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….