Perhaps three or four of the ten of you who read this blog with any degree of regularity will understand when I say I miss the good ol’ days of blogging, you know, back when we traded awards and buttons and memes and participated in weekly carnivals. Maybe my inner cynic is showing but blogging seemed funner then, easier somehow. There were no rules or best practices to follow and certainly no blog experts or or consultants or books or conferences or lists of ranks (yes, there really are all of those things in abundance).
We all just blogged our blogs apart from any blogger guilt.
Blogger guilt? Yes, it’s real, at least for this blogger, and yes, you’re right, it’s dumb. But like most guilt it isn’t something I necessarily choose. Rather, somewhere, at some point, I learned the rules, such as they are, and now I find it difficult to escape their tyranny. What rules, you ask? Well, to begin with, it’s links everyone is after, thus branding oneself and building a tribe of followers who aid in the promotion of that brand become critical in order to generate the much sought after linkage and resulting traffic. Branding involves developing your content niche in addition to the advantageous and deliberate use of social media to promote your site.
In that same pursuit of links and traffic there is an unspoken quid pro quo: someone likes and comments and retweets and you respond in kind. Eventually we are all liking and linking and retweeting the same stuff but that doesn’t really matter, at least not in the jockeying for social media attention.
In terms of content, a quick survey will indicate the successful and popular blogger either writes the kinds of posts that are a cross between an op-ed and a doctoral thesis or she will craft posts full of beautiful imagery and heavily emotive language expressed in a succession of one sentence paragraphs.
Or she will be funny.
And, if you’re counting, that’s three strikes against this particular blogger (me).
Additionally, today’s popular blogger is helped if she has someone or a set of someones with which she disagrees. To that end, she herself must hold her convictions firmly and without equivocation, thus being fully prepared to defend her position stridently and passionately. There is no room for wondering or waffling because, well, there are other bloggers also looking for someone to disagree with and chances are it might be you. When the critics come, it’s a no holds barred kind of game so it’s best to be ready or be careful.
Ok, ok, so maybe there aren’t really a set of blogger rules and perhaps I’m engaging in a fair amount of snark. Exaggeration aside, please hear me clearly: there is nothing wrong with any or all of the above pursuits, excepting, obviously, the excessive employment of disagreement and criticism. Some of you are actively building your brand for the advancement of the kingdom and I applaud your efforts. May the Lord grant you great blogging influence so that you may declare to many the excellencies of His goodness and grace.
When it comes to me, however, I am not this sort of blogger. And, dumb or not, I feel strangely guilty about that.
I say it’s a strange guilt because, hello, blogging is a hobby and, as I just admitted, there aren’t really any rules. Many of the rules that feel like rules are not rules at all. For example, there is nothing inherently rule-keeping or rule-breaking about commenting (or not) on someone’s post or only blogging once in a blue moon or writing about nothing but real life wholly apart from a single opinion or footnote or quote. Also, I don’t have to chime in on every blogger brouhaha nor express an opinion on the hype and hysteria sweeping the internet on a given day.
There are no rules. I am free. I can write what I write and you can read if you want.
I know this truth seems painfully, blatantly obvious to nearly all of you still reading (anyone? anyone?). Obvious, yes, of course it is, but it is nonetheless profoundly freeing to me. There are no rules by which I must perform or else. I will write what I write when I feel like writing it. Doing so may not score me many links or increase my traffic or build my tribe but I will know the freedom and joy of doing something I love for the sole purpose of loving it.
My corner of the blogging world is small indeed, my traffic nearly negligible, my writing ordinary and undisciplined at best. These things, while true, matter little, really, if I am true to my aim here at the blog: to write because I enjoy it and because I have something I want to say: Jesus saved me and I love Him and I want you to love Him too.
Like me, do you miss the good ol’ days of blogging? What do you miss the most? Do you agree with my list of unspoken blogging rules that aren’t really rules but sometimes feel like rules? Any other rule breakers out there? What helps you maintain a sense of freedom and joy in your blogging?