There’s a lot of things they don’t tell you about blogging. Even on blogs. And especially not on those oh-so-helpful blogs about: how to start a blog; whether or not you should start one; and what you need to do to build an audience.
They may tell you (although probably not) that blogging is tough. It takes a lot of time, and it takes commitment. Not only must you write regularly, but you must also take the time to read and post on other blogs. Any fool can start a blog, but it takes a mighty dedicated fool to keep one going. They most likely won’t tell you that, sometimes, blogging hurts. Sometimes it can break your heart.
Unless you are writing a review blog, or one that focuses on current events, chances are, the posts you write are going to be very personal. If they’re not, there’s less chance that they will resonate with anyone. In my experience, the times when I was the most humiliated, the most terrified, and the most depressed at the state of the world were the times when I got the greatest response, the most thoughtful feedback. So, you’re putting your heart on this screen every single day, and what then?
You probably started keeping a blog for yourself. You didn’t care about attracting readers…in the beginning. Maybe your husband and your dog read it and enjoyed it, and that was enough. But once you start attracting an audience, a funny thing happens…you start caring about what they think, and what they want. And if your audience starts waning, you desperately want to know why. You want to know why other people can post a recipe that isn’t even original a few times a year and get a hundred comments in return. You think, “WTF?”
And then, there’s the trolls. I knew all about Internet trolls, but the thing they don’t tell you is how personal troll attacks can be. It’s not “you’re ugly and your blog sux”. It’s a deeply personal attack that can make you question if you should even be blogging in the first place. It taps into your greatest fears about your blog: do I have anything meaningful to say? What right do I have to say anything at all? Am I boring everyone? And if you don’t have commentary from the people who love your blog, who enjoy it, and who want you to keep going, it can be very tempting to just delete the whole thing, forget it like a bad dream.
I can’t speak for all bloggers (and I’m not trying to), but if I post about something that was embarrassing or otherwise not a great moment in my life (like drinking so much water for my new training regime that I constantly had to pee at work–yes, I blogged about peeing! Gasp!), it’s because I hope that there’s someone out there who’s been there. Or who is going through the same thing right now. Or, people like one of my co-workers, who emailed that she wants to drink more water but was wondering “how the heck am I supposed to carry on with the rest of my day when I’m running to the bathroom every 20 minutes?” See, you never know what will resonate with people. That’s why we have to put it out there.
Not every blog will resonate with every person. And there will always be trolls who are too chicken shit to spread their hatred face to face, so they hide behind the ever handy “Anonymous”. There will always be dangers inherent with putting your heart on the Internet where anyone can stomp on it. But you know what makes it worth it?
You. We may be telling our own stories, but we’re hoping you like them. That they mean something to you. That you read them, and if they make you smile, laugh, cry, or think “wow! I feel the same way,” you’ll let us know. You don’t have to comment on my blog. I’m not even sure that I will have a blog much longer. But please, if you like another blog, let the writer know. Post a comment, or like a link, or just show up to read it. Send them an email. Put it on your Twitter feed. If you really like it, recommend it to others, or become a follower. Don’t leave us at the mercy of trolls and the people who are only here because of our photos. It’s like that drive-in movie theatre that everybody “loved”, but nobody went to. You know what? It went bankrupt. You may love that book store, or that restaurant, but if you never show up to support them, they might close, too. It happens all the time, and then you hear the cries of, “but I loved that place! I was planning to go next week….” Try to go today, before it closes.
Because, trust me, it’s lonely enough out here. And another thing they don’t tell you is, sometimes blogging sucks.