I started blogging four years ago for no other reason than to get my work out there. I liked to write. People had told me I was reasonably good at it. At boredom’s gentle prodding, I developed my first blog. I can’t even remember what I used to call it. At the time, I had only been on Facebook for two years, I barely knew what Twitter was, and Pinterest, at least in my world, wasn’t even a thing yet. There was no “promotion” of posts, no partnerships to negotiate, no real “sharing” to speak of, at least not in the sense that we “share” now.
When the idea for Just Joywriting came to me, I quickly abandoned the old blog (title and content–it all had to go), and I set about reformulating my online persona. I had what I thought was a great new name. The design was, at the time, unique and reflective of my personality. I was getting two or three readers a day. On the surface, I should have been thrilled. But I couldn’t help thinking something was off. The Internet was supposed to be a great tool for reaching readers, a great way to engage in a “virtual community.” I had friends with fashion blogs who were making friends everyday. Somehow people just found them and engaged with them. That’s what I want, I thought. Where are my readers?
At the time I thought that maybe it had something to do with my writing. It just wasn’t that good (maybe it isn’t–maybe I am just trying to rationalize here). I could take it. At least I had been brave and put something out there, right? Then I started really paying attention to these other blogs. I started looking at what they did that I wasn’t doing. The experience was enlightening. From studying and reviewing other successful blogs, I’ve come to realize that maybe it’s not the graphic design of my blog or the writing or the name. Maybe I’m just a bad blogger. Here are some possible reasons:
1. Voluntary self-promotion. The blogs I read seemed to offer intimate glimpses into the lives of the people who wrote them. There were children’s names, pet names, husbands’/wives’ names. There were details about professions and weekend hobbies, pictures from vacations and cozy dinners. I wasn’t offering any of that. Somehow I thought that my blog could be about the writing, the writing, and only the writing. Sure, it was based on things I observed while enjoying weekend hobbies, family vacations, and cozy dinners for two, but my life and the details thereof remained largely removed.
2. Visual content. I started noticing pictures for the first time as I was studying what made some of my favorite blogs tick. They had not just pictures, but good pictures. The kind that make you want to be wherever they are. The kind that make you wish you were doing or wearing or having whatever the subject was doing or wearing or having. I had nothing of the sort. In fact, I thought I was doing quite well for myself when I included a thumbnail picture of the book I was currently attempting to review. The pictures, though, are what drew me to some of my faves in the first place. Apparently, that’s how to catch and keep a reader’s attention. Part of it anyway.
3. An aptitude for social media. My favorite bloggers are invested in social media. They use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and seem well versed in each, using them deliberately based on the post’s content. Fashion posts lend themselves really well to Instagram and Pinterest, as do design and style posts. Twitter allows for daily glimpses into their everyday experiences and how they encounter the subjects and ideas for their blogs. So it would seem. The thing is: I’ve never been a big social media fan. I didn’t necessarily want people to know that much about me. More than that, though, I just didn’t think anyone would care. I’ve given it a good hard try, but I can’t help feeling phony when I post on Twitter, and my Facebook feed, well, you could say it’s a bit neglected. I tried Instagram, but I found myself focusing on searching for subjects and settings rather than enjoying the subjects and settings themselves. It’s an effort I continue to make, though, this social media stuff. I want to connect with people (otherwise I wouldn’t bother with any of this), but the introvert in me wants to cower in the corner at the thought of so much interaction, virtual or otherwise.
4. Platform, Platform, Platform. I’m drawn to book blogs and fashion blogs. I read them everyday, with my mid-morning coffee and biscotti. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if somewhere out there someone else was having their midmorning coffee and reading my blog, my…what kind of blog exactly? When I first started blogging, I had no platform, and I continued that way for awhile. Over the years, I’ve played with the concept of platform, but I’ve never felt truly cemented to one. In my most recent overhauling frenzy, I’ve pulled the DIY section of the blog to focus specifically on reading, writing, and living, as these are the things I find myself doing most frequently. I’ve learned that by doing this I’ve not only given my blog more focus, but I’ve given myself more focus as well. When I think of a potential blog topic, I am now forced to ask myself under which category this topic would potentially fall. If I can’t logically justify its place, I don’t include it. This one, I feel, I’m getting better at.
I’m including a list of blogs I read regularly here. Take one look at any of them, and you will see exactly what I’m talking about. I still have a lot to learn. Obviously. The important thing is that it’s gotten better, this whole blogging experience. If growth is the point, if the process of improving is more important than the improvement itself, then I can honestly say I’m doing pretty well for myself here in my corner of the web.