San Diego Momma. A San Diego Mom Blogger.

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Are We (Still) All Playing the Blogging Game?

October 26th, 2011

{{I first posted this a year ago, and it’s still true for me today.}}

 

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I’ve often commented that I’ve been blogging since 2001. And I don’t mean it as a brag, although I also birthed both my children naturally while pushing a snow blower in a blizzard uphill both ways on crutches. Instead, I say it because it’s absolutely amazing that I don’t have a book deal by now. Crazy amazing. What’s with these literary agents? There is so much marketable directionless nonsense and occasional whiny introspection to be found here.

 

At any rate, the reason I bring up the long-term blogging is because I’ve seen a lot in those years. As I look around at the state of the blogosphere — and particularly at the evolution of blogging by women — I can’t help but remember “how it used to be.” Content has changed, the major players have changed, and agendas have changed. And there’s nothing wrong with that, really, but if you are a wannabe writer, sometimes it makes you sad how much the words have lost their punch. Now, blog posts aren’t so much designed to delight or disarm, but to drive traffic and garner sponsorships. And again: nothing wrong with that per se, but a girl can long for the good old days, can’t she?

 

What I remember is a tight circle of woman who I read regularly. None of them knew me, let me say right off the bat, but I felt like I knew them, and so admired their words and authenticity. I include Dooce* in that circle. I loved her writing and lay it all out on the linedness. There was also Que Sera Sera, whose words and humor thrill me to this day, and Mighty Girl and Fussy and Finslippy, and someone named Sarah, whose writing was shamelessly lovely, but which I can no longer locate on the web. I never commented on these blogs, ever. It was enough to read. Plus, my blog at the time was for me, only me, and I didn’t care so much if anyone read it. There was no tit for tat. Just — for me — pure enjoyment of the words written.

 

Anyway, I remember in 2005, when Dooce announced that her site would start taking ads. Boy was there a hoopla. At that time, blog advertising was unheard of…I don’t recall seeing any ads on any sites I read. At the time, I felt unfazed by her announcement. She was writing good content every day, and she had readers, and if advertisers noticed, then what the hell. Good for her.

 

Of course, you know the story. Advertisements gave way to sponsorships gave way to book deals gave way to TV appearances gave way to consulting jobs at HGTV and who knows what else. Now, I go to some of the sites for many of the women I read way back when, and there are prominent banner ads and posts devoted to sponsors. Once again, let me say: no judgment. Just noticing. I have ads too, and I wouldn’t turn away a sponsorship, probably. It’s just that this new paradigm has opened a door to content that’s not just about being well written and true, but about whether it pleases the people paying your bills. Sadly, I noticed how it affected Dooce. Her writing — once my beloved read of the day — became stale and soulless and worst of all — hard to read. Because it didn’t sound like her anymore. And although I respect how she’s kept her content largely separate from her ads, and continues to write what she wants, there’s a certain “I’m not writing just for the pleasure of it” vibe to her posts that’s off-putting. She doesn’t feel relevant to me anymore.

 

I suppose I feel ditched. You know? Like hey! I thought you were writing for me and the other people who read you! Why you gotta go and make someone else important? Don’t you know that if your readership goes down, that “someone else” will dump you for greener pastures? I woulda stayed with you forever!
I’m a sensitive sort. If I feel like I’m not important to you anymore, if you’re not making me a priority, then I get hurt. Then angry. Then gone. After all, who are you writing for? Who are you writing for? Who are you writing for? Not for me, that’s for damn sure.

 

Please know that I am not dissing the people who make blogging their business. Who pursue sponsorships. Who take advertising. Who want traffic. I do, too. It’s when you become a slave to the wanting, and not the master. Also, I’m a writer, so I prefer to read writing. That’s me. Blogging is subjective and can mean many things to many people. I’m referring to content-driven sites with this post. Just so you know. And how I wish they all were content-driven. But again, that’s just me. Hoping out loud. What I’m trying my best to articulate is how I’ve come to despise icky motivations. The ONLY wanting sponsorships and readers be damned. The I DON’T CARE WHO MY READERS ARE AS LONG AS THEY KEEP COMING AND UPPING MY STAT COUNTER. When you are more into the game then you are the players. That single-minded inauthentic selfish crap? I hate with every one of my keyboard-pounding fingers. But if you position yourself as a fake, agenda-driven loser? Fine. At least you’re owning it.

 

As for myself, I want to write for me. And for you. When I began San Diego Momma in 2008, I felt the pull to bring myself into the flesh and blood world of blogging. I wanted to be part of the community, I wanted readers, I wanted to connect. My other blog was for me, just me, but now I wanted my writing to also be about you. I wanted you to like me. I wanted you to comment. I wanted to know I counted. AND I wanted to do the same for you. Because I liked you…not because you’re upping my stats and helping me draw advertising or to become the Queen of the World.

 

Usually. I am human after all.

 

So that’s the thing. It’s taken me awhile to figure it out and apparently I had to write this whole post in order to discover what I am trying to say. Here it is: I am NOT liking today’s blog game. I’m pretty sure this is also why “Survivor” makes me uncomfortable. I’m just not into diminishing a person to what how they help you play the game. To how they can help you win. Whatever it is you are trying to win. I want to be viscera, sweat and tears to you. I don’t want to be a number, someone who drives traffic to your site, who is influential or not enough to make knowing me worth your while. I don’t want clicks and advertisers and money and making YOU Queen of the World to be the ultimate prize. Above all, I want to matter to you. And I want good content to matter to you, too. Also and in summation? Statistics are soulless. Your readers have hearts.

 

Like I said: a girl can long for the good old days, can’t she?

 

*I didn’t link to any of the people I mentioned because this is not about making them click to see what I wrote about them.

 

On October 26th, 2011, annettek said:

Yes, this. I long for the old days too when the bloggers I loved to read were clearly there because they loved to write. Now so many of them are doing sponsored posts I have no idea what’s genuine and what’s not. Sigh.

On October 26th, 2011, Everyday Mama said:

Great post Deb and so relevant to the transparent connection between ads and editorial. It’s all pay for play it seems these days and the authenticity has disappeared. I know people want to make a living too but in the end, you have to do it for your readers and to be true to yourself because you LOVE writing. Having said that, you can definitely tell the bloggers that are writers and those that are most definitely NOT! XOXO

On October 26th, 2011, Krista said:

I’ve only been playing this game this game for a couple of years so I didn’t really participate in the good old days, but I think I would have liked them. I read blogs for two reasons, either really good writing or because I feel some kind of connection (be it real or in my head) to the person writing. The blogs that are just about getting site visits and ad money are generally easy to spot.

On October 26th, 2011, Maegan (@ByndTheBandaids) said:

I’m a newbie – so this is an awesome read!
I want to maybe make a little coin here and there, but in the end, I have decided that I will blog as I blog for me. And not so much what I’m “supposed” to.
Step 2? Actually write more blog posts! ha!

On October 26th, 2011, julie gardner said:

I love the insight and opinion you have shared here.

(Bravely, perhaps? I hope not. I hope we can all be honest without fear. But nevertheless. You are brave.)

I began my blog only a year ago and, more than anything else, I want(ed) to be not just a decent writer but a really good one. (Does that sound arrogant?)

But whether or not I am an asshole, I appreciate your point of view.

Very much.

Screw what I said before. I want to be a kick-ass writer.

And guess what? I don’t even know how to check my stats.
(True story. Pathetic, huh?)

I have no idea about page views or any of the other statistics I could discover about my site (I don’t even know the terms for them) because I was afraid I’d get caught up in it all.

I didn’t want to find myself huddled in a fetal ball worried that I was less popular today than yesterday.

Or tomorrow.

Whatever.

I guess by the time I came into the blog world it already had changed.

But I know when I find someone whose words demand to be read.

And in case you didn’t know already, I love coming here.

XO

On October 26th, 2011, Katherine said:

What a great post! You know, I have tried to like Dooce.. didn’t know about her until she was with ads and way way big… the things I read were just “meh” so I didn’t go back!

On October 26th, 2011, Aunt Snow (g) said:

Boy oh boy. This is an amazing post. I need to think more before I comment further. You are so right on, but it’s complex. I need to think.

On October 27th, 2011, green girl in wisconsin said:

As someone with a book deal in the works and having a lot of conversations about “social networking” I’m afraid I’ll become a different blogger. Already I can sense some fear and distance when I opt to not post about a topic–“WHat if people get upset?” I think. I’m so conscious of the fallout, but I’m going to try and keep it real because I agree with you and I don’t want to lose what I gained by dipping my toe into the blogosphere.

On October 27th, 2011, Maria @amotherworld said:

Thanks for sending me the link to your post!
I think many of us are feeling the same way.

Here is my post: http://amotherworld.com/main/blog/old-school-blogging-osb/

For the love of writing,
Maria

On October 27th, 2011, Alexandra said:

I remember the first time I read this post: I LOVE THE PERSPECTIVE YOU HAVE.

I just discovered blogging/blogs 3 yrs ago.

And I love what I’ve had happen to me in ths world.

But the perspective you bring: fascinating.

On October 29th, 2011, Myra said:

You are a classic SM. Someone I always come back to. You had me with the beauty post years ago. It was the first I read, and one I’ll never forget. I’ve kept blogging myself, although I’ve felt the need to take mine private. Too hard to separate work and my personal life, you know? And I was starting to edit my words. So I thought it was better to be unedited and real in my private, little world. My son will have my online journal one day.

Thanks for being a constantly gift writer who inspires me. :)

On November 1st, 2011, Cactus Petunia said:

I love you.

On November 2nd, 2011, LaLa said:

This is such a great summary of what I’ve been thinking and feeling about how women’s writing on blogs has evolved over the past few years. I agree with you – I’m in it for the words, the heart and the stories. When those fail, I’m gone.

I used to blog and then I stopped, but I still read lots of interesting writers. If they stop being writers I get the same feelings you described: disappointed, betrayed, irritated.

I just discovered your blog but I’ll be following regularly now – I like your words, heart and stories!

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