I’ve been blogging since 2005. When I started, I wanted to help other people find social action ideas they could be passionate about. I didn’t want people to feel guilty about what they couldn’t do but to find what they could do with joy and excitement.
I started off enthusiastically. I had fun; it’s not everyone who gets to blog about composting toilets. I wrote what I wanted.
I really wasn’t sure if anyone read the blog. There was no Facebook to post to, no Twitter. If there were analytics to keep track of, I didn’t know about them. I just posted and occasionally got a few comments that pleased me.
But over the last year or two, blogging became about a platform. I’d written a book. I was hoping to get it published. I began to receive all sorts of advice via webinars, blog posts and workshops with titles like, “Blogging Your Way to a Book Contract,” or “How to Get a Six-Figure Book Deal from Your Blog,” or “The Imperative of Platform for Authors.”
Everyone had advice on what to write about to “build your platform.” There were experts teaching how to get comments or Facebook likes or shares or Twitter retweets. Others told me how formatting was king and the ways I just had to structure the blog so people would actually read it.
Someone told me that my titles were too cryptic to get readers: Everything needed to follow the “5 Ways to Do Such-and-Such” format. So I altered my clever titles, which had once been my private joy to write. I created post titles that told too-busy readers in a flash what practical advice they would get if they honored me by reading my blog.
And then a year later someone else who had turned a blog into a book taught a seminar and said that you should take as much time coming up with a clever title as you spend writing the whole post. Clever titles tempt people on Facebook and Twitter to click on your link to figure out what it’s all about.
I submitted my book proposal and then had to deal with all those analytics when the powers that be wanted to know how many views I was getting, how many comments, likes, shares. I didn’t really understand the analytics, and when I did get what they were showing, I was discouraged.
The end result was this: blogging became a chore. I thought up ideas but couldn’t bring myself to blog about them. There were just too many musts. The fun, the joy, the interest was gone. The blogs became more infrequent. I forced myself to write one occasionally in case some book agent or publishing house editor happened to check it out.
I contemplated giving it up all together.
And then about a month ago I had a revelation:
It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to.
And so I have. The ideas are back. I’m happy. I’m enjoying writing. And just maybe, you’re enjoying reading.
If not, feel free to move on. Because I’m not changing the blog for you or anyone else. It’s nothing personal, except to me, because, after all, it’s my blog.