5 reasons why big blogs bore me

This post was inspired by my salsa-encrusted friend Meghan’s post, “Are you blogging for all the wrong reasons???” This post is meant to be a personal reflection on my feelings of detachment towards immensely popular personal blogs. This post is not a comment on all popular personal blogs, but trends and patterns I notice, and my own emo-bullshit feelings on the subject. Proceed with a sense of humor, and a grain of salt – preferably on the rim of a margarita.

Blogging has roots in the glory days of Xanga and Livejournal (and even Geocities!), where readers got to peek into the minds of real people – relatable people! Just like you and me. It was an adventure in articulating yourself, in text form, and to the most hostile of audiences – the Internet. I’ve written a number of riveting blog posts on the subject of blogging. And by riveting, I mean, sometimes I ramble about things. And sometimes wine is involved. Here are just a few reasons I’ve become jaded with super popular blogs.

Aurora, you playin’

1. The bigger a blog gets, the less personal and less real it seems.
The more bloggers stage Instagram photos, endlessly promote their totes affordable e-book or e-course, or push out detached content (that feels like its written more for traffic, trend piggybacking, or shock value), the more it feels like a performance, and not an authentic blog. There’s a tricky correlation between how refined, polished, and poised a blog becomes, and how disingenuous it feels. Socality Barbie’s Instagram makes a spot-on satirical commentary on this staging of a life that no one leads, but that everyone can relate to. Blogging professionalism is not something to be poo-pooed on – I think an editorial calendar, smartly-shared pins and tweets, and top-notch photos are to be commended and encouraged! But there’s some kind of a wiggly squiggly line, and I’m not even sure my own self where it’s at. I just know I want to stay on the “real” side of it.

Tyler Oakley loves salad, as do Stock Photo Models

2. The pressure is on to put out content your audience expects, vs. content you want to put out. (Not that these things are mutually exclusive)
Once you build yourself up and develop your niche, diverting off this path has to be extremely difficult. I’d imagine your blog readers may even get hostile, if you have a change of heart, and begin to blog about something different (but maybe that’s just my perception of this terrifying place we call the world wide web). Let’s be real – people grow and change on the daily, and shouldn’t our blogs be free to do so? Or would readers of popular blogs bust down our doors (or comment buttons), pitchforks in hand, if perchance a blogger changed their tune? Not impossible, I’m sure, but undoubtedly difficult. And if a super blogger faces such peril, who can say they aren’t just an echo of their blog from years past, and not a changed person today, wanting to blog about something else?

3. It’s difficult to trust what’s being said, and constantly worrying what the motive is.
Once you know a blogger you love has been sponsored by Super Corp. USA, or whichever brand it is, it’s tough to trust that the content isn’t being weasled and wiggled by “the man” – as much as you might trust the blogger. As a blogger, the odds of being able to represent the products you truly love must be astronomical. Logically, we start at the bottom, and go through the less desirable brands first. So do bloggers sell their souls at first, blogging about the fiddle and the faddle, to then be able to represent the brands they truly love? It’s slippery hill you have to climb. Not impossible, but improbable, yes. Additionally, what message are bloggers sending when they do sell out for a brand, beloved or not? It might stink of consumerism, but we all love our stuff, especially when it doesn’t cost anything. But free stuff comes with strings attached – particularly marionette-style to your soul, while you feed the greed machine. Another wiggly line. Walk that tight rope with caution.

Office Space is my reality.

4. The authentic interactivity fizzles.
How can you develop a friendship with someone who has craptons of followers? It’s difficult enough weeding through endless notifications, but to authentically respond to them all? I’m no saint, but I love knowing who is out and about in my blog world, and having conversations with them. Checking up on peoples’ blogs and social media is an awesome way to catch up with those I consider Internet friends. My under-updated Geek Posse contains just a glimpse of the people I care to check up on – who deliver great (and personable) content! And the Geek Girl Pen Pals is also a community that makes it easy to see what all the amazing people in my community are up to! But popularity comes with sacrifices, and that sometimes includes real relationships and genuine conversation. With thousands or millions of people begging for your attention, it is impossible to keep up with it all, let alone develop genuine connections.

5. Celebrities, bloggers included, become less like people and more like brands. And while brands are cool, I don’t truly care about them.
Maybe bloggers aren’t always posting heart-wrenching and emotional stories, but I want to feel like I’m reading about a real person. I worry that if someone knows thousands of people will be reading their post, and judging it, they’d be carefully crafting it to be a perfect display of their brand. Yes, I advocate developing your brand. It’s valuable, professionally. But remember, when it comes to a personal blog, the word “person” is in there. Fame isn’t something people ask for, it’s driven by the random algorithm known as “popularity.” But an authentic blog needs to be a real, and needs to feel like the words of a person, not a brand.

I miss you, Ned.

Clearly, anyone can blog for any damn reason they want to. I can’t discern what or why people blog. Hoomans can choose to have a blog of any quality, that promotes and posts whatever they choose. But – TL;DR – I long for the days of LiveJournal, and raw emotion on the Internet. The authenticity that comes from pouring your heart out online is a genuine glimpse of humanity through the computer screen, and makes me – and hopefully all of you- feel a little less alone, in the tubes of the Internet.

I know I’m guilty of some of the stuff I’ve bitched about, as are some of you readers. Not that I want everyone to stop doing their thing, or being popular, which is outside of anyone’s control. That’s what we’re all trying to do as bloggers: grow ourselves and expand our reach, right? I’m sure if my blog exploded in an estrogen and glitter-filled rage of popularity, I’d be puffing a different pipe right about now. But alas, this is my reflection. So come with me, tiny bunnies… hop through the series of tubes with me. Go make an Internet friend (or two, or 10), while continuing to put out authentic content you really care about. Big blogs can be awesome, and clearly became popular for a reason. But teeny blogs are awesome in a way all their own. Keep it real, Interwebs.

5 tips to get over those new blog heebee jeebees, plus some first post ideas!

This post is inspired by this tweet from Kristy Lynn.

1. Pretend like your blog is already established, super popular, and loved by everyone.
Let’s LARP for a second. You know, live-action role playing. Get out your boffer sword and repeat after me: “My blog kicks so much ass. My blog is the shiz niz. People freaking love my blog… oh mah glob!” When we role play, we play pretend. We get inside our mind, and convince ourselves to become someone else, or believe something else. Kind of like this. I want you to get inside your mind right now, and tell yourself that your blog is a masterpiece that people adore. They love every word that comes off of your keyboard. They think you’re some kind of bloggy messiah. Your words are like a savory wine of wisdom to the cyberspace masses. Okay, now go.

2. Give yourself a super specific topic that you can’t mess up. Nope, not even you.
Tell a story. Make a list. Take a picture of yourself with your pets. Here are some super specific first posts even you can’t mess up.

  • 5 things I wish I could eat forever.
  • Meet my pets. Worship them.
  • If I was a superhero, this is what I’d be able to do.
  • What my 3 favorite movies say about me.
  • On my first day of high school, I did a very weird thing.
  • Let’s talk about what a dork I was in middle school.
  • 5 weird sex things I learned during my trip to Japan.

I’m full of them, literally. And if you can’t come up with one, you can always do a Blind Post from your favorite blog.

3. Don’t wanna talk about your blog? Talk about other people’s blogs.
Blogger is as blogger does. Blogs are like a box of chocolates… ya never know what yo gonna get Jennay. Okay I’m done. If you’re starting a blog, chances are, you read blogs. Or look at them randomly. Or have seen one once. Why not make a post about which blog inspired you to start a blog, and talk about your favorite posts of theirs. Put them on a little bloggy pedestal, and then when you’re done, you can re-read it and learn how to put yourself on that same pedestal. Blogging takes confidence, charisma, and a little bit of narcissism. So pretty soon you’re going to have to learn to worship yourself, much like your favorite bloggers. Remember to say, “I kick asstons of ass, and people want to hear what I have to say.” Read that last sentence out loud.

4. Talking about yourself is the easiest, because you are you all the time. So talk about your life!
First post idea: My life in 5 paragraphs. Keep it short, basic, and punchy.

  • First paragraph: Age 1-5. Your birthplace, your folks, childhood mishaps, messy baby stuff.
  • Second paragraph: Age 6-10. Favorite cartoons, your weirdest Halloween costumes.
  • Third paragraph: Age 11-15. Pre-teen woes. First crushes.
  • Fourth paragraph: Age 16-20. Raging hormones. Crap you did you probably regret.
  • Fifth paragraph: Age 21-present. Who you are now. What all that other stuff says about you.

5. Just frigging post it!!!!! Hit that publish button!
New bloggers are notorious draft hoarders. We write half a post, get scared, lose our motivation, forget our ideas, and close the browser. Baby, I am here to tell you: wrap it up, post it, and then ask your blog friends for feedback. The blogging community will tell you what they think! Trust me, sometimes we just won’t shut up. We will help you revise, fine tune, and make it better for next time. But… we can’t make it better if it doesn’t exist. New bloggers believe their first post will define their entire blog, but that’s just not true! It only seems that way, because it’s the only thing on your blog. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of time to add to it. But if you keep holding onto this fear of the publish button, guess what? Zero posts plus 14 half written drafts equals … zero posts! Publish baby, publish!

Leave a comment with your first post ideas, first post fears, or links to your very first post. I’d love to see them.

Featured image from Cali Sales on Tumblr

The itch for a niche: Finding out who you are on the Internet.

When we’re kids, some of the most important ways we use to express our personal identity are the posters we hang on our bedroom walls, the t-shirts we wear to school, and the cartoon characters on our lunch boxes. I had a giant Pokemon poster in my bedroom throughout middle school, wore Invader Zim t-shirts most days to high school, and had a fabulous Monkees lunchbox I took to school in 6th grade. (Please leave a comment to tell me what you had!)

When you’re showing your stuff on the Internet, it’s a little different. How can you convey who you are? Where is your digital t-shirt? How do you decorate your e-bedroom wall? And where exactly is the proverbial lunch room of cyberspace?

Figuring out how to express myself on the Internet was a huge challenge. I knew who I was in real life, but transcending that gap from reality to digital took me 3 years. I had to find out how to visually express myself through one banner on my blog, the perfect Twitter avatar, and a tagline that fit me perfectly. And these things tended to change all the time!

I finally feel that I have come up with something I’m satisfied with. I like to describe myself as an official Internet Pixie, a digital whimsy spreader, an Ewok trapped in a girl’s body, and as someone who is living the geeky life with purpose. I like to use images of cats and cupcakes to describe myself. I love using pastels, pink, teal, and mint in my branding. I could try to explain all the nonsense that went on in my head as I tried to identify myself through words, keywords, images, iconography and phrases …but that would take far too long.

So what is a niche? A niche is literally your place, your position. It’s where you live on the Internet. It’s how other people will know if they are interested in reading your blog. It does not have to be just one word, it can be 10! A trap that many bloggers will fall into is trying to just pick one niche, but trust me – you can have as many as you want. As you explore each one, you may find yourself growing and expanding in a couple of them, and then narrowing it down after you experience each one.

How do you find out what your niche is? How do you write your tagline? How do you design your picture perfect head shot, or express yourself in 140 characters or less? What images should people see and think about you? Here are some exercises to help.

1. What is one of your favorite words, that you have never heard any one else that you know of describe themselves as?

2. If someone was to search for your blog in Google, and you could rank on the first page for 5 keywords, what would they be?

3. What is your favorite adjective? Especially one to describe the way a person is.

4. Think of your favorite movie character, comic book character, or cartoon character, that you self-identity with. What are a couple of words you would use to describe their personality? What color would you describe them as?

5. What color are you?

6. What are you the most knowledgeable about? What would other people say you are the most knowledgeable about? When is the last time you went on a really good rant about something?

7. If you had to design a business card right now, and could only have 3 words on it, what would those words be?

8. Your blog is a food. What food is it and why?

9. If you could plan a photo shoot for your professional head shot, what would you be wearing? What piece of clothing, jewelry, or accessory would you wear that screams you?

10. If you could collaborate with any blogger, artist, or person, who would it be, and what would you bring to their table?

11. Pick a tagline for yourself. Or a few. 10 words total, for your identity, and niche.

12. If you could copyright one item, food, object, or animal, and when people see it they would think of you, what would it be? It will help if this object is not already associated with someone else.

13. Your blog is an animal. What animal is it, and why?

14. You have to pick 2 emotions that your blog will make people feel. What are they?

15. Someone who reads your blog writes you an email, expressing that your blog caused them to do something, or feel something, or think about something, or try to make something, and it makes you so happy to know this. What did it cause them to do?

16. What’s your favorite mythical creature, and why?

17. Your blog is referred to someone that you admire by a friend. They use these 2 words to describe your niche.

18. You can only use one social network to promote your blog, forever. Which one do you choose and why?

19. You would love it if this store posted your blog’s business cards on their front counter.

20. If you had to pull an Emma, and take a photo of yourself looking down from your chin of your feet and the ground, where would you choose to be standing, what would you choose to wear, and why?

21. What are you most passionate about? What would other people perceive you as being most passionate about? Are these things different?

22. You have to choose a celebrity to do a poetic reading of your favorite blog post, with the perfect voice. Who is it?

23. What image on someone else’s blog have you seen that you love?

24. You can only blog from one location for the rest of your life. Where is it?

25. You walk into the Internet cafeteria. You see tables with every blogger ever. You sit down at the table with these 5 bloggers.

26. You have to decorate your online bedroom. What is the pattern on your bedspread? What poster is above your bed? And what CD is in the CD player?

Feature image by Laura Williams

Leave a comment with your answers, or post them on your own blog!

10 things every beginner blogger should know. (And things I wish I’d known)

1. Don’t bother settling on a niche up front. You’ll probably change it.
Oh I had goals, so many goals. My dream blog was one focused on graphic design and art, but once I started blogging, I found there was a huge market and lots of space to grow in the geek and kawaii niche. Plus I was way more passionate about it. I ended up flip flopping a bunch and then finding my home after about 6 months of blogging.

2. Blog. Your. Passion.
This will seriously make your blogging life so much easier. People can see through phony enthusiasm with astonishing superhero X Ray vision. Blog the thing you find yourself rambling about. Blog the things you are constantly looking up online. Check your last 10 Google searches for inspiration.

3. Learn to use PhotoShop, or find a decent photo editor to make cute and custom blog graphics.
Each post needs a picture. Pictures bring a blog to life. Hell, buy a decent camera and take original photographs for your blog. Even a newer iPhone or Droid takes pretty decent pictures. I use the Samsung Galaxy S4, and its 13MP camera is astounding.

4. Make blog buddies.
No one should sit alone in the cafeteria,  and no one should blog alone. Find a blogger you admire, particularly on your blogging level, in your niche, and pal up. Blog friends inspire you, and encourage you to post. And hell, maybe you can get those rad BFF necklaces.

5. Not everyone is going to love your blog, or even know it exists.
Be prepared for apathy, or worse: trolls and bitches. Your blog is like your baby, and it can be hard to believe someone doesn’t know about it, even after all your tweets. And chances are,  someone doesn’t really like it! Remember: Blog for you first, and the people who love your blog second. And just remember…

Haters gonna hate.

6. Go to blogging events.
Even if the people are not in your niche,  they are all familiar with, or experts in this medium.  Blogging is a fine art that balances writing for the Web, time management, social networking, and quality digital image use. You could learn a lot at a blogging event, and you’ll be surprised how buzzed up you become afterwards, itching to post again.

7. Er mah gerd. Hershtergs. Take advantage of them for every post you make.
Well… hashtags, anyway. Using hashtag friendly social networks like Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter, can score you relevant traffic, simply by posting a fab looking image with relevant hashtags.

8. Don’t sell out.
Thinking of throwing ads and affiliate links all over your site?  Calm your tits. Respect your audience, your readers, your life blood! There is a good chance spammy links will scare away your best reader. Instead, offer minimal and tactfully placed, relevant ads. And make sure you alert your readers to them. I hate accidentally clicking on deceptive ads cloaked as content.

9. Have a giveaway!
It feels so great to win something, doesn’t it? Don’t be afraid to give away something relevant to your site… and that you yourself love. It’s a great way to get a new blog some traffic, and show a product that might clue people in to what your blog will be about.

10. Don’t be discouraged by low traffic and low interaction.
It took me nearly a year or two of building up my brand and content, before I started slowly building a steady audience. Don’t be discouraged by low numbers: remember, you’re blogging for you first. If you post it, they will come.

Featured image from mfpost.com