What's The Big Deal About Blogging? And Why Do I Do It?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So what's the big deal about blogging?  What is blogging and why do so many people do it?  Why do I do it?  Well let's start with a definition - simply put by Merriam Webster:  a blog is a website on which someone writes personal opinions, activities, experiences.    That's certainly the most concise definition I found.  The Urban Dictionary had a much more derogatory description that we won't talk about today and Wikipedia had the most lengthy and complete description (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blo).  I'll leave it up to you whether or not you need all that. I think Merriam's definition is adequate.  I will tell you that blogs began to emerge sometime after 1990 and have exploded in popularity since then.  You can find blogs on every subject imaginable, in fact, did you know that Andy Weir, author of The Martian (the basis for the movie), first published his book as a blog on his website??  Locally the Times Union newspaper carries around 200 blogs under several different categories.  They are not unique in that either, although some newspapers carry many less.  The Saratogian newspaper carries fewer - 19 to be exact, but I'm proud to be one of them. With their increasing popularity and the endless array of topics to choose from, I thought it might be interesting to give you a little 101 on the basics of blogging - why I do it, how to navigate my blog (or anyone else's), a review of some of the things I've written about, and what are the benefits of blogging.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably read the "About Me" section where I explain how and why I came to the idea of blogging. If you haven't I'll give you the short version....I began blogging as an extension of my Facebook Photography page - a place to not only share my photos, but a place to narrate them.  It also gave me something to do to overcome the grief I was going through when my family and granddaughter moved to Indiana.  I had no idea when I began if I was tech savvy enough to design a blog or literate enough to maintain one.  Fast forward nearly two years and it seems I haven't run out of things to write about.  Writing, as all you folks who journal know, is very therapeutic.  It's a creative outlet, a release.  It's a little like talking out a problem - just verbalizing something that's bugging you has a miraculous way of making that problem seem smaller, not so threatening.  Writing is a little like that....and it is exhilarating and exciting.  Being able to share your writing is the frosting on the cake.

When I began blogging I knew I wanted to write about destinations, but beyond that I wasn't sure where I might wander as far as topics were concerned.  And I didn't care......I wasn't even sure anyone would read my blog anyway.  After a few posts, I realized how fun it was to take my readers on trips to places they'd never been, via my blog.  I was a virtual tour guide and I loved it.  Most of you are probably familiar with the typical blogs, the ones that earn people an income.  Big time bloggers advertise for companies on their blogs and make money from doing so.  That brings me to another question I've been asked, "Do you get paid for blogging?" I've read that some bloggers, especially those that blog for a career, can make over $60,000 a year.   I never planned to be that kind of blogger.  As much as I get excited as my readership expands, I always intended to keep my blog personal and free of ads and not be driven by having to write paid posts or have my blog cluttered with pop-up ads all over the place.  I certainly respect those bloggers who do so for a living - they work hard for sure, but it's not the kind of blog I want.  My exception to that rule is my ad for the Beekman 1802.  They approached me and being I've blogged about them many times and have endless love and respect for everything they represent, I couldn't say no.  Thus....the reason for my one ad.  So to answer the question......I don't get paid for my blog - not from the newspaper, and not from any of the businesses about which I write.  In addition, I don't normally write a post based on a request from a company.  I have, on a couple of occasions, accepted an invitation to visit a venue, and blogged about that place, but it is rare.  Why?  Because I don't want to fake it!!  I want to write a genuine and sincere post about places I truly love and want to share.  I'm not going to lie about loving something if I don't.  That is why I don't do any sponsored posts (posts where a company asks you to write about their product for pay).  Lots of bloggers do, it's how they make a living and that's ok for them, just not for me.   My blog is purely for fun and not driven by anything but where life leads me, and some days, that's my own backyard, other days, it's a road trip away.  You just never know.

Over time, when it seemed the blog would continue, I decided I needed to organize a little and spruce things up.  That's where my lack of technical expertise became evident.  So....that is when I turned to a friend with a beautiful and successful blog for advice and she helped guide me in the direction of blog designers on Etsy.  That designer listened to my ideas of how I wanted my blog to look and what I needed it to include and voila.....my current blog design was born.  The biggest change that came with her redesign, aside from the new heading line and general appearance, was the Categories across the top of the page.  They were added to give my readers an idea of some of the topics I write about. Clicking on a category will bring up the most recent post in that category and allows you to use the "See what else you missed" at the end of the post to scroll through each post in that category.  So for example, if you enjoy a post I did on a farm, you can look under "Animal Friends" and find more animal related posts, etc...  I also added a Directory.  That is the easiest way to see every post under every category, as well as the month and year that post was written.  You can then just click the Month listing on the right column to find the post you're looking for and Click, you're there.  I find that often people visit the blog and read the Popular Posts, since they're listed right there on the side of the blog.  But there's so many great posts (ok I'm biased)  besides those!  In fact there are 201 all together - all full of photos.  So if you see a title that interests you, but reading isn't your thing - have a look anyway.  Each blog normally contains 10-20+ photos and usually the photos give you a pretty good idea of what I'm trying to convey.  What's my favorite category, you ask?  Well although I began as a destination blog, my Food for Thought category is my favorite.  It's sort of my editorial section where I'm able to get philosophical and sometimes a little mushy.   I also love Intriguing People where I've written about family and friends, sometimes famous people.  This Christmas I took all the posts about family members and designed a book for my kids about their relatives.  If it weren't for my blog, I'd probably never have written those stories.

What do I love the most about blogging?   Easy - it's the people I've met and opportunities the blog has afforded me.  In two years I've gone places and seen things I'd never have motivated myself to see had it not been for the purpose of writing a blog.  It has pushed me to knock on doors and introduce myself when as a regular person I'd never have had the guts to knock on if it weren't for the blog.  It has brought so many truly special people into my life - so  many who I now call friend.  That is THE BIG thing I love about blogging!  I am so fortunate to have met such generous people, people who have always opened their doors and their hearts to us, gracious and willing to give us a glimpse into their world.  That has been the biggest gift!  You know who you are....I (we) thank you. Although I am the writer of my blog, I could not do it without my faithful sidekick and chauffeur, my hubby.  John not only chauffeurs me to all my destinations, he enjoys them with me and then proofreads every blog.  It's really a team effort and a perfectly fun way to enjoy our retirement, not to mention how handy it comes in for keeping our brain cells alive ;)

So that's it - blogging in a nutshell.  If at the end of the day a post only gets a few reads, I haven't wasted my time.  I still have a written keepsake of an event.  If it gets a thousand reads - even better!  I know something that touched me, touched others too.  If you enjoy my blog - Yay, I'm so glad.   If you do, I hope you share it with your friends using the links provided at the end of each blog post. Leave me a comment sometime... it's a little confusing but just remember ....Under "Comment As", click and scroll down and choose Anonymous.  You can add your name to your comment if you'd like.  If I don't respond, I didn't get your comment.  Thanks for reading this and all my posts and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share life as I see it!

Here's a list of some of my favorite blogs written by some fellow bloggers:

http://www.theuniquenest.com/ (home design and more)
http://www.sweettoothsweetlife.com/ (lifestyle, food, exercise)
http://www.mysaratogakitchentable.com/ (Great recipes and food info)
http://www.thekimsixfix.com/ (all aspects of DYI, crafts, home projects)

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