Somehow, I made it. I survived my first year.
I don’t have any idea how long a typical active WordPress blog survives. Judging by the number of promising blogs I’ve followed that have apparently disappeared, I suspect the average age is shockingly low. Perhaps this rate is skewed by folks who thought, “hey, social media is the in thing, I’ll do a blog.” Then, reinforced by the simplicity of generating a site they create one, with good intentions. Or maybe they just took a class on social media and had to create a site as an assignment.
But then it comes time to create posts.
Maybe they have a half dozen ideas, or a vague theme in mind. Or maybe they figure it’s a get rich scheme; they have what they think is a cool idea, and people are poised in Black Friday crowds waiting to eat it up. They make a few posts, and … crickets. Now what?
“If you build it, they will come.” The 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” introduced the meme, the idea that simply creating something is enough. That meme, like the movie, is a fantasy. Maybe if you’re a youngster who cut their teeth on social media and built up networks of “friends” in your school days you might have an instant crowd of followers, curious to see what you’ve wrought. But the chances are they’re the instant gratification sort; if you don’t impress them early and often, say goodbye. Oh fickle youth. If you have less built in “popularity”, you’ll soon find it takes work to build up a readership. Is it still worth it?
I suspect this causes a lot of folks wash out early.
Others will have done their research on all the things you’re supposed to do to have a successful blog, and chances are they will have good numbers, at least for a while. Some will *SPAM Like and *SPAM Follow until the cows come home, and after Bossy’s been milked they’ll SPAM some more. To these SPAMers I say [Bronx cheer].
Sure, I’ll admit it, I’ve trolled for new readers. I’ll randomly check out sites by topic, or check out blogs liked by folks I follow, but I’ll only Like a post if I actually have read it and enjoyed it. I’ll only Follow if I’ve read several posts on a site and find it consistently interesting. It’s kind of an ethical thing. Guess that’s why I never went into advertising.
But what was my motivation, and why have I stuck with it?
It all started when I thought I should do a better job of keeping the memories of some of the amazing places I’ve been to. Historically I’ve used a camera and that helps, but it’s static and leaves out a lot of context. A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes they’re not the right words to invoke the moment.
But writing, or even basic communicating is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m the quiet, introverted type. And after a career of the discipline of writing software, I was not inclined to do a sloppy, half-assed job. So I took a travel journaling class.
While this was useful, it didn’t teach much about story telling, and I found I wanted more. So I took a follow-up class on travel writing. This did cover more nuts and bolts (yeah, I know I’m not supposed to use cliches), but it also introduced the idea of writing a blog, or even for magazines.
This appealed – not the magazine bit – I don’t write that well and prefer to leave paying copy to those who need it, but a blog would be a way to record the memories. The initial thought was it’d be a way to share those memories with family and friends, but it’s evolved in a different direction. It was also a way to develop a new retirement hobby: writing creative non-fiction. Or, how to go from a so-so writer to a slightly better than so-so writer.
Then there’s the photography aspect. I’ve dabbled with that since I was a kid, and like to think I have some skills. Now instead of just boring the relatives with slide shows I can bore you too! 😉
So, I’ve survived a year of blogging. I primed the pump with some dive stories, then jumped into the Germany/Switzerland/Austria trip that was the initial motivation for writing down memories. After that, well, where has the time gone? I’ve talked of a few more trips, thrown in an adventure or three, and somehow managed to come up with 64 posts.
How long can I keep it up? I haven’t a clue. It’s not like I tick off bucket list adventures every day. I suspect I may start writing more blather pieces like this one, unless the sloppy tomatoes and rotten cabbage hurled in from the virtual audience suggest a different course. Or, since the WordPress gang seems to be a civil lot, the sudden sound of crickets would be the indicator.
Speaking of the WordPress gang, this has been a revelation. I think it’s a truism you will not get many readers unless you go forth and read other blogs, and interact with them from time to time. In pursuit of this goal I’ve met lots of new people and made new friends. While I haven’t set the blogging world on its ear, I haven’t been “Discovered”, and I still don’t have a lot of followers, I like to think the followers I have picked up are higher on the quality spectrum. If the ratio of likes and comments to followers means anything, I’ve been successful. I’d like to take this moment to express my gratitude – you folks have taken a little side hobby for recording memories and pictures and turned it into something much richer, and have given me the motivation to continue.
And so year two begins. I have another trip in the queue, and a few more adventures I can think of, but it’ll be a challenge to come up with another 50 stories. I hope you stick around for the action, and new friends will join us too.
*SPAM Liker/Follower – someone who takes advantage of the Reader to Like posts or Follow blogs without bothering to read them. These folks will not have gotten this far, so I feel pretty safe having given them the Bronx cheer.