The stars are properly aligned for me to write a post on why I blog:
- The Smooth ReEntry blog is six months old now. A sixmonthivesary seems a fitting time to reexamine why I am here.
- Additionally, as part of the 12 Step Challenge, I am to publically share my blogging goals.
- Even more coincidentally, any second now I will be divorced. In fact, I might actually be divorced as I type. This means in six months you, as my readers, have helped me move from marriage purgatory, to separated, to fully divorced. That is a BFD! [Thanks you readers for helping me keep what’s left of my sanity!]
I impulsively started this blog one morning while neck deep in marriage purgatory. That morning I had an “aha moment”, and it became apparent that I needed a healthier outlet to purge random thoughts from my brain before I drove myself mad trying to hold them all in.
It became so obvious that I was acting batshit crazy (obsessing over trivial shit like profile pictures and such) that I knew I would alienate the few friends I had left if I didn’t get a grip. Thus the Smooth ReEntry blog was born.
I could have named it “pressure valve”, as releasing pressure building in my brain was it’s true goal.
Creating this blog truly was an impulsive decision made one morning after having too many cups of coffee. Since that time I have:
- Published 142 Posts, heavily weighted towards original content.
- Scheduled 5 additional posts to be published.
- Started 117 drafts in various stages.
- Had 15,513 views.
It is in the spirit of community support outlined in the 12 Step Challenge that I share my information.
- My stats suck donkey balls. Both visitors and views…the stats completely suck.
- In addition to my 117 drafts, I easily have 117 more post ideas. In other words, writers block is not an issue for me.
Do you see the connection between stats and writers block?
I don’t have writers block, because my blog is a personal journal in the form of a web log. As I say on my about page, I write about any subject I want to talk about at the time. I write for me.
If you want stats, conventional wisdom states that you should carve out a niche audience and write for them.
There is a huge trade-off between writing for a niche audience and writing a personal journal for yourself. Finding an optimal combination is hard. Very hard!
Making matters more complicated, if you choose to write anonymously, you are at a huge disadvantage over blogs that openly share their personalities.
I am consciously aware that the Smooth Reentry blog is firmly in the “Anonymous Web Log” category.
I am also consciously aware that I sabotage my own stats regularly. I write about Star Trek one week, the Friendzone the next, threesomes the next, football the next, and then poetry. Can you imagine the guy who subscribes to this blog for erotic threesome stories, and then has his reader flooded with Star Trek posts the next week? Can you say “unsubscribe”?
My stats would be better if I wrote two articles a month in a highly focussed niche and put them on different blogs, as opposed to slapping 142 posts up about random stuff on the same blog.
My stats suffer, but I do not struggle with writer’s block.
These are issues I was aware of when I impulsively created my blog and tossed up my first post. That morning I gave myself certain ground rules, which I will review and refine now.
The primary mission of this blog is to give me an outlet for mental floss/therapy. I don’t know if this is ADHD related or not, but my brain thinks about eclectic stuff. Like Jerry Seinfeld, I’ll spend significant energy thinking about the strangest things. When I have too many thoughts swirling in my brain, I become overwhelmed and ineffective at everything.
Many of the things I think about are heavy topics. And yet, the topics I write about on this blog are frequently shallow and unimportant. Why the discrepancy?
I will try to explain with an analogy. Imagine my brain is a 10 gallon bucket. The thoughts swirling through my head on a given day are: 1) Career crises, 2) Parenting issues, 3) spiritual/philosophical issues, and so forth. These big issues take up 9.9 gallons of room in the bucket.
My brain also has thoughts about how many pictures to post on a dating profile, or whether to shave on a Saturday morning or not, or which James Bond would go down on her. These cumulatively take up 1/3 a gallon of space in the head/bucket.
One third a gallon is a small amount of space in a 10 gallon bucket, yet that extra amount is enough to exceed the bucket’s capacity and cause it to overflow. By writing about the trivial stuff, I free enough room in bucket for it to hold the important stuff without overflowing.
Keeping me from being overwhelmed is the primary purpose of this blog. By writing, I purge the little stuff so that I have enough room left in my head to cope with the big stuff.
Blogging can be fun, as can ego boosting self promotion via social networking, and certainly stats are gratifying to every blogger. Yet these are not necessarily in keeping with my primary mission of this blog.
I understood this contradiction from day one, and knew it would be tempting move off target. In order to stay on track, I gave myself some ground rules up front.
- Call It As I See It: If I am going to purge thoughts from my brain, then I need to write what I really think. And if I am going to write what I think, then I need to remain anonymous. Otherwise there are too many pressures to be politically correct. Yet stats wise, it is a HUGE HANDICAP to write under a faceless pen name. I have to continually remind myself that I will never be candid unless I remain anonymous.
- Stats: If I said I didn’t care about stats, that would be a bold faced lie. Stats are gratifying. Of course I want more stats. I have several post ideas I could write in the name of getting more stats. But I have to be careful to not do it at the expense of the blog’s primary mission. I have to keep reminding myself all other goals are secondary to mental floss.
- Quota: I have given myself a quota of 500 words per weekday. If I didn’t have to earn a living, I could literally blog all the time. I love it. But blogging doesn’t pay the bills, nor will it ever for me. So I have to set the 500 words per weekday quota to keep myself from going overboard. (For example, this post is looking like it is going to be around 2,000 words long. Therefore, this will count for four days worth of my quota.)
STAY ON TARGET
I hope sharing my goals explains my half-assed participation the the 12 Step Challenge. My goals are different than many bloggers in that the primary mission of this blog isn’t to increase stats, build a brand, or write a book. My primary mission is to keep my fucking sanity.
Am I saying I don’t care about stats? – No! I would love to have better stats. In fact, my stats are down this month and it is deflating. Right now, I could take a few minutes and write a post along the lines of Worth It that would make my stats would soar this month, but that doesn’t provide the mental floss I need today.
Am I saying I don’t care about my writing quality? – No! I want to become a better writer/blogger. I hope to one day invest in improving my writing.
Am I saying I don’t care about Kudos? – No! As discussed on The Outlier Collective comments, I am developing Freshly Pressed envy. Like many other WordPress.com bloggers, I would love that feather in my cap.
I care about all these things. In fact, I struggle with it.
If you look to the right you will find a widget that lists my “Top 5 Most Liked” posts. If you compare this to my personal most liked on the “Best of Smooth“, you will see little correlation.
I mean, how the fuck does “What is the Correct Spelling of Friendzone” become one of my most liked posts? That doesn’t say much about the other posts I actually worked hard on!
[Incidentally, if you read the comments here, you will see that many successful bloggers have noticed an inverse relationship between amount of work put into a post, and how well it is received. So this phenomenon is not unique to me…]
When I see that Correct Spelling in the Top 5, my immediate reaction is to type something to please the masses in order to gain more likes. But that would not be in keeping with my primary mission. This is why struggle to stay on target. It is fine for me to seek more likes and more stats, but not at the expense of the mental floss.
Another example: I’m tempted to take a month and really try for Freshly Pressed. I would write nothing but posts that appeal to the masses in order to increase my chances. But that would feel like work, and wouldn’t purge the random thoughts going through my head. Therefore, being realistic, it will only be once in a blue moon that I write something that could be remotely considered Freshly Pressed worthy.
[Note: On the rare occasions when I do write something special, I would love to have it peer reviewed by fellow bloggers. This is one of the reasons why I think the support network encouraged by the 12 Step Challenge is a damn good idea.]
Bottom Line: While I do care about stats and kudos, I have to constantly remind myself to stay on target and not lose sight of my primary goal.
WARM AND FUZZY MILESTONES
I feel like I am cheating the 12 Step Challenge by not listing specific goals. Therefore, I will list some realistic milestones that would make me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside if the Smooth Reentry blog every achieves them:
- FRESHLY PRESSED – I will pat myself on the back if I am ever Freshly Pressed. Not counting on it though.
- WORD ADS – I will pat myself on the back if I am able to monetize the blog. If I received $100 per year from Word Ads, then I would net ~ $80. Which means I would receive approximately $.00001 per hour for my blogging efforts.
I should emphasize that I want to know that I COULD participate in Word Ads if I wanted to–I’m not saying I would definitely do it. I just want the feeling that I am one of the big-boy blogs. I am a little pissant currently.
There is no fucking way either of these is happening in 12 weeks. But I think it is in keeping with the 12 Step Challenge to at least list something I would like to work towards. So there you have it Ms. Panties…
I hope this gives you some insights into my eclectic blog.
On a final note, I would like to leave a final thought to aspiring bloggers who are trying to take their blog to the “next level”. Not that I am an expert, because I am not, but but be warned of ruining your hobby by taking blogging too seriously. WordPress.com is filled with stories of this.
Please like this post if you think it is better than How Do You Spell Friendzone.