Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Continuing to Blog in Obscurity

I've been thinking more lately about the nature of blogging. (Don't worry -- I'm not giving it up. I know you were panicked at that possibility! Ha!)

Specifically, I've been thinking about what makes blogging work, and my own blog, and somewhat disconnectedly, whether I want to put more of my old writing online.

My blog has a small audience. Although I'm always happy to hear and see evidence that people read it, and I've made some connections through blogging with people I consider true friends, I would be lying if I said I did it purely for readership. I mean, if that were the case, I'd be the most depressed person on earth. Forty page views a day? Sad!

It's more about organizing my thoughts, processing my experiences of the world, communicating with friends, and recording things I'd otherwise forget.

In fact, I kind of like the cozy atmosphere. I almost never tout my posts on Facebook and I don't Tweet or do anything else to get them "out there." I've thought about it, but every time I think of all 500 of my Facebook friends reading my blog, I blanch a little. I don't mind if they find it, but I kind of don't want them all here at once. This is a small party. The room is not that big.

I read an article the other day, on a site which sadly I can no longer find, about the nature of a successful blog. The writer of this post said that successful blogs (measured in quantities of readers) are rarely personal journals. They tend, instead, to be about specific topics. So that might be part of why my readership is what it is.

Also, I read in the most recent New Yorker that the "ideal" Internet post takes seven minutes to read. And in a separate article the same magazine, I read that "effective" Internet posts (at least according to this guy) are those that become viral. "The way we view the world, the ultimate barometer of quality is: if it gets shared, it's quality," he said. "If someone wants to toil in obscurity, if that makes them happy, that's fine. Not everybody has to change the world."

I guess I'm cool with my own little corner of the Internet. I am definitely not changing the world.

I've also been wondering whether I should try to post my earlier journals online -- going back and blogging all the writing I began back in the late 1980s (judiciously edited, of course). The advantage is that I'd have a searchable index of my journals, and also safe storage of all those years of writing. (And yeah, a few people could read them, if they so desire.) The disadvantage -- well, I'm not sure there really is one, except that it would take a lot of probably fairly tedious work.

I know this isn't exactly a cohesive post. (Did it take longer than seven minutes to read? Someone let me know!) But it just goes to show what's been rolling around in my head vis-a-vis this little platform of mine.

(Photo: Walking a dog near Kensal Rise, Dec. 6.)


  1. I feel exactly the same way as you do about blogging. And why not post your writings. They're part of your story and as you point out this blog is a place to tell your story. Don't be so sure by the way that you aren't changing the world just by being you and sharing your journey. You gave me a lot if hope when I was first laid off and your London sojourn inspires me. And Olga. Olga is definitely changing the world!

  2. Some thoughts, Steve.
    Like you, I have no desire to go viral. I will admit to checking to see how many people dropped by per day, but I'm happy with what I have. I'm new enough to all this that 40 readers a day, or the fact that someone in the Ukraine is reading me, is incredible.
    Some of the blogs I'm fondest of -like yours - are small snippets of a life somewhere else.
    Also, how about starting another blog for your journal writings that could be linked to this one?
    And one other thought- After putting the effort into my blog, I didn't want my work to sit in the ether somewhere and then just evaporate some day. So for the past two years I've moved the ones I liked best to Shutterfly and printed out a book of them.
    There, I'm done, I promise!

  3. I used to check my page views. I never do any more. I have realized that doesn't matter in the least to me. I do this for me, for the sense of community I have with the few dear people I have come to love. And occasionally, I'll get an e-mail or even a real letter, telling me how much my words have meant to a person.
    Which always blows me away and makes me very glad I do what I do.
    And every day I get to visit you and your world and I carry your images with me wherever I go.

  4. i don't blog but love reading them and i check your site everyday...i love the pictures, hearing about your life and of course Olga.

  5. Like Ms Moon, I used to check my stats every day but I rarely look at them now. I do my blog for me and I truly enjoy the community of people that I correspond with via blogs. About 5 years ago, I was interviewed on a local TV program about my blog along with another woman who had a blog devoted to bacon....yes I said bacon. She had just been offered a book deal to turn her blog posts into a book. I remember feeling a bit like a loser because no one had offered me a book deal. That feeling didn't last long. I didn't start it to become famous or rich. I started it to communicate with people all over the world. I'm happy with that.
    I found your blog because of my love of the city of London and now I read it every day. I enjoy reading about your life there and I especially enjoy reading your perspective on the issues of the day. AND...I love your photos.

  6. You invest a bunch of time in your photography and posting pictures to the blog. Maybe you should link equipment specs and settings and like info to images taken so that they are searchable in a more 'topical' fashion?

  7. I'm starting my 7th year and my blog never did 'catch on' with less than 250 'followers' in all that time but then it is a personal blog. I started it when I realized that I knew nothing but names and dates of many of my forbears so this is a journal for those that come after. eventually I'll print it out and have it bound to hand down. but about other people's blogs? I prefer the personal journals than those that are based on one topic.

  8. I'm here to say that linking your blog posts on Facebook has very little effect (as far as I can tell - ha!). I also don't care about readership. I've got my little clique & I'm happy with it (not that I would say "go away" to anyone else!).

    I like the personal journal type of blog best too. I like hearing about people's days. I know more about the day to day stuff about you than I do my best friend (who lives in NC). :)

  9. I know exactly what you're talking about, Steve. I do post a link to some of my blog posts, but other times, like today, I don't want anyone except a handful to have access to it. My old blog had a larger following. It's a relief that the new one is so cozy and intimate.

    I'm really glad you're not going to stop! I love knowing what you're up to.

  10. Feral parrots! Love.

    There was a flock in S.F. So magical to come across them.

  11. I want to know more about you
    Perhaps that's the direction to venture into ?

  12. Angella: Olga is no doubt our best ambassador. :)

    Marty: That's exactly what I was thinking -- another blog for older journal entries, linked to this one. I'm not sure yet! I haven't tried the printing route, though I do back up my blog from time to time to ensure against "evaporation."

    Ms Moon: I don't check deliberately, but Google shows me the number of hits on each post whenever I look at my post listing. I kind of wish they didn't, actually!

    Vivian: Thanks so much! I'll give you more Olga, I promise.

    Sharon: Bacon! Ha! I also have a friend who wound up with a book deal as a result of his blog, and it's interesting to see what kind of writing is considered commercially viable versus what isn't!

    Utah: Flickr actually does that. All the images I post here also get posted on Flickr, showing all the equipment specs and settings. I probably SHOULD link these pics to my Flickr photostream.

    Ellen: I prefer the personal journals too. I'm mystified about why they're not more popular. To me someone's day-to-day life is much more interesting than reading about bacon (to use Sharon's example).

    Bug: Well, I'm glad not posting on Facebook hasn't seriously hobbled me! Ha! I also know a lot more about the daily lives of my blogger friends than many of my "close" friends. Kind of strange.

    Reya: It can't help but change your writing to know that you're being widely read. (I mean you in the general sense, not you specifically.) There's a security in knowing that what you post doesn't go very far. Probably a false security, because you never know, but there it is.

    John: Well, posting the old journal entries would certainly provide some background. Maybe more than anyone really wants!

  13. I have quite a big audience and sometimes that freaks me out and sometimes I just don't care. What's really important to me, blogging, is the small, cosy community and the various outliers that might read my writing and something resonates with them. In any case, I think you've changed -- if not the world -- then influenced many people, including myself. I've told you before that I walk the streets differently because of you. Not only do I see things differently or notice things that I might not, I do so with your name in my head!

  14. I enjoy reading your day to day diary and although I rarely comment I feel as though i am an aquaintance of yours and also Reya, Ms Moon, Vivian, The bug, Ellen and 37 Paddington who comment regularly. I think I find it relaxing. It is like being at a cafe with friends where I can listen to what is being discussed but don't have to bother thinking about a reply ar making any of the conversation.
    I like Marty Damon's idea of putting your older journals on a separate blogg, linked to this one. It will be time consuming but you will enjoy the memories as you type.