Dave and I just dropped his car off for the second time (It is always the oxygen sensor.) He parked his truck, gave the dude his keys, hopped in my car and we drove off. As we were heading down US-40 I was thinking, and because he is the number one person I like to share my thoughts with, I turned my head and looked at him (Yes, I was driving & no, looking at him was not the most responsible thing to do.) So I looked over at him and forcefully, forthrightly (strongly) said something like this:
“Dave, does anybody read blogs anymore? For those of us trying to be an internet presence, it is all this ME! ME! ME! See ME! Notice ME! I am starting to think the entire focus is about being bringing traffic to your own web site and in this current web climate those who can bring traffic (however they manage to bring traffic) are the most popular (obviously and seems like a lot of work). With higher traffic, more readers, more re-Tweets, more links thrown your way, more likes, more followers, more I-am-not-sure-whats, you are a success, right? It seems to be more about the land grab than actually caring what anyone has to say. And by Land Grab I mean whatever land you are trying to grab: money, power or fame.” (ok, I did not say the land-grab-money-power-fame part, but it is what I am thinking about now. And as an aside, Dave has developed this theory (great conversation starter) of what is most important. His theory is that we all fit into one of three categories: money (comfort), power (being in the in-crowd) or fame (validation/popularity). What are you? I always tell him that I am love and then he says, “Nope, we all fit into one of those three and so does love.”
“With my eyes on the highway I continued, “How can I be the most well liked, have the most page views or be the most successful internet person? How will anyone ever notice me (again)?” (Ok, this may be one of those unspoken things you are never ever supposed to say, but when I say noticed, I really mean, how will more people want to read what I have to say? What makes me so special? I know I am not the only one who has asked this question.)
I am sure Dave said something witty & extremely profound in response to my super vain question.
In partial jest I continued, “Do I need to start a Design Blog or become a Foodie? I have seen many blog friends move from personal blogging to just that, food, photography, celebrities and design. Would it be better if I said really mean things about others? Because everyone knows being divisive brings you lots and lots of attention. Oh wait, will you Tweet this for me?”
“Ok, give me your phone.”
“Hey everyone, Mitt Romney is gay and a Scientologist!”
“Come on Beth, you know Mitt Romney is only gay on the inside and only his favorite book was written by a Scientologist.”
(Ok, let’s be clear. In truth, I never made the comment about Mitt Romney or ask Dave to Tweet about it. Nor did Dave. I am once again pandering and I know by mere mention of Mitt Romney I will upset someone out there.)
I am sure I am missing something here, but it seems like a whole process that goes something like this. You need to Tweet every waking moment & then the other time you spend on Twitter, you should also be reading (skimming) other Tweets & then following the other Twitterers,”
Dave chimed in and said, “and hope they follow you.”
“Isn’t that the point?”
We both laughed and I continued, “You have to read, excuse me, I mean comment on blogs to bring traffic to your blog. You can spend hours commenting on blogs and maybe if you are lucky, you get one person to comment on your web site. Then there is the whole Instagram Issue.” (If you do not know what Instagram is, Google it and then sign up and start snapping. With Instagram, you view photos on your phone or iPad.)
I continued, “You scroll through other people’s photos and then like the photos you think are cool. And maybe just maybe someone out there will like one of your photos. And maybe just maybe they will even comment on the photo they liked. It is a really good day when someone decides to follow you.”
“Oh, that Instagram thing.” Dave muttered.
“I haven’t fully deconstructed the Facebook issue yet [long pase] “Ah, Facebook. Is it just a place to connect with friends or is it a place to hawk your wares or is it both? If I post a link to CrazyUS on Facebook surely a friend will comment, won’t they?”
No response, but maybe that was because Dave was now answering his email.
“And if you do want to make something of yourself, ultimately it seems like most of your internet time is spent tirelessly trying to bring people to your website and when you are not tirelessly marketing yourself, you should be staying current and thus tirelessly redesigning your web site. Ay-yi-yi!” (I did actually say, “Ay-yi-yi!”)
“Wow! You are all full of truth. Is that your new thing, the truth?”
“Hey man. I have always tried to tell the truth. I would like to think that with age I have become more refined (less afraid). When I used to blog I was so completely worried about stepping on toes that I ended up crushing feet. Nowadays I say it and know that I am not trying to hurt anyone. Hey buddy, I also have no problem admitting that the truth also applies to me.”
By then we had reached our destination and were in our slow-moving line ordering our lunch. In between Dave’s phone call and me making sure they did not put cheese on my tostada, I kept thinking about blogs and continued wondering what the point is. What can I say that will make people stop, listen and value me? I would like to make something out of my blog, but does making something mean that I really am defined by my web traffic? When it comes down to it, this internet is crazy, complicated, not so complicated and very cool. Truthfully, I do not know if I will ever be able to grab the land back.
And guess what? Tonight, as I write, Dave told me how many subscribers I have on Google Reader. For a literal second I felt so proud and then in the very next breath he told me how his website has 20,000 more subscribers than I do. Ouch!
Here I am and yes, I will both Tweet & Facbook this post. I chose to ride this pony, didn’t I? That being said, I have learned that I (and my little family unit D.K.& E) am (are) the only one(s) who needs to be at peace with that. I also know that I am probably owning scratching the surface and wish you all that same peace.
11 thoughts on “Is it all about the Land Grab? (subtext being: Does anyone read blogs anymore?)”
Sorry I am not a commenter but I have really enjoyed reading your blog since the beginning and missed you terribly when you left. But you were always in the back of my mind wondering about how you were all doing. I think the blog reading thing just makes things a little more personal. If I ever see you passing at the airport I will say hello and truly be interested in you and your family. I really don’t get the whole readership thing. I though people wrote just like a diary, sharing feelings and life with others. I hope you find peace with this whole blog thing and stick around I have missed you and your family!
I’ve struggled with this, too. I wrote regularly on Momcast for years and then thought that I should shuffle my kid activity stuff to its own site. So I started “The Clever Mom” (ugh, how pretentious!) and I found myself stuck between chronicling the fun stuff we did together, creating experiences for the sake of the blog and resenting the blog’s needs. So I just stopped writing everywhere.
The Clever Mom is completely gone now, but I occasionally post at Momcast when I need to journal stuff. Sometimes it’s a recipe, sometimes it’s me trying to process the struggles I have with my son.
I have two other blogs I do now. Kieran and Spencer Said is a tumblr blog where I archive funny stuff the kids say. It’s like a live scrapbook for every time one of the boys says something I want to remember forever. The other is Birth In The Hammer which is birthing and new parenting related info specifically for my home town (nicknamed the Hammer or Hammertown) and meant to be a marketing arm of our doula business. For that one, I have given myself a mandate of writing posts that are meant to be as helpful to local pregnant women as possible and I’m not focusing at all on growing readers. I want that to happen organically because it’s so incredibly important to me to be authentic in my birth work.
I find a lot of those foodie and crafty and diy design blogs super helpful and full of interesting stuff. I appreciate them and their niche/focus. They’ve made it harder to find and follow personal blogs, tho. Maybe it just separates the mediocre writers from the charismatic ones. Or, maybe even the person bloggers have an angle they exploit, however unknowingly.
Your writing always struck me as questing. You quest for self-knowledge and chronicle the process of becoming. Sometimes travel and sometimes the kids, specifically Kyle’s struggles, act as a lens through which you examine yourself and the “big picture” or “big questions”. So, it’s like that’s your niche: personal examination.
Lynda, ou are so nice to comment. And I guess my post was pandering. I mean, honestly, it is nice to get comments. Better yet, it is nice to be read. I can see my traffic and I am sad that I am human sometimes and measure myself against others. See, I was so happy when Dave told me that people had actually registered to read my site on Google Reader. It was only when he shared his stats with me that I felt less than.
I would love it if you stopped and said hi to me in an airport. Someone did that about two years after I took my break. It was so cool. I was in the Dallas Airport and a woman said, “Excuse me. Are you Crazy Us? I read your blog.” I was blown away that she remembered and that she said something.
Thank you for missing us and thank you for reading and thank you for reminding me about the important aspects.
I say what I do about the internet and then someone like you comes along and gives me some most excellent perspective. Thank you! Thank you for always being honest and for sharing who you are. I am grateful for our connection all these years.
You should be my PR Manager. You are so good at disstilling it down. And when it does come down to it I would have to agree. It has always been about Personal Examination because I feel like we can always be and do better. Thank you!
I always wondered about Momcast and I totally (obviously) get it. I love what you said about chronicling fun stuff and creating fun experiences for the blog. I totally get it! Can I just Google your other blogs? What are their direct links? (Kieran and Spencer Said / Birth In The Hammer). What you are reminding me of is that fact that this web journaling of any kind has become a business. I do feel like people have been weeded out. I wonder what would have happened had I not taken a break. I also think that taking a break was what I needed and at the end of the day I am better for it.
I love the foodie and craft blogs. Even it I just go and look at the pretty pictures, I am often inspired. They are beautiful eye candy. I actually think they have raised the level for the rest of us and if we can hang on or carve ourselves a space, that is not such a bad thing.
Again Leanne, Thank you! It does mean a lot that you think about what i say!
Great to have you back, Beth! I read your blog at its “height” and have always wondered what happened to you.
I did the mom blog thing AND the decorating/craft blog thing and eventually dropped both (even after one of my sewing projects was included in a book). I only read a handful of blogs now (maybe 5?) and enjoy bouncing around on Pinterest the most for ideas that interest me. I like everything in moderation and have learned that, for me, blogs/blogging are just not conducive to a balanced perspective on life or even a balanced approach to living one’s life.
Anne, Great to be back (I think 😉 ). Thank you for sharing your online path. I can totally relate and I am just getting myself in the door at Pinterest. I need to get on it. I think I needed a break because my life had become so out of balance. So I love and appreciate the whole moderation thing too. What book? Very cool! Thank you for commenting and thanks for remembering me! Sounds like life is in a good place for you and I am glad!
You are very welcome to read the other blogs 🙂
Longtime reader here…who has no advice as far as the “business” of blogging. But as far as the “consumer/reader” side of things…
I read blogs that I love, ones that inspire me with words or photos (or both), ones that make me laugh, ones that teach me things. Every once in a while I update my Google Reader to add or delete blogs that have become a drag to me. (I never considered deleting CrazyUs, as I, like others, wondered sincerely how you were doing through the years. I was honestly tickled to see you start to post again.) I would probably say hi to you in an airport, even though I would wonder about it being crazy/stalkerish (and my hubby would roll his eyes at me). Now I hope that I do someday!
Even though it’s probably easier said than done, I would just try to dismiss your numbers and just focus on you. Write as you need/want to, and we will keep coming back. Others are sure to follow.
Once again Andrea, you give me the perfect perspective: Even though it’s probably easier said than done, I would just try to dismiss your numbers and just focus on you. Write as you need/want to, and we will keep coming back. Others are sure to follow.
You are right and with that, I will continue to write. Honestly I am happy people read and agree with you. We should find our value from within, not be measuring ourselves against others. You are good and I thank you! Happy Friday!
I’d comment, but I don’t read blogs.
Ah yes, Sumsion, you only Bjork the Blogs, right? 🙂