Some bloggers don’t last very long in this cyber world. They write a post or two, set up the About Me page then disappear forever. Sometimes, it is clear they left because their expectations were never something that could be achieved, by themselves or anyone. They become defeated, rejected, and defensive and quit.
I think some personalities were designed to absolutely thrive in the blog communities. People who are interested in how life looks through other people’s eyes, for one. People who like to read. People who are fanatically surfing the internet day and night, ever in the pursuit of knowledge. People who can’t sit still. People who like writing. People with crazy curious brains that have never yet found a subject that was too random or too boring to google. Also, all me.
I’ve had about three thousand different hobbies throughout my 45 years here on the earth, and not one of them made it a whole month. I’ve tried knitting, painting, sketching, pottery, embroidery, woodworking, and leather crafts. FAILED at all of them. My mother was a writer and my father is a sculptor/painter. The desire to create is in my DNA, and yet I was worse than just bad at all of it. I’d tried writing as a teenager, and staring at an electric typewriter was just depressing. When my youngest daughter sold a painting to a gallery when she was a pre-teen, I had to settle with the thought that even if that talent had skipped me altogether, I still had given birth to kids with a lot of talent themselves. That sucked for me though. I have never even once lived vicariously through my kids, and their achievements have always been their own, and not mine at all.
I accidentally found this hobby when I found myself waiting for days for my tweaker husband to come out of the spare bedroom he would lock himself in to for days at a time. I was worried, hurt, and needing something to take my mind off of it. One evening, I ran across a blog my sister had set up and wrote in. I’d never even heard of a blog before, much less knew any of my family kept one. I set one up for myself, and the rest is history. I’ve finally found something creative that I don’t suck at. Yay!
This blogging hobby has been bumping along for me over two years now, and shows no sign of boring me yet.
I ran across a fairly new blogger’s site where she was wondering how bloggers felt when they missed one of their follower’s new posts, and basically, deal with disappointing their new “friends”. I remember feeling exactly like that when I first started, and I have to laugh at how I was forced to change my expectations for my blog before I was driven crazy by disappointing all of those people who have been so loyal and kind to me.
I’m not ashamed to admit that when I first set up my blog, I was afraid no one would like me or
anything I wrote. I felt fairly confident I could guilt my kids into reading it, but even then, my kids aren’t at all easy to manipulate into doing anything they don’t want to. Still,I’m just low budget enough to try.
I wrote and wrote for a whole week. Not only did not one person “like” a post or “follow” my site, but all three of my kids didn’t either. That was pretty humbling. Feeling a bit miffed, I didn’t answer any of my progeny’s phone calls for two days. Schmucks. Then, out of boredom, I started going through the stuff on my dashboard, and came across an option to keep my site private so no one could find it. Guess who had set up a private site? Yep. That would be me.
Please note: It did not, however, explain the three brats I gave life to who knew full well I’d set that sucker up and wanted them to read it. They hadn’t even tried to find the thing, all three claiming to have been too busy….yada, yada. I dealt with that lack of loyalty swiftly and firmly…. :-)
I made the site public, and tried to boost my self-esteem up enough to handle the rejection that I would feel if someone never showed up. Ten minutes later, I had my first follower!! I danced around the room, and even called Chef at work… because I’m a total geek who does actually dance around like a lunatic over trivial crap. Then I spent the rest of the day cyber-stalking the little guy who wrote a tiny blog about men’s fashion and had two followers — me and himself. I wrote a comment about how I liked his site and how the clothes he was writing about were cool. I wear the same blue jeans and t-shirts daily until they literally fall off of my body, and I was married to a Bandido who wears blue jeans and leather when he dresses up. What do I know about fashion, especially men’s? Still, I made the effort because of my gratitude. He never once answered back, and then disappeared from the internet completely. I scared the little guy away.
I got a few followers every few days or so, and lots of comments, but I was unable to understand exactly why most of them liked anything I was writing, or how they seemed to be completely misunderstanding the point of anything I was writing. Their sites explored subjects like travelling, tech tips, and in one case, pornography when I was successful at finding one, but most of them couldn’t be found when I clicked on their link. I was happy to not look like a total loser, but I had a suspicion something less desirable was going on here. That’s how I learned about spam, and also how I might have known that if I had read even the barest of instructions. When the confusion had been cleared up, I had maybe four comments from real people.
I removed all traces of my dorkness from the blog, and connected it to my Facebook account, and I found people from my life, both past and present, interested in what I was saying. That went a long way to helping me feel better about risking my entire self-image. The growth after that probably had more to do with me flipping out so publicly about my marriage falling to pieces, along with all the harsh reasons why. Also, people can’t help finding drunk posts fascinating. I fascinated people that way more than once.
People who could relate found me, and I looked for them. That’s how blogs grow organically. You share your experiences with people who can relate, and they share theirs with you.
I tried valiantly to keep up with everyone’s blogs, but between being dumped, drunk, homeless, and pissed, the time just was not there to keep up. I spent marathon days visiting hundreds of sites, and finally I threw up my hands in defeat, and announced my inability to do more than try to make it around once in a while. I felt bad, but what could I do? I quickly found out that people were very understanding and not as quick to feel rejected as I had feared they would.
I also found out something I don’t think people know about when they first start out. Blogging is a very successful way for writers to launch writing careers. It acts as a testing ground, sharpens writing skills, and publishers will often consider an unpublished author’s work if a large base readership has already been established. This is why often you find your site is getting a ton of new followers, but you never see any of those people back again. And this is why I always follow someone back when they follow me. Breaking into writing isn’t easy, and I’m happy to help the little bit I can.
The unspoken rule of blogging is that if someone follows your site, you follow theirs. I’m pretty sure this goes without saying, but I still will, no human being on the earth that has a site with 2300 followers keeps up with all of those sites. It isn’t personal, it’s impossible.
I have a few blogs of people that I like their writing or I know personally that I read regularly. I go through my reader and read as many post titles as I can, and often click interesting ones that make me curious. I comment occasionally, but not always. It has nothing to do with arrogance, and everything to do with physics. Many, many of you are clearly much better writers than I am, have better topics, and are seriously on your way up to the top of your craft. And it is likely I just haven’t found you yet, despite being one of your followers. I’m thinking I have the same thing going on around here, as well.
A common problem I’ve run into with some bloggers is that they try to please everyone else. Blogs are great for practicing your skill at writing. They are not good for determining how awesome you are.
Trial and error has taught me that using “followers” or “likes” to gauge your worth instead of a method to improve your writing skills, is the internet’s equivalent of a popularity contest. The cool kids are cool because their confidence in themselves attracts others who want some of that in their own lives, but multitudes of people who think you are cool doesn’t prove you are, in fact, actually a cool person. You are the one who has to decide that, and then don’t spend that much time worrying that other people might disagree. People are fickle, usually under-informed, and diverse. And that includes every human on the planet, including myself. No one is ever going to capture a 100% vote by their fellow human beings. Approval is nice, but don’t make too much of it. It comes and it goes. Be someone that you can like and respect. That will go a lot further in your life than anyone else’s opinion.
Writing for some people, like me, is something I do more for myself more than anyone else. I’ve got issues, and this is cheap therapy. I like to interact with others who like the same things, or have the same experiences, and I feel honored by people who keep coming back, or take some time to show they care. I want to help people if I can. I am building a writing career myself, and blogging has helped me develop better writing skills and build a fan base. Blogging has been good for me.
But I also know that me, my life, my ways of dealing with stuff, aren’t for everyone, and that means nothing at all in the great scheme of things, and certainly has no impact on my own self-esteem in the least. It simply has no impact on my opinion of my worth as a person. There is a huge list of things I suck at in a spectacular way, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthless or dull. It means I can’t do some stuff other people can. Nothing more, and nothing less.
You should decide who you are, and work to become what you would like to be. We all have the ability to strive to be someone we can be comfortable with in public, and most of us are still working on ourselves. Your blog should be something that helps you with that, not a meter of how likable you are to others. If it makes you happy, and you like it, that is about all that anyone has the right to expect from their personal blogs. Odds are, there are plenty of people that will like it, and you, as well, eventually.