Monday, April 12, 2010

To blog, or not.....

I've long steered clear of the whole why-do-I-blog post because I've never kidded myself anyone would care - much as I've been interested in reading other similar ones. (I would link to some but I'm sure anyone who's interested will have already read the same ones as me.) But recently I just can't seem to stop thinking about it. 

In classic me fashion, this blog falls between several stools. I started it to fill people in on how fast Louis was growing while we were living in DC. And it was fun writing about what we were up to, especially given the US was a pretty interesting place while we were there. I also just enjoy writing for writing's sake, which pretty much makes me born to blog. 

But given bwb's raison d'etre, I should have probably packed it in once we got back home. Brief hiatus notwithstanding, I didn't, partly because I figured it was a nice way to keep in touch my lovely DC mom friends who'd started reading it and partly because I'd grown kinda fond of the whole blogging lark. I also managed to stumble on the whole Mum blogosphere that sprung up while I was Stateside. Without really meaning to, I found myself getting sucked in to the likes of British Mummy Bloggers - initially because I was researching a story and then because I found it fun. Bit by bit I started to find other bloggers I liked reading, and to my surprise they started to find me. And sometimes they were sweet enough to post the odd comment about something I'd written. Which I enjoy very much, so thank you. 

But then I noticed other bloggers starting to get het up about things like their blog rankings in something called the Tots 100, which ranks all the best Mummy (and Daddy) blogs according to a bunch of stuff I simply can't get my head around. Then I found out you could track your so-called blogger stats, to see who was stopping by, and how they found you. It all matters - to some people - because if you're popular you'll start getting freebies and being invited on day trips out and even weekends away. Oh, and how could I forget Twitter? You're nobody in the blogging world if you don't tweet your posts. 

Now I see there's something called the MADs, which is the inaugural British mummy bloscars, sponsored by Butlins no less. And come July, there's going to be a conference dedicated to mummy bloggers called Cybermummy. (Which I should add sounds very interesting.... but very far removed from tapping out this and that in the early hours.)

So far, so 2010. But for some reason I've let all of that take the edge off writing bwb. Partly because I don't really care about it all, but mostly because deep down I guess I do. How could I not? I briefly made the Tots 100, but wisely opted not to tell anyone because I - correctly - figured it was probably only a blip given I didn't know what I'd done to get myself onto it. I think the problem with being able to "measure" bwb's popularity - whether by user stats, comments, "retweets" (zero), MADs nominations - is that I now feel under pressure when I spew something out online. Which is the opposite of what I used to feel back in DC when this laptop and this very website often seemed all that kept me sane(ish). 

I'm not really sure where that leaves me. But I wanted to write it all down to try and get it all out of my head. And now that I've written it, well, I guess I might as well hit "publish post" because after all, that's what you do when you blog. Don't you? 

**On the user stats front, I just read a really interesting post over at Notes from Lapland.... **


Iota said...

I've often mused on why I blog. I, like you, don't feel I quite fit in neatly. Am I a mummy blogger, or an expat blogger, or (briefly) a cancer blogger? It doesn't feel quite enough just to be me, splurging out for all to read.

You're not alone in feeling pressurised by the league table. Ultimately, I think you have to choose whether to opt into all that kind of stuff, or not. I opted in for a couple of months in Sept/Oct, just to see how I would do, but always intended for it just to be a one-off, and I opted out again (although I was calculating enough to choose the period of time when I was doing a daily post!) I think the league table is skewed (it puts a lot of emphasis on links to other blogs, as far as I can tell, so anyone who runs a carnival does very well in the short term). But Sally Whittle who runs it is very open about the criteria, so anyone who wants to play the game can do so.

I'm going to Cyber Mummy, really just to meet up with other bloggers, some of whom I've got to know very well over the past 3 years, without seeing their faces. But I'll get a lot else out of it too, I'm sure. The list of speakers is impressive (look on the Cyber Mummy website under the tab "blog"). Quite a lot of journalists, so that might be of interest to you.

As for the awards, I was impressed that they've been set up so that anyone can nominate anyone. It really is very open.

I've been feeling increasingly marginalised by the comeercialisation of the blogospherre. I posted about it recently, and you commented, so I know you read it. I was surprised how many people left comments, and I had one or two emails too, so I think it's something that is hovering about a lot of people's minds.

I've come to the conclusion that it's just inevitable. Any successful medium is going to attract advertisers/sponsors and people looking for business opportunities. I've always maintained that the blogosphere is big enough for all-comers, and I still say that. It's just that if you're not doing the commercial thing, you're getting more and more marginalised. It's all evolving so quickly, though, that I'm sure new things will pop up for people who are looking for their blogging niche.

Heather said...

It's hard not to care, isn't it, once you see that all these things exist? hard not to want to know how you measure up, fit in ect.

If you can manage it, the best way seems to be taking it all with a healthy pinch of salt. Sometimes easier said than done, mind.

If you can remember why you like blogging, ignoring all the league tables and such, and keep that in mind, you'll get your mojo back.

Sometimes i do wonder about setting up an new anon blog where I can just spurt things out where no-one is reading and no-one cares and i wont upset people or whatever. But then, as with most writers, it's the knowing that people are reading that keeps me going, and once you acknowledge that you then start looking at how many, where from, all that stats stuff and you end up back at the beginning again! lol.

Josie said...

It's a tough one isn't it?

I guess it's about recognising that there are different ways to blog. The 'community' aspect is one way - you comment on lots of blogs, enter carnivals, tweet your heart out, and if you throw yourself into that, you tend to get out of it the readers, the rankings and all the rest.

But you don't HAVE to. And it's not the be all and end all and it doesn't make a blog, it's just one optional aspect to it. And it does take time, and a commitment that not everyone has or wants to sign up to.

At the end of the day, once you've thrown off all the other stuff, it's about writing and expression. That's the bare bones. So do that, enjoy that, and don't worry about the rest of it's not for you.

xavier izaguirre said...

Agree with Josie.

The whole point of networking for a blogger is achieve objectives. if you are in the blogoshpere for money or fame/reputation then you have to watch your strategy.

However, if you are in the blogosphere to write and vent your frsutrations, collating an aide memoir for you and your kids, feel good, train your writing, meet people you care about..... then forget awards.

Very cool point raised here.
Best wishes
xavier izaguirre

Babies who brunch said...

Wow, thanks for all that. I really like hearing about other people's thought processes. And Heather - I agree on the anon front.... And on the fact that it's the thinking that people are (or rather might be) reading that keeps you going. Thanks Josie and Xavier, too. And with that, I might write another post. With pics this time!

Muddling Along Mummy said...

I reckon 2010 will be known as the year most bloggers wondered why we do it - I've certainly thought about it and realised I do it for me, the other things are nice but not necessary - this saves me therapy and so I'll carry on doing it