Two weeks ago I began a journey to discover the blogging world. At the time my biggest questions had not fully developed. In my mind I was thinking "What is this and do I want to do it?" Little did I know that this seemingly simple question would create so many more as I looked for an answer. As I searched for other bloggers, read their ‘About Me’ pages, and got lost in the webs of connected posts, networking, tutorials, and how-to’s, I got a little overwhelmed. How does anyone break into this world? How do you create your own ‘voice’ like everyone keeps mentioning? Experts say you should specialize in a topic, but what if you are just a 20-something married student who doesn't know anything about the world? If I don’t specialize are people even going to want to know what I have to say? Are my writing and photography skills even strong enough for this? The questions kept pouring on and on.
Then I changed my point of research. Instead of just going from blog to blog and perusing sites while looking up complicated how-to articles, I narrowed my focus down to ‘lifestyle’ or ‘personal’ blogs. From there I also changed what I was looking at. While I enjoy sitting at my table and discovering people and how they are living their life, I still needed answers about what this (now more defined) world means and why it is as popular as it is. I had previously stumbled on a personal blog that had both an ‘About Me’ page and a post somewhere that talked about why they blog. Searching out these posts from bloggers was more insightful than what I had found in all of the ‘blog how-to’s’ I had found earlier. These posts didn't concern how to make the most money, receive sponsors as fast as possible, or have your content picked up by larger publications. These bloggers began to open up to why they were personally driven to blogging, which I found to be interesting.
I decided to start with 20 personal blogs chosen at random. As I read their 'About Me' and 'Why I Blog' posts I kept a tally of common trends between bloggers. In these 20 blogs I found 25 individual reasons why people do it. The very fact that I discovered more reasons for blogging in this controlled number of blogs than the number of blogs I looked at, shows the individuality of each writer and the number of ways their blog can impact themselves and their readers. Some of these reasons can be wrapped into similar categories in order to easier explain their application, while all of them work together to paint a picture of the blogging world, both from a blogger perspective and a reader perspective. These were the three most common trends I found:
To Share Experiences
Nearly every blogger I studied has the goal to share their experiences with the world around them. Making their daily/weekly/monthly lives public on the internet makes this easy to share. While these bloggers desired to share their lives in a similar outlet (blogging), their individuality comes out when you learn of their motivations for sharing. Some share as a way of keeping distant family up to date on their lives. Some share in order to stay connected with long lost friends. Another blogger might be sharing a religious testimony. Others share as a way to inspire others who may be struggling with similar trials. Still others may selectively share in a way to acknowledge and breed optimism through a trial. By sharing with others what you do/believe/desire you create a common ground that has the ability to influence others and build relationships and a community.
To Connect with Others
By reading through all the information in the dozens of overall blogs I studied I realized that the blogging community is strong. Not only is it strong in the sense that there are millions of bloggers out there, but strong in their sense of unity. Just as strong as the desire to share, the desire to connect drives the content bloggers create. They create worlds where anyone with a shared experience or desire for this shared experience can gather to have virtual conversations about a common thread. Bloggers are constantly referencing and directing traffic to each other in a way that is mutually beneficial. Another growing trend in the blogging world is the practice of bloggers responding to any reader who comments on their blog. Through the past couple of weeks, as I dove into this world I would leave comments, pin things to Pinterest, and participated in contests. Quite often my participation would be rewarded with a follow-up comment, email, or page view to my own part of the internet. It is easy to see that the unity between participants in the blogging world is a major reason for its popularity and growth.
As a Personal Outlet
Whether as an outlet for creativity, a desire to write, a love of recipes or do-it-yourself projects, personal bloggers find a way to create a part of the world that they love and enjoy building on. Some blogs are written in prose, others as bullet points, and others as personable conversation. A blog may have a simple design in a way to showcase the writing, or it could be full of pictures and graphics with only a few lines of description. A blogger might choose to develop a hobby or they may choose to specifically document one part of their life. Others use the blogging itself as a hobby to take their mind off their responsibilities or trials. A blog is as helpful to the blogger who creates it as the reader who benefits from the hard work.
If these are the three most common reasons to build a blog then it is easy to see why this world of blogs is increasing so steadily. As humans we all have a desire to share our lives in a way that will connect us with others and a blog seems like a natural way to reach out to the world. A blog also seems to be a safe place to venture. There is a certain standard in the blogging world where anything you write (unless you are purposefully looking for a fight) is responded to with positivity. This positivity builds up more of the unity and feeling of community that draws in even more people. All this considered, I have decided that the blogging world is not as intimidating as it may originally have seemed. There is no right or wrong way to create your own part of the internet. Once you decide what you want to accomplish or not accomplish with your blog you are then able to determine how much work/time/effort you want to put into building your own network and community of readers and fellow bloggers.
Sorry this is so long. To be totally honest, this study and write-up was also part of an Anthropology assignment, and therefore had length requirements. It made it easier to do since I was already interested in this topic. It was nice to be able to spend time looking at blogs for the sake of homework!