Don’t read my blog; I’m not writing it for you.
I’m not writing it to please you and much less to please the Google search engine. I’m not promising to solve your problems in life or sell you the magic formula for… [you name it].
Blog, n. A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. Origin: 1990s, abbreviation of weblog. Oxford English Dictionary
The Real Reason Why Blogs Die
People start blogs and within half a year or a year, they give up. Sometimes they carry on for five, six years before they give up. Many of these blogs were a total waste of cyberspace of course but many weren’t. Why do people blog? And why do they stop?
If you research why blogs fail you will find loads of advice from blogs that make a living out of advising other bloggers. And this advice is all about statistics, growth, success measured in unique page views, in the number of e-mail subscribers… money making potential. I didn’t start this blog to make money, to sell advertising based on clicks or to tell you how you should live your life. I don’t want to become a cyber-Jesus and save mankind; most of it’s probably not worth saving anyway.
Through this blog I make sense of the world that I like to inhabit beyond the daily slog at work and the demands of family. Because I’m not just a mum or a wife or an employee; I’m a human being with ideas in my head. It’s a blog about books I read, history that inspires me, art that I admire; I jot down ideas that would be otherwise crowded out of my mind by the business of living. It’s a private journal – except that it’s public; it’s a student’s notebook. It’s not so much for your benefit as for mine. If it entertains you or teaches you something, I’m glad; if it doesn’t, move on. Life’s too short to read blogs that bore you.
This blog started out entirely private. It was originally only published to the desktop of a computer; then it was uploaded onto a tiny back-up box cum server in a corner of a dining room solely because the configuration of the said server needed to be tested by uploading something to it. In the end, the tiny server couldn’t cope with traffic and I couldn’t cope with the amount of breakdowns and I moved to wp.com.
The blog is now two years old and last night, actually, I considered making it private again.
Because it was only ever meant to be a bit of fun and I suddenly realised the fun was going out of it.
Inside the Hamster Wheel
I would have to be stupid not to notice how Google rewards me for writing any old s**t. Whenever I publish a post, the views spike. Within ten minutes, the number of views goes up. Natural, you’d think? People come to read the new post? Like hell. It’s just Google allowing people to find old posts. The same old posts they couldn’t find ten minutes earlier. The subsrcibers – well, some of them – read the new posts but on that day, Google rewards me with other readers.
Well, Google is a business and it does what businesses do: it makes money. It would be stupid and futile to hold this against them. The problem is not that Google rewards an ‘active’ blog in comparison to a ‘defunct’ one; the problem is that we let ourselves influenced by this. We want readers but readers only come when we publish a post: before long you’re writing every day although you have neither the time, nor the inspiration. Because if you don’t write, Google punishes you. Is this what you wanted?
It’s difficult not to be influenced, even subconsciously, by the statistics. After all, they’re right there on the front page every time you open up your blog. Killing your blog, unless you can distance yourself. Unless you can remember why you started doing this in the first place.
Why Blogs Survive
But we don’t have to be a slave to the follower count or the Google search engine.
When I started out blogging I didn’t even know what a blog really was; I never read a blog myself. I was not on social media and I didn’t know that you can have followers. I just had fun writing about something that interested me. I remember the surprise and the delight when I realised that people, somewhere out in the world, were actually reading my posts, that my blog could be found on Google, that some people even liked it well enough to subscribe.
I’m still hopeless about social media and about promoting the blog. Perhaps I should make an effort because if 300 people like reading what I write, perhaps there are 300 thousand who’d like it if they knew it existed. Wouldn’t it be nice to have 300 thousand followers?
Well, yes. But no, not if it means compromising who I am; and I’m not a salesman. I also don’t have unlimited time: it’s either blogging or promoting.
Through a unique combination of millions of cables crisscrossing the world, you managed to connect to this blog. You may be in Peru or Antarctica, you may be rich or poor, young or old, male or female, religious or an atheist. What connects us is a shared interest in books, history, travel or art. You and I may have something to talk about. When that happens, that’s great. It gives me reason to blog some more.
In the past two years I met people whose blogs I admire because they are far more talented than I am. I met people whose comments make my day. I met people with really interesting jobs; I got to see how other people live, the places they travel to. I interviewed a genuine author of a genuine book, something I never thought I’d do; I hope to interview others. I met people who recommended me books that otherwise I’d have never read. Amazingly, I met people who enjoy to read what I write. And while I wrote, I learned more about history, art and literature and diverse other subjects like HTML coding or photography. So to all of you who read, liked, commented on or shared my posts in the past two years and to all of you who shared your world with me: thank you. Together we make the world more interesting.
Friendship… is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”
(C. S. Lewis: The Four Loves)