Why Do We Blog? Why Do You? (Why Do I?)

I started this blog in February 2019 with a simple little post that seems almost quaint now, as if I were learning how to talk and didn’t quite know how to do it, or what to say.

I launched the blog because that’s what I was advised to do by an endless parade of experts and web articles saying that if you are going to be a fiction writer, you need a blog, you need an author website, you need a “brand.” I figured it would be a way to promote my writing, and also chronicle my life as an American expat living in London.

Well, 3.5 years later I’m still grinding forward with this blog, even though my interest in writing fiction has fizzled to an ember, and you can only write about the Expat Experience so many times, after so many years, before the central theme begins to repeat itself to the point where you’d rather yank your heart out than write another word about the Expat Experience.

Yet here I be, still writing this blog, still making the effort. I try to punch out one blog a week, whether I have any ideas or not. This particular blog is evidence enough, because I don’t have any real ideas, so I am writing a blog about blogging.

I’m not sure blogs are even relevant anymore in the age of vlogs, podcasts, TikTok, and whatever else people are doing to get their names and “brands” in front of the public. I’m not sure blogs were even relevant when I started this one, or even a decade before. I have a feeling I started blogging in a post-blog era. This is all in keeping with my MO, waiting for a trend to get good and ripe before hopping on it.

On a good day, I might get 400 readers on a blog post. If you’re scoring at home, that’s about 0.000005714% of the world’s population. That number is so small that if it were a cookie, you’d get about half a crumb. I’ve written a couple hundred blogs in 3.5 years, and the average number of readers is around 50 per blog – which, oddly, I am still thrilled about. Fifty people! Taking time out of their busy days to glance at my random musings!

I have done next to nothing to promote this blog, so if anyone in the world finds it, I consider that a minor fucking miracle.

I toss certain blogs up on Facebook, and occasionally on Twitter, and on LinkedIn about once a year. I don’t promote the blog in any other way, shape or form. I figured if I ever got big enough, readers would find their way to it. Well, I’m big enough to amass a few hundred readers every now and then, so the next round’s on me…

Some people blog because they have expertise they want to share, whether it’s cooking or traveling the world, collecting sports cards or making homemade beer, building custom bicycles or doing home improvements. (I know, because I have read blogs like this). I envy these folks. They have a singular passion for – and expertise in – something specific, and they can probably write volumes on the topic, and reel in plenty of readers with similar passions.

I have deep expertise in next to nothing. I enjoy jazz, baseball, biking, and tennis, and I have a certain amount of knowledge about them, but then I run into folks who are obsessive about these things, and learn quickly that what I know is maybe 43 percent of what they know.

I’m a pretty fair home chef, but there are millions better than me, so I’m not sure I could blog about that.

I read many books, but so do lots of other people, and anyway I have found through the magic of WordPress data that the book reviews I post here drive the least readership. Not that I care about readership, but … oh, of course I care about readership.

I do consider myself an expert in writing news and web content, and blogged about that last week (again, because I didn’t know what else to blog about). But I’m not sure there’s a thriving market for How to Write Web Content, so what does it do to extend my brand, my friends?

What I mainly do is bounce from topic to topic – food! music! sports! politics! documentary films! gun deaths! Covid! Belfast! You name it! – like a daily newspaper columnist from the 1940s, who spends one day writing about the ghost in Old Man Johnson’s house, and the next day profiling the milkman who sings opera, and then moves on to the state highway project, the American Legion team, the upcoming election, pecan pie, tax incentives, feral cats, the Widow Gillespie’s farm foreclosure, school funding, whatever, whatever, whatever.

Other people blog because they are writers by trade or passion, and they need to get those thoughts and demons out, to exercise the writing muscles, maybe take their ideas for a test drive someplace safe. Maybe I fall into this group.

I guess the main reason I write this blog is because it’s what I do – I write. I have to write something, so this blog is as good as anything. It’s like wondering why a whittler whittles, or a gardener gardens. Because that’s what they do. What else are they going to do, if not that?

This is something I think about every now and then, by the way – what I would do with the hours if I didn’t spend them writing. I probably spend 50-60 hours a week either writing, rewriting, or researching stuff I need to write. I do it every day, hours a day, most of the time for money, but part of the time for fun or recreation or just to pass the time.

I honestly can’t think of any pursuit, hobby, or passion that could possibly fill those 50 to 60 hours. I hope the work never goes away, because man, I can’t watch movies or streaming shows 50 to 60 hours a week (or could I?). I already bike as much as I want to. I guess I’d take a whole lot of long walks.

Will I continue to write this blog? Will I keep putting forth the effort, even though some weeks I really don’t want to, and wonder whether I have anything important to add to the human dialogue?

Yep. I probably will. Because I told myself I would, and it’s what we do.

Meantime, I’ve got to come up with another topic within a week. Dammit….

10 Comments

  1. Vance, enjoyed this post about…posting. I have been on and off WordPress for a decade now. I’m blogging (then and now) because I enjoy it, but sometimes life comes along and it gets set aside. I went to school for Journalism but for one reason or another wound up going in a different direction and never got to exercise my mind creatively…which blogging allows me to do. I also spend time with blogging in order to support others, who may be just starting their writing journeys and can use a little inspiration in the form of a post liked, a post commented upon, etc. Maybe it is naïve, but sometimes I think what if there is a person out there right now, who is thinking of quitting writing entirely even though they’d probably make a career of it if someone just showed them a little support, told them they were good at it, etc. I like to support writers and writing, and that’s another reason why I (still) blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I am trying to follow your blog but for some reason it is not accepting my email address. It keeps saying “Your subscription did not succeed, please try again with a valid email address,” even though I am entering a valid email address. Weird.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems like every couple of days over the last couple of weeks I’ve heard about another “bug” in WordPress from other users. People can’t like posts, can’t leave comments, subscribe, etc. I thought my site was unaffected but a couple days ago I did hear from someone else who could not subscribe so you are not alone. Thanks for trying to do so. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 50 people a day, especially if you don’t promote the blog, is pretty danged amazing. As to why I blog, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me keeping the gears oiled. I actually realise I don’t have a reason now that you ask, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Stuart. I’m cool with the readership it gets, since I don’t really have the time or inclination to promote it. And like you say, it keeps the gears oiled (love that). You seem to have quite a following yourself, but I am having problems subscribing to your blog. It keeps telling me I have an invalid email address when the email address I input is perfectly valid (similar situation with the other commenter on this post). Weird WordPress bugaboo.

      Like

  4. Well if it’s any consolation, your stats are waaayy better than mine, Vance 🙂 In reality, though you may have started it for those commercial reasons, the purpose can change over time, and you should embrace that. If the blog fulfills you in some way – whether you have 50 readers or 5 – then I say, keep going. Writing is a huge part of your identity, and this is a way to maintain that thread without the pressures of editors and formal publications.

    A blog should be whatever you want it to be. For me, my blog has always just been my home on the web – a place for my thoughts and pictures and writing. Around the time of publishing my book, yes, it primarily became a vehicle for promotion. But beyond that – and long before, actually – it’s always just been whatever I wanted to write about (or post). There’s no consistent theme I can find other than it’s whatever I feel inspired to publish at the time. And there’s *definitely* no content strategy or attempts to catch an algorithim or trend. And I’m perfectly happy just doing whatever I feel like doing.

    It’s been a great way to connect with others – like yourself – even if that’s a purely virtual relationship (which, for introverts like me, is just about perfect), and be exposed to the hearts and minds of people you resonate with, and those who are very different. WordPress (because I can’t speak for other blogging platforms) is my favoured platform far above any social media system, which I find is too often superficial and shallow and way too fast-moving.

    Your posts add value for me, and I always look forward to seeing what’s on your mind – whether you perceive it to be profound or not 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Yacoob, I really appreciate that. You do seem to get good feedback on your blog, though. But you’re right — these should be whatever we want them to be. Something valuable to keep in mind and carry forward.

      Liked by 1 person

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