A couple of weeks ago, I held the Brighton Blogger’s Bash and met a load of local (and not-so-local) bloggers. It made me think about my own blog and why I have been a serial user of social networking and blogs since my late teens.
Since using Twitter more regularly (my username is @wuthering_alice, by the way), I’ve become more aware of how blogs are used and promoted. I’m surprised when I see how many blogs are actually sponsored, or written to make money. It never occurred to me to try and make money from my blogs and when someone suggested that I used the popularity of my photoblog Ladies in Monochrome to generate some income, I was a bit shocked. Yes, it does cost money to run that blog, as I have to buy many of the photos that go up there, but it really is more of a labour of love than anything.
That’s not to say that I’m adverse to this blog being a shop-front for my writing. I am a frustrated writer in many respects and this is my outlet into the world. I guess I just write whatever I feel like- sometimes it’s crafty, or beauty related, or a rant, or historical, or feminist, or increasingly about pregnancy and all the surprises that brings. I’m not a blogger who fits into a category and can be easily defined; I’m just a person who writes stuff that sometimes people read. Would I like more readers? Of course. But I’m not going to chase them into submission. If someone finds my writing and likes it enough to stay and read a bit more, maybe come back another day or follow the blog, I’m delighted. I trained to write for public consumption and so, even when I have a tiny fraction of the internet as I do, I’m happy if someone is reading my stuff.
When writing for a specific audience, as I did with my sadly neglected tea blog (which I hope to revive once I’m no longer pregnant; tea is just a complete no-no for me. I hate the smell and taste and have only had maybe two cups since February… this makes me sad), I found that people sent me free stuff. Often I asked for it, sometimes it was offered. I think if you’re writing for an identifiable audience, people will come.
I also think it helps to have boundaries within your own work. What will you speak about and what is too personal? I live my online life using what I call the Daily Mail rule. Because I am a teacher, I pause before I hit ‘publish’ and wonder whether what I write on here, Twitter or even Facebook could have the DM calling for my job. It might seem a bit extreme and some have suggested that I can always go anonymous- of course I could- but I have seen people be burnt by what they say online, with no regards for the consequences. Indeed, I have worked with those people who have kind of forgotten about what their job actually is. Everyone has boundaries, these are mine.
Blogging is a tool- I’ve met great people and I’ve made connections that I otherwise wouldn’t have. It allows me to publish my geekery, to put stuff out there and it meant I tried seventeen types of Earl Grey in a year in order to find the best one. Which, if you’re interested, is this one.