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.