Monday, January 28, 2008

In Which I Come Clean about Blogging

I love Google Reader because it updates me in real time about the blogs and websites I've asked it to monitor. Many of these are blogs like my own, written by people who find blogging to be an effective outlet for their thoughts and a good place to find an online community of like-minded people. Most of these are blogs that don't advertise because, like me, their authors created their blogs as an outlet for expression rather than for generation of income.

Also on my Google Reader list are blogs that are focused solely on making money, directly or indirectly, from blogging. These include sites that are hugely helpful in finding freelance work, including freelance blogging work, and those blogs tend to (understandably) be very income-focused, which means that they constantly feature income-generating content such as a list of hints (lists are apparently big traffic magnets) on how to effectively drive traffic to your site and how to create posts that invite lots of readers and therefore (at least presumably) lots of income. So, while this personal blog is intentionally not one of those sites, I'm constantly wondering if maybe, given my employment situation (that is, lack thereof), maybe it should be.

But if I did that, everything about this blog would change. I'd write posts in order to fulfill some business requirement -- or worse, to beg for some business -- instead of being motivated by, well, simply by life. And a second blog? Nope -- it just ain't gonna happen... unless it's a paid gig and a completely different animal than this blog.

So what am I coming clean about, you ask? I've decided that I spend way too much energy worrying about things like how to most effectively drive traffic, and page visits in relation to page views, and entry and exit pages. I don't have ads so I'm not in this for the money (what money?!), so who the hell cares? Anyway, the way I figure it, the really great blogs (like this one) never became great by focusing on statistics or readership; they became great by focusing on real, honest, meaningful content. I used to do that; I used to write and write and write because I had stuff in my head that had to get out, no matter who -- if anyone -- was listening.

Then I started to see "my numbers" increase and it felt good and I wanted more numbers. And at the same time I began to realize that potential employers were reading my blog, so I became careful about writing about my job search. And then I realized that old friends and extended family were reading my blog so I began to chose topics hoping they'd find value in what I wrote. Then I got scared to just write, for fear of (gasp!) declining numbers or offending someone or giving away too much information about myself or alienating this group or that group.

And then, around the time that I stopped feeling ownership of my blog and stopped just writing what was on my mind and started wondering whether I should count visitors and potential dollars, I stopped feeling excited about blogging. I'd write safe posts or, worse, I'd find something kinda cool on some other website and post that. And then I'd look at my stats and see if it "worked." How pathetic can I be? What happened to the blog that I started simply because I wanted to write and I had stuff to say and I liked the idea of maybe a few people finding value in what I had to say?

(Did my decision to finally learn to type, thus going from lightning-speed 2-finger typing to dismally slow 10-finger typing play a role in shorter, more boring posts too? Probably! Do I have to learn this 10-finger crap?!)

So here's me coming clean: I'm gonna get back to just plain expressing myself here. I'm gonna stop worrying about driving traffic and stats, and instead I'm just gonna get back to expressing what's on my mind. I might still not be completely forthcoming at all times about my quest for the perfect job though, because... well, because I do believe that some decorum and confidentiality will still be necessary in that department. But I'll let you know generally how things are going.

So why, after all this, did I change the title of this post from In Which I Come Clean to In Which I Come Clean about Blogging, thinking that the latter would bring in more traffic? I mean if I were really blog-smart, I'd title this post In Which I Come Clean about Why I Blog (which I almost did) because, you know, those last three words, "why I blog" are surely searched more often than "about blogging" and that title might... (oh, crap, here it comes...) drive traffic.

Pathetic, I tell you.

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Jen said...

Carol, this was hysterical and I think SO true for so many of us out there! My friend Luisa calls it Feedcrack. I think that's a good phrase for it. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Everyone goes through what I call the "comment whore" phase. There's nothing wrong with it, and this too shall pass. Just don't lose sight of yourself, because that's what makes people keep coming back. But, it sounds as if you already know that.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Becky said...

Heh. I just went through this same self-anaysis a few days ago on my blog. I even talked about Ree the super-blogger. Funny how she has become the yard stick by which the rest of us are measuring our own bloggy worth.

Rositta said...

That's the problem with stat counters, I stopped looking, well sort of...I don't look every day anymore. What I want to swipe from other bloggers are those cool icons on the side bar...ciao:)

Unknown said...

Don't worry. I think you have lots of company in this "confession." When I first started blogging, I also thought about ways to increase my numbers. But I haven't checked my stats in months. I write what is on my mind and go back to those sites that I find inspiring. Unfortunately, I don't comment as often as I read.

swenglishexpat said...

Carol, I believe you have expressed most bloggers' blogging doubts in one post. I say, just express yourself, be yourself, and do not look too much over your shoulder!

Anonymous said...

For more than two years, I haven't been aware of any statistics because I hadn't installed any fancy tracking system. I just didn't care who, if anyone, reads anything I'd written because it'd been a simple publicly available assembly of pieces of thoughts and memories.

I admit, however, that I scrutinized traffics after I've installed a tracking service a couple of weeks ago. Reading the stats twice (!) a day (sometimes), made me considering to write supposedly 'wanted' contents. Now, a month later or so, I've come back to my senses and I've realized that all the statistics just don't matter...

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