I’ve only been blogging for nine days, and I’ve already been infected. So I’m going to take a step back for a second. Have a reflective moment.
I started a blog because I was discovering things about myself. I also love to write, and I thought organizing all these discoveries in writing might help me stay focused, maintain perspective, and maybe, just maybe, help someone else who is going through something similar, if they happen to stumble upon it while surfing the vast expanse of the internet. I wrote my little About blurb and my First Post, and I was happy.
It was fun. It felt fulfilling, having something I wrote sitting there for the world to gaze upon in its completed form. (Like so many other aspiring writers, I have about four thousand incomplete novels in my hard-drive somewhere.) So then I made my first mistake. I decided to Google how to write a successful blog. Just out of curiosity, of course.
Find a niche. That was what it said. Immediately, I started to criticize the little blog I had built. What kind of niche was this? And now I was stuck writing inside it? I didn’t like the name. By now I had written my fourth post and I thought, this information is good for more than just women aspiring to be great wives. Is leaving a title like “Be An Amazing Wife” going to isolate other readers who don’t have that goal? So I changed the subtext to, “And Other Worthwhile Goals,” which was actually probably for the better.
But the infection had already started. It got worse when I wrote a post about my ugly quiche. I linked to a TED Talk by Shawn Achor, who does amazing, fantastic, inspiring work. I was surprised, elated, and a little bouncy when I saw he had actually commented on my post.
This started a horrible cascade. I was so excited that someone had read my blog – and not just any someone, but a famous, celebrity-type someone that I admired! So of course I had to share the link on Facebook. I went from having zero readers to having over 40. And then a funny thing happened. The number of readers dropped off – which was to be expected; they weren’t devoted readers, they had just clicked a link. But the funny thing was how I missed those big, nameless, faceless numbers.
It happened again when I wrote about vegan food in the Tofurky post. I garnered a few likes and follows from it and was pleased. I guess that makes sense, it meant that people appreciated my work. Or that they were trying to artificially boost their own traffic. But either way I liked getting the notifications in my inbox that someone thought my post was pretty awesome. So I published another post on a different topic. But the same thing didn’t happen. There was no attention. So I made the next post about eating less meat as well.
Is the problem evident?
It started with a teapot and happiness, but it was turning into a wild goose chase for likes and follows. It started with me expressing myself and writing about my journey, but now I was out to write what I thought might get attention. I felt like Nintendo when they abandoned the goodness of the N64 and the Gamecube and came out with the Wii and DS games like Brain Age. I wasn’t true to me, I was looking for a wider audience no matter who it was or what they wanted. Apparently, this is not an uncommon phenomenon.
And seriously, why do I care? I thought this was a personal project, about growth, about discovery, about sharing. When did it change?
I think somewhere around day two or three.
But happily I was able to diagnose the issue early, and my prognosis is good. I’m already using more I’s and me’s and less you’s and we’s. Because who is you? Who is we? Is anyone reading this? Well if so, I hope you can enjoy this the way it is, because trying to change it to suite the tastes of others is, apparently, making me sick.