Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why I'm Still Here (Thoughts on Blogging)

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because I want to make sure no one got into my mind before I did!

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Grammarly, but as their plagiarism checker confirmed, the content, topic, and opinions are one hundred percent mine.)

A healthy amount of posts about the nature and purpose of blogging have been floating around the blogosphere and each one has really made me stop and think. Blogging is constantly evolving so it's not as if the same benefits to blogging exist as they once did. And taking stock of why we do what we do on a fairly regular basis only makes sense to me.

Blogging has definitely changed a lot since I started and it's interesting to me what those changes are. It's interesting how blogging friendships come and go and how content shifts and changes.

I don't think the impact the emergence of Twitter years ago had can really be overstated. Before Twitter, friendships really took place on blogs for the most part. There were a few social gathering places, but for the most part people read each other's blogs and commented and checked back for return comments! But when Twitter really took hold, the conversation shifted over there. It wasn't that we weren't reading each other's blogs anymore, it just became easier to talk and to talk to more people on Twitter. Plus, all sorts of things could be discussed like what to fix for dinner or what happened on a favorite TV show. Projects were often birthed on Twitter from people randomly wondering things out loud. And it was easier there, in a way, because you could test the waters to see if other people were interested in doing something. I feel like a lot of my blogging generation was growing with Twitter...we were eager and hungry to grow our readerships, to forge connections in the blogosphere, and increase our influence. Yes, a lot of us (not all obviously) wanted those things. Twitter was the perfect place for a lot of that to happen.

I know I'm writing about Twitter as if it's the past tense, and obviously, you know, it's not. I still use Twitter, but it's nothing like it used to be. Its value as a place to share information from a marketing perspective was quickly discovered and there is just so much noise on there now. A lot of bloggers are like me...we no longer check in constantly to Twitter, we just check it from time to time. Actually ending up in a conversation is so rare these days. I still see flurries of activity when someone says or does something grossly offensive, but it's mostly a place where I get news these days. A lot of bloggers have moved over to Facebook where they can combine real world and online social activity.

But I'm not blaming Twitter, on the contrary, I loved it and what it did for us as a community. I just think it had a huge impact that can't be ignored. And other social sites also had an impact. Goodreads was a social site that made a dent in the need for book blogs. Facebook also drew attention away from interacting on blogs to interacting on their site. And Tumblr sometimes feels like a big offender as well. The truth of the matter is that Tumblr is just's easy to engage quickly and not spend that much time on it, but you still get to see what people are thinking and feel like you're part of things.

But perhaps, more than anything, the biggest change to blogging has been in bloggers themselves as they run up against fatigue. Book blogging is one of the most time intensive kinds of blogging there takes time to read and time to write about it. It takes time to stay on top of emails and book releases and conduct author interviews and schedule things out. It takes time to be an active and productive member of the book blogging community and make a mark on the online world so that people know your blog exists and they want to read it.

Aarti of Booklust recently wrote a really great post about this, I'm Blogging Like It's My Job and I'm not Sure if I'm Good at My Job. I feel like she really articulated so many things very well including the feeling of almost setting yourself up for failure. Once you host a huge event, there's a weight of expectation that you'll do it again and not only will you do it again, but you will fix all the things that were buggy with it the first time and NOT ONLY THAT but it will be bigger than before! I love how she expresses she just doesn't have the ability to devote more to A More Diverse Universe this year the way she did last year and yet she still wants/hopes for it to be bigger than last year.

And of course! When you pull off a successful event anything less than more success the next time is going to feel like a failure. Especially if you judge success by numbers and nothing else.

And as a blogger, you have to decide if the ratio of work to participation is worth it. It's something I've thought about a lot and even this year with the War & Peace read along. A fair number of people signed up in the beginning but each month the truth is that I can really only expect that Bookworm 1858 will post about it. (and thank you!! I always like reading your thoughts--also I totally don't blame people who finished early etc. I get it) I had to think about whether or not readalongs are something I still want to do and my answer has been, I think, yes. I wouldn't have gotten so far in War & Peace without deadlines and the expectation that I'm going to post. At the same time, I have let go of many of my signature projects this year as I realized that the work was not worth the results I was getting.

So...with the emergence and prevalence and options of social media, the general fatigue felt by bloggers, and the tough market to crack why still bother?

This is the inevitable question. After all, blogging isn't something I have to do. It would be very easy to stop, right? Why keep going?

I offer you my top three reasons.

Friends and Connection

A lot of the friends I've made through blogging have changed over the years as our interests and goals change. And yet, there are some constants. Those constants are a big reason I still come back to blogging, because I simply can't imagine not knowing what you are thinking about things! Sharing my life and your lives and our thoughts on books and other media is fun and important to me. Also, there's always the chance to make new friends and meet new people. I value that. And finally, I like that my blog is still a place where I can write about books and reading to my heart's content even following little tangents that would lose my conversation mates in real life!


I do feel like I express myself best through writing. Even so, I struggle frequently to find the right words, but writing gives me an outlet for expression I don't get any other way and blogging gives me the chance for feedback or to be delusional and think others are reading! While I still think the way we express ourselves in writing reveals only a part of who we are, I don't think that part is any less true or real than the part we are able to express in other ways. This is an important part of my life and I've always been sort of grateful to have been born into a world with internet and blogging.

I can't imagine not blogging

I could give a few more glowing reasons, but the truth is that I can't ever imagine a day when I would decide I never wanted to blog again. I've been pretty low on it a few times, but I can never pull the plug. I remember once reading someone say that blogging is a way of life and it resonated so much. That's why calling it a hobby has never quite worked. That's the reason requiring someone to blog in order to build a platform for sales will fail if they aren't already naturally inclined. Being a blogger is thinking about the world in a certain way and I'm someone who does that. I've also seen blogging compared to having a toddler...the blog needs constant attention. I'm going to be completely honest and say that my blog is more at the teen stage now...or maybe I am with my blog. We may not always be together, but we do manage to find time for dinner together a few nights a week.

I also recommend Jeanne's very excellent post from last month, Why I Blog.


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