Why am I blogging? To be quite honest I didn’t actually ask myself this question when I first started out. I acted more on impulse, out of a need for an emotional outlet, a pressure valve. If nobody read my posts, no harm done. But then something strange happened…
… I did actually receive some comments, encouragement, feedback and suggestions. Often very engaging ones. Sometimes an entire conversation was conducted online, at some occasions even followed up by a more private email exchange. I suddenly had an audience. This is when a new aspect crept into my blogging, a question I had not asked myself before:
How many likes would this post get?
Likes were a new experience for me, as I have to date abstained from Facebook, Twitter and other social media because I never felt the need to put myself out there. I’m a very private person – yes, you’re free to chuckle at this, considering how much I pour my heart out on these pages- but it’s different here, as the veil of anonymity allows me to open up more than I feel I can in other situations.
Anyway, I’m digressing. So, getting likes for the first time did to me what it probably does to a lot of people every day and why they keep checking their social media accounts incessantly: It helped produce some happy hormones. Which in turn lead me to start eying my stats – the likes, the views, the referrals and my follower count, happy as a clam when it hit another round number.
And then another strange thing happened: I started doing things differently. Instead of just writing my posts, engaging with my readers and seeking out blogs that resonated with me, I began taking methodological action to improve my stats, listing my blog on newbie blogger forums, commenting on other newbie bloggers who might be just as desperate for better stats as I was, and following blogs that didn’t actually resonate with me (sheepishly hoping for a curtesy re-subscribe).
Worst of all – I’m still embarrassed to admit this and blushing in a deep purple-red as I write this – I might even have … ahem… liked a few posts without actually having read them. I just clicked the little star, cold-blooded, right from the comfort of the excerpt function in the reader. Funny thing is: it worked. I got more views, more likes, more followers. But strangely also sometimes more likes than views. Hm….
And then it hit me: Who wants these kinds of likes and followers?
I don’t. Or, at least, I don’t want to make an extra effort to generate them. Because they don’t actually mean anything if what you’re after is not numbers but readers. People who are genuinely interested in what you have to say and care about it enough to take the time to read your post from start to finish and, if you’re lucky, even leave a personal note about how they relate to it. Not a remote blind like. Or a random “Great post. Check out my blog. Here is the URL”.
I’m glad I know this about myself now. And in that regard I’m not totally upset about my little embarrassing detour into the traffic generation business. It helped me figure out why I started blogging, or more correctly, why I am doing it now:
I value the connection that blogging has the potential to create between people who, in the analog world, might never actually meet, let alone happen to discover that they are dealing with pretty much the same challenge at the same time.
I cherish the thoughtful comments that some readers leave, the comfort they provided me with in my most miserable hours, the little tips and insights about how to look at things differently, the books they recommended just when I needed them.
And I would not have made so much progress in my emotional recovery if it wasn’t for some very special bloggers I have been following from the onset, because they just spoke and continue to speak to me in a way that I can understand and relate to and learn from.
I now try to return the favor whenever I can, even though this might not be as often and regularly as I would like. But at least this time around the favor is always a genuine one, straight from the heart. Not from traffic control.
And I feel much better for it.
Feature image designed by dooder / Freepik