Friday, March 13, 2009

blog, blog, blog...

(imagine, for no particular reason, that I'm saying that in the voice of a chicken)

I have read about 100 blogs this week. I'm just about blogged out. There are so many incredibly talented people out there! Talented with crafts, humor, insight into the human condition. Cynics. Poets. Novelists. Prayer blogs. So many appealing recipes! All thinking they have something to say and hoping that someone will listen and enjoy, challenge and share.

Some go above and beyond to be funny or irreverant about something. Some are outlets for bitching about a former spouse or the economy or politics, or life in general. Many are married with four children and looking for a place to talk adult speak. Home schooling is very popular, and for some reason there are lots and lots of teachers (especially kindergarten). There are extreme environmentalists, and just homeowners wanting to live a greener life. And sports - oh my gosh, entry after entry about a favorite soccer or basketball team! Entertainers. Politicians. You name a topic, and there are hundreds of blogs about it. Who knew there were so many things to read and write about, and how many different takes there are on any given topic?

Here are a few things I noticed on my blog adventure this week:

(1) No matter how long a blog posting is, no matter how much time the blogger spent on research or soul searching, the comments received are only one word or two sentences long. "Funny!", "Enjoyed the read!". There might be 61 comments to a post, but most don't give the feedback that one would expect for the effort the poster put into sharing their thoughts/feelings/intellect/recipe/advice/book review/etc. I would find that to be incredibly frustrating and unsatisfying, but I do understand that with so many blogs to visit one doesn't have time to write a comment equivalent to a dissertation; plus, most people reading a post do have a life off the internet, and probably are just passing time until the washer is done or the kids get home from school or until they're sleepy/bored enough to be able to sleep. And just someone leaving a message that they did read your post is a plus!

(2) Many of the posts gave me a headache. Literally. Some of that was because I came in the middle of the game - they'd been posting for two years and I was just reading the most recent five, so I was often confused about what was going on. Some had so many "gadgets" or "widgets" or whatever they're called (I'm still working on figuring out the lingo) that I literally got a headache trying to track the usually three column wide page. Advertisements, special interest logos, contests, archives. So much to read! And let's not forget the list of followers and favorite blogs, with the most imaginative or puzzling titles, all of which you want to check out for yourself (which is how I ended up on my marathon blog journey).

(3) Many bloggers seemed to be trying to out-blog someone else (to see who gets the most hits? the most money? be the most outrageous? get the most ego strokes?). I found these to be almost irritating, like they were being written by a type A personality or a manic depressant in the manic stage. But that's just me - I get confused easily and don't handle too much outside stimulus well.

(4) Some bloggers really disturbed me. I honestly worried for their mental health. Writing is a good outlet for stress and, as a mental health counselor once told me, serves as a"regurgitation of the garbage that makes us mentally and physically sick". But some posts or blogs that I read were very much to the dark side of a person's nature.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I've been wondering why I decided to start a blog in the first place, and what do I expect from it, now nine posts into this, beyond hearing myself talk? I don't have any expertise to share on any particular subject, so mostly it will be only talk. Whether that talking will prove relevant to anyone besides myself would be open to debate, so I'm guessing that it will mostly be geared as an update to family and friends about my activities and the state of my mental health. Like an email to ten people at once, rather than ten separate emails. Since I'm probably two years behind on most of my emails, and the more behind I get the more likely it is that I will continue to procrastinate, this would make sense!

That's why, if you are receiving this as an email, I have set my post settings to send it to you as an email for a couple weeks as a mind jogger that I'm doing this. Then I will eliminate it and just let you decide for yourself if I'm worthy of your visit on occasion.

I'd love to hear from you ... what are your favorite kind of blogs, what is a particular favorite blog, what do you dislike about blogs, when do you usually find the time to read blogs (or do you?).

Hope you're having a good weekend! We're rainy and cold here, hence the time for a too long posting!


Jenny said...

Time to read blogs... yes, I wish I had that. For now, I've decided I have got to make more time to at least glance at photography-type blogs for information, inspiration... anything that will help my photography. And of course, I like to be able to keep up with friends and family ;) As for when, it'll probably be late at night after Kam is in bed and I've studied for an upcoming test.

Wendy said...

I read blogs for inspiration and life resources and to keep up to date with friends and family. And for humor too. Tommy and I often call each other and ask if we've read The Bloggess (a lady on some serious meds, but totally off the wall and hilarious in a kind of awful way).

When I wasn't posting much (the last few months) I had more time to keep up to date on blogs. After the last 3 tutorials I've written, though, I haven't even visited my favorites (yours included). I don't even know how many unread posts I have because my Google Reader only counts up to one thousand. :(

And ya, you've figured out a great way to get people to leave a bit longer comment... ask them a question. But, as I've been blogging for almost 2 years, I'm just as happy to get a two word answer to let me know that they hear me and appreciate what I'm putting out. If people are as far behind on their blog feeds as I am (and from what I've read, most are), I feel honored to get that. Really.

What I've noticed is that over time, by giving thoughtful comments on a lot of different blogs, you will eventually make some internet friends. These are the people who tend to leave nice juicy comments. When a comment is particularly nice or really strikes a chord with me, I'll reply to them by email (sometimes you have to go to their site to find their email because blogger sucks about letting you know that). Occasionally this strikes up a little email conversation. There is one lady who I've even talked to on the phone a couple times because after months of little emails we found out how much in common we had (personality wise), even though she's a devout Christian, and I am very much not. She calls me her blog sister.

My best advice for blogging... get your name out there by leaving well thought out comments on the blogs that you are drawn to or joining online forums and putting your blog address in your signature. Also, more importantly, try not to get too wrapped up in the initial response. When I started writing, very few people visited and almost no one commented. After 5 months I got a huge boost because a post of mine was featured on a HUGELY well-read blog. Also, even now, when I have over 300 subscribers, I still sometimes get 1 or 2 (or no) comments on a particular post. I try not to link too much of my self esteem to it and to remind myself that I am more than my blog.

How's that for a comment?

Wander to the Wayside said...

What a great comment! Thanks! I really DON'T want to end up being only about my blog, or being tied up on numbers or comments or looking for an ego boost. I want this to be fun, to be an outlet for my own need to babble, to be a hello to friends and family, and to be a place to hear from people in a way that I don't get to do in my "real" life, whether it's a word to two or a lengthy one like you just left. I love hearing what other people have to say! And I did find some of those inspirational and life resource blogs that you mentioned, and will be returning to them. Thanks again!

Jennifer said...

I literally started this whole blogging thing about a week ago after talking to someone in a wedding chatroom community who has a blog.

Yesterday, I decided why not start my own blog? I don't know if anyone will look at it or care. I'm not the greatest of writers but I figure, what the heck? At least it will pass the time.

Since yesterday I have started a blog adventure like yours (which is how I ended up here now). I have to say you made me laugh because you explain the blogging world so well from what I have experienced this past week. I have seen all sorts of blogs written by all sorts of people. I find it all very interesting. My only complaint is when people have way to many other things going on in their page. Too many gadgets or random pictures. Its too distracting and I move on.

Keep up the blogging :)

Linda said...

Hi, Jennifer, thanks for visiting my blog! I visited yours and tried to leave a comment, but apparently you don't have all of the signature profiles featured - specifically the Name/URL or anonymous option. - so it kept kicking my comment out! You might want to check to see if you can add that? I'll for sure visit you again - it looks like we have a lot in common with the gardening and animals!

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