"Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thoughts on blogging......

Or....do people even blog anymore???

This has been on my mind a lot lately. It is something I have wanted to post about for a while but life and other stuff just got in the way. Also, I just wasn't too sure how to approach the subject. I don't want to offend anyone. That is never the intention of my blog. But, then I realized, it is my blog. I use it to share my thoughts, my ideas, my whatever. Then I started noticing posts similar to what I have been thinking popping up on some of the blogs I follow. So...I am just going to go for it and put my thoughts out there and hope that people will recognize them as my thoughts and opinions and that they are not meant to offend anyone.

I started blogging in November of 2005. I know...a long time. But I should mention that for most of 2006 and 2007 I was a terrible blogger, sometimes going months without posting a thing. I really started getting back in to it in 2008 and have been going strong since. I started blogging when I discovered other blogs out there about topics I enjoy: crafts, art, papercrafting, decorating, design, photography, baking. I thought, "I can do this!" I love to write. I love to share. I love "meeting" new people. Once I decided in '08 to really commit to blogging a whole new world opened up to me! I found AMAZING blogs full of all of those topics I love PLUS bloggers sharing their lives! It was so REAL! I loved every minute of it! I am enormously proud of my family and I love to show them off. I love where I live and I love to share that with people. I have passion for so many things and being able to share that with others that have a passion for the same subjects is so great. I love to laugh, and there are some freakin hilarious bloggers out there.

But, lately I have noticed a trend in blogging that almost seems to be taking over. Sponsors. PR. Advertising. Insane amounts of giveaways. When did blogs turn in to one big commercial?!? Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge anyone doing what they want to do. And I will admit I have entered, and won, some giveaways. And I have done a few giveaways here on my blog. However, the giveaways I do are not sponsored. I am not getting anything free for doing them. I am purchasing the prizes myself, for fun. It just seems that so many people are not actually blogging anymore. Blogs have somehow turned in to this for-profit entity for so many people, and I don't think that was what blogs were originally intended for.

Frankly, it is boring.

It is also insanely competitive. And clique-ish. Like, high school clique-ish. Recently I read on a favorite blog of mine about a comment she read on another blog, one of those blogs that is like a commerical no doubt. apparently a blog PR company or something like that left a comment with some helpful tips on promoting products on a blog. I guess the owner of the blog took exception that the constructive advice and went off on the commenter. When did bloggers become so high and mighty? Then I read on another blog about some feud between two bloggers. Both of them have pretty big followings and I guess sides were taken by other bloggers and feelings were hurt and who knows what else....it seriously reminded me of high school. Why are bloggers doing this to one another? Shouldn't we support each other instead of getting cutthroat? I think that is one of the biggest problems with all of these blogs going the way of the ads/PR/giveaways. It has made many women compete with one another. Not cool. We as women should be lifting each other up, not cutting each other down.

And this is where Followers come in. I fully admit I have gotten totally caught up in gaining new followers, and I get genuinely excited when I see that someone has chosen to follow my blog. I write for me, of course, but I enjoy having others read, and comment on, what I write. So I have done the whole SITS thing and Friday Follows and such. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few fabulous new blogs I have found, I have been disappointed. SITS is such a great concept, but it leans very heavily towards the whole "mommy blog" phenomena. I don't think I have gained many followers from that, and as far as comments, they haven't been much more than the standard "Stopping by from SITS..." And the other follower events I have taken part in seem to be, for the most part, overrun with PR/ad blogs looking to increase their numbers to in turn increase their PR/ad revenue. I am grateful to these for introducing me to some wonderful new blogs I may not have otherwise found, but mostly I have felt like people are following me so I will follow them and bump up their numbers. I have no interest in that. I want to read REAL blogs about real topics. I want to learn and grow and be made to think. I don't care what the latest and greatest diaper is. Or window cleaner. Or sex toy!

I want to read blogs of substance. I want that glimpse in to people's lives. I am interested. I want to learn and grow and be challenged by what I read. I want to walk away from a blog post that I have read and think. I have developed some great friendships with fellow bloggers and I want to continue to be able to do that. And I want you to enjoy what I write, too. I want to hear from you. And I will reciprocate!

With all this said, I leave you with a list of what I have learned about blogging over the years with thanks to my blog friend Sandy for giving me permission to copy her! :-) She must be a trend-setter because I have seen several of these lists popping up on blogs lately!

1.) I have learned that I can't stand word verification! It is a pain in the butt, especially for someone like me who is half-blind! I don't use it and I pretty much never get spam, and if I do I just delete it.

2.) Ummm, in case you missed it ;-) I learned that I don't like blogs that are one big commercial.

3.) I really enjoy reading posts that either make me think, make me laugh, or make me learn. I love posts that are personal and real. I love seeing how you all decorate your homes! I love learning new craft projects! I love to read about your travels! I love new baking recipes! And I love love LOVE photos!!!!!
I don't enjoy drama, so please, save the drama for your mama!

4.) I do love welcoming new followers! And I love finding new blogs to follow! But please follow me because you want to, not because you need to bump your numbers to increase your sponsorships. 

5.) I learned that you can make AMAZING friends in blogland, even without meeting in person. I have "met" some wonderful people through blogging that I probably would not have met otherwise (Alicia, Jodi, NikkiMary, Bibi, Melissa, Cheryl, KathyCarma, and many others!) and especially my great friend Christa, whom I am not only lucky enough to call a blogging buddy but she lives nearby and now we hang out all the time. And our husband's get along great, too...bonus!

6.) This is another one I learned from Sandy because it was something that I, unknowingly, was guilty of. It would be so great if everyone had their email address attached to their blog. I love when I can reply to a comment. Sandy pointed out that I had mine set up as a "no reply commenter." I never even realized! I love it now that I get replies to comments I leave on other blogs and I want to be able to do the same!


2busy said...

I so agree with you! Amen sister! My numbers have increased dramatically recently due to SITS and the Friday Follow thing...but, really is it because they like my blog and the things I say or is it because it is a number thing. Now, I feel all clammed up in the blogging department. I'm just not sure what to share anymore. Taking a hiatus from my regular posting, but certainly still out here reading.

Melissa Miller said...

Kristen you are so awesome and I agree with *everything* you said here. My LL giveaway was the only sponsored giveaway I have done and you won it. He! Did you get your necklace and like it? I have been asked by many others to advertise or hold a giveaway and have turned them all down except hers. I am so NOT interested in turning my blog into one big cold feeling commercial.

I stuggle with the follower thing. I simply cannot follow all who follow me. I thought I had to when I first started blogging. ~Whew! I now only follow my friends or the blogs I am really interested in.

Love ya girl. Have a great day!
~Warmly, ~Melissa :)

Aunt of 14 said...

Hiya!! :)

I totally hear you on that commercial blogging. It drives me crazy too. I try not to "follow" anyone who only does sponsoring or ads or giveaways an nothing else. I'm like you-- I am interested in PEOPLE... I love it when I get a glimpse into someone's personal life. Which is why I need you to kick Christa in the ass since she has stopped blogging. You're physically closer to her in proximity than I am so, get to kicking!!! *ahem*

I love photos also, and I don't like taking sides for any one blogger. You saw my recent post when someone tried to sabotage another blogger on MY blog and I blew a gasket? Yeah. I don't like that kind of stuff, so no anonymous comments anymore. My blog is my territory, and I like it the way it is.

Unless somebody points out something I need to change. :)

Aunt of 14 said...

Oh! Another thing! I also don't do giveaways to get free stuff from a sponsor either. I buy them myself and give it away that way. It is so much more fulfilling. I did get contacted by a company to do a giveaway, and I agreed, but I wanted to do a product review FIRST, so I could see how they operated... they agreed. Then they never sent me the product to review. Thank goodness I didn't do a giveaway because if somebody had won and never received their prize??? That would make ME look bad!

Beth P. said...

Oh boy do I agree! I have been growing my blog but I ONLY follow blogs I like to read and I only expect that from my followers! I didn't even want to participate in Friday Follow because to me the basis of that is to just click on as many blogs as possible! That isn't what I want - I want followers who WANT to read my content!

I went through my reader two weeks ago and got rid of all those "commercial" blogs you are talking about. I don't need to keep up with their 18 posts a day! Its crazy. It is sad, too, because some of my favorite bloggers have gone that route.

I have done a couple give-aways, but my blog is mine, about my life, and for me, so I keep it minimal.

Clearly this has been weighing heavily on your shoulders - I hope getting it out there has helped! You are very right and you aren't alone in your feelings!

Carol said...

Oh, how I hate all those damn ads! I haven't been keeping up with the PW drama...and my blog friend mentioned it...and frankly, I don't care nor have time to read it all! I wasn't popular in high school...so I'm not gonna try hard here...I signed up to blogger so I could comment on my friends blogs to be honest! I'm on board with ya sista...all the way!

she dreams big! said...

Bravo! All the things I thought but was afraid to say outloud! As a small time blogger I am thrilled when someone comments or becomes a follower (and I just lost one ... WHY? WHY?). But those that stay with me are loyal. I enter those homemade giveaways, they are the best, but I absolutely HATE it when I have to become a follower for a chance to win! Thanks for being brave and saying what we all would like to say.

Ms Bibi said...

First, I am so touched and blessed by being your friend.

Second, fantastic post and you said everything I've been thinking for few weeks now.

I do have a giveaway on my blog. I was very excited when they contacted me and instead of doing review and getting the free product myself I chose to get a product for my readers. I did it to thank my old readers and to gain new followers.

I will not become giveaway blog because I don't really like those. There is no interaction just STUFF.

My personal blog is my personal blog and that will never change.

I do have a blog/site that I am trying to make a business out of and have an income from it, but that has nothing to do with my blog.I do use my blog to bring some people to my site, but that's just a bonus and will never reflect what I write.

I have almost 300 followers yet I average 20 comments per post.Most of these followers came from Friday Follow and they follow only because they wanted me to follow. I think that is wrong. If they didn't like my blog and knew that they will not come over they should have the decency not to follow me.It's a waste of my time.

I am so sorry about this long comment, but your post really touched a nerve.

Danielle said...

I am still new to the blogging, not new to writing my thoughts but new to having more than my bf/siblings reading it.

I totally agree about the SITS thing,, I love reading new blogs but I feel like everyone is a mommyblog about their kids, and for the most part I love seeing cute kid pics and hearing cute kid stories, but I"m not there yet and I'm looking for more people 'in my world', working it out ya know?

I'm sorry I'm a word verification-er but its only because my last few 'journals' got a ton of spam and a lot of mean comments, and as rude as it is to say,, while I will reply to you via email, if your comment is hateful I'll probably not let it be posted. Maybe thats why I only have 20 followers cuz of the 'wait till its approved or word verification.'

But here is what I did decide...

while I don't have 5000 followers,, the ones i have love to comment and are insightful and kind and awesome so I'd rather 20 of those than 5000 of generics. Of course ask me again if I ever get 5k :)

Jessica said...

Touche girl!
My thoughts exactly :)
Someone needs to let everyone know this- wish Bloger would forward this to every single blogger ha.

New England Girl said...

Girl, I am SO right there with you! The competition, the endless giveaways, the same posts every day of the week... it's all so tiring and so artificial. I am guilty of participating in some, so I am definitely not preaching or judging, but I also find - like you - that I truly enjoy reading blogs -again, like yours!!!- that are genuine and random and spontaneous and fun. They bring so much joy to my life to sit down and read about beautiful people's lives. I enjoy learning about people, not visiting their blog and seeing what good they are giving away.

And I especially like ranting and raving and offensive, if not rude, posts -- which you pull off beautifully. :) You made such a concise and true point here - much better than I could have!! People focus way too much on the numbers [guilty as charged occasionally], but I like reading posts like this and being reminded of what blogging is all about.

I have been approached a couple of times via email about promoting products on my blog. Hello, trash can. No offense to those offering me a little spot in the sunshine, but I just want to blog to write and share and connect. I don't need to push this or that, nor do I have the patience or time to keep up on things efficiently enough.

What IS important to me about blogging, is meeting AMAZING people like yourself and being afforded the privilege of getting to know you and your family in a sincere and close way. You have brought me so much joy through our friendship and I am thankful to blogging everyday for our long emails, blog comments and facebook exchanges. I hope someday we'll get to meet in person and share our love of New England, the fall, Yankee Candle, GBP and so so much more. :D :D

Love you, lady!! xoxoxox.

carma said...

I want to jump up and down screaming Bravo!!! I have been trying to limit sponsored giveaways on my blog for this exact reason.

Slice of life blogs are quickly becoming extinct, which is sad...

I have also stopped seeking new followers. If someone follows my blog because they are truly interested in what I have to say and is ready to get involved, that is the type of follower I want to attract.

I recently (shhhhhh) went through my reader and deleted a ton of blogs that I was following out of guilt because they were following me, when I had absolutely zero interest in their blogs. I'd rather concentrate on reading blogs like your's that interest me - and those of others who have also interacted and have become part of my "blog family."

If my number of followers stays the same or drops, so be it...

Will I attract many advertisers with this strategy, probably not, which is a shame because blogs with followers who visit daily are the exact type of blog advertisers should be focusing on - not those who have visitors who only stop by when there is a giveaway.

carma said...

I swear I should do all my thinking at once; wanted to add that I smiled when I saw my 'lil ole name :D

carma said...

You have me thinking I should go to "comment approval" vs. word verifi. Unfortunately I was getting so much spam I had to put it back on. Do you find you get a lot of spam comments??

Tina ~ Blessings Friends. said...

This is a great post, Kristen. Very true and well said. It goes back to the popular thing as apposed to just being who you are and liking what you like.

Low Expectations said...

You seriously took the words right out of my head! I have been thinking a lot of these things lately as well. I have actually taken a step back from blogging because of it all and also because of some personal things I am sifting through.

I recently went through and slimmed my 265 blogs from google reader down to 145 blogs. Those 145 blogs I love and can't get enough of. I hate the blogs that are all about giveaways and reviews, because like you, I want to read about their lives and learn something, or have a good laugh.

I am so glad you've taken the time to write this and share, and it looks like a lot of others appreciate this as well!

Shore Debris said...

You have a great post here - and some good commenters :)

I've had to step back from blogging a bit, stopped doing the SITS thing entirely, etc, just because way too much is going on in my life and I feel like I can't keep up. I was so obsessed with the followers in the beginning, that blogging became a chore. Recently I have gotten to where I don't particularly care about the numbers and have been writing what's fun for me. I just need to find a way to make a single day 40 hours long and then I can keep up with life :)

Thank you for the tips on the "no-reply commenter" and about word verification... I think I'll be removing the word thing from mine because you made me think how annoyed I get with some blogs when I really want to leave a comment, but can't manage to see the letters (and if you type it wrong, I swear it comes back even harder to see!)

Christa said...

I totally agree with you!! I love reading about everyones life and times and get bored with all the other stuff..when it is done all the time. A giveaway is ok here and there but not all the time...also I think it makes the giveaways more special when you buy the prize instead of having sponsors send them...

And you won't have to kick my a**...LOL...I will start blogging more!

Christina said...

I am stopping by from "Low Expectations" (love her!) and just wanted to say that I totally understand. Totally.
My blog is mostly about my life with my sweet baby girls, but you can stop by and say hi anytime. :)

Alicia said...

AMEN SISTER!!! i'm so with you!! while i'm guilty of doing some of those things, i've come to realize what works for ME. i've definitely taken a step back and realized what i do and don't want to be a part of...and i totally commend you for writing this. i love that you spoke your mind and just put it out there!! big hugs to you lady!!

Kimberly said...

I have written about this too.

I so agree. I give away from artists that are giving away their itmes. I have bought things from them, and either they ask me or I ask them if they would like to give something away to one of my followers. I do it once a month.

I am sure I have word verification, and I hate it too on other sites. Maybe I should change it.

I don't like these nothing but commercial blogs...How is it even a blog? I want to know about the person. I do have a business blog, but I really don't even promote it. I really love my two blogs one about my life, and the other about art of the sun.

I dropped out of froggy blog or something to that effect...it was so like High School. There was no "support" that I felt. SITS...I liked for a while, but I have not seen one person come by from SitS in a very long time. FF...I have had so many people join and then leave. I think they wanted me to follow and left once I followed them.

I comment to those that do the same. I also randomly pick some I have not seen in a while and visit to say hi. We all have lives, and they may have got lost in the shuffle of living.

Real life is more important. I have children and a husband and 4 dogs and a business. My blogging time is precious, so I have to use it in the wisest way.

Have a great one! Hope to see you around more often...I will do the same.

Sandy said...

Kristen--Wow! Thanks for giving me more credit than I deserve. What a well-written, well thought out post. Another example of exactly why I enjoy your blog/writing.

Thank you for the mention but let me give credit where credit is due also. My post about many, many of these same issues was motivated by Pam of Pam's Perspective. She's at pamsperspective(at)blogspot(dot)com.

But as you can tell from all your comments (and those I received) we are not alone in our feelings about why we post and what many others blogs have become.

That said, Pam and I are discussing developing a SITS-style blog for people like us. Like you mentioned, I don't always enjoy or relate to mommy bloggers. No offense! Just my opinion. But I have found so many thoughtful, interesting blogs out there that I'm pretty sure share our thoughts that Pam and I would like to begin and develop our own 'Tribe.'

But today my goal is to reach out to each and every commenter here, many of you I'm already familiar with, and share our thoughts.

Karen said...

Kristen- Once again you said it perfectly! This is exactly why I love and read your blog! You inspire me through your love of family and life in general. I honestly look forward to your blog updates because I know I will get something special out of it! I have taken up photography again and have been inspired to take a few scrap book classes which I love! I love your home, love your recipes, love that you share your family with us. You also have a knack for writing without offending- hard to do these days! - Karen

Deer Camp Diva said...

I miss the intimacy between the blogger and their stalkers. It has seemed to me that when some of the blogs I love to follow reached 100's of followers their blogs changed - they became less intimate and they lose the character that lured me to them in the first place.

Don't get me wrong tho - congrats to the blogs out there who have hit the big time and are raking in the dough. But seriously, are there are bands of blogger bitches engaging in bloggy back biting, really?!?!? Get over yourselves!

Can I just throw this in there... I'm turned off from blogs that have 10 bazillion things on them - 25 blinkies, widgets out the ass, 10 slide shows, 3 music players, 7 you tube videos, etc - my computer wasn't built by NASA ya know - it won't load all of that crap - besides that, my eyes never know where to go. It is just too much.

sheila said...

I agree with everything, every point you made here. I got virtually paddled on a blog recently, yup, drama.

Terri and Bob said...

You know I am private now but I have decided to go public again. Why?? I have missed making new friends and being able to have conversations with the people I have met. I will not go commercial, no need to, and like you, just want to get to know the humans behind the blog. Great post!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

I tend to agree with you. I stop reading a blog quickly when I realize it's 90% ads. That's just not what I blog for.
Another thing I hate is a comment JUST saying "stopping by from ...."
Don't bother, thanks anyway!

Jodi said...

I could not have said this better myself Kristen! You wrote this beautifully. I too, like you, enjoy fun blogs, I don't like commercial blogs. Once I realize it is one, I stop reading/following it.

I hate word verification too!

Thank you so much for the shout-out! You are awesome! I'm so blessed to have found you too!

I am going to look you up on Facebook now that I see you have a badge. Yay!!!! :)