On Blogging: I Like You But…
“I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Blaise Pascal
In a faraway land called ‘pre-2000,’ what Earthlings now call blogging was called ‘keeping a diary.’ It’s hard work to do well. I tried doing it in the early 1990s but had to stop because I no longer had a life – instead I had this thing that generated anecdotes to go into my diary. The diary took over and I had to stop. Douglas Coupland
What do you Like/Dislike about Blogging? How do you stay in touch with your fellow Bloggers? In the nearly eight (8) years that I have been a blogger, I’ve seen my share of change and, while much of it has been positive, some of it has left much to be desired. Back in 2008, I was a blogging newbie feeling my way around the blogosphere and trying to convince some of my friends that this might be a viable creative outlet. Although the initial impetus behind this blog was work – I created it as a way to encourage my team members to stay motivated in their sales effort, the focus changed when I moved back to NY and started a new venture. I decided the blog should offer the same encouragement to the public and so, with a bit of tweaking, I jumped in feet first to the world of frequent blogging. I like it but … it is a dynamic and fluid endeavor that demands endless time and effort to stay on top of the work, the interactions, the updates and the corrections. Whether you blog anonymously or as yourself, it can, on the one hand, open the door to abusive feedback and bullying. On the other hand, it connects us with an amazing range of creatives from around the world. Of course, all this connecting requires reciprocity and that is where some of the challenges come in. How do we handle it all?
Aside from the usual struggles; blog interactions/comments/social media promotions, time differences and challenges, blog naming, traffic hiccups, trolls, unfriendly bloggers and spammers, over time, it does become all consuming. You wake up one day and see that your efforts are paying off but, only now, it’s becoming harder to respond to every comment and visit every blog friend to keep the reciprocity flowing. As our readership grows, we have to expand our content to meet the arc of that growth. While doing that is key to staying relevant to our readership, we must be vigilant about our limits online and about our equally important offline commitments. I was just reading some of the notes and exchanges I kept on these issues, over the last 7+ years, and what amazes me is how relevant those conversations remain today. What to do? You follow 500 – 5,000 blogs and you love em all but tempus fugit. How do you reconcile the fact that you have a family/business/fellow bloggers to support and X amount of time to give it a go? How do you decide what to do and how to prioritize? I remember some of my blog friends saying that they had a rotation system that included as many blogs as they could visit to like and/or comment. Some simply liked what came through their Reader but, is that satisfying?
How are you managing it all? And your commenting efforts? Do you have an A through Z list of blogs and comment on some while ignoring others? Can you do it all? ( A little secret is NO, not even the top bloggers do it all). Are you feeling the heat yet? I am always feeling the heat so, I feel for you because many active bloggers are in the thick of it and, perhaps, it’s time to fess to the stress? I’ve tried to stay the course by hiring a few Virtual Assistants but, the personal touch can get lost in that effort sometimes and so, we find ourselves either reverting back to doing some and letting our VAs do the rest or we shut down completely and dream about the good old days when a good book and a beach chair were enough to make us feel relaxed. Nowadays, as bloggers, our time is consumed by the endless online work we must do to keep the engine running. Is it worth it to you? I’ll say heck, Yeah … BUT … how can we honor all the fantastic work we see out there in blog-land? Inevitably, something has to give or you’ll never get any sleep.
“I think blogging is a muscle that most people wear out.” Warren Ellis
When I started blogging in 2004, I responded to every comment no matter how nasty the reader was. I was generally polite, believing that these critics would be so charmed by my professionalism that they would see the error of their misogynist ways and swiftly run out to read a bell hooks book. Ha! Jessica Valenti
It’s been so amazing. I’ve always struggled with this barrier that I felt like I’d had up until blogging came along. Just one comment from somebody really sparks something in me. It doesn’t need to be this huge war between me and the listeners anymore. I really thrive on that. Imogen Heap
How do You Manage? At one point in my early blogging life, I was receiving about 3000-5000 emails and it was a nightmare to respond to all in a timely fashion; even with a system in place, it was challenging. I felt that my blog friends deserved a response in like manner and I still do. For me, blogging friendship is also about reciprocity… No one likes to feel like they are having a one sided conversation or that they are the third banana on a wheel. Without loyalty, reciprocity and active communication, a friendship would be nothing but a farce. Yet, I found myself falling behind in blogland and, when I started dealing with health issues, it simply got out of hand. Finally, I had to shut off notifications and clear the deck and get back to a more manageable number… I learned a lot from the experience too — and about human nature. It now makes sense to me how important it is to grow gradually, prioritize effectively, and be mindful of your limits as a blogger. I still dream of the day when I’ll be able to return every visit and enjoy the impressive array of blog selections in the blogosphere but, for now, we can only do small batches at a time. As your blog grows, these are important and brutally honest conversations you must have with yourself. Is there some feeling of guilt? Sure!
Does Humor Help? Do you have days when you want to stop blogging? One day, I was thinking about a humorous way to address the struggles we all face as bloggers and the following ideas, see below, popped in my head. While we can chuckle over them, the challenges of managing an active blog are real. When you factor in the layer of new demands that come into play when you have monetized your blog, have sponsors, and personal/family needs to handle, it takes great wisdom to manage it all and avoid burnout. Sure, there are days when I think I need to take a hiatus and catch up on other pressing needs yet, I come back to this process again and again. Why? Because I do love the creativity it inspires, the exchange of ideas, and the interactions; albeit a somewhat challenged one. I find blogging to be very therapeutic and a way to express a wide range of ideas we have percolating in our heads. Yes, it can become a double edged sword but that is why we need to stay vigilant and honest about the work. As a dear friend recently told me; “As long as you’re enjoying it, STAY! The day you stop enjoying it, QUIT! Forget about accolades and being everything to everybody as that is UNREALISTIC.” That said, I’ll keep trying my best to make this – content creation, communication and reciprocation – all work.
THINGS TO SAY WHEN YOU JUST CAN’T ADD ONE MORE COMMENT AFTER #275!
I won’t be commenting on your blog tonite because: http://wordpress.com/#!/fresh/
The cat has the dog by its neck,
I’m feeling the brilliance but carpel tunnel is killing me,
Hey I’ve got 5000 others to like and one hour to do it,
I’m loving the post and I’ll be back,
I can’t find my pen
oh shit I don’t need one – busted,
SShoot. It’s been a while since you said hello!?
Ice, ice baby for a short while, dig?
Duh? What to say? You said it all!
Sheesh! I agree with you, you want me to write that too?
I’m an A list- D list – Z list … too darn frazzled, busy blogger – my 15 minutes await … no, they’re up!
Did I tell you about the 7 hours I spent staring at the beavers today? Yep
I’ll come back for more … later!
My blogging life is basically goalless. I like the zen nature of that, and paradoxically, it improves results. Seth Godin
Blogging is great, and I read blogs all day long. However, my goal is really to have a deep, meaningful discussion with people. For some reason, I’m able to accomplish this best via email. Jason Calacanis
I started blogging a decade ago because I like blogging. Writing’s a kind of lonely thing to do, and I liked the idea of demystifying the process because I loved it as a kid and teenager and as somebody who wanted desperately to write. Neil Gaiman
There are 100 million blogs in the world, and it’s part of my job as the co-founder of WordPress to help many more people start blogging. Matt Mullenweg
What to do? As the blogosphere continues to explode and more folks join the fray, it is imperative that we stay honest about what we can/can’t do. While blogging can consume massive amounts of our time, the reality of it all is that, to maintain longevity as bloggers, we need to keep pushing ourselves to grow and try new ways of reaching others, writing our content, and staying connected. Some tips to consider include: Take the time you need to regroup. I took about almost a year off and came back refreshed and determined to find a way to better manage my online time … I’m still figuring that one out. Set realistic goals that work for you and, trust me, DON’T JOIN EVERYTHING! For now, I’d love to say that I’ve hired some VAs to help me stay in touch and on point and they will be stopping by your site in a click but, there is so much more work to do about this issue. Perhaps, one day a tech wiz will create an app that you can add all the blogs you love on it and it will visit each one and generate the perfect response, in your voice, that fits the topic at hand. For now, we can only dream, think about solutions, and do as much of the heavy lifting that still takes a lot of time/energy and leaves us feeling not 100% fulfilled on the delivery/reciprocity end of the conversation.
What more can we do? Another set of goals all bloggers must have, include: To practice self-care, to learn to be nicer and not competitive with each other, and to keep maturing and stretching ourselves and our blogs on the journey. That said, all bloggers deserve a PAT on the BACK! Thank you to all of you who stop by to read my blog; active participants, blog buddies/family/friends, silent visitors, sponsors, the curious, and more. I’m proud of YOU and grateful for the connections!
This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: Pat On The Back – Tell someone you’re proud of, just how proud you are.
Positive Motivation Tip: Blogging is for the long haul and can be both a satisfying and draining process … enjoy the ride!