29th June 2017, I remember it well. I followed millions of others who decide to download their thoughts onto the internet for others to read. Yup, I started a blog!
I had no idea whether I would be any good, so I gave myself 100 days to be judged (in true American President style) before deciding whether to keep it up or banish it to all the realms of all other hobbies I’ve tried and failed.
And 100 days later here we are.
How have I done?
Well, you’re reading this so you should tell me……… tumbleweed…….. ok so here are some stats instead. Who doesn’t like stats?
- Views: 648
- Visitors: 205
- Comments: 30
- Posts: 16 (not including this one)
I’m fairly sure these aren’t record-breaking and I haven’t been as prolific in the posting department as I thought I would be. So these are my thoughts on the last 100 days and why blogging might not be for me after all.
1. It amplifies my self-doubt
Everyone who said blogging is hard wasn’t lying. To be truly successful it seems that you need to be a great writer, have reasonable IT skills and be prepared to put in some serious hours into promotion and networking (or have money to pay someone else to do it).
The writing is easy, when I can find the time between negotiating a full-time job, raising three kids, eating, sleeping, commuting and basically trying to function without Mrs Three Time Daddy wanting to slap me. Oh and all on an average of 4 hours sleep. No, the writing is easy.
What is hard is dealing with that resounding sensation of dread that floods over me in the moments after sharing a post. And the disappointment that follows when the masses don’t flock to my site and shower me with praise. And when the lucrative offers don’t arrive at my door and I realise that it is one page in millions of millions of pages and nobody cares what I think about anything. Yes, dealing with that is hard. Yet even if I do get a view on a post my heart actually sinks a little bit. I’m thinking ‘but they didn’t leave a comment saying how amazing it is, they must think it’s crap.’ Dealing with that is hard too.
2. I’m not a beautiful and unique snowflake
‘You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake,’ goes the Chuck Palahniuk quote from ‘Fight Club’ and this is never more correct than in the blogging world.
Everyone has one. You have one. I’m sure even my neighbour’s cat has one. And the guy I always see in Tescos with the hi-vis jacket. To be honest, I have no idea how it’s taken me until 2017 to join the bandwagon but now it’s crowded in here and I’m standing at the back.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed – how can I find a niche or a way to stand out? Quite simply I can’t. I’m a thirty-something white male with no tear-jerking or troubled backstory. I haven’t left Europe. I haven’t any particular areas of expertise. I haven’t any astounding talents. It turns out everyone else has three kids – ‘Three Time Daddy’ could literally apply to thousands of you. What do I have to say that is in any way unique?
The internet is also screaming ‘every single post idea you will ever have has already been done, and done better than you could ever do it’ at me. Let’s face it, if it hasn’t been done by now it is probably a shit idea (like this?)
3. A lot of blogs are boring
On the ‘Is It Just Me?’ scale this is probably off the chart by a long way.
When I first started I read a lot of ‘successful’ blogs to see how it was supposed to be done and how they should look. I was very disappointed with how bland they were. They looked absolutely beautiful and are probably case studies in SEO-optimisation but they felt creatively safe and lazy. A bit like Coldplay. Do we need to read things like:
- ‘Should a parent really eat toast in the morning?’
- ‘5 ways to fasten buttons’
- ‘Read my review of a Toshiba paper shredder’
Is this 2017 blogging? I expected to learn something from these blogging giants, gain some insight or at least find it funny but… nothing. Do other people read it and go ‘mmmm I’ve always wanted to know 7 ways to peeling sellotape’? What sprung to mind was an interview with Win Butler that I had read years ago where he said ‘just because there’s a medium for something, people will fill it up with crap’. Blogging is no exception (if I have annoyed anyone, read this and you will see it is neither my fault nor intention).
On the other hand, I have read ‘smaller’ blogs and have found them brilliant and engaging. There are some very supportive people writing great things out there, yet sadly they may not get as much attention as they deserve. I admit my blog is no success story – look at the state of it! I’m still in the Vanarama National League in comparison (that’s low down), but hey, I’ve been doing it for 100 days and I’ve spent zero pounds on it.
4. It’s a glorified dog show
You write a blog. You post a blog. You share a blog. Why? Because you want people to read what you have to say. Whether you like it or not you have to start waving at people and showing off to get noticed.
The obvious way to do this is on Twitter – the social media sandwich board. The painful thing about Twitter is that you need opinions and be prepared to be vocal about them. As already described above, I may have opinions but they are largely the same as other more vocal people, who like showing off and like being noticed and do it a lot better than I ever would.
Something intriguing that I’ve discovered since joining Twitter is something called ‘Linkys’. Once I got over questioning the grammatical accuracy, I tentatively decided to join in. At first I thought I’d never understand them but I’ve taken part in 3 now and I’ve found the key to success is FOLLOWING THE RULES.
As a man I am constantly told I am terrible at following instructions but the ones I’ve taken part in have been straightforward: bloggers share content with other bloggers, comment on other blogs and expect others to do the same to you. Essentially it is like Crufts – you roam around sniffing butts with the implied consent that someone is going to return the gesture.
It is great for getting noticed and I’ve read some genuinely interesting stuff I would never have otherwise read. However, the whole self-promotion thing is very counter-intuitive for me. I typically like getting on with things rather than putting a spotlight on it, but unfortunately this is a fundamental requirement of being a successful blogger,
5. Awards? Huh. Yeah. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing
There seems to be an award for everything.
Even awards that aren’t actually awards seem to be called awards. Some people ask for nominations, others insist they aren’t bothered. Seriously, if you don’t want recognition for hard work you’re lying. I want an award. I won’t get an award, and I won’t go around trying to get one. If you like what I write (not including you, Mum) just tell me and let’s not bother with the whole rigmarole of nominations and awards ceremonies. Besides, updating my site with an award badge sounds like too much hard work and who really cares if I came 4th in the ‘Best Dad with three kids and a dog who lives in Greater Manchester and drive a silver car 2010’ award?
So what next?
100 days have come and gone, and like the British summer I expected it to be a lot more successful. Although I’m far from being an expert, I have learned a lot during that time and will keep this blog going on my own terms. Whether anyone reads it is another matter.