Monday, October 31, 2011

Remembering Why I Blog

I used to love blogging.

Five years ago when I started, it was a way to connect—to build online relationships. I went months without one comment and then it happened. I connected.

Somewhere along the way, blogging has become a marketing tool for writers and anyone else with a product to promote.

A few weeks ago I attended my ACFW writers group. The speaker’s topic was about using your blog as a means to market yourself. Most of the advice she offered went over my head.

Sure I get it. If I want to sell books, I need to sell myself. Over the years, I have watched plenty of my writer friends gain agents and publishing deals and then turn their blogs into huge marketing tools.

I understand advertising. I used to do it when I owned a store. It works.

But somewhere too along the way during the past four years, I’ve decided that having the money to pay my mortgage or my health insurance policy takes more precedence than about how many people comment on my latest post.

I also care about the friends I have and how to be the best friend I can be to them. I care that my husband is happy on his job and that we are attending a church that doesn’t care about entertaining but sharing God’s word. I care that I haven’t seen my only child for more than ten months and that my father is dying alone in a nursing home and I probably won’t attend his funeral. 

I care about the people who are kind enough to continue this online relationship with me because someday we just might meet in real life or help each other along the way.

I want to love blogging again. I want to write about what really counts in our lives even if it means hard topics. Even if it means my numbers decline. That’s who I am.

Okay, maybe I better go eat my fruit and oatmeal now.

Why do you blog?

59 comments:

Susan Roux said...

Hi Terri, who you are is just fine with me. It's difficult when family tragedies fill our entire being. Our thoughts swirl around it almost constantly and fun happy thoughts seem hard to come by. I've noticed my posts becoming further and further apart for just that reason.

I don't see my blog as a marketing tool. For me it's a way to connect with other artists, follow their progress and toss ideas around together. Who knows maybe someday it will become a tool, but for now I've never heard of a buyer finding me on my blog.

I'm sorry to hear about your father's condition and the fact that you are far from him in Texas. Blessings. I'll keep you in my prayers...

Amie Borst said...

i've heard it said, too. "build your platform", "market yourself"....and sometimes the best way to do that is to be yourself...value the friendships you have and show support. i think you're doing all that without even knowing it!

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

The different season in our lives bring different harvests. Those times when life is full of plowing up the boulders are very difficult....

very analogical (that's a three dollar word)this morning.

How many times in my life have I looked back upon an unearthed boulder only to realize that if I planted a few flowers round the base it make a wonderful lawn ornament!

Love you my friend!

I will be praying for you to settle in your life and for things to begin to feel normal. I will also say a prayer for your dad and for you as you sort through all the new things in your life!

Blessings
R

Jessica R. Patch said...

I started blogging because everyone said I should. lol At first it was shaky because I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be saying and then I realized it was a great opportunity to encourage others, share a few things I've learned through the Word and maybe inspire some folks without getting edited! :) And I love blogging because I feel maybe, just maybe I'm touching a few people and making some great friends.

I think you have your priorities straight and that's awesome!

Andrea said...

Just tried to comment and lost it! Yikes!!

Thank you for your honesty...for being a real person...a real friend. I love you for that. I totally understand. Real life has to take a precedence over blogging. I blog b/c I love to write, but I don't always get to visit others, etc.

Love, hugs, and prayers,
andrea

Carmen said...

Wonderful post, Terri. Honest and heartfelt as usual! Money does make things possible, so you never know what will happen down the road. I love my online friends and can't wait to meet them some day. I think my blogs are a way to connect. I love people and find them interesting, although I am kind of a cautious person in real life, having gone through a few things. I love what you wrote about the church; all about the Word of God and not necessarily just the entertainment! Love you my friend!

ginny said...

I started blogging, because it was a way for me to vent my feeling that otherwise would stay hidden somewhere deep down inside. I don't care about comments, really. If what I write about makes a connection with someone, then that is good. If it does not, then that is ok too.
To me there are other ways to find tools to promote your writing.
I think you are a very caring person and you should write for yourself, not anyone else.
And yes, I feel connected to you in many ways, and for that I am most grateful.
Your plate is very full right now, Terri, just blog because you want to, and for no other reason.

Nehha said...

I like the way you are so open about what's on your mind, all the time. That's the reason why I come back and try and catch up with what I missed out on your blog. "I’ve decided that having the money to pay my mortgage or my health insurance policy takes more precedence than about how many people comment on my latest post." ....I feel the same and I'm sure somewhere down the line most of us get this feeling over time. I blog because I like to express and share and have made a few amazing friends since I started :)

Julie Jarnagin said...

I process things through writing so blogging has giving me the opportunity to learn about myself as a follower of Christ, as a writer and as a person. I love the relationships I've built. My blogging is sporadic at times, but I always end up coming back to it.

KelliGirl said...

Terri,
I've been away so long that I'm almost embarrassed to leave a comment!

I so understand what you're talking about...how the pull of real life relationships/commitments/responsibilities pulls against building and maintaining an online world.

At the end of the day we all have to account for your our time and how we spent it. It seems to me you have made the best choices. I think we can all learn a lot from your example.

God bless you, my friend,
Kelli

Hope Filled Living said...

Terri,
If you are like me you probably blog because you need to write.......and along the way you've made some great friends that you never expected. Keep expressing yourself through your blog...your readers need you. If your life is in transition right now, as mine is too, it can be depressing at times, all the more reason to keep writing and keep connecting. People love what you have to share.
Hugs,
Mary

Joanne Sher said...

Fantabulous post, Terri.I blog cuz I love it, and yeah, to get people to know me. But it's not the main reason. I'm an encourager, and I use it for that.

Karen Lange said...

I started blogging nearly three years ago to gain experience so I could add "blogging" to my resume. I had NO clue what awaited me. I found a wonderful community of writers who have become friends and supporters. I'm with you, the people behind the blogs are the most important thing about it.

Lin Floyd said...

I blog to connect too and try to sell my books but sell few. I decided I write books for the same reason to connect or help others and maybe I just need to give them away...lol?

Jan Cline said...

It doesnt look like you have lost many commenting followers! I am teaching a class on Social Media in a few weeks and I am hoping I dont go over their heads - Im no expert, but just want to help some get started. I hear you about priorities. There are some professionals that dont think all this SM is necessary. But I do think we have to do at least some of it. But you are right - it doesnt have to be all consuming.

Savannah Rose said...

Bravo! You said something I've been thinking about for a while now. I always feel so unprofessional when I blog about my family or friends. But that's the reason I started the blog in the first place. To share...my life and to share in those lives I connect with.

Shirley said...

I blog because I just want to connect with people. When I get away from that, I find I hate blogging.

Keli Gwyn said...

I read your blog because I want to know more about you, Terri. I love how you share your heart.

I'm sorry you're dealing with being far away from your daughter and your dad. That has to be tough.

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh Terri, you've been through so much. But I think through blogging about your hardships, you've helped other people with theirs. I'm glad you blog. :-)

I blog to build relationships and to find shared interests with others, and also to find friends! I love the spirit of community in the blogging world.

Loree Huebner said...

I started blogging because of the "build a platform" - but somewhere along the way, I found some real great people out there that I care about what they have to say...like you.

I love visiting blogs now. There are so many wonderful and creative people. On my regular rounds, I usually come away with something new learned, some great writing tips, or just a good feeling...inspiration.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Terri, you are a beautiful person! I love your blog and love the reason why you blog. You reach people for sure.

I love this post because I had to take a good hard look at why I blog over the last several months I've been on hiatus. I used to love blogging so much, too, and though I know I put out some great posts on craft and such, it was really about the relationships and being me. So I just started blogging again today and now it's more about me, about the things I love (not just writing) and more fun. Besides, this IS marketing me and my stories because I am reaching out to the kind of audience I want to enjoy my books.

Margo Berendsen said...

I think part of the reason I fell in love with blogging was because I don't express myself very well in person; I'm always at a loss for words or stumbling over them. I feel like I express myself so much better in words, and I gush about things that touch my heart or inspire my writing - and life - and just let it all pretty much spill out (though with the aim of keeping it around 500 words at a time!)

Please can leave comments if they want to, if something I've said resonates with them. Or they can leave a comment even if we didn't connect, but they'd still like a visitor back to their blog in the hopes of maybe a connection there. I think its so cool.

It's also so cool that it can become a marketing tool. But I wonder. If I've built up a mutual commenting relationship with someone, I'd love to spread the word about their product and often buy it myself. But if I stumble across their blog and they never respond to my comments, then I'll only spread the word/buy the product if the product sells itself.

So I think blogs are pretty much a failure at marketing unless the blogger is actively commenting/responding, or unless they or their product/book(s) are already famous.

That's just my take on it.

Margo Berendsen said...

What a long and very self-focused comment I made above! I am so sorry to hear about your father! Are you too far away to visit him in his last days? Why couldn't you go to his funeral? If it's a money issue, couldn't you request a memorial/travel fund instead of flowers, maybe?

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Terri:
I understand how you feel. I think everyone who has blogged a while starts to feel the same way.

I enjoy your blog, no matter what you post. :)

Tamika Eason said...

I took a long break from blogging for this very reason. It became about the numbers more than anything else. Blah, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth just saying that.

A lot of prayer later and I know exactly what God is calling me to do- share Him with everyone one I met. It just happens that writing is the tool He's given me to use:)

Nancy said...

I'd be glad to tell again why I blog. I started out to have a place to publish some of my writings. I did that. Along the way, I found that I enjoyed the spontaneous little items the Lord gave me to say along the way better that the old stuff.

Mostly I blog because I have found such sweet friends. I am lonely for them when I take a break. I pray for them. I care for them.

I know that is your heart, too. And I am so glad your husband is doing well and that you found a good church. Continued blessings in your new home state.

Kenda Turner said...

While I understand that blogging and other social media places are important for marketing, building platforms, etc. etc., I think the very pressure of others telling us we must do these things takes the joy out of blogging. Somewhere along the line we need to determine for ourselves what the next step is, and not succumb to pressure--while at the same time recognizing when to step back and seek rest and restoration when we need it.

Yours has been a tough journey lately, but by sharing, you've helped us all more than you realize to analyze what's truly important. Thank you. Prayers are with you that all works out, especially with your family needs.

Sarah Forgrave said...

It's easy to get burnt out sometimes, isn't it? That's why I think occasional breaks are necessary for our passion. I blog because I love connecting with fellow writers and (hopefully) future readers.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I always appreciate your candor. It makes me love you more, if that's possible!

I blog because I love to interact with people, and I learn so much from them. But I do wear down sometimes. And I certainly see your point about tons of other things being more important.

For me, it boils down to hearing from the Holy Spirit. If I listen and follow, I'm at peace. If I don't, I"m a mess.

Kara said...

So sorry about your dad and being so far away from family:( What you say is true. I'm taking a class on building my platform etc and it is very interesting. But at the end of the day I know that I blog to make people smile, or to inspire them. I figure that is my platform and hopefully it works.

L'Aussie said...

Hi Terri.

Sorry to hear about your dad.

I'm hearing you about blogging. I was reading yesterday how twitter and facebook are now promoting advertising products where we can get paid to push products to our followers. They say it might lead to the death of social networking.

We have to reclaim blogging. I totally get that people use their blogs to promote their books etc and I don't have a problem with that. I might do the same, but I like to see blog posts about what people think about things, as you've done here.

I value my blogging friends and love their comments as they connect with me about my writing, whereas my friends and family in 'real' lifeI keep excluded from my writerly side.

Bless you.

Denise

Deborah said...

That's a hard question to answer...since I seldom post anymore....but I do agree with you on what is important in life. Maybe when my life is more settled and I feel like I have something positive to say, I'll get back to blogging, but right now, I can't trust what might come out my fingertips!

Rhonda Schrock said...

Boy, that's a great question. I blog because I love it. That's part of it. And it connects me with people. I find the marketing aspect of it all to be rather overwhelming and struggle constantly with the whole thing of balance.

No answers, T, just more questions, I guess. But I really like who you are. Right now.

Nicole said...

Family definitely comes first and I do not believe that your blog will suffer because you write about who you are.

I blog because I have to write. It's in my blood plain and simple.

Susan said...

Hi Terri...
Why do I blog? Because I love to write, to share,to make friends throughout the USA and world.

I never thought of it as a marketing tool and probably never will.

I was sad to read your father is alone in a nursing home. Can you write to him every day? Call him frequently? Even if he cannot respond, he might like hearing your voice. Just a thought. It's sad for a parent to be far from a child, no matter the age of the child.

Take care, Terri. I have always loved reading your blog. Sincerely, Susan

Retired English Teacher said...

Well said, Terri. I totally agree with you. I read a book on blogging that said a blogger should only concentrate on blogs that had big readerships.

Well, that is not what blogging is all about for me. I think blogging is about being real, authentic, and honest. That doesn't mean we have to share everything that we are going through, but sharing our struggles and sorrows help others along the way.

Know that you are in my prayers. I'm sorry for the sorrow of missing your child and not being there with your father. God bless.

Lisa Petrarca said...

Great post Terri! I use my personal blog (Lisa Petrarca's Blog) as sort of a diary., sharing my weekly life stuff. My 'Bowl of Inspiration' blog is strictly for sharing the Lord's word through scriptures and uplifting life topics.

I used to care about how many comments I received but now, years later, I write just because I need to write...get stuff out, spend time doing what pulls at my heart. AND...I just wrote a mini book on your blog!lol! Sorry.

Jill said...

Blogging is an outlet, I guess. I always hope I'll make a connection or two with other misfits, and I have, so I guess I must count myself successful (though not on my blog, really, but from interacting on others' blogs, which is also fun). I like candid, I like funny, I like debates and serious topics. I like the full range of blogging styles.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I started blogging because of platform building, but as I have connected with wonderful writing friends from all over the world, I am kind of hooked and its a great way to learn from everyone. We all have so much to share.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I get this. Oh, do I get this. I struggle each week for any words to write. I keep it going for the relationships that I've gained... for the relationships that might come. I'll be honest, though. I'm have low energy reserves and little want to for the entire thing. I'd rather sit with you and others at Starbucks and hear your voice!

Thanks for all the encouragement you give to me.

peace~elaine

Sally said...

My husband encouraged me to blog as a creative outlet. There has been intention behind some posts but the overall blog is more a repository for my thoughts and a place for friends and family to meet up with me.

I understand the 'platform' and in trying to wrap myself around that concept I've discovered I don't want it.

Gaining online friends has been an unexpected side blessing. I count you among those blessings. Have a great day!

Jill Kemerer said...

First, I love your blog.

Second, I'm sorry about your dad. It must be really hard being so far away from him. I hope you'll be able to see your daughter soon. :)

Sassy Granny ... said...

It's a discipline like many others, isn't it? Sometimes I struggle with it, but only when I allow it to be some obligatory club that insists on certain behaviors on my part.

But when I remember why I began, I find it amazingly freeing. I blog for my grandchildren; to leave them a trail I'd be proud to have them follow. I hope one day they'll know me better than they would have otherwise. God only knows I have wished my mother & grandmothers had done likewise.

The fact that I have found friendship & community here is simply a bonus!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I blog for the online friendships. For the interaction I need to get me through a day of edits and help me see this journey as a community of writers, not a bunch of single writers. I like being an encourager to blog friends and receiving encouragement from them too.

I blog REGULARLY, or try hard to, for the marketing aspect though, I must admit. I wonder if a lot of us are like that?

Rahul Bhatia said...

A lovely blog Terri!Listening to one's heart or inner voice is more important!

Jessica Nelson said...

I originally started my blog so I'd have a web presence. That said, while it might market some stuff (cuz all my info will be on it) it's more valuable to me as a networking/relationship building tool. I LOVE all my blogger friends and have been so blessed to know you.
I blog because I'm curious about people and I like to learn new stuff. The friendships have been the best thing about blogging.

Stacy Henrie said...

I like blogging for the same reason I like writing - I love telling stories. Instead of fiction, my blog allows me to tell "real" stories as well as "meet" super cool writers like you, Terri. :)

Amanda said...

Hi Terri. Wonderful blog you have there! You seem to be a very thoughtful person who can translate their words in a very mindful matter on your blog. It's very refreshing. We would love to feature you on our website, Why I Blog. Feel free to submit your story to us on the main page (whyiblog.com). It would be great to have you!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I know what you mean. All that info and all those suggestions can really suck the enjoyment out of blogging.
I blog because I enjoy talking to people and like the interaction. I feel I have some really strong relationships built from it.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Awww, Terri...I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad and how long it has been since you saw your daughter. I know the move had its ups and obviously, its downs. I'm glad your husband is happy in his new job and that you have found a church that fits you perfectly.

I love the connections I've made blogging. That wasn't why I started doing it, but that's why I continue doing it. I think you do what keeps people coming back...you are real on your blog. Sharing yourself is what builds those connections and relationships...

(((hug)))

Carol Riggs said...

Wouldn't that be great, to meet some of our bloggy friends in real life? I've met one or two, but I'd like to meet more. It's about friendships and connecting, not just self-promotion. You're right--there are more important things than how many comments you've gotten, or how many follwers. :)

Maria I. Morgan said...

I'm glad you blog, Terri! It's been wonderful getting to know you and pray for you as you've gone through some transitions in your life. Why do I blog? To share the truth of God's Word with today's generation. Sure I love comments - but I've also found myself neglecting some important things. So I've taken some time to re-group. Have a beautiful week! Hugs!

Kathryn Neff Perry said...

Terri, I loved this post. I've been asking myself that question----however, I think the Lord just keeps telling me, you keep blogging girl.
You are an inspiration to all who know you---don't give up!
Hugs and blessings to you my friend
Kathy

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

You're an inspiration to me. You say what's on your heart and mind without wondering if it will hurt your online persona.

While blogging is a great plank in the writing platform, it's only a positive one if we are real. I never want to lose sight of why I'm writing and for Whom I'm writing.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Paul Greci said...

Beautiful post, Terri!

Mostly, I blog as a way to interact with other readers and writers.
My blogging activity ebbs and flows in relationship to the rest of my life. Right now, I'm in the middle of semester of teaching, I'm taking a class, and then there's the rest of life, so my blog has been a tad quieter than it was last year at this time.

Deb Shucka said...

I blog to tell stories and to connect with people I care about. I blog to read stories and learn I'm not alone.

For a while I worried that I wasn't building a big enough platform, but I've got my hands full trying to write the book I know is in here somewhere. No time to worry about things over which I have no control.

Thank you for this post. I hope you felt better writing it, and reading all these responses. :-)

Lauren F. Boyd said...

Hey, Terri! I am sorry to hear about the things that you are struggling with. I'm praying for you.

And I totally agree with what you're saying: Real life comes first. Family matters more than blogging or writing or networking, so you are right to be putting those things first and to be thinking about those things first. I try to priorize as well: if my manuscript submission doesn't get out the door today because I'm playing with my kids, it's not a big deal.

Keep up the good work!

Kathryn Magendie said...

OH, you don't know how you touched a nerve in me -- I struggle all the time because I don't "advertise" my books on my blog --I will talk about them every so often, like when something is happening or good news I guess, but I rarely do anything "Book/Author related" and I wonder .... should I be? or should I just keep doing whatever I want/feel like on my blog?

I notice my blog has grown a bit stagnant - meaning, it hasn't grown in "followers" and all - but, then again, I rarely have time to visit around and I've been off a schedule lately with all that's going on in my life.

I blog because I love connecting with people (and notice I didn't just write "readers"- something I can't do so much where I live. That's the main reason - so maybe that's part of the answer to my question!

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