Babies and Bathwater

I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching about this blog of late, part of which has involved reading up on some advice about how to grow your audience and that sort of thing. It’s a little hard to be motivated when it feels like I’m talking to myself, and maybe the odd friend or family member*.

The frustrating thing (about searching for advice) is that it all seems to come from bloggers who—despite their claims to be writers—only seem to blog about how to “establish your platform”, and “monetize” your blog, and other marketing-related stuff that causes rather a knee-jerk reaction. It’s like I too could reach thousands of people if I focus my blog on “How to Market your Blog”.

Marketing. Ugh.

What I think annoys me most is that marketing techniques work. Sure, when they spring from a genuine enthusiasm for a topic, that’s fine; so often they come across as pushy and inauthentic. As Rose Red puts it very succinctly, “I can’t sell something I don’t believe in”.

But, part of wisdom is recognising that someone you dislike (or disagree with) can still be right. It can take effort, humility, and discernment to honestly assess what they’re saying and extract the parts of value to you (even if that is just a better understanding of where the other side is coming from).

So, you’re likely to see some changes, as I tweak the look and focus of this blog. My aim is to make its purpose clearer, and hopefully encourage more interaction. With that in mind, do you have any thoughts or suggestions (on potential topics, for example)? Because I know that, no matter how I may come across (I’m good at seeming authoritative), I don’t have all the answers, and I would benefit hugely from your input.

Thanks in advance!


* And I do have some odd friends and family… 😉

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Think Before You Post

I am an introvert.

Right now, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.”, and (assuming you know me reasonably well), you’re probably right.

The thing is, like most ways of categorising types of people, it doesn’t actually tell you very much (other than that I choose to align myself with that label). “Introvert” refers to a collection of personality traits with a common theme; so you can assume I have a sufficient quantity or magnitude of these traits (or deficiency in the ones associated with the label “extrovert”) that the label applies.

But which traits? And to what degree? Well, the particular one I want to address today is introverted thinking*. This is the tendency to consider ideas thoroughly before sharing them with others—the polar opposite of “thinking aloud”.

This, coupled with an insidious dose of perfectionism, makes it very difficult to be a blogger (or any sort of writer). The flowing lines of wit and wisdom that scrawl themselves across my brain never quite seem to make it as far as the pen/keyboard.

So why blog at all? Why does someone so intent on keeping their thoughts internal attempt to share them with the world (or at least the small niche who reads this)? Why not keep a journal? Well, I’ve never really felt comfortable with a journal. Besides having the same problem as with a blog (i.e. not wanting to express thoughts until they’re perfectly rounded), why waste paper if no-one but me is going to read it? After all, I can think faster than I can write.

But introspection can only get you so far**. Often, expressing thoughts into words—whether spoken, written, or typed—helps drag them into a semblance of order. It forces you to be coherent, rather than the stream-of-consciousness and random associations that go on in your brain where you can find yourself thinking about something else entirely almost before you’re even aware of it.

Obviously, there’s still a measure of self-censorship in terms of avoiding getting too personal in a public forum, but the sense of an audience (even if largely an imaginary one) is a helpful motivator. Even more so, the opportunity for discussion, should it eventuate.

It’s not like there aren’t plenty of things to write about: day-to-day life, current events, movies, chance remarks; anything can inspire a (usually extensive) train of thought—I have a list of ideas for topics. It’s just a matter of becoming clear enough about what I want to say, and then shoving my ego (which insists it’s not good enough***) aside in order to say it.

So, here are some more of my thoughts, presented in the hope that it’s not just me that finds them interesting. 🙂


* It’s been said that introverts are those who will think carefully and then—maybe—act (whereas extroverts are those who will act and then maybe think).

** Or occasionally (i.e. frequently) round in circles.

*** It’s sneaky the way pride sometimes disguises itself as humility; sometimes when we’re thinking “this isn’t good enough” what we really mean is “I want to present myself as better than this”.

Cynical Idealism

aka How You Can Make Money Blogging

Bearing in mind, this isn’t any formal methodology, just my conclusions from observations; the process is as follows:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Add a few posts/pages, making sure to include plenty of buzzwords about the amazing secrets of making easy money on the internet, growing your business, online “presence”, etc. etc.
  3. Conclude each with some form of “sign up/contact me to learn more!”
  4. Establish an advertising deal (easy to request, regardless of blog status), of the “money per page views” variety
  5. “Follow” any and all other blogs that have relevant tags, probably done automatically. This all but ensures you get the “oh, a new follower—I wonder what their blog is like” traffic
  6. Don’t bother ever reading the blogs you follow, or updating your own with interesting new content. That’s too much like effort
  7. Similarly spam comments and so forth anywhere and everywhere—anything that gets you traffic
  8. (ethically dubious) profit!

What’s that? I’m giving away your secrets? This is akin to revealing a pickpocket’s secrets, not a companies proprietary methods.

😡

Okay, rant over. It’s just encouraging to be told you have blog followers, then irritating to realise that at least half of them have never even looked at any of your posts. So, lest this entry be overwhelmed by irate cynicism, I’m going to defer to my idealistic side for a bit.

How You Should Make Money Blogging

(Assuming the content of your blog isn’t about promoting your company in some way shape or form, because there the blog is an auxiliary, not the main focus.)

Sure, have an advertising deal. Sure, try to increase the page views of your blog. But do it by posting interesting content. Stuff that teaches readers something. That gets them thinking about a subject in a different way. That stimulates interesting conversations. But most importantly, reflects you (the author) and what you’re interested in and passionate about. Let your posts be an authentic expression of your thoughts.

And quality will out. The blogs that have good content will get more views. Ones that don’t will be less-frequented (I don’t want to say forgotten, because they may well have their niches).

Is that too much to hope for?