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Blogging: What’s the point? Or more blogger belly navel gazing

What am I blogging for?

I’ve asked this question before and given an answer in a semi-tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Now two recent posts, one by Kim Tracy Prince at House of Prince called “The Cranky Veteran Post” and another by Jennifer Brown at Tribal Blogs called “Did Facebook and Twitter kill the personal blog?”,  have me thinking again about this question.

Yes, in the post above from three years ago,  I said I was blogging for YOU. However, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t get into blogging for altruistic reasons. I started blogging because I wanted to talk about ME.

That said, what makes MY story particularly interesting? Am I like the commenter in Jenn’s post who is writing just for family and friends? Do I need to find “a niche” or rediscover a niche I already was in, but then backed out of, a la Just A Reading Fool and Unfinished Rambler, to gain more followers? Or if I do, will my readers be like the commenter and just skip over my posts because they are just one beat posts: like the “mommy bloggers”?  Or are they skipping over my posts now because I’m too eclectic, too unfocused? Or if I find a niche, like I did when I was writing a “humor blog” and a “book blog” and a “running blog,” will I become like Kim imagines her blog becoming, or am I already there: floundering “on in relative obscurity while New Blog of The Week gets a fucking 2-page spread in the New York Times Style section.”? And maybe the follow-up question to that last one: Do I really give a shit if that New Blog of the Week gets the exposure and I don’t?

In theory, I like to think what makes MY story particularly interesting is that it’s not just MY story. It’s the story of Everyman, or at least that is the concept: that I am an unfinished person, struggling with integrating my body, mind and soul into one complete finished person. But by setting myself up to be “Everyman,” am I not being in the slightest solipsistic? Look at me, the example of unfinishedness and my struggles. Don’t you relate? And what if you don’t relate, then what? Then is it just my story and I am writing just for family and friends…or worse yet, just to hear the sound of my own voice? Echo, echo, echo.

When I had niche blogs like Just A Reading Fool and Unfinished Rambler, I did have, and was gaining, more “followers” with each of those blogs rivaling the numbers I have now. The thing is, though, did I get more comments then, which for some is the benchmark of blogging? No, not necessarily. Yes, sometimes, but then other posts, just like now, tank.

All this said, I’m not returning to a niche blog, because I’m not just a reader, a funny guy (well, sometimes I am, although admittedly more often on Facebook where I can be taken in small doses) or a runner (which I haven’t been in more than a year, I’m lucky I’m walking). I’m sometimes all of those things and sometimes none of those things, especially in the running category.

Kim’s friend Lisa might have said it best when she gave Kim a new goal, a “mantra” in Kim’s words: “write well, do what you love and raise well-adjusted children,” except for that part about the children doesn’t apply to me since my wife and I have chosen not to have children (a whole other blog post for a whole other day). We have a hard time enough raising a well-adjusted cat…but I digress as usual…maybe I should restart Unfinished Rambler, after all…my point is…

…wait a minute…

…what am I blogging for again? Or, to put it more accurately, while using a conjunction at the start of a sentence, which isn’t correct and then a run-on thought in the middle of it, which probably isn’t correct either, for what or for whom am I blogging?

Peace out, y’all. Holla.

36 responses to “Blogging: What’s the point? Or more blogger belly navel gazing

  1. Sorry to be so long in commenting, Bryan, but I loved this post. . . I blog in order to have a forum for my writing. I hope people love it, and I do write with others in mind. . . but I consider my blog to be part of my daily writing practice. Thanks for this.

  2. Great post. People blog for all different reasons and the blogging community is a unique one. Regardless what the reason, people blog to put their ideas out for people to read and respond to. I launched http://www.whyiblog.com as a place for bloggers to connect and share their stories. Check it out, you might find a story that is interesting and it would be great if you would post to share your story and maybe some blogging tips. Keep up the great blogging you are very influential for other

  3. Like you and Kimberly I am “nichless”. I just can’t seem to focus on one thing and don’t really know enough about one thing to blog about it every day without be boring. My reason for blogging is that I have something to say and I love to write. So I do it.

    I love comments and views as much as the next person and find myself putting too much focus on it. When that’s my focus it takes the fun out of blogging espeically when there are no comments and few views.

    As far as pay goes I’m with you, just give me even a single digit number. I’ve been paid up to 3 digits but its been a long while.
    Loved this post and the comments.

  4. I ran across your blog in the Studio 30+ Weekend Roundup. And I’m intrigued. Mostly because I like a blog with substance, but at the same time not dry, boring, stuffy.

    I think I must follow you. Your writing intrigues me.

    Maybe because I am “nicheless” too? And don’t particularly want to find a niche? I dunno.

  5. I think I blog for the same reason I started acting forever ago. I started acting because I had the drive and desire to do so. While it would suck if it was a small audience, it didn’t diminish the experience, joy and satisfaction of acting. I started blogging because I had the drive and desire to do so. I never really took to much time to consider who it was for or why. I get the experience, joy and satisfaction no matter how many readers I have. I simply write. Good, bad or ugly that is the short of it. I’m not knocking the awesomeness of growing friendships and interacting with comments. (main reason I am moving to wp) It is just some people like to get all snobby and know-all-y. They will say you need a niche, you need to know all about SEO, blah, blah, blah. It is your space to do with as you will and sometimes I think too much feedback can be worse if it makes you question your own voice.

  6. I’m not sure I’ve ever questioned why I blog at all, but I have questioned why I blog about particular topics sometimes. That’s one reason I’ve retrenched a bit over the past year, focusing more on books and a little less on the assorted other stuff. But you’ve seen my blog; it’ll never be a one-horse town.

    I do think Michael makes a good point re: comments, and not basing your concept of blogging success on how many you get. Like you, I really enjoy the interactivity, but some posts just don’t seem to generate it.

    BTW, I’m glad I introduced you to Kim :-).

  7. I digress….why must we slam the “mommy bloggers” — less important because they write about their children and their lives with or without their children. Not all “mommy bloggers” are lame. Some people like to read their posts more than the non-stop drivel of an egotist. 🙂 Truly, though, I know what you meant. I just like to jerk your chain a little when you get waaay too serious about blogging

  8. Well written, as usual! You definitely need to blog for yourself and for your own reasons. I definitely enjoy your blog, you’re funny and honest. 🙂

    For me, I just blog mainly to keep track of what I’m reading and those thoughts on my reading. I started it about a year and a half ago, and wrote on it only so often. Didn’t get a lot of visits, nor comments. But that was ok.

    This year, I’ve picked up the blogging activity and have gotten about a thousand times more visits, and a few more comments. But I think the best part of blogging for me has been interacting with other folks that read books, and others with similar interests in the “blogosphere.”

    The visits are nice, but mainly it’s just for me, a nice hobby to have. 🙂

  9. Why don’t you get one more cat ?

    Ok, I got distracted when you mentioned cat.

    Going back to reading your post….

    (May reply on Twitter)

  10. On the topic we glanced earlier -blogging for comments and feedback and so forth:

    I read a lot of news -msnbc, cbsnews, cnn, ad nauseam. These are sites on a national platform, and a LOT of those stories get close to nothing in regard to comments. A [rather bland] story on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been on cbsnews all day, and it has ONE comment.

    As a personal example, I don’t check anymore but the biggest post I’m aware of creating -one on Kanye West- got 4,000 hits in the first 24 hours. To this day it has only eleven comments. [note: I’m not bragging -that’s small potatoes: Diesel would pull in 60k on a regular basis]

    But if you use the number of comments you receive to “keep score,” you are in all likelihood selling yourself short in a very big way. And doesn’t is seem burdensome to get someone to come, read AND interact? I’m grateful if they just come and read -it seems giving people a chore on TOP of that may risk them making visits less infrequently …

    • I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I see your point. However, in the last few years, I have been attempting to get readers to interact with questions at the end. Of course, are they feeling forced to participate in another poll, another Internet quiz? Sigh. I mean, this post I didn’t leave a question and look at all the comments. Go figure.

      I won’t lie, Michael. I’m jealous of the numbers you AND Diesel have, but for me, it’s not all about the numbers…and not that it is for you either. I am satisfied with the folks who do stop by, but naturally always would want more to stop by. Who wouldn’t? I’m not just writing in a vacuum…

      …anyway, as usual, I ramble. Just thoughts off top off my head in the early morning that might be revised at a later date.

  11. Sometimes the greatest point of an activity is that there is no point.

  12. Why does anyone blog? It’s such a loaded question, isn’t it? I will be the first person to say that I blog for myself, but honestly it does piss me off to no end when some newbie comes on board, does everything I hate when it comes to blogging techniques and ends up being more “popular”, gaining more attention than I ever will. It does rankle. I can’t help it. What keeps me going is my need to write, fueled by my passion for reading, for sharing my humble story with anyone and everyone or no one. Whenever the latest blogging scandal starts, I focus on my writing and on my blog and know that all I can influence at the end of the day is me. It helps keep me going.

    I think you and I have a lot of similarities, so I imagine that when all is said and done, you feel the same way I do! 😉

  13. Personally I blog in order to build evidence for an insanity defense when I snap at work one day…

  14. Sometimes, like now, when there are so many things on my mind, yet nothing I want to write about, I wonder why I blog. But then SMACK! An idea hits me upside of the head and demands to be written and off I go. I feel really honored to have the loyal readers that I do. They are all amazing writers and wonderful people and I’ve made some great friends. For me, that’s the payoff for blogging.

  15. “Well-adjusted cat”? Who are you kidding?

    🙂

  16. There are a few reasons I blog: keeping up my writing/technical skill set, et cetera. But mostly I think I do it for the same reason some people like photography: I’m just capturing moments here and there.

    But in photography, not everyone expects to become an Ansel Adams -why bloggers tend to be praise-driven is utterly perplexing.

    (Oh. And thanks for making me look up “solipsistic,” ASS!)

    :)~

  17. I struggle with this as well. I have been blogging for a decade, with brief breaks here and there. Until a couple of months ago, I blogged for me. Period. No one else read it, or if they did, they certainly didn’t let me know.

    Several months ago, I got a comment, and I got hooked on finding more followers, more, more, more! I must have comments now! I had delusions of “making it big” and being a 6-figure blogger (or even a 3-figure blogger).

    And now… I’m moving back toward not caring who reads what I write. I think I’m interesting, funny, and most of all, honest about the good and the bad. I enjoy the people I have met, but whenever I have tried to tailor my blog to a “niche”, it comes out sounding false.

    … a very long way of saying that I blog for me. As long as you enjoy writing your blog, please do, because I enjoy reading your words, finished or otherwise.

    • I’d like to be a 2-figure blogger myself. Right now I’m not even a one-figure blogger. 😦 I think you’re right, the main thing is be honest, be true to yourself and your writing voice. Sometimes you might even find they’re one and the same.

  18. I do everything wrong when it comes to blogging. I don’t Tweet, Stumbleupon or every consider SEO stuff. Of course I would love someone to “stumble upon” my blog and offer me some sort of bigger picture project, but that was never my goal. I think if I made it my goal, I would lose sight of the fact that I started blogging as a way to express myself. I’ve ended up brainwashing a few great people into following me and the relationships are really what keep me motivated.

    Meh, sometimes I don’t feel inspired to write anything, so I don’t. I put pressure on myself at times, but then I remember that overthinking things takes away the pleasure of the prose. I like the creativity, the attention and the connections. If any of those things disappear, I might reconsider my options 😉

    • I Tweet my posts, but I don’t know if it’s my heart in it..SEO? Huh? 😉 I could care less and maybe that’s why I’ve never hit the “blogger big time,” whatever that is. Brainwashing: that’s a good word for it. I’m glad to have been brainwashed myself into following a few others.

      You have options? Hmmm, you’re further ahead than I am. 😉

  19. Ditto, Linda.
    I struggle with this myself. I struggle with trying and often failing to translate my blog into bigger projects and paid work (though sometimes succeeding, too) while people who do things I don’t really respect seem to be more “successful” at what I’d like to succeed at. Bottom line, I blog because it’s a way to talk to my friends about the things we’re all interested in, a way to talk about myself and connect to others. And keep up the good work of sharing your interesting, cool self with the rest of us.

    • It sounds like we are all on the same wavelength. I too am trying to write for the sake of writing and see if I can translate some (if there’s any) talent into getting paid. Sometimes it feels at cross purposes, sometimes not. For me, it tends to be a lack of focus. I start doing so many things and then lose the plot. I am there at the moment, hence no post on my part for over a week. It’s times like these that I need a little inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

    • It is a combination of you and me, not literally you and me, but “you and me” in terms of blogging. It’s not all about me, and it’s not all about you, but often about how we connect or maybe don’t connect.

  20. Bryan, I’ve asked myself the same question. I think the answer is somewhere between “I like to do this” and “I love the people I’ve met while doing this”. Do I think what I write is important? Seldom. Do I think it can be funny? Sometimes. Do I love reading comments from people who have read what I’ve written? Absolutely.

    This in a way is being able to interact with a wide range of people. I have some blogs I read every day if there is a post, including yours. It starts my day and makes it a little brighter.

    So please keep doing what you do because you do it well. And through this, I’ve gotten to know a pretty special person, finished or not.

    • I’m glad I’ve met you here in the blogosphere too, Linda, through yet another blogger, Michael Whiteman Jones (http://toomanymornings.com/). It’s sometimes odd how people from across the country and of different backgrounds and experiences can connect, isn’t it? However, it’s also good and hopefully broadens our horizons. Maybe that’s why I do this too.

  21. I’ve only been doing this for 7 months or so. I’m not entirely sure why I do. I wrote a manifesto when I started, and I know what I hoped to achieve. And that has worked, for the most part. It makes me far happier than my real job does and that it helps keep me doing the two things that I love to do most in the world – reading and writing. My job also involves those two things, but it was slowly robbing me of the joy in them, and I think I keep blogging because it helps me remember why I loved them so much. For me, the niche works. But, then, I’m not as funny as you (on a consistent basis). I think the undefined format works for you. I say keep it up.

    • Reading and writing: Amen. That’s what I love to do too, even though I don’t always carve out the space for either and fill it instead with meaningless Facebook games or hours of Netflix. However, reading and writing are still my goals and sometimes, in rare moments– like this post, for example, I achieve those goals. Personally, I’ve been enjoying reading all of your comments on this post and glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  22. Why am I blogging? It’s a question I’ve often asked myself. Over the last four years I’ve almost stopped twice. And yet I keep at it. I think Overall it’s for other people, my regular commenters who drop by. But also it’s for me and when I, myself, stop laughing at what I write I’ll know it’s time to pack it in.

    • I can’t stop…but sometimes…no, all the time..I lose focus.

      As for you, I don’t know how you’ll ever stop laughing at what you write. You’re a virtual laugh riot. 😉 Nope, not really, just virtually.

  23. I said this once to Mike Whiteman-Jones, that if you choose to blog, just write about what you care about it and eventually you will find readers who care about it, too. It may not happen immediately, but it does happen. I think the NYT two-page spreads are far and few between, but we focus on them because they are major and shiny and openly say “success.” But success for most bloggers (me, certainly) is in the little things. The folks who do take the time to comment, the people I get to interact with I otherwise wouldn’t, and the times I’ve laughed because of something AWESOME someone else has put on the screen. I guess it depends on what you need for it to feel successful– what your barometer of success is.

    • I agree. It is those little things that keep me going, those small interactions, rather than the large “Stumbled Upon” moments, that keep my blog engine running…even if sometimes it’s at half-speed. It’s not about how fast you get there or even if you get there…it’s about the journey toward there, wherever the heaven or hell there is.

  24. Holla indeed.

    🙂

    I find you humorous — anything you talk about beyond that is icing.

    Pearl