Monday, July 16, 2012

Why do you blog?

UPDATE, 7/20/12: Leslie Stewart of Darling Stewie and part of the "Fearsome Foursome" who are running September's NEPA BlogCon pointed out that they asked this same question on the NEPA BlogCon blog a few weeks ago. I'll post a link to this post there so everybody can have access to all the answers that are given on both sites!

This is a question for any bloggers reading this: Why do you blog?

I could speculate on reasons why other people blog, talk about the narrow-minded and provincial attitudes of some who assume that everyone blogs for the same reasons that they do, and therefore must follow the same rules that they do (or that they have declared others must follow.) But I really want to know, honestly, why other people blog. I'll give my reasons, and I'd like everyone else to put their reasons in the comments to this blog post. (That will save me the bother of gathering them from assorted other locations and reposting them here.) Also please be sure to leave a link to your blog!

Here are my answers, for all of my blogs. All of them so far, anyway.

Another Monkey: Started May 2004. When I talk about "my blog," this is the one I'm talking about. I've talked about why I started this blog so many times in the past I don't even feel like going over it again. But I will. It's a soapbox, a creative outlet, a place to vent, a way of communicating with friends and strangers that predates the mass popularity of Facebook. It's a place to post photos and stories. It's an autobiography in a million parts. Most importantly - to me, anyway - it's a place to store my memories outside of my own head. Because I've watched too many people go to those places where they no longer have access to their own memories. And then it's too late to try to retrieve them So this way, somehow, this stuff will be out there. This is the blog I care about the most, and most associate myself with.

Til August: Started April 2005. My second blog - I didn't realize that until just now. A few years after the band 3 Brix Shy broke up, some of its members talked about getting together to form a new band. The catch: in August of that year, one of the members would be moving away. So the plan was to create a band that would play through that Spring and Summer and break up in August. The blog would follow their adventures and publicize their shows. Unfortunately, the band never got past the planning stages.

Angry Political Blog: Started April 2005. I didn't want to crap up Another Monkey with lots of political seething, but I really needed a place to vent in the aftermath of the disastrous 2004 election. So I created a blog that would just be about politics and anger. And I realized that what Johnny Lydon said is true: anger is an energy. I wrote one post and found myself getting sucked into a self-perpetuating cycle of rage. I never wrote another post there.

NEPA Blogs: Started January 2006. Next to Another Monkey, this is the Big One. I started it as a sort of get-hits-quick scheme: I had a vision of a network of local bloggers, all linking to each other through a central site, with everyone's Google rank going up through the one-to-many / many-to-one relationship. It never happened, mainly because I never really let people in on the plan when I added them. Many of the bloggers added in those early days still might not know that they've been added, unless they're checking their traffic sources. But things really took off when I brought on Gort and Michelle Hryvnak Davies as co-administrators. I knew Gort had connections to the top political blogs in the region, while Michelle was tied into the region itself, and a technology and social media expert.

I almost gave up on NEPA Blogs a while ago. I've told that story before, too. Finding blogs was hard, they had a tendency to spontaneously shut down, and there was really no return on the effort it took to keep the blog going. Michelle changed all that. She revived it, breathed new life into it, got us on Facebook and Twitter and television and radio and in newspapers and magazines. Because of her efforts, NEPA Blogs is still going stronger than ever.

I have a new outlook on this blog. I now see myself as trying to encourage, popularize, and promote blogging in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Many bloggers think they're blogging in a vacuum, that nobody gives a damn what they have to say. I'm trying to show bloggers that they're not alone, that they're part of a bigger community - and not just the virtual, global community of the Blogosphere, but a local community, too, of people they might want to meet and get to know, might actually already know.

That's why I do stuff with NEPA Blogs. I won't presume that I know why Gort or Michelle stick with it - and frankly, I've never asked them. Until now. I'd love to know the reasons why they blog, and why they stay with running NEPA Blogs.

A Blog of Nanticoke: Started July 2007.
Unknown Failure: Started July 2007.
A Monkey in the Garden: Started July 2007
The Magic of Everyday Life: Started...I don't know, around this same time.

These were four "spin-off" blogs. (I thought there was a fifth, "A Monkey Looks at the Stars," but that might never have gotten past the planning stages.) Each would repost items that had originally appeared on Another Monkey, stories respectively about my hometown of Nanticoke, computers, gardening, ...ummm, stuff, and astronomy. The idea was this: with my broad range of content on Another Monkey, the Google Ads that I added in 2007 were becoming hopelessly muddled and unfocused. By creating spinoff blogs that focused on specific topics, I would get a more focused selection of ads targeted specifically at people interested in those topics.

The Magic of Everyday Life was to have been an exception. I always thought that someday I might open a little shop on Main Street in Nanticoke, a junk store of sorts that also sold books, music, gardening supplies, scientific toys, magic tricks, gag items... It hasn't happened, not yet. But this blog was supposed to be a catch-all for reposting posts that might relate to all this stuff. I grabbed it to secure the name. I've never added any posts.

Of all of these, A Blog of Nanticoke is the only one I've really maintained to any extent. Now I'm more likely to write original posts here and link to them on Another Monkey.

I've recently learned that Blogger takes a dim view of blogs that just repost content from other sites, even sites by the same author. To an extent this is understandable, a sort of anti-scraping policy designed to protect creators of original content from having their content scraped and reposted. For my purposes, though, the policy sort-of sucks.

The Virtual Refrigerator: Started September 2008. My nephews, like so many kids, loved to draw, and their visits to their grandmother often resulted in little masterpieces left around the house, to become folded and dog-eared and faded and maybe even destroyed. I decided to try to capture and preserve some of these images by scanning them into a blog. It was a fun project, and I still think it's a good idea, but it was very labor-intensive and time-consuming.

Hot Notes: Started August 2010. A blog created by request. This was going to be an online newsletter for the recently-displaced employees from my company, including me. Unfortunately the group that was supposed to feed me information for this fell apart shortly after I started it, and I ran out of things to post.

NEPA Solar: Started May 2011. An attempt at establishing a perception of subject matter expertise. I had worked in the solar industry in Delaware from March 1990 through August 1991. After I lost my job in the DVD industry - for the second time - I decided to take a stab at breaking into the solar power industry in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Being the region's foremost blogger on solar energy would be a shiny item on a résumé targeted at getting a a job in the industry. This is still a work in progress.

Personal branding blog: Started September 2011. Résumés are just brief summaries of who you are and what you've done. With this blog I wanted to flesh out each line item on my résumé to use as a "for more information..." reference. I don't know if this did any good in my job search.

Blogging 101A: Intro to Blogging (restricted access): Started June 2012. Other people with far fewer years of blogging experience than me have declared themselves "blogging experts." Years ago I thought through a syllabus for a community college introductory course in blogging. An opportunity is coming where I may be asked to present just such a course in a two- to three-hour format. This blog would be the course outline, the materials, and the reference links. To preserve the "exclusivity" of this course - it would be offered as a premium in exchange for donations to a specific cause - I've made the blog restricted. I'll open it up to a small group of people I know once I've fleshed it out a bit, to get feedback from real blogging "experts" whose opinions I respect.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Writers' Collective: Started June 2012. Connected to the same events as the previous blog. This would be a blog for the writers' group I participate in. We have a Facebook page, with all the usual problems with a Facebook page, including the inability of anyone to access it who isn't 1.on Facebook and 2.a part of the group. I created this to be an open blog, directed at our group but readable by anyone who finds it. It may also work in conjunction with something else that's coming down the pike.

So, that's that.  Fourteen blogs, many different answers to the question "Why do you blog?" So how about you? If you are a blogger, why do you blog?


Ashley said...

Wow. I did not realize how many blogs you had going on but they all seem to serve a good purpose.
As for myself, I blog as a way to keep a record of the progress I make with my writing and to share the journey with anyone that wants to follow.

Cheri Sundra said...

I actually started to blog because, when I first became unemployed, a career councilor told me that, as a communications major, I should to show employers that I have the ability to communicate! Plus it’s a sneaky way to hide gaps in unemployment, since you always look like you’ve been doing something…..BUT I starting to think that my subject matter may be working against me with corporate America! ;-) I don’t think they like trespassers....

Stephen Albert said...

To amuse myself, which is the same reason most people blog (truth be told).

Anonymous said...

I didn't want to jump into what seemed like a deep conversation the first time, but since you're still asking..... Advertising. I run a simple blog for a local club. I think it's a little cathartic for myself too, but the posts are mostly links to other material. The goal is purely to get web presence and attention for the club.

Big Dan said...

People's only way to get their thoughts out in print used to be letters to the mailbag of a newspaper. They may or may not print it, they may edit it, they may limit it to one a month.

A blog is like a letter to the mailbag, only you can do it whenever you want, make it as long as you want, put links/pictures/videos in it if you want.

A blog is sort of like a diary of your thoughts.

Everytime I post something on my blog, I think it's the last post. Then I just do one more. Then I think THAT's my last post. Then I do it again.

So, maybe it's like a diary, you just can't stop doing it. I just write whatever strikes my fancy, I don't really have any plan for each post. After each post, I have no idea what the next post is going to be about, or even when I will do it.

Great question, Harold! It causes you to think about why you do it.

Probably, the answer is a lot different per subject. IE: a political blog, or news blog, VS. say a blog about doing crafts or art projects, or sports, etc...

Matt Crowley said...

In about 2005 I was building and selling lamps. I wanted a website to augment my business. At that time it was not really blogging. Later, I re-worked my site to reflect investigations into the arcane subject of Bigfoot's dermal ridges. But there are so many things I'm interested in that I don't like to be confined by one subject. These days I blog about all sorts of things.

David DeCosmo said...

As a guy who observed a thousand things a day (all too many of them negative) during my career as a television journalist, and was phohibited, ethically, from making personal comments, the blog concept seemed attractive to me to continue to write after I "retired," At the same time it allowed me to speak my own mind usually in the form of poking some fun at some of what I saw as well as myself! That's why I blog!

Linkmeister said...

Because! ;) Nah, nah. It started because I was in a Yahoo book club and got into the habit of providing links to current news articles I'd read if they were pertinent to the discussion. A fellow member blogged and I started reading her efforts, thought "I can do this and expand my reach beyond the club" and did so. That was back in 2001, shortly after 9/11. Been at it ever since, partly out of habit and partly because I still think I can provide links and commentary that some few people enjoy. My readership has fallen way off as many of my former readers moved to FB and stopped their own blogs.

Erin L. Delaney said...

I've got quite a few blogs too I'll have to post again to list them all. I love that you've got plans for a course on Blogging. I once gave a presentation in 2005 on blogging to the Wilkes Cr. Writing Program and they moved from the webformat they had to blogging and I believe they still use it today.

Blogging is amazing and gives you an opportunity to write in a format that no other style of writing provides! I see blogging as a form of creative writing while allowing for expansion in all directions be it news information, poetic journalling, or just creating awareness of something that had not been there before. It really exemplifies the niche interests that so many "hipsters" are portrayed as having and as the rest of society are just generally interested in. Its magic!


Bumble said...

I (Bumble) blog for one reason, to make people laugh. My blog started on a lark in 2009 when I realized that it was a great way to tell stories to a larger audience. Ination is purely a hobby but Bumble the main character/editor has a really cool and loyal facebook following. I really can't remember if the blog came before or after the facebook account. In any event, together my cat and I have created a character that is really cherished by a loyal few hundred folks. Whether its a blog post or fb post, the real satisfaction is making people take a twenty second break from reality and chuckle. Nothing is cooler than someone saying, hey I read that and PMSL. :)

Forty Ghosts said...

I blog because I can.

Stephanie said...

I really appreciate this post. I could never really work up the motivation to blog just to.. blog. However, knowing that there are still a lot of community oriented / personal blogs out there is very reassuring.

Fowl Ideas said...

I blog in the vane hope that people will stop blaming violence on the victim.

(Chicken Soup with the Bully Enablers)