Call it a taste of sour grapes, call it what you want, but the state of blogging frustrates me. Then again, maybe I simply need to figure out the real reasons why I blog.
This past week, we had three sets of travel bloggers staying with us. Dan & Audrey from Uncornered Market, Jason & Aracely from Two Backpackers and Craig & Linda Martin from Indie Travel Podcast. So of course, the topic of blogging, the travel blog community and the ins-and-outs of running a successful blog dominated at least some of the conversation.
My opinion? I'm frustrated. Too often it seems that content takes second seat to marketing and public relations. A recent article on Problogger titled Poor Bloggers Focus Too Much On Blog Posts highlights this further saying content should generally be only about one-third of your focus if you choose to actually support yourself with blogging.As a writer, I find this depressing.
Beyond that, I may not support myself through my blog, but I most certainly do not consider myself "poor" in quality or in what I get in return from this blog.
Is it really more about how many Twitter followers you have, the reach of your StumbleUpon subscribers and the number of your RSS feed?
If so, often the things required of you to up your numbers appear disingenuous. Say you're a dedicated travel blogger, someone who writes at least one post a week and reads other travel blogs to stay abreast of what's being said and done out there in the world of travel blogging.
Now ask that travel blogger how many posts they read where they know a majority of the other commenters because, not a surprise, they're also travel bloggers. I've written about this before when I asked the question if maybe, just perhaps, travel blogging has jumped the shark.
What are the reasons you blog?
As with so many things in life, it all comes down to expectation. Why do you blog? There are so many possible reasons.
To support yourself and your travels.
To be part of a community.
To be read.
To publicize work you do outside of (travel) blogging.
To present your opinions and ideas.
To meet other travelers.
I don't think any one way is de facto better or worse than another if you are clear about what and why you're doing it. But each way of blogging brings with it certain realities and consequences.
If you blog to support yourself, you must also market and publicize yourself. For many of us, that means doing things that we'd perhaps rather not do. If you blog simply to meet other people and choose to forgo the marketing and commenting inherent to that, you accept that it's unlikely you'll have as much traffic as a well publicized site no matter how stellar your content.
Why Do I Blog?
Three main reasons.
The first: To connect with other bloggers, travelers.
Right now, we have seven people staying with us, four of whom blog. Last week, Uncornered Market was here too. It is unlikely I would have met any of these people without my blog and time spent on Twitter. That would be a shame.
We have a lot in common. We travel. We blog. We enjoy long dinners with wine and as travelers tend to have a similar laid back outlook on life.
Another thing? Travelers tend to be fantastic guests. They're mellow, respectful, help out and always offer to replace whatever it is they use.
I admit, I don't spend enough time on Feedburner or any of the other statistics counters -- another must-do if you want to do this professionally -- to know how many people read my blog. If it's 100 people who regularly read my writing, then I am happy.
The third: To connect with people outside my daily life.
Every week, I receive e-mails from readers letting me know what's going on in their lives. . You are the people who choose to spend your time reading what I have to say for no other reason than you want to. It is humbling.
I often have to remind myself of these reasons.
Sometimes, I forget myself and begin to wonder why I don't find myself appearing on lists of popular bloggers. Or why some weeks I don't have as many hits as others. Too often, I feel pressure to comment more, market and publicize.
It stresses me out because I have other projects, a family, things I enjoy doing in my real life, and I really don't know where I can find the time to do these things I ultimately don't want to do.
Marketing and PR are not my forte. Of course, I could decide that I do want to support myself blogging and learn the trade anyway. But I decided to go a different direction. I blog for my reasons. It works for me. For now.
After all is said and done, what are your reasons for blogging?