Why Do You Blog?

I got an email from a friend of mine today saying that she read my blog and that she liked it.

For the most part.

She thought I spent too much time dwelling on the negative aspects of life, that I got too deep and too heavy too often, and that my posts on things like depression were very difficult to read.

At first I got annoyed, but then I thought that maybe she had a point because her comment is indicative of why my traffic plummetted after my recent posts on depression. I lost 200 readers in one day. They have stayed lost.

Which brings me to the question –

Why do you blog?

And the question which follows from that –

What do you consider to be appropriate subject matter for your blog?

When I started blogging I thought I was doing so to develop my writing style, to hone my skills; but as the weeks and months have progressed I realise that I mostly blog to try and make sense of my life. And because of that I do delve into the darker subjects.

I rarely check my stats. Part of me is interested in the traffic, but the other part wonders what it’s all about. Really. However, to lose 200 readers is one day is fairly sobering and did make me question what I was doing.

I enjoy blogging. I see it as part conversation, part storytelling, part sharing of ideas. But if my sole purpose is to get as much traffic as possible and perhaps write about things I am not really interested in, then I don’t really see the point.

My core group of readers who leave comments and engage in the discussion at hand, mean the world to me. When all is said and done, that is what it’s all about.

So I thank you all for sticking with me through the good stuff, the bad stuff and the I -wish-I-hadn’t-said-that stuff. I am really grateful.

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32 thoughts on “Why Do You Blog?

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more Selma. When I started out I wanted to focus on philosophy but, like you, my blog has changed as time has gone on. I think a blog is more interesting when there’s at least a glimpse of the person’s life and feelings.

    It may be that if you did lose readers when you talked about depression that those people thought of you as a sunny, positive person (which you are!) and just didn’t want to think of you having dark thoughts.

    Like you, I think of my core readers as friends now. I wish that we could all live closer – a huge apartment building with a communal dining room would be nice πŸ™‚

    You carry on doing what you are doing – it’s a great blog and you are incapable of writing inelegantly.

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  2. I’d say keep going as you are – despite the darkness of the matters you’re writing about, you’re doing so beautifully. It shows the shallowness of those 200 readers that they suddenly disappear when the going gets tough.

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  3. Dear Selma,

    A beautiful and thought provoking post as always Selma.

    I think in this ‘blog’ world…. (if you can call it that) its easy to fall into the trap of doin things to make others happy…

    And yet we blog to share something of ourselves… the truth as we see it… the light and the shadow as it manifests in our day to day lives…

    Here as in ‘the real world’ there are some people who run at the sight of pain, or a tear, or the mention of sorrow…

    They are on their own journey…

    But we continue to write our truth…

    Because in the end its not about the ‘hits’ or the comments or the visits….

    Its about being true to ourselves and to our journey….

    Theres a saying “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come…”

    I think our task in life and love is simply to keep our bough green,

    Whatever that takes πŸ˜‰

    The universe will do the rest,

    My love to you,

    Maithri

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  4. PUDDOCK – wouldn’t it be great if we all lived close by? So much fun.

    I agree with you that a blog is far more interesting when snippets of a person’s life are revealed. To see someone’s humanity, that’s what writing is all about. Your encouragement consoles me. Thank you so much!

    VIC – I’m all for that. I know you would agree that when you write it is important to be yourself. And I’m probably too old to change now. LOL.

    MAITHRI – I may have to print this comment out and place it in my study. WOW. You are such a sensitive, compassionate person. It is totally about being true to ourselves and to our journey. You are a truly wise and kind man. To say ‘Thank You’ just isn’t enough.

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  5. My core group of readers who leave comments and engage in the discussion at hand, mean the world to me. When all is said and done, that is what it’s all about.

    I am currently in deep reflection about my blogging future, but I believe that is what it’s about for me as well.

    Don’t steer from baring your soul on the blog. Some of us value your writing because you are not afraid to go into the dark places. If it’s cathartic to you to explore those feelings in your blog, you should continue to do so.

    Hugs.

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  6. I’m still stuck on the fact that you had 200 readers to lose….
    Gosh- I get excited when I have 20. There must be a reason why you have so many readers, perhaps you’re doing something right?

    Personally, I love the meandering way of your blog. You always have insight and that is interesting. If you start to write according to what you think we like, I doubt you’ll find it.

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  7. I started blogging with Veggies,Crafts and Tails with a focus on my love of vegetarian cooking, crafts and cats. I tried to stay on target with these topics but sometimes I did stray a bit. When I started My Poetic Path a few months ago, it was with the thought to improve my writing skills (in particular poetry) and to meet and fellowship with other writers/poets. I do stray at times still but with the limited time I have available to blog, I try to stick to my first hopes for My Poetic Path. That also includes the blogs I visit on a regular basis (yours included of course Selma) but tend to back-off from any that are getting too “newsy” or I must admit, depressing to read. I have a lot of problems in my real life to face; when I am blogging and reading blogs, I want it to be a positive and meaningful experience. Of course at times it’s understandable when we ‘vent’ in posts. We all do that. It’s when it becomes the overriding theme of a blog that I say, enough already.

    I think it’s commendable and very upfront of you Selma to share these thoughts with us and this email too. I would be concerned too if my readership (which is still small but continues to grow each month) took a nosedive. I love my readers!!! Hugs and keep up all your wonderful work. You’ve got me as regular, like it or not.LOL πŸ˜‰

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  8. I don’t know if the very occasional low moods I get could qualify as ‘depression’, but, during them, I can’t write.

    So, more power to your pen for being able to do so. Who knows, by sharing your ideas, thoughts and feelings, you may help someone in a similar situation who thought they were alone.

    Don’t do it too often, though! πŸ˜€

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  9. Well, if you’re just looking for the most readers, stick with celebrity gossip or explicit sex. I blog for similar reasons you do, and as a result I also have those “wish I hadn’t said that” moments. Remember,you can always go back and delete stuff. I’ve never done this, and I bet you haven’t either.

    Many people feel uncomfortable when you bring up “the dark side”. I think this is because it reminds them of things they’d rather not think about. I’m very familiar with this phenomenon. It’s all the more reason to have a blog. Let’s not make this thing into a popularity contest – no one is grading you or threatening to fire you based on these figures (although I am being graded and threatened based on other figures, but that’s just me).

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  10. I wish had 200 readers to lose in a day. I don’t think you need one reason to blog, mine varies day by day. But the overriding motivation has always been that writing is like everything else, it improves with practice. Writing something for public consumption every day has been very good for me, both technically, exploring styles and approaches and in terms of discipline. I always think about Goethe in this context. How many books did he write on how many different subjects and all done with pen and candlelight? I wouldn’t worry about those 200 lost people, if one post disappears them they would have disappeared anyway, it’s the core readership that is of value and besides your writing is so wonderful blogging will only be a means to a far greater end for you, I suspect.

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  11. For sure don’t worry about the stats. They can be all over the place for reasons I can’t figure out – I don’t check my stats often either but am always surprised though by the really small small percentage of folks who comment. Your blog is excellent and you should do and explore whatever you are drawn to do here. That is really the beauty part of the whole thing isn’t it?

    I blog partly because of the freedom, the putting it out there and just letting the writing run around on its own. Prior to blogging I had to wait for some publisher to get a piece into print before I could have the feeling that my words were ‘all grown up, and out on their own’ – I suppose that is kind of silly sounding, but I really do love getting the work out to people and blogging is a treasure beyond belief in that regard. The words go out when I am ready, I don’t have to wait on anyone (though sometimes perhaps I should) and then very quickly people let me know what they thought of the work – what moved them, or pissed them off, or what all. Heaven, pure heaven.

    I also started blogging so I could write fiction and essay. I’ve been pretty much only writing poetry for a few years now and was getting rusty with essay, and felt I wasn’t much good with fiction and wanted to remedy both, at least a bit. I’ve actually been surprised by how much poetry the blog (and SES) has lead me to write. That part is really awesome bonus – test driving new poetic ideas on the blog has moved several aspects of my poetry forward faster than I would have thought possible. And I’m writing enough essay and fiction to be building a little muscle in that arena too.

    And then there is the visual work – I never in a million years thought I’d be posting new images, and for this I blame SES totally πŸ˜‰

    The icing and perhaps the best part indeed is the wonderful friends that I’ve made and continue to make. I can’t imagine what I’d do without you all in my days – what a gift.

    Looking forward to a great 2009!

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  12. They’ll be back! Trust me. Don’t change a thing. An ability to reach out to one person in need through your own truths is worth its weight in bygone bloggers.

    For me, I find that your posts are not to be glanced over. I want to slowly sink into the story and savor every word. When I come, I come to stay for awhile and catch-up, sip from a warm mug of tea and really take the time to absorb and reflect what you have to say. Its always rich and powerful. I bet there are others like that who want more than a passing glance and will be back once they have recovered from the busy holiday season.

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  13. INGRID – it’s about the sense of connectedness, isn’t it? Of others being able to relate to the things that move you. One thing I have learned from blogging is that if I feel it someone else does too and that is invaluable. It does make me feel less of an outsider.

    LAURI – meandering is just what it is. I like to think of every post as being the continuation of a conversation. You’re absolutely right – if I write what I think others will like, I will miss the point. Thanks, hon!

    GERALDINE – well, you have me as a regular too. I take your point about steering away from posts that are too newsy or depressing. It can be offputting. Striking the balance is just as important in blogging as it is in life.

    TRAVELRAT – I had over 20 people email me after some of my recent posts on depression saying how much it had helped them. That made everything worth it for me. But you’re right – not too much doom and gloom or I’ll need to change the name of the blog to ‘Emo In The City.’ πŸ˜†

    RICHARD – you are spot on as always. The darker subjects do make people think about things they’d rather not think about. However, sometimes it is important to discuss these things. I’m with you completely – no popularity contests for me, I would fail dismally. I shy away from that kind of thing. It sounds a bit cliched to say so, but for me it’s all about ‘keeping it real.’

    PAUL – I am astounded how much my writing has improved since starting blogging. It really is the best way to consolidate one’s skills. Things I used to stumble over now come to me in a smooth and continuous way. I guess it’s what writers mean when they say they are in the ‘zone.’

    The image of Goethe is an inspiring and comforting one. How did he do it? Just amazing. Thank you for your kind words. I am really grateful.

    KAYT – one of the benefits of blogging is meeting other extremely creative bloggers such as yourself and being inspired by their work. When I see what others are capable of it inspires me to branch out into areas I may not have previously considered. It’s like a circle of creativity, which I love. Long may it continue!!!

    TR – I am so touched by the image of you savouring one of my posts. You wouldn’t believe it, but my son and I do the same with yours. We gaze at your wonderful photos and make mental lists of the places we hope to see one day. It is almost like watching the scenes in a film unfold. We love it!!!

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  14. Hi Selma, I have noticed that at most blogs , people want to read “happy stuff” . It helps me to read about depression. Sometimes i can’t comment because I am too down to write a single word. I started blogging inorder to read what others thought of my poetry. Lately I just cant write, and deleted my latest poem because I couldn’t stand to read it. It depressed me so. Don’t concern yourself with stats. Those of us who love your blog will always be here.

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  15. I just discovered your blog, Selma – and it looks lovely – intriguing and interesting. I’m looking forward to reading it in more detail. Wow – the thought of LOSING 200 readers in a day is mindboggling … I’d be lucky to have that many in a month! Stats, schmats, however … it’s all in how it makes you feel!

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  16. You LOST 200 readers in a day!?!?! I don’t check my stats very often Selma but I feel highly priveleged if I get 40-50 readers a day and I’m not even talking about whether they stay or go.

    As you know my blog can be deeply personal and yes sometimes a bit dark. My blog is just about the every day happenings in my life and in particular in my heart and mind as I sometimes struggle with my own journey.

    What person do you know who is always little Miss Sunshine? I would find someone like that very one dimensional and frankly a little dull. It’s the light and shade of our personalities that makes us human and that’s the kind of blog I am interested in reading.

    I think you are a beautiful writer and someone I would truly like to know in real life. You will never see me disappear from your stats whether you like or not my little Aussie gem. πŸ™‚

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  17. PUNATIK – I am sad to hear you are feeling low at the moment. I know how hard it can be at such times to just put one foot in front of the other, let alone write. I just want to you to know I am here anytime. Only an email away….and we are in the same hemisphere!!

    GUYBRUSH – how nice of you to drop by. I do hope you come back. I really should just ignore my stats from now on, I think. Causes me far too much consternation.

    ROMANY – I hope no one thinks I was bragging about the 200 readers. I had no idea I had that many readers until about 4 or 5 months ago. Initially, I thought it was a mistake and actually emailed WordPress about it; but they confirmed it. I was thrilled but also suddenly felt this huge responsibility. I wonder if that came through in my writing. I really don’t know.

    Anyway, I’ve decided just to be happy about the cool readers I do have and be grateful they want to read my stuff. It is an honour.

    Well, you won’t see me disappear from your stats, either. You are a keeper, my dear. All the way!!!

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  18. When I started blogging my aim was simple – to provide a platform for my work in order to further my writing career. That is still one of my intentions, and I don’t try to hide it. But when I began getting regular comments I began to change priorities. I liked both the immediate feedback and the people who were visiting. And then, when I discovered the writing prompts, I was in paradise.
    Today, I’m still producing a ‘portfolio’ as such on my blog. I’m still chasing that illusive thing called publishing success. Yet, the essays posted to further this get the least comments, but the most hits – far more than my other stuff, which get loads of comments, and are actually the hardest work.
    So I guess that says why I blog – the hardest work gets the more comments, but only about a third of the traffic I get. I guess I’ve become a blogger as well as a writer. And I’m thoroughly loving it! πŸ™‚

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  19. I suspect that anyone who bares their soul occasionally on their blog has these moments of blogger doubt. I know I do. But they never last long. My blog is the one place in the whole world that is just for me – where I can be me, say what I wish and be honest. Other than my diary there is nowhere else where I have that complete freedom. And sometimes I do have to remind myself how liberating and wonderful that is and how I must NEVER let my blog be anything else.

    It is easy to fall into the habit of writing something for your audience or perhaps more likely not writing something because you think they may not like or may disagree. I often have to talk myself round – I waver about posting some things and occasionally I have regretted them.

    Your blog is great. You use the freedom to write what you wish which is great for me as a reader as I never know what I will find when I come here.

    I think it is a good idea not to look at stats because then your mood is never sent up or down by them and they cannot influence what you write. I don’t look as a rule but I still have to battle with my head a little not to worry if a post attracts very few comments. But I am much much better about that than I was and I don’t think the worries ever stop me posting something these days.

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  20. Don’t worry Sel, I’m sure no-one thought you were boasting. I certainly didn’t. I just can’t believe how many people that is. I think it would scare me half to death if I knew that many people were reading my blog.

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  21. Why do you blog:

    I blog to practice writing, to preserve my precious family moments, photos and stories, and because of the amazing community of bloggers I have been blessed to become friends with.

    What do you consider to be appropriate subject matter for your blog?

    Any and ALL topics.

    As for YOUR blog?
    I have enjoyed Every Single Post you have EVER written. The real life stories and your fictional tales. You are a GIFTED writer.

    I dont pay attention to traffic whatsoever. Like you said, its all about the core group of readers who leave comments and engage in the discussion at hand.

    I WILL BE sticking with YOU for as long as you are here!

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  22. I love your blog because it is full of heart. What comes from the heart is the best read, IMO. And what comes from the heart will neither be perfect nor pleasing to everyone. I blog what’s in my heart and nothing else. But that’s just me. I guess, everyone’s got their own agenda when it comes to blogging.

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  23. I will read your blog no matter what you are blogging about – whether it is good or bad! Your blog has a mix of everything! To me blogging was just something I wanted to try out – a place where I could just write about anything and maybe become a better writer. I started with TBall’s TV Guide, which was doing really well, it was a place to discuss the TV shows I liked, but I have neglected it a bit with everything that has happened, but I plan on going back there soon. I guess I understand how people don’t always want to read depressing stuff, that is why I made a separate blog about my present situation, but maybe it will help someone going through the same thing to know that someone else feels the same way – but that blog is more of a personal blog, it is not meant to attract millions of readers. It is a way for me to deal…

    I have enjoyed your blog from the very first time I stumbled upon it and at the same time I met a truly amazing person! I think what matters are like everyone has said – your core readers who leave you all those comments and get into your posts!
    Everyone is allowed to have a bad day and if you want to write about why not – it is your blog to do with what you want! You know your true readers will stay with you no matter what! For the 200 you lost I am sure you will find 200 and more!!!

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  24. I blog because I figured it was the only way I’d get published. And, like Kayt said in her comment, it’s a way to get published on my own timeline, not the publisher’s.

    My blog started as a platform for an online writer’s group, but because I am a techno-dork, I had no idea what I was doing. It quickly devolved into little more than a catch-basin for brain drivel.

    Which is pretty much where it’s stayed. It’s mostly a place where people can go to check the chaos levels of an abnormal family and breathe a sigh of relief when they see they’re in much better shape than they thought before they read my blog.

    It’s also a place where I wanted to hone my writing skills, test new topics, and maybe figure out a way to be “the next big thing.” I’m still very small (readership wise) and I doubt that will change. I’ve gotten caught up in real-time stuff that isn’t making it to the blog (yet) and I barely have the oomph to write posts, and visit my favorite blogs, much less comment on the comments left on mine.

    I enjoy your posts on depression, because I can relate to so much of it. That sense of knowing I’m not alone when the black dog comes to call, has been a great boon to me. Your blog is where I come to take that long drink of cool water while the world rages around me.

    I’ll shut up now… (running amok with the comments section again… sheesh)

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  25. RELUCTANT- thanks so much for your comment, which really is excellent advice. I think not paying attention to the stats is definitely the way to go. I am glad you like the kind of random nature of my blog. It’s very much like me – random and meandering. πŸ˜€

    ROMANY – I was talking to someone the other day who has over 2,000 readers per day. I started stuttering I was so shocked. The pressure to keep the content at a certain standard would be huge. I’m happy with the way I am. It’s manageable and fun. That many readers would be too stressful, wouldn’t it? Not for me.

    MELEAH – well, that goes double for me. Every single one of your posts is an absolute treat. I will be one of your readers for as long as you continue to blog, and I hope that is for a very long time !!!!

    CHRIS – I think it’s very important to have a genuine feel to your blog, otherwise it does become difficult to write. That’s why I read yours – you’re all heart!

    TBALL – I really enjoy all of your blogs. I will look forward to hearing all about American Idol when it starts up again. I completely agree with you about using blogging as a way to deal with things that are going on in your life. It has been a godsend in that way for me. It has also been a great way to get to know people from all over the world.

    KAREN – your blog was the first blog I ever read, before I really knew what a blog was. I read it for about a year before I commented. I’ve been reading and commenting it ever since. What I like most about your blog is the humorous take on life and the incredible bond you have with your family. It’s also great to see how you’ve developed as a fiction writer, so in that regard, blogging has done its job. In your case, small really is beautiful!!!

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  26. Why do I blog??? I’m not sure to be honest.

    I love the way you write and your take on the world. It’s your outlet so let it be yours and don’t worry about what others think of it. Just be.

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  27. You’ll never lose me Selma. No matter what you post, I’m always going to swing by every couple of days. Even if you post naked pics of the hottest Aussie babes on the beach! (hint)

    Seriously, you rock, I love you, no way I’m going to stay away. Love you, love you, love you.

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  28. ROSHAN:
    I haven’t seen any of the naked babes at the beach lately, I’m too busy looking at the muscled, oiled-up guys. πŸ˜‰

    I love you too. You are a great friend!!!!

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