On writing well in the blogosphere

by CountryFriedMama on March 3, 2010

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My rabbi wants to start a blog.

I met with him this morning and said a few things about blogging that were probably unhelpful and possibly overwhelming.  We talked about Blogger vs. WordPress, about Twitter and Facebook, about podcasts and plugins and RSS feeds.

I didn’t share with him the 5,000 things about blogging I still do not understand.  And I didn’t tell him he should have started a year ago when I did, or four years ago when the blogosphere was pure and unspoiled.  I didn’t tell him there was no place in blogging anymore for good writing because marketers have corrupted the whole party and we all might be better off taking our laptops and going home.

I feel like I am hearing that message a lot lately from writers I respect, and it is discouraging.

There are a handful of “mommy bloggers” I have found during the past year who do many things well.  They are excellent writers.  They are open to helping new moms on the block.  They are giving of their time and expertise.  Many of these women are also sounding quite frustrated with trends in blogging, with the focus on a handful of “greats” and with the fact that marketing seems to drive the whole blogosphere rather than writing.

With all due respect and reverence and love, I beg all of you to stop.

You’re bringing me down, ladies.

Seriously.

I believe you when you tell me it used to be easier for writers to find an audience online.  And when you say you built your traffic without knowledge of SEO or social media or marketing, I am envious.  But the fact that those of us who are new here need to know those things to be heard above the din does not take away from the value we place on the writing.

Someone asked me last night what I do for a living, and I said, “I’m a writer.”  And then I giggled, because, damn, it’s kind of true, and who gets to have that kind of life?  Me!  It’s awesome. I’m a writer, and I want people to read my stuff.  If I didn’t want that, I would buy myself some composition notebooks and make my husband swear to destroy them should anything happen to me.

We are all out here blogging because we want someone to read our stories; what’s wrong with learning some strategies for making that happen?  If I learn a little something about keyword selection or post tags, it doesn’t mean I care less about the writing.

Also, and you might find this blasphemous, I think writing is work.  Work should be paid.

Shocking, right?

I have no interest in product reviews or excessive giveaways or sponsored Tweets.  I do not want to be an ambassador for processed cheese.  I will never agree to give a company my time and effort only to be rewarded with canned okra.

There has got to be a better way for companies to work with bloggers.  (When I figure out what that is, I promise to share the good news.)

Finally, I don’t think the rise of the niche blogger — the couponista, interior designer, frugal living, product reviewer — affects me or what I do in this space.  We are all using the same medium, but we are doing very different things with it.  Similarly, there is a print market for writers of fiction, memoirs, home improvement tips, crockpot recipes and Japanese folk tales.  The fact that there might be a growing number of home improvement tipsters does not mean memoir readers have disappeared.

There is certainly still a place for reality and honesty in the blogosphere.  There has to be.  Because if there isn’t, then I’m wasting a lot of time in front of this computer when I could be watching American Idol.

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{ 2 trackbacks }

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July 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm
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July 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Will Blog for Shoes March 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm

And I was just going to ask you to be the spokesperson for processed cheese. Darn.

Seriously, though, great post! Very well put.

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Uncle Jason March 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I think writers of fiction and Japanese folk tales might take issue with the idea that there is a market for them.

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CountryFriedMama
Twitter: countryfried
March 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

You both make excellent points. Maybe the writers of fictional Japanese folk tales should take the processed cheese spokesperson job.

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faemom March 3, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Wonderful post! I think there is room for us all. Sure I would love to get more people reading, but I do love the people who do, and I end up following them to the ends of the earth. My husband keeps asking when this is going to start making us money, and I shrug and say it’s practice. (because really I have no idea how I would make any money, so I might as well have fun writing and reading) And I totally loved this post.

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Blabbermouse March 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Amen.
Sing it, sister.

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CFD March 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that. ” – Lloyd Dobler, 1989

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C @ Kid Things
Twitter: kidthingsnet
March 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I’m one of those who was around 5 (er, 10) years ago. Not in the same location, but I was still writing. And it was a much different time then. Even though my subject matter has changed somewhat (or, if we’re going back 10 years, a lot), I’m writing more for myself and my children now than ever before. In that respect, I really don’t think I should be paid. Although if someone were to offer, I’d be nuts to turn it down (not that I’m expecting that to happen any time soon).

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March 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Thanks for this very thought-provoking post. I’ve been thinking a lot about these types of issues lately, and I remain firmly of the opinion that there is a place in the blogosphere for reality and honesty and writing for the sake of writing. Sure, on some level I’d like to be rich and famous from blogging and get 13 million page views a month, and to believe that could happen just because I’m putting myself out there. It probably won’t, given what else is happening out there these days; but it definitely won’t if I don’t put myself out there. So in the meantime, I’m focusing on blogging’s many other compensations. And maybe at some point I’ll even figure out SEO.

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March 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Well-said. I love the honesty and power that real blogging gives us.

P.S. Feel free to send your rabbi to me :-)

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Stacia March 3, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Like you, I am a mom who is a writer. (Or a writer who is a mom?) Either way, I don’t want to need a niche or a giveaway or a space for ads or a Tweet Deck to get people to read either. But it almost feels like you have to. Maybe (and CFD’s comment totally inspired this), I’ll just hold up my blogging boom-box and blast some Peter Gabriel for a few posts. That ought to get me some hits, don’t you think?

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March 4, 2010 at 7:32 am

You are far more evolved than I. I don’t really understand all the Stumble it and Digg stuff, and I haven’t unlocked the secret to making money with a blog. For now I do it because it gives me joy and somewhat of a voice. It’s nice to have a little feedback as opposed to the solitary Dear Diary route.

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Nicki at Domestic Cents March 4, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Seriously, no idea how people make any more than $10 per month blogging. I have read and read and read and tweaked a hundred things … and I earned an extra 50 cents. :) I’m starting to invest a lot more time in my blog and I really, really love doing it. It certainly would be nice to get paid for this part-time job I’m working.

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rebecca d March 4, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Thank you… I just started blogging and I feel like I am late to the party… I just want to share my words with the world… but I was starting to feel like I not only showed up late, but I’m wearing the wrong thing… Thank you for your honesty…

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Rachel @ Grasping for Objectivity
Twitter: objectivityrach
March 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I agree with everything you said!!

The bottom line is, our blogs are what we make of them. The only time that we’re going to get discouraged by what everyone else is doing is when we compare ourselves TO everyone else.

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Angie @ Many Little Blessings March 7, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Really great post! I love what you had to say about so many of the points.

I will admit — I have actually been blogging for a little over 3 years, and I have really seen more of my blog growth in the past year and a half. I feel dumb that I didn’t do more with my blog the first few years. Oh well — what can you do?

While I would love to make more money on my blog (though I’m making more than I would expect for what I’m doing), I don’t feel like it should be expected.

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Trenches of Mommyhood
Twitter: sarahviz
March 9, 2010 at 9:59 am

This post is why I read you. Bravo! And as someone who continues to do it wrong (for almost 4 years now), I do realize that I happened to be in the right place at the right time to start blogging and that’s why I’m doing okay. But I still struggle with the MORE factor. Should I do more? Do I even want to do more? Will I fall behind if I don’t do more?
Ack!

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Emily@remodelingthislife March 13, 2010 at 7:24 am

I read this when I saw a link on twitter. I loved it then and I love it now. Thanks for sharing it at my link up!

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Tabatha March 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

Agreed, wholeheartedly. :)

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Jessica @ Life as I See It March 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Agree and thoroughly enjoyed!! :)

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the domestic fringe March 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Great, great post! I’m only a year old in blogland, but I’ve already been torn with companies wanting me to do reviews, giveaways, etc. I’m not sure if I should or shouldn’t. I really have no desire to get into reviews. I just want to write and be read. Having said that, I have enjoyed doing a few book reviews. I guess I’m tossed.
-FringeGirl

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melissa March 13, 2010 at 9:42 pm

i LOVE this post. i started blogging 3 years ago because i love writing. and i felt i had stories to tell. and then, things changed around the blogosphere. not necessarily for the better. but like all things, evolution happened. and it became competitive and cut-throat. and NOT fun.
i won’t quit though. because i am one of those bloggers that make like zippo money and write posts for the love of writing.

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Mindee@ourfrontdoor March 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm

So well written. I had a frustrating talk with my husband last week about how I wish I could make a living blogging. Being a man he offered up all sorts of suggestions to “fix” my blog – niche writing being his main emphasis. Also, have been watching some mediocre writers with boring blogs increase their traffic through aggressive writing.

But here’s the thing – I don’t want a niche blog full of product reviews. I believe in what I am doing. I believe I write the occasionally well-written post. I’d rather not make money than change it.

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Mindee@ourfrontdoor March 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I meant to say “increase their traffic through aggressive marketing.”

Proofread, Mindee, proofread!

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Kelley Calvert March 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

What valid reflections. These days, everyone has a blog or wants to create one. It would seem that the information out there far overwhelms the number of readers. Thank you for your independent spirit and voice!

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