Blogvolution

If I happen to glance back at my old posts, particularly those of a few years back, I find that quite a lot of them are the sort of stream of consciousness writing that to me was the point and definition of a “blog.” Articles and points were for professional websites. Blogs were for rambling.

Over time, “blogging” has become an actual business venture, although not for me, and this makes me steer away from that sort of rambly, babbly, slice-of-mind type posts and toward ones that are at least a little bit topical. By that I mean having a topic, and not especially relevant to the time, although almost everything you will ever write is informed by the context of the time you live in, so I guess that applies too.

This blog is a personal site, not a professional one, so there’s no especially good reason not to ramble on, except that I want to put something a little more thoughtful out there. I want to feel a little bit more like my thoughts have a point. It would be nice to look back on previous posts and think “Yes, I see what I was saying here, and I think it was worth saying.”

One could argue that I should go back and delete some of my older posts, at least the silliest and/or most pointless ones. I don’t think I’m going to do that, though. I want to keep this site personal. I don’t want to clean up my image too much, to seem like someone whose thoughts just flow naturally into perfect forms of stories or essays or what have you. It doesn’t get me views or make me money, but I still feel attached to it. I’ve poured quite a bit of myself into this blog and I don’t just want to delete parts of me, even if they are smaller or more distant now than they were at the time of writing. Perhaps I am too attached to the past. Maybe it’s the influence of writer’s journals, like Virginia Woolf’s, and the idea that someday, people will be interested in my raw thoughts because I will have gained some fans through my creative efforts.

I mean, probably not. But at least I can look back on it myself.

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Has Blogging Lost Its Lustre?

I’ve been blogging for years now. I don’t even know how many. Five, seven… something like that. And sometimes I feel like it’s become more of a burden than a useful outlet.

Back when I was first blogging, I was not aware of any opportunities for making money through the platform. I don’t think it was very common then. In order to make money writing online, you had to write for a content mill or online magazine/newspaper with a large following. I considered content mills, but never made the move, and I’ve never been that interested in journalism (maybe opinion pieces, but not news coverage). Blogging was still more of a personal/creative outlet than a money-making scheme. I liked it that way–being able to share my thoughts and writing with an audience, having a venue to put a little bit of myself out there. Originally I’m certain only my friends and family were reading, but they were my target audience anyway.

Suddenly, that all changed. Articles and job listings and all kinds of sources were telling me that I needed to optimize SEO to get more views on my posts. It was not good enough to express myself well and share something with the world, because doing so I wasn’t coming remotely close to the thousands of views per day that so many other sites claimed to accumulate. This was a few years ago, and even though I was not trying to make money from blogging, I felt utterly inadequate. These days, all the “how to blog” articles tell you have to use good quality pictures, fall within a certain word count, and talk about relevant topics that people want to read, like Kim Kardashian’s nude photos (this is a somewhat ironic example, as the topic is of no particular interest to me). If I’m only getting a handful of views on each post, then it must be because my posts aren’t good enough.

That, of course, is a trap it’s easy to fall into, and I’m starting to think it was created by ad companies, who are the ones benefiting most from the high number of clicks on a page. Someone out there wants us to believe that quantity (in views) equals quality (in production or content). We know this isn’t true. Some very talented people simply don’t achieve the visibility they deserve, for many reasons. Now it seems everyone’s striving for that one “viral” post, of whatever format, that will result in a steep increase in followers and, therefore, more views on each post afterward. I absolutely get it, as someone who doesn’t get enough blog views to even qualify to use WordAds (which in my opinion is not a reasonable rule), but at the same time, it’s got to stop!

I have to say that I’m really tired of worrying about my view count, why my overall number of views never seems to increase no matter how many new followers I get, and all other related things. I’m tired of wondering whether it’s better to pour my heart out, like some of the very popular blogs I’ve seen, or write extremely well-researched and crafted pieces that, in my opinion, do not belong on a blog (in most cases). Those belong in real magazines or on real sites, by real publishing companies. Blogging used to have a similar function to a diary, for me, with the small difference of knowledge that other people would be reading it. More recently, I’ve felt more of an urge, whether internal or external, to write “articles” or at least posts with a real topic, instead of just a spontaneous stream of consciousness, account of some event in my life, or whatever else blogs used to be used for.

Lately I miss the stream of consciousness. I think that if I do have specific topics to write about, a blog is as good a place as any to share them, but this idea that blog posts should always “say something” is bringing me down. The flood of blogs that are trying to be professional and presentable has given the impression that if you want to be taken seriously, you can’t just use blogging as a general brain outlet anymore. Not only is this NOT true, but I think I need the brain drain. My mind has been so stuck lately, both in a sense of feeling the need to save the “publish” button for only certain types of posts, and in a sense of being generally inarticulate and unable to think of the right word at very random but ever-more-frequent times. It’s as if so many words built up in my brain without anywhere to release that it’s become clogged, and now nothing can get through.

Does anyone have any word-Drano?

The point here is multi-pronged. 1) Your blog can be for anything you want. 2) Most of all, you should do it for you. If you’re only blogging to get views, that will probably show, and no one is interested in that. 3) You can’t predict what posts people are going to want to read. 4) Expecting to make money from almost any online platform, unless it’s through a specific site that already gets a lot of views, is a bad plan. That’s why #2 applies once again.

This post, I think, falls somewhere between the topical article and the stream of consciousness. That’s how I like to work, honestly, for topics like this. I want it to be somewhat personal and relatable, not ultra-researched and dry to the point where a lot of people click to view the post but most of them just skim over the bullet points. In a sense I could probably do better if I really took the time to formulate an essay-style post. But all that is, to me, is another false path to a “right” method of blogging, which, in case you didn’t catch it, I’ve already stated does not exist.

Blogging, Balancing, Organizing–My Latest Failings

I’ve been thinking about my blogs as they exist now, and I’m not liking what I perceive.

For one thing, I get almost no comments, and that isn’t necessarily a sign that I’m an unsuccessful blogger, but it makes me feel silly sometimes. “Well, obviously no one’s that interested in what I’m writing, so why bother?”

Why indeed. I started blogging for ME, because I wanted to, because I think it’s a good way to collect my thoughts and possibly connect with an audience, even if not with the sort of pieces I really want to publish. As time goes on and my view counts stay down, and I can never seem to become a “Blogger” (with a capital B because I’d be recognizable and maybe it would even be slightly lucrative), no matter how long I do it, I get discouraged. No one actually starts a blog because they expect it to be a mega-hit. But my constant lack of visibility is essentially the same as never being picked out of the slush pile.

The metaphor may not be appropriate, because I’ve done so little submitting that my work hasn’t had a chance to actually be in slush piles. But the state of being among a huge amount of comparable blogs and never being special enough to be noticed basically puts me in the internet’s slush pile.

It’s confusing to me. How is it I have over 100 followers and usually get only 15 views or less when I post? (Dear WordPress: please fix yourself so that I actually get views when people read my posts.)

I hate when I end up blogging about blogging. Some people write about blogging for a specific reason and it makes sense for them. I only ever do as an apology, really, to myself and the few people who are interested in reading me, when I haven’t been making good use of my blog.

I don’t like the way things are with my blogs right now, both this and the No Recipe Life, and it’s making me feel like creating a brand new blog and starting over. The thought of actually doing so is almost sickening to me. I don’t want to start over yet again. So I am trying to think instead of how to arrange things on my existing blogs so that I can post about whatever I want on whichever platform seems to fit best, and it’s giving me a headache. Many people, I’m sure, would tell me to hire a consultant, but there are several reasons I don’t want to. One of those is that I can do it myself.

Listen to me. Rambling on and on with no point. As always. I’ll end with this, so I don’t just write myself off the end of the world:

Please, readers, keep some faith in me. Don’t unfollow (unless you legitimately don’t like my blog–then it isn’t beneficial for either of us, so by all means, go on your way), don’t skip my posts. Give me some constructive criticism. I care if you like this blog, and my other one. I will get it together. It won’t be today or tomorrow but if you wait a little longer maybe I can create something people will care about.

P.S. Regarding Five Things Fridays–I started doing them with the intention that they would be a way for me to wind down from the week, and attempt to get the writing ball rolling (or something) for the weekend. It turns out Friday nights are not a good time for me to plan to blog regularly, because it’s often a social night for me. In addition, all the cool ideas I had, like posting five flash pieces or five awesome literary quotes, always seem to get sidelined in favor of me complaining about random things from the day or the week. Basically, it’s not serving its purpose for this blog. Thus, I’m going to stop using that form, and I’ll try to come up with another regular post day that will actually focus on writing. I might start FTFing on the other blog, which you should go check out if you want to read my thoughts on food and random stuff.