Keep It Moving

Why do people blog? I don’t know why people blog. I know why I blog.

I want people to read what I write and have a reaction. The audience is fundamental to me. If there is no audience, I am just keeping a journal. And the purpose of the journal would be what? I have no idea. For my children to read while they’re finishing the tuna casserole the neighbor lady brought over after my funeral?

They can read the comics or the steady stream of heartfelt Facebook sympathy posts. They sure won’t have to scrounge around to find my journal because it’s right here online, available to them and anyone else who cares to read it in real time. You want? You got.

I can’t grow much, says the person who has managed to kill one adorable little orchid and is on the path of exterminating its big sister within the space of the last two weeks, both gifts from very nice people with green thumbs who expected more from me and whom I will never tell. I will do what Lucy would do and buy a new goldfish to replace the one I killed by washing its bowl with dish soap. No one will ever be the wiser. If I have enough notice, there will be gorgeous orchids in my house. Just call first.

So in my mind, if a blog isn’t growing, if there aren’t new followers and new likes pretty steadily, then you’re just dealing the same tired deck of cards to the same yawning readers post after post after post. If you can’t break out of friends and family as your only audience, you are pretty much writing an online Christmas letter. That’s okay if that’s why you’re blogging – as a way to stay in contact with friends and family. But if you’re blogging to be a writer and to say something interesting or important, you need to engage strangers.

That’s the astonishing thing about blogging and its great reward — the reactions of strangers, people whom I’ve never met and never will. When someone in another city or another country connects with me just on the basis of words, my words, words I wrote on this page. My, my, that is very fine.

So I’m happy with the growth of my blog. It certainly outstrips my orchids and then some. But it has taken work. A lot of writing which has been good for engaging readers and really good for pushing myself to think about things in a different way, try new techniques, take chances. Not everything has been a work of art but I’m pretty proud of a couple of pieces that came about because of regular, pretty much daily blogging. Getting exposure from Freshly Pressed was a huge boost but the growth has really come in small daily doses. More followers generate more followers. That’s how it seems to work.

I’ll never have thousands and thousands of followers but I do have a thousand. That’s astonishing to me as a blogger who puddled around with fewer than 50 followers for a couple of years.

But now it’s time for the next big step in the playing with strangers game. Speaking to them. Yes, actually wearing a cute outfit, standing on a stage, and reading an essay to a live, breathing, probably coffee-drinking, looking at their phones, eying the line for the restroom room full of people. It’s happening. I got an email this morning, telling me that one of my pieces is a finalist for the We Still Blog Award from the Type A Parent folks and that I’m invited to come read the piece at their September conference in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.

I played around with the idea of not going. It’s nice to be nominated as they say, no reason to spend all that money just to travel to Atlanta and hang around with hundreds of other bloggers except it occurred to me that #1: I might learn something; and #2: It’s scary which means I need to do it.

Besides, like my dad would always say about his Ben Franklin store, “if it’s not growing, it’s dying.” Got to do new, bigger, harder, scarier.

That’s the name of the blogging game, I think – never standing still.


#73/100: 73rd in a series of 100 in 100


15 Comments on “Keep It Moving

  1. A scarf is all you need and you will ROAR just like Helen Reddy!

  2. That’s amazing, good luck at the reading, hope you’ll post some pictures. For some reason I get more visitors on Wednesday’s (and when I say more it’s 65 tops) no idea why x

    • Thanks Val — I’ll be sure to get someone to take a few pictures just as evidence that I followed through and did it!

  3. Congrats! And remember the funny stories from successful writers who joke about three people at their book signings/readings–their agent, their mother and the store security guard. Anything better than that will seem phenom!

  4. I’m sure you’ll do great. At the same time, I think we need some new venues. A lot of the oral true storytelling events have an unacknowledged style preference, and even an unacknowledged type of story content preference. I think of it as the hip mama mode. Or the hip anything mode. You are sharp and witty enough to fit. For those of us who are older and not telling parenting tales much, wrestling with different things, and for those of us who have made a decision to use a gentler approach (because it’s what fits us, not what’s “better”), there an opportunity to create a new set of platforms. I’d love to hear you!

  5. that is great news, jan and congratulations. i agree with all of this and i’m glad you’re going. like you. my first reaction would have been to say thank you and politely bow out of it, but then as you say, that’s how you know it is worth doing, and another step forward. best, beth

  6. Congrats on the big win and reaching another blogging milestone, one that us stand-stillers can only wistfully dream of.

    You make great points here, especially themed around your Dad’s one. “If it`s not growing, it’s dying”. I almost love that, except it means that, in my case, I’ve gotta go put some more work in.

    Maybe I should just stick to growing orchids…

  7. Love this and your dad is right. But that applies to everything in life – doesn’t it? 🙂

    Great post.

  8. Thank you, Jan. I’ve been standing still and I know it and I don’t like it. I read everything you write, but I don’t take the time to respond, and that’s not fair. I appreciate the shove – and admire your perseverance. Hope you go speak to your audience in person!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: