Monday, March 10, 2014

Musings on Blogging I


The quote at the top of this post is a great Groucho Marx line that, in a way, begins to sum up what many of us feel about blogging.  Despite all of our talk about the wonderful community that we've found in the blog world - which I don't doubt for a second is sincere - it seems we generally view the identity of "blogger" quite ambivalently.

I have to admit I'm comforted to not be the only one who feels this way.  When I asked you what it meant to identify as a blogger, the same themes were repeated throughout your answers.  Most touched on certain financial and/or professional gains of blogging as a prerequisite for using "blogger" as a title; Paige noted that "when somebody says they're a Blogger with a capital B, I think 'small business owner.'"  However, Alyssa came at it from a different angle, suggesting, "I can see how people whose main job is to write blog posts would call themselves a blogger, but even then I don't think that's accurate. If you run a site and your job is writing blog posts, you are a writer. And even then depending on what you're blogging about, you're probably more than that. For example, if you're an interior designer and you blog about how to decorate a home, your main identity (career/talent wise) is probably an interior designer. You write on that topic to share your knowledge, but you're more than that."  To be totally honest, if someone introduced herself to me as a blogger, with that descriptor coming before all others, I'd assume that she was making decent money and deriving professional fulfillment from her blog - and I'd think she was selling herself a bit short by using that job title.

That's ironic because I think many of you would describe me as a blogger.  But I don't identify as one.  Over half of you who filled out my form don't, either, even though you blog, too, and I read more than a dozen variations on comments like these:
I don't normally identify myself as a blogger. I more often say, "I have a blog" which feels a bit more removed, I suppose. - Emily
I don't call myself a blogger.  Instead, I'll say that I write a blog.  I'm not sure why there's such a distinction between those two phrases, but for me, it's a large enough distinction that I make sure people don't think I refer to myself as a blogger.  "Blogger," to me, means that people should know you, be aware of you and your blog.  Saying "I write a blog" allows me to call my blog what it is to me - a hobby. - Erin
Even though I HAVE a blog, I don't identify as a blogger. I'm not even sure if I can accurately explain myself as to why I don't... I just write when I want to write, and I honestly just like to connect with new people. But I don't feel obligated to post. - Kate 
I don't really identify myself as a blogger, even though I do. I suppose it's because I don't take myself very seriously about what I post and do so when I feel like I have something to say. - Kristen 
I don't really identify as a "blogger" in the sense that it is something I do even full or part time. I started a blog recently only because I have a lot of thoughts and ideas I want to share with whomever might be willing to read them, but I'm not always consistent with that. - Jess 
To me, a blogger is somebody who seems more committed to blogging than I am. - Erica
Those last ones came up a lot, actually.  Many of us seem to feel that we shouldn't identify as bloggers because we don't spend enough time on our blogs, we don't have a strategy for our blogging, and we don't consistently direct energy towards our blogs.  The thing I'm wondering, though, is if we need to do all those things to have fulfilling blogging relationships not just as readers of other blogs but as bloggers ourselves?  I don't think so - and, based on a study of my favorite blogs and your answers to these questions, you don't necessarily either.

Many of you admitted that you felt you were being judgmental when answering my first question, which I totally understand.  But I was so encouraged to read qualifiers like this one from Emily: "I think the assumption is that bloggers are unapproachable, better-than and narcissistic... but I love blogging and I love that I have connected with some people who seem like real, authentic, "we could actually be friends" kind of people."
My personal definition includes community-builder, because that's critical to my own enjoyment of other blogs and spaces - Alicia
I would probably imagine the blogger to be someone who enjoys writing and is motivated to find a creative outlet in which to share their thoughts, work and/or engage others. - Anonymous 
It's looking at your world with a critical eye and communicating your perspective on a topic or variety of topics, depending on your blog. I feel that a true blogger gives their opinion on a subject however unpopular it might be. - Kendall
It also means that I am a member of a community of like-minded people online (and off). - Rachel
Along those lines, the determined optimism in your responses was amazing.  It seems like even though "blogger" doesn't always have positive connotations - and there were some totally valid comments about the frustrating trends that sweep through and the cliques that we bump up against - we agree that we don't have to let the way others blog and the community that they create define our blogs and our blogging worlds.  In fact, I get the feeling that most of us don't, at an essential level.  From your responses, I get the feeling that we talk a lot about our frustrations with blogging but, if push came to shove, we'd pretty easily explain why we blog and what we love about blogging even if we still wouldn't identify as bloggers.

I'm nearing the end of this post and I want to leave you with some earthshattering revelation, but, like I said when I recorded my vlog the other weekend, a lot of my conclusions aren't fundamentally new.  I even wrote a post six months ago that has a similar thesis!  But I guess it really does bear repeating: blogging - and being a blogger - is whatever we want it to be for ourselves.  I think we make blogging - and what it means to be a blogger - more complicated than it has it be.  Sure, there are trends and attitudes and, yes, specific bloggers or blogging communities that make us doubt ourselves and what we're doing.  But at the end of the day, what we get out of any venture is made up of two things: what we put into it and the people with whom we surround ourselves.  If my month away and your responses to my form have taught me anything, it's that the rest is background noise.


According to the magic of random.org, Ginna is our giveaway winner!  Ginna, I don't have any of your contact information so please do email me at betsytransatlantically@gmail.com and we'll sort out the details.

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21 comments:

  1. I am thankful for the outcome of your survey so far because it makes me feel like I'm alone in this, as far as not feeling like the biggest, best blogger and writing just for myself and that being okay. It really seems like in order to "make it" as a blogger you have to be well-known, but it should be that we're writing for ourselves, putting out there what we want to share, and if it resonates with one person, then that connection should make you feel pretty great. I like how Paige said Blogger with a capital B because it seems for sure like there are two camps- the Big Bloggers and the rest of us, but it seems like there's really more of the rest of us than I realized.

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  2. Loved hearing this as I am at this point identifying certain changes I'm in the process of making with my blog. It's such a weird thing, blogging, but in the end, I do think it's genuine and being a blogger or writing a blog is something that many of of us love to do.

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  3. So many interesting points! I personally thought I was in the minority in terms of not identifying as a blogger. Glad to know I'm not alone! And this post reminds me how I still have to publish my post on this topic. I was debating whether or not I should go through with it because I thought people wouldn't necessarily like my opinions. But I'm all about taking chances lately, so expect it tomorrow!

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  4. Love this! I am SOO happy I started blogging 3 1/2 years ago. I have met so many wonderful people through blogging and it has become an incredible outlet to doing the thing that I love = DESIGN. Being in the blogging community also gives me a huge push to learn MORE about design and photography and put my best stuff out there. I am so proud to be a blogger and I am grateful that I can use my professional marketing skills every day to make my blog something I am proud of.

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  5. I find the very psychology of being able to identify with a simple term like "blogger" interesting. (Mostly because I have a post drafted about how I don't identify as an "expat" blogger.) I think it can is strange sometumes to say "I am a blogger" because blogging, as an activity encompasses, so many other things. It can mean you're a writer; a photographer; an artist; a stylist. x

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  6. Paige @ Little NostalgiaMarch 10, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    I've been curious to hear other answers from the survey and this did not disappoint! Blogging is kind of like anything else in life: you can do it as a hobby or you can do it For Real. I think a vast majority of us do it because we enjoy it (and the people we meet) and that's enough for me. I'm actually curious about how many blogs are out there now. Do you know if there's any solid research on that?

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  7. I thought the same thing! I was sure I was one of few who never used the term "blogger" for themselves. I'll be looking for your post tomorrow! Can't wait to see more of your thoughts.

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  8. More blogging musings, I say!

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  9. I will add that I think I interpreted this question differently when I first read it. But I completely agree. I often find myself saying, "well, I HAVE a blog, but I'm not a blogger." Weird how we feel the need to distinguish. But if consistently posting on the same blog for four years doesn't make me a blogger, I don't know what does! Thanks for putting this all together.

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  10. I had a comment, but Kristen said it all much better. So, yeah, count me as a vote for this +1. :)

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  11. so THAT is my big conclusion - none of us are alone! and none of us (including me, the WORST offender) need to be so stressed and so frustrated because there are so many others out there who want blogging to be what I want it to be. and it will be productive to focus on that and on us :)

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  12. I think we would have stopped if we didn't sincerely love it - that can't be drowned out by the crap of it!

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  13. haha you might find this post from Sept 2010 interesting then :) http://www.betsytransatlantically.com/2010/09/cultural-differences-part-one.html you're not alone in the "well... expat is an interesting word...." thing!

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  14. next Monday! and, in the meantime, Alyssa has thoughts :) http://allyssabarnes.com/2014/03/11/i-blog-vs-i-am-a-blogger/

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  15. it's been fascinating to read all the answers - and this was just a post from the responses I got on the FIRST question of FIVE! there's a lot to get through, which I find so exciting. YAY THOUGHTS.

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  16. oh my goodness I have no idea - and I've never seen a concrete number - and I don't actually know how you'd count? I mean, the New York Times has a blog section. Would that count? Someone responded to my survey by saying that she switched from Tumblr to Blogger when she was ready to take blogging more seriously - are Tumblr pages that just repost photos blogs? oh boy. more big questions. haha!

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  17. I do love that about your blog! I think it's easier to stay positive when you stay focused on what you love about it and what you can achieve with it :)

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  18. I love your post! (Obviously.) Can't wait to read all the comments you get - I know people will relate!

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  19. Aw, thanks! Sometimes I think what I say sounds better in my head. I'm glad it makes sense to other people, too! :)

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  20. You know, I tell people that I'm a blogger all the time, but sometimes it feels like I'm lying. (See: the fact that I haven't even posted in two weeks... oops.) I think that those that said they "ave a blog, but don't consider themselves a blogger are totally selling themselves short. Like you said, being a blogger means whatever we want it to mean. And even though I only write 15 or so (in a good month) posts a month, I am still proud to call myself a blogger!

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  21. Wow. This is REALLY interesting to read, thank you for giving me a heads up about this Betsy! I'd never considered whether I first saw myself as a blogger or a designer who has a blog... but I have realised that I do present it to people like 'I write a blog' and I get embarrassed when Dan tells people I am a blogger. How weird!

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