Jul 29, 2012

Eight Reasons Why I Still Suck At Blogging

At some point around this time of year, www.girlclumsy.com celebrates its birthday. 2012 marks eight years of fairly continual blogging at this address. EIGHT YEARS.

I typed "Birthday" into a free stock photo website.
I swear this is what came up.

Every so often, I trawl around the blog-o-sphere and have a look at what else is happening, and what blogging advice is out there. You see, while my blog is comparatively old, at least in Australian terms, it turns out that the most powerful and influential blogs are generally less than five years old. Somehow these blogging whippersnappers have come in and whippersnipped my lawn - before I got a chance to cut the grass and live fat off the land first.

The metaphor may be long and confusing, but the point is clear.

I have been blogging for eight years. And yet, I still suck at it. And to celebrate my anniversary, here are eight reasons why.


1. I do not have children.

The biggest bloggers all seem to be parents; generally women. It's cool, it's totally cool, I get that blogging is a fantastic outlet for mothers, a great way to keep connected, share stories and even make money. I am a feminist and value your personal choices. That sounds sarcastic, I know, but I do mean it. However, this means it's difficult for me to join that conversation. The fact that I don't have children disqualifies me from any discussion about child-rearing, no matter how many times I might point out that I was once a child who was parented. I get that I do not understand the love a parent feels for their child, no matter how many times I might point out that I've seen how upset my mother gets if I even stub a toe. I did recently blog about something emerging from my body, but for some reason a colonoscopy doesn't cut it next to a baby. WHO KNEW.

2. I don't make anything/cook anything/photograph anything/style anything/advise anyone.

I am completely and utterly void of internet-appropriate talent. I have nothing of originality to offer the greater digital audience. All I have are half-baked ideas and concepts; washed down with a pinch of sass and OCCASIONAL OVERUSE OF CAPS. I have no expertise in anything. According to the experts, blogging is supposed to be about finding your "niche" and targeting an audience that is interested in that niche. My niche turns out to be a large-ish, Girl Clumsy-shaped hole in a small corner of the lounge room that is the world wide web. I know they say it's a "long tail", but this is ridiculous.

3. I don't write enough about my Emotions and Feelings.
I typed "Emotions" into a free stock photo website.
I swear this is what came up.
I read this quote recently: "Write content that will make others break down in tears." Jesus O'Christ, can you imagine me doing that? I already struggle to get any readers for posts that are about personal activities. Anything I write about my theatre work gets bugger all of a response. So I can hardly imagine how I'd become more popular or influential by writing MORE about being tired from hard work; or experiencing worry about a theatre show not going as well as I'd like it; or feeling self-congratulatory because something I did paid off. You know why? I am a white, middle-class, well-educated first world resident. I have no disability. I have no horror stories. I am held aloft in a fluffy white cloud of privilege by the fragrant updraft of born lucky.

(In case it needed to be said, I am not passing judgement on bloggers who do write about their personal stories of hardship. I read and admire many such blogs. The reason I do not write about my own is because they really do pale into insignificance).

4. I don't do guest posts on other blogs.

Frankly, nobody's asked me, and I haven't asked anybody. What would I say? "Hey, popular fashion/lifestyle/parenting/fitness/photography blogger, you know what you need? A guest post about the time I went through two different KFC drive-thrus on the one half hour trip!" Sure, the issue of Snack Boxes not being fulfilling is one to canvass, but I'm pretty sure no other blog wants to hand me the easel.

5. I do not have enough social media networks.

I have Twitter. I have Facebook. I have Instagram on my iPhone, and I use it occasionally so I can put a filter on a picture and feel artistic. I got an invite to Pinterest, signed up, tried to set up a "pinboard" or whatever, the whole thing collapsed, and I gave up on the spot. I have not been able to summon the merest fraction of energy required to go back into the damn thing and work out how to become a "pinner". Which is apparently what I need to do to become a successful blogger, because it's now the most popular site driving traffic to blogs and rah-rah-rah GOD DAMNIT HOW DO YOU BLOGGERS KEEP THIS UP IT'S EXHAUSTING.

6. I have never read nor written an "eBook".

Apparently as bloggers you're supposed to write eBooks. Or at the very least, read other bloggers' eBooks, often about blogging. Is it just me, or does blogging seem to be turning into a giant pyramid scheme? You write an eBook that tells buyers how they can make money by writing an eBook.

7. I have not attended a blogging conference.

At the end of June there was a one-day blogging conference in Sydney. I thought about flying down, meeting some people, making contacts, finally learning what the hell "SEO" stands for, and why I'm supposed to be using it. In the end, I couldn't make it work time and cost-wise. Everyone who's ever been to a blogging conference says you have to go. But I'm so behind the eight-ball already. I mean, there's at least 17 different eBooks I'd need to read before I went. And then I'd have to try to explain who I am, and what I write about, and sum it up in a catchy way.... which leads me to...

8. I do not have a proper "brand".

This neatly wraps up all of the above points. I'm Girl Clumsy. That's not a good brand. No one wants to be associated with clumsiness. Unless Band-Aids or ElastoPlast get involved, a quest to "monetise" Girl Clumsy would be about as effective as trying to polish crystal with a pork sandwich. But as a brand, even a crappy one, I'm supposed to write for my readers, and keep in mind what they would like to read about.

Really?

In that case, PLEASE tell me what you'd like to read about. I struggle for ideas sometimes. I don't know what people like, but I'm happy to try any suggestions. Even kinky ones. Maybe I could crank out the next 50 Shades of Grey?

At the end of the day, I blog because I like to write, and I hate to write, so I make myself write publicly to hopefully get feedback to remind me that I do in fact like to write. Convoluted? Sure. It doesn't always work - this year has seen me lose a friend due, in part, to a blog post - but generally I like to throw things up and see if any of 'em stick. Sometimes I'm even proud of things I write.

However I realise this laissez-faire, scatter-gun approach is NOT good for brand-building. I can't hope to ever make money out of this thing. All these words, words, words - I'm pretty sure eight years' worth would equate to several eBooks - but no moola.

And I'm starting to think it really is too late. I missed the blogging train in 2009/2010, which seems to be when I should've really started shovelling coal into the engine. I guess I'm a little bitter. I started blogging in an era where you didn't seem to have to have an audience, a readership, targeted demographics and media kits. You could just write about what you wanted and if you were entertaining enough, people would hopefully come back and read your stuff.

Now with the much-trumpeted death of traditional media in sniffing distance, blogging is becoming the new mainstream. It's learning from its predecessors' mistakes and honing in on what grabs and keeps readers, and more importantly, how to make money from those statistics.

Maybe I'm more than bitter. Maybe I'm a bit frustrated. Maybe I'm quite envious. Maybe I'm even getting... ANGRY.

But on the plus side, at least I've written a blog about my Emotions and Feelings. eBook format to follow.

I typed "eBook" into a free stock photo website.
I swear this is what came up.

16 comments:

  1. "2. I don't make anything/cook anything/photograph anything/style anything/advise anyone."
    Bullshit.
    As a member of an award winning Improv team, a director and an award winning playwright - you think you have no talent & nothing to say? Slap yourself silly for that,

    "blogging is supposed to be about finding your "niche" and targeting an audience"
    What crap. Maybe if you are trying to monetise a blog about transformer toys staying in a niche would be essential.

    "I'm supposed to write for my readers,"
    Fk that write for yourself. Blogging was never going to make money except for a few elite & the readership follows and inverse power law.
    Note this post from 2005
    http://www.sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/000745.html

    PS: are we still getting a MMD? Or will the Riverside Expressway take precedence

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  2. Just write what you want. Is it that important to you to have a vast audience? Did you get into this to make your emillions or just enjoy yourself?

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  3. You're very kind TQFT - I hope my tongue is seen to be in my cheek for the most part.

    It's kind of you to think I have some expertise, but in all honesty sometimes I still feel totally in the dark when it comes to things like directing, acting, helping to run a creative organisation...I'd be loathe to label myself an expert because everything I know is just trial and error, which sometimes works and often doesn't!

    Monday Music Duel will of course go up at some point today - although I am finding it a bit difficult to pinpoint today's song. I think all of my options are a bit lame. I imagine my taste will be called into question again. :)

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  4. Now I have had coffee I can see the tongue in cheek.

    I woke up at about 3.30am after falling asleep at 8.30pm or so as the wife was watching the swimming. And then I see you bagging yourself without the aid of coffee so of course I got all ranty.

    Still most people are too busy or lazy to do half the things you do, let alone talented enough to pull them off with some success.

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  5. You claim "I am completely and utterly void of internet-appropriate talent. I have nothing of originality to offer the greater digital audience."

    tqft has already answered that to some extent. Your originality is not only (as you say later) that you like to write, but that you write VERY WELL - yes, more overloaded use of caps, but it's true.

    Your blog is readable because it's always exceptionally well written, and reveals more of your skill and personality than you seem to think.

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  6. "a colonoscopy doesn't cut" well I should hope not that would be extremely messy. Kinda like Children.

    "OCCASIONAL OVERUSE OF CAPS", oh you are but an amateur cougHAVOC.

    Eight years have flown by, and one of the reasons is that I could spend the time far too occasionally reading your wonderfully entertaining posts.

    I really enjoyed your round up of your Game of thrones watching, and you watching/reviewing videos experience also stands out. The challenges you through out like 30 before 30 were a highlight. Keep doing that sort of stuff. Although those are what stand out in my mind this morning, I can't recall a single post of yours where I thought 'meh'.

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  7. >write an ebook

    This is why you need to get cracking on the second chapter of 'Tropical Vampires'.

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  8. I think this should be titled '8 reasons why other bloggers suck'

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  9. I've decided to rebrand the World of Bollocks as 'The world's worst mommy blog'. In other news, who gives a crap whether you're the Next Big Thing as long as you're having fun?

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  10. 1-3, 8: "I haven't found a niche that is well defined yet popular".

    4: How often do you comment on other blogs? Are they blogs about things about which you'd like to write? You have blogged professionally with the Brisbane Times as a guest blogger. 30 Before 30 was a brilliant project.

    5: Pinterest is awful. If you want to hang out on a site that is dedicated to "thinspiration" nonsense, bible quotes, photos of home decoration that no one can afford and the occasional piece of food p*rn, so be it. I found it wasn't too my taste. Tumblr, on the other hand, is far more interesting and has put me in touch with people who write about things I'm interested in but don't feel like I could write about.

    6: Do people read amateur eBooks? I don't think anyone can expect to make money out of blogging except for being hired by a media company to write or by building up an independent media company that survives through subscription and donations (Crikey, New Matilda). Or ads. Don't do ads.

    7: Get work to pay for your attendance as professional development.

    8: One of my favourite bloggers is a French statistician. His blog is built around the following themes:
    * his research
    * solving the Le Monde puzzle computationally
    * pictures he takes on his way to work
    * talking about whatever city he happens to be in
    * book reviews

    A bit scatter-gun, if you ask me, although he's a big enough personality (within the field) that I'll read whatever he writes about (and his website's theme is jarring to the eye).

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  11. Everyone above has pretty much covered the answers I could give. Write what you know, and you do that well. For all the responses you'll get to a post, know there are a tonne of others who read; smile, nod and go on to the next blog. I'd rather read blogs I enjoy than those trying to monetise themselves.

    ...

    Ew.

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  12. Hey guys,

    Thanks for all your comments. It's nice to hear people enjoy what I write, even if it is a bit random, scattered and unfocused.

    To be perfectly honest, I WOULD like to make more money from writing. It's unlikely my fortune will ever be made through blogging, but sometimes I think about all this energy I put into writing and think - if it is the one half-decent skill I have (as some of you have suggested), surely it's not unreasonable to try to make some money from it.

    Whether that's through blogging, or more paid commissions somewhere else, I don't know. I should put more time and effort into myself. I think that's where the frustration lies - I know I should be doing something, but I'm not sure exactly what or how, and that's perplexing.

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  13. Hey Natalie,

    There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money from blogging - you're good at it, and you put a lot of effort into it, so why shouldn't you be fiscally rewarded? Especially when there are probably 100 not-so-good-at-it and not-putting-as-much-effort-into-it 'earning' bloggers out there for every one of you. Alas, as someone wise once said to me, "The world not fair, Raquel, and the sooner you accept that, the happier you'll be." (Come to think of it, there was a similar sentiment in The Princess Bride, which means it must be true).

    I wish I had a solution for you, because you are That Good that you ought to be rewarded. The only thing that comes to mind is when Francis Whiting, a columnist with The Courier Mail, published a book of her columns. It was great - although, on further rumination, she already had a profile, and someone was willing to publish her. OK, scratch that.

    Perhaps all you can do take comfort from the fact that those who do read you, love you for your irreverent, random, funny and (importantly!) grammatically-correct writing. You can be the Seinfeld of bloggers - and who wouldn't want to be that?

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  14. Haha, I've had you saved to my reading list for a good...2? 3 years? And whenever I can spare a minute from my wish I was popular life, I read whatever your most recent post is, and honestly, I find your blog quite entertaining.
    Personally, I've been blogging about 3 years, and every time i start a blog, I usually soon thereafter run out of time to write continual posts and abandon the idea. Well I started a new one not long ago and I'm hoping to keep it up, but I fall into the same list of reasons you gave for not being popular, that, and up until recently very little of my personal life is of any entertainment to anyone lol. But if any of my blogs ever become as well-off as yours, I'll certainly consider myself an accomplished blogger.

    Regards,
    A Would Be Blogger, and Fan

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  15. Great sense of humor though...I greatly admire your reasons for blogging...too me those were not only funny but also bit realistic ones...carry on blogging

    essay

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