It’s Time to Take Back The Blog

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Have you heard the news? Facebook is killing how we connect with our audience.

Ok, maybe I am being a little dramatic, but not by much. Some people are blaming Edgerank, an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed and how high on people’s news feed. In conjunction with this, what is ranked highest and placed on the news feed is, others say, what is paid for – in other words, what you pay Facebook advertising dollars to promote.

We have all noticed our reach significantly decline on our Facebook stats. People who willingly “liked” our pages might still not get to see what they signed up for because Facebook is picking and choosing at will.

It’s coming down to paying to be seen. Brands are using their marketing money for the cause, trying to protect themselves against the many glitches around advertising on Facebook by hiring consultants to manage against the numerous amount of bots that rigged the system they are paying for, pushing up the cost of messages-turned-paid-for ads that aren’t really being seen by that many “real” people otherwise.

Bloggers are freaking the hell out.

“How will people see my content?” “How will I reach my audience?” “Holy mother of God what will we do NOW?”

I get it.

This is what marketers and brands and agencies have done to blogging.

Yeah…that’s right. I’m looking at you.

By classifying the blogger and/or their content’s worth and value based on the number of “likes” or “followers” or “Alexa ranking” or “unique readers” and at times rewarding them handsomely so that they connect you with the people you hope are real and potential consumers, you have contributed to turning bloggers into marketing junkies and creating bloggers who live for no other purpose than to churn out numbers. High numbers for the promise of opportunities.

This is what bloggers have done to blogging.

Yeah…that’s right. I’m looking at you.

You have relinquished your control and your power over your blog to the likes of Twitter and Facebook and Google+. What once used to be the excitement to share a story, even if only one person read it and responded, has turned into an obsession over how many comments you can get. How many readers you can reach. How many people retweet or like or worship you.

We’ve created titles like “popular blogger” “celebrity bloggers” “big blogger”. And I have to ask: What the f*ck, people? What has happened to blogging?

I came to Facebook very, very late in the game. And by the time I did, I had developed a nice following of readers, many of whom I considered friends because of my interactions with them either on Twitter or in person.

More often than not, I used Twitter to rant and rave, chat and respond…and I loved it.

Lately those conversations have gotten harder, in part because Twitter too is picking and choosing who can see what on eachother’s stream, and I miss seeing people that I know are there, but for whatever reason Twitter has chosen to unfollow or just not let on to my Twitter world.

I won’t deny that I have a media kit that I present to potential clients and advertisers for jobs, opportunities, and advertising dollars.

But I will admit that what I love about blogging, more than anything at all, is the story telling itself and the genuine conversations I have with the people who read me – whether they be two or 20. And meeting them, in person, when ever I can.

And…I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of it being about the numbers. I’m exhausted of having brands talk to me about “my reach” and not about “my voice”. I’m exhausted of hearing “experts” get on panels telling me how I can “increase my stats” as opposed to talking to me on how to find motivation when it fails me, or deal with writer’s block, or stay true to my voice, or effing learn how to just write better.

There are bloggers who are there to make money and literally find the SEO, statistic, reach and metrics world absolutely orgasmic. And God bless ‘em. They help us understand it all better.

There are bloggers who look to this to help support their families, and man, do I get that too – many a times has a check helped to pay a bill in my household.

But despite it all a lot of us really just wanna be able to write a good story and I say it’s time. It’s time to take back the blog. It’s time to forget about the stats and the likes and the views and just write a damn good story.

And brands, come back to the reasons why you were intrigued with bloggers in the first place: our ability to genuinely connect with our community. Our ability to share with those who trust us and look to us for information because they know we won’t steer them wrong. We might just be reaching Jenny, Jane and Martha. And they may be our only loyal readers, but Jenny, Jane, and Martha have their own following, who have their own following. To judge and select a blogger solely on the numbers in front of you is to limit not only their potential, but your own.

Read us. Connect with us. Get to know us. Let us get back to what we do best!

I am not implying that the practice of sharing our content should be dead. Tweet and Facebook and Google+ your heart out. Because it feels good to share. We want people to know. But let’s keep sight of our intentions and regain the joy for what we do, regardless of what the numbers say.

It’s how so many of us started on this journey in the first place, remember? And we were our happiest, even when we didn’t think there was anyone out there listening.

Those were good times.

And finally, if you are looking to blog to make a crap load of money, well…that ship has sailed. Unless of course, you are also willing to get out there and network, promote yourself, send out emails, freelance, deliver a good product and good content.

Blogging is not going to make you rich.

Yeah, that’s right. I said it.

So have a broader plan in place. Because between all the better blogs out there competing for attention and marketing money, Facebook trying to figure out how to pay back investors, and Twitter trying to make a profit, all we are left with is the choice to do this for the love of it, and do it well so that others will feel inspired enough to want to read more and feel happy in turn.

All we are left with is going back to when it was about the blog and blogging was good.


 

 

 

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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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77 Responses to It’s Time to Take Back The Blog

  1. Carol Cain says:

    @priest's wife (@byzcathwife): Haha! Never heard of the term, but I like it!

  2. Amiyrah says:

    As a girl who's admired your writing and your blog, and also another mama with a blog raising kids in NJ, I can't tell you how much this post moves me. I've been given the title of "small blogger" for the 5 years that I have been blogging, and lately it seems that numbers are still a big deal, although bloggers and speakers and conferences are swearing up and down that they're not. So which way am I supposed to go? Write like I have been and get lost in the shuffle, or sell out and work on getting empty numbers so I can get a paycheck to help us get out of debt and own our own home? The leaders of the big conferences are saying "you can have it all" but are also saying "visit our sponsors and take their swag." E-books are telling me that it's so important to interact on Facebook and twitter, and you need to build those numbers if you want to be taken seriously. Well…I am serious about my writing, and i'm serious about providing content for my readers, but because my FB status updates don't get seen like a blogger with thousands of friends/followers, I'm not serious or important? I can't accept that. Which is why my 2013 goals for my blog are based around things that I feel the need to write about within the next year. It an monetary opportunity comes up, then that's great, but i'm over the numbers bull crap.

  3. Carol Cain says:

    @Amiyrah: What most people don't understand about the "blogging for money" concept is that you can't blog for money and also blog for yourself. So, if you're going to blog for money on a consistent basis, than look to build yourself up as a freelance blogger. Develop a niche so that you can promote your expertise to blog for on paid sites, or attain partnerships. Not everyone can do this, it is a job like any other: you interview, you send out "resumes", you have contracts you have to adhere to, you have deadlines and projects to meet. For bloggers who make money, this is what they do – and even still it's not often a lot, unless they take on a lot of assignments, which can leave little time or energy for your actual blog. Your actual blog is you, and you have to believe that it is enough because if not you will spend more time trying to meet the expectations of others and changing your voice to fit in. If you can blog your voice, and yet find a way to build a brand for outside work as a freelancer it could help. But rarely do the two in one ever work well, for the blogger or the reader.

  4. Holly says:

    Amen. You tell the truth. I have narrowed down my writing to only what I care about, not about what brands want me to write about or promote. While I have a nice following, my numbers are not big and I am not typically chosen for appropriate opportunities and I continue to write about only what interests me. I've loved my blog for nearly 3 years now and it's led to wonderful opportunities but to be honest, I'm not sure where it's going in 2013. I'm tired, I'm burnt out, I want to return to the work force full time and leave it in the dust. Where did the passion go? I'm not sure.

  5. Keri Wilmot says:

    I started my personal blog as a niche, writing about toys using my background as an occupational therapist and trying to include a different spin on my own content that proved to be great product development advice for companies, while parents have been able to locate cool toys and products to use with their children. However, these days, I make my money writing for About.com as their toys guide. It's much less stress. For some reason, most likely it’s financially driven, but I am able to get the content written 10 times faster, I know what my requirements are and at the end of the month the money is deposited into my bank account. I’ve increased my numbers 60% over the last year solely writing content with basic SEO and there I have not dedicated much time to social media — at all. But with regards to my personal site I, like you, have seen Facebook and Twitter change drastically. The conversation of Twitter has died. I now liken my Twitter feed to the moving billboard you see at the mall cluttered with retweets of other blog’s giveaways. But the irony for me is that 4 years ago, it was Twitter that launched my blog and got me "in" with large, forward-thinking companies I NEVER had personal access to before. I was able to make the connections I now need every single day to produce content, and though I’m completely frustrated now with it, I am here today because of it with paid blogging opportunities and companies who have hired me as a consultant for product development, because of these relationships. I also have maintained a full time job outside of the house so you are right, you won’t be rich blogging. But as I have focused more on my paid blogging I have been writing less for my self and my readers on my personal site. There isn't just enough time in the day and that has suffered because we have needed the additional income, so my time and energy has been rerouted for the sake of getting more money to pay the bills given the state of our economy. I'm increasingly frustrated that I can't save time by auto dripping links into Twitter and Facebook because the numbers show me 1/3rd of the people reached, as opposed to linking it myself and posting a link in the comment section, or sending a tweet with a ‘.” in front of the “@.” Measurability has made it 10 times harder for us to do our jobs and get our thoughts and content seen, and our reach is not accurate. By knowing me from my personal site, a company has no indication of the reach I have writing for another one. For 2013, I think you have a great idea, let's get back to blogging on our sites and get traffic the way we know best, the good old fashioned SEO way. All of the social media giants that are making the money out there garnering the public speaking and book tour routes, all generally have the same basic mantra that great content, and professional relationships will create those business opportunities, if that’s what you want your end result to be.

  6. Observacious says:

    This is wonderful. Even if you get being the rarely achieved dream of making a lot of money blogging the focus on analytics can be soul sucking.

    On Wednesday evening I published a blog post. I published and shared it because I was excited about it and wanted to share it! Then, the demons in my head started repeating a bunch of SEO crap. I should have shared during rush hour when more people are using social media. I should have waited until Thursday because Google sites that are updated on a a consistent schedule. I should have posted to Facebook by putting the link in the first comment instead of the post itself because it gets more views.

    All that stuff is bullshit. It was just worrying about the numbers.

    You know what? I posted and shared something when I was excited to do so. Not a lot of people have read that post, but a lot the people who did gave me really nice feedback. That's what matters. That's why I blog.

  7. Carol Cain says:

    @Observacious: Ahhhh! The madness! I'm glad you overcame it : ) Sometimes, I start writing a post and can't finish it in a time frame I want because, well, life happens. So I will sit back down and finish it in the dead of night and hit publish when done – even though I know everyone is sleeping. But, to me it's like exhaling. I just love hitting that publish button and putting it out to the world. Maybe only one people will read it. And that's ok. Keep doing your thing! And thanks for the comment : )

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