Is Blogging for Profit Destroying the Medium?
There is a small contingent of people who think that all blogs are narcissists. Or maybe that's what everyone thinks? Do you have to be slightly narcissistic to write about your life in such detail for the whole world? I guess that's what I used to think. The first time I heard about "blogging," I was in college. My friend Ian was talking about how his friend had written a post on her blog about some stupid thing she'd done, and her parents had found it.
I asked what a blog was.
He explained very flippantly that it was a diary you write, but anyone can read it. It's an invitation to anyone and everyone to your inner thoughts and monologues. I'll admit, the idea both thrilled and terrified me. Who on EARTH would want to post all of their private thoughts online? And why would anyone ever want to read them? Unless you know the person in question, it seemed silly to think that someone could be interested in what you had for breakfast. But something about the idea took root somewhere way down in my psyche.
Two years later, I was working as a Flight Attendant out of Charlotte, NC. I had a Compaq laptop that I carried with me to play games on, and I had no cell phone or any means to keep in touch with anyone I cared about other than occasional emails.
By that time, "blog" was a slightly more mainstream word. I had heard of sites like Livejournal and Blogspot, and the idea began to appeal to me to chronicle my life as a Trolley Dolly. My dad happened to call me right when I was deciding on a name, and he thought the idea sounded fun. He suggested I call it "Cloud Hopper." It sounded good to me, so I set up a blogger account and went to town. I updated two or three times before I kind of gave up. There was no interaction, and I didn't really see any benefit to the endeavor.
A few months later, I was in the UK, having left my job with the airline. I decided to try again, creating an account on Livejournal. This time, it took off. I met so many different people there, each of them with their own story - their own opinions. When I updated about my life, I had 15 - 20 comments from different folks who asked questions, commiserated, and conversed with me. I had hundreds of other bloggers in my friends feed, and I knew the ins and outs of each of their lives. I knew Dennis, who lived in Texas and longed for love, even though he was sarcastic and sometimes downright nasty. I knew Mary from Indiana who loved nature and saw the beauty in everything. I knew Jen who was a "furry" and believed wholeheartedly in magic. Erin was a writer who shared beautiful stories and photographs. Gary was a reality TV junkie who made it interesting for me to hear about Survivor.
The crazy part is, I had a relationship with each one of them. Some of them knew each other, but most of them didn't. It didn't stop them from interacting on my comment page.
Over the years, I changed my user name a few times, and eventually I spent $100 to buy a permanent account because I was so convinced I would be there forever. But times change, and technology progresses, and soon enough I wanted to "go solo." I didn't want to be one voice in a community. I wanted to start my OWN community.
I bought a domain and began writing on my own. I wanted a place to showcase my paintings, as well as write about whatever I wanted. I thought it would be easy. That the people who had so simply found me once would find me again. That the world was just waiting to discover me. Yes, I can definitely see the narcissism. But blogging had taught me that people were interested.
As I struggled to find myself in life, I changed domains again and again, searching for my voice and trying to define myself by the name that I chose. It was a neverending struggle.
I never thought back then about SEO or ads or sponsorships. I never heard of blogging conferences or workshops. I never thought that blogging would be anything but a fun hobby and a way of meeting people.