they mean to us, together.

Is blogging dead?  Not here.  Here, you will see words on a screen.  I might be an idiot who hasn't cashed in on the 1,000 ways to make a fortune online, but I’m okay being that person, that old-school blogger.



    Or is it HEAR HEAR!
    I never know.
    I love to blog so it better not be dead.
    Of course, if it is, then you and I will be the only ones left and we will make a KILLING.

    1. YES! Please research how to make a killing, and share this information with me. Because I am an ignorant noob who's been doing this for way too long to be an ignorant noob.

      It's HEAR HEAR

  2. I enjoyed reading this Andrea. So many of my blogging friends have quit lately - it's lonely. My story is extremely similar to yours! I write because I want to -and that's all there is these days. And I'm okay with that.

    1. I'm so glad you're here! Maybe if we all just stick out this current tide, it will all come around to the way it used to be? Maybe?

  3. Yes! Thank you for putting this into words. I've had a blog since 2002 (before blogging was really much of a "thing") and lately I've been trying to take it in a little bit different direction. I've been putting a lot of thought into why I do this and who my audience is (and should be). It's an ongoing quest.

    1. It's a quest that I just gave up on. Too many changing rules. Wow - 2002! You've been on this road a long time, and that gives me inspiration to keep rolling along.

  4. I, of course, agree about the connections but what if we do get a point where no one is reading our blog posts anymore for whatever reason? I feel like the connection is getting less and less and that is hard on me. That being said, I'm glad you are still here. :)

    1. I know what you're saying. I guess I haven't been affected as much because I've never had a huge following on my blog - faithful readers for sure, but it was never wildly popular. I was always really really grateful for the few people I knew that were reading. If they stop reading, it's okay - I still feel like I'm writing just for me.

  5. I tried to write a comment on my phone and something bad happened, so I copied my comment to my email and now I'm back to comment, comment, comment.

    I adore you. And I'm super happy your finger didn't slip and accidentally hit 'delete blog' back yonder. As a blogger who is furiously trying to make money, so I don't have to return to a 'real job', I love reading your thoughts on keeping your blog how it's been from the beginning and protecting it as such. I have noticed your writing progress, and you are seriously one of my favorite people to read. Your style is engaging, funny, honest. I am in the midst of trying to figure out how to drag some of the old irreverence I used while blogging into the newer, more shareable stuff, so there is a happy medium. Blogging is obviously not dead, it's just evolved like the old dickens. But it will continue to evolve, and then when all the bloggers evolve too far in the other direction, you really will stand out as being cutting edge. You're my hero. xxoo

    1. Thank you so much, Jeanette. You are and have always been such a great blogger friend to me. I'm so happy for our connection. I've been terrible at reading blogs the last year or so, and I miss it. I realize that instead of being part of the problem that bloggers talk about, I'm going to be a part of the solution - get back to reading and connecting. Thank you for your words of encouragement, and as always, for being YOU. xoxoxo