After 8 years of blogging, why do I still do it and should I? (Or: Oh my, how things have changed!)

When I started blogging nearly 8 years ago (next month-ish), it was as if some magical portal was opened into the world of words and stories and the actual people who wrote them. Blogs were places to go to read about others’ lives. To meet them on their turf and get to know them through their words. I understand that a blog is a representation of what people want others’ to see and never the full story. But the stories were there! A post would lead to a comment which would lead to a conversation that later lead to phone calls. Soon, those words on the screen were people in my heart. It made me feel incredible every time I wrote. I began to know the people who commented either through comments that led me to them or even in emails.

One time I posted that I was having some health issues. Who called me? Gloria Steinem. Yes, that one. She was concerned about me and left me her home phone number so I could call her back.  Because I wrote a post on my blog. Because I was myself online. I opened up about who I am and what was going on in my life. (I could use more information on that heart/stress/health connection  again, my friend. I sort of lost the information and, well, when Gloria Steinem calls, one can get forgetful about writing down information to remember 5 years later.)

Then of course there was the most life changing, terrifying yet amazing comment on my blog that changed the way I looked at writing forever. That comment led to emails which led to phone calls which led to me being signed by a literary agent who has had enough faith in me for both of us when I lost my way. Because I wasn’t afraid to put it out there that I was working on writing a book proposal, she found me. When life kicked my ass from here to hell and back, she didn’t give up on me. I pray she never does. (Laurie, I’ve got something you’ve waited a long time for!)

You all know that I have blogged openly about my history of addiction and my kicking its ass on a daily basis for nearly 11 years. Because I was not afraid to blog about being a recovering addict that led to a relationship with Five Moms which led me to a trip to DC (Face it, Dave, there is no real White House!) which led to dinner, a day of lobbying and a face to face talk about my addiction with Dr. Drew Pinsky. A conversation that made me see something in myself and my addiction that not only had I never thought about, it was a complete game changer. I wish I had more time that night to talk about it more in depth but with just a few insights into what I was saying, Dr. Drew changed something broken inside me.

I was able to test drive several different cars for months at a time. I made incredible connections with the gaming community. All because they knew they would get a quality write up from me. Whether I liked the product or not.

I was offered paid writing jobs that I loved so very much! (But as kids tend to do, my babies weren’t so  young and a target market anymore. But, the opportunity was incredible!)

Because I wrote a blog.

Where people comment.

And relationships are formed.

And things changed. Suddenly all of these new catch phrases were vitally important for bloggers. Things You Must Know. Your stats? (You have to know your stats! They measure whether you are worth anything in this world!) Branding. (“You are your brand!” was shouted around the land.) Do you know your page rank? (Everyone should know that! Duh!) What about your Twitter followers? (Do you have enough clout (ahem) to mean something to PR pros?) Facebook fan page? Have you optimized it? Where is your media kit? Don’t run with scissors! (Okay, I threw that in to see if you were paying attention.) Have you set up an LLC? Are you actively seeking sponsors? What ad network is best? Should you use an ad  network? Do you know SEO? How much do you charge for every single thought in your head?

Holy crap on a crispy cracker! ENOUGH!

And that magical portal that was all unicorns and double rainbows slammed shut for me.

BAM!

Writing online wasn’t fun anymore. Writing online had to be work or you were a crappy blogger. Blogging for fun? That doesn’t pay the bills. The noise in the blogosphere became so loud, I could no longer hear my own voice. I lost my blogging voice. I couldn’t find any passion for writing about anything. Oh, I could kick and scream and be that old blogger yelling for these new-fangled bloggers to “get off my lawn” (and I did to my old school friends in private) but that didn’t change the climate. It just made me feel less significant. Less effective. Just…less.

So I started to write in a real journal. (Like with real paper and a pen!) And I wrote mundane things and memorable things. I vented my frustrations and fears. I wrote funny stories and things that broke my heart. I took 2003 and flipped it around. When I started blogging 8 years ago, I went from a journal to a blog and it brought forth the writer in me. In 2010, I went from a blog to a personal journal. And it brought back the writer in me.

Now? I’ve learned to merge the two with (somewhat) peace of mind.

I may not follow the shouts of what blogging “should be” today and I may not know all of the buzz words of the day but what I do know is that I love to write and make connections. It truly makes me happy and fuels my passion for writing. If that leads to opportunities, that is wonderful. And? If not playing by the “new rules” gets doors slammed in my face, so be it. The bottom line is that I blog for the love of the blog.

Not for love of the game.

19 Comments

  1. You’re back! Not temporally, although that’s also true, but this post…it is really you writing. If that makes sense. I’m glad you’ve figured out your balance, and hope this means we’ll see posts from you when the time is right. I was just complaining the other day about all the bloggers (I’m pretty much just a reader) who feel compelled to post every day without regard to content. I would much rather read someone who posts irregularly (and even infrequently, if need be) but who posts something worth reading, well, and doberbutts.

  2. “Blog for the love of the blog” is my new mantra.

  3. I don’t care about those things you mentioned up there. I don’t have a blog, so that explains that. But I’ve been reading here, and feeling for your sadness, and happy for your happiness, and when you are angry, I think about how I’d be mad in your shoes, as well. I read to hear your voice, to enjoy your writing skills, and to feel that totally unique one-way connection blogging creates; not to judge your blog based on all that whatever-it-was you mentioned up there, dammit. I come here to hear you! And I really, sincerely doubt that I am a lone chorus of one person saying so.

  4. Whew, I was really worried when I saw the title that another quality blogger was going to fall by the wayside, a victim of the commercialization of MommyBlogging.

    Believe me, I get what you are feeling… except that, with the exception of a few top quality bloggers that I feel I have become “friends” with over the past 7-1/2 years, I never saw the perks that many others did. But to be honest, for me that wound up to be more important to me over these years than any little novelty item or test drive could ever provide.

    But even I have become frustrated at times with the “new world” of blogging, though not surprised. The Blogging world has followed pretty much the same sort of path as the internet itself. At first content was king, then came cheesy banner ads, when they failed the search for other ways to “monetize”, collaboration, SEO and so on.

    But then I realized something, in all the different scenarios, and all the different fads that have come and gone, the one thing that is always important in all of them is the content. Good quality content trumps all in the long run. (and allow me to sidebar here for a second to say that everything you have written here qualifies as said quality content). There is nothing wrong with trying to pick up a hint or two here or there to grab a few more eyeballs or possibly to improve (or create) a way to monetize your content, but at the end of the day, this is far more vital, important and quality content that is useful than the tripe that is spit out by some because they spend more time on the SEO keywords and “brand building” than they do on the content they are writing, and it is those people that while they may prosper short term, will become the gold rush ghost towns of the web, they will eventually dry up and their irrelevant words will blow away like a tumbleweed down an empty sidewalk.

    I’m glad you are finding your own way, and whatever it takes to get and keep your mojo to continue to write, because your words, your writing, your content, the “you” that you put out there makes the world a better place.

  5. This is the first time I’ve read your blog. As I’m sitting waiting for my coffee to finish (a watched coffee pot never brews)… I’m searching for something really appropriate to say, especially to a professional writer. Sadly the best I can come up with is “Wow, you go girl!” 🙂

  6. Amen to Laura H. And Jay. They’ve said it all, so I don’t really need to say more. I will though (heh, heh!) I never enjoyed the kind of “bloggy success” that you have, I still find myself disillusioned…sidetracked off onto paths that take me away from the words, the emotions, the stories. Then I realize (by reading something like this, so well timed for me, BTW) that what I love the most about blogging is that on which I allways must work–focusing on the words. The rest? Chatter and noise. Raw honesty is far more appealing to me than a family prize pack or a discount coupon. Which is why I always smile when I see your blog pop up in my reader.

    Rock on, Jenn…and thank you!

  7. Well, like clear plastic bags said before me, the whole thing comes down to Z^une and iPod, a metaphor for life, really.

  8. What everyone else said, minus the Z~une, i~pod, bookmarked and privacy policy comments…of course!

  9. Ahhhhh, the spammers. Welcome, losers! But, that may not be so nice. I should probably thank you for entertaining my friends so they can mock you as well. THAT is the only reason you are not deleted yet. I mean, I wouldn’t want my friends to look silly. However, I have to add…#biteme

  10. Wow, what interesting timing! I have wanted to take the time to start a blog for YEARS and haven’t done it. I read your blog for a while years ago, but then the Mommy brain took over. You know, when things get busy, whose time gets cut short? Mom’s. Anyway, I was just talking to a friend about whether having a blog would be fun or turn into work. I check in to see how Jenn’s doing and what are you blogging about? This exact issue! And it warms my heart to hear you’re overcoming the blogged-down issues and writing the kind of content I loved years ago.

    Now, what is an RSS feed? Kidding, I’ll figure it out.

  11. personally I think this whole internet thing is just a fad. but hey, roll with it… 😉

  12. Oh wild (wonderful). I haven’t been by in a long time, so it’s kinda cool to see the end of a process that looks familiar. (ah feel yer pain …)

    And so nice to see that you and I have some of the same folks commenting. LOVE those peeps at coach bags, don’t you? They always have such helpful hints. 🙂

  13. jenn–
    so much to consider here. i am really struggling with loving my blog and making money doing it. can i do both? in my head–i say yes. but, i’m not so sure. so for now, i’m just doing what feels right. it’s the only thing that works for me. every. time. and all the stats, twitter and feeds just bum me out. miss seeing you in themotherhood.com:)
    xoxo

    • You can do both and still love your blog. If you follow your passion, it will happen. Find out where your main blogging stress comes from and see how you can change that. I miss you too. The Motherhood has changed so much! I’m sure Cooper & Emily are thrilled!!

  14. I love to blog and share my life, but it’s become a world of Facebook and Twitter lately. I tell myself that I write just for me(I do to a certain extent!) but I still love comments because I want to connect with others. So, it’s tough at times.

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