For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Woes of Blogging

Two summers ago, I was toying with between 3,000 to 5,000 hits a day on my other blog. Nowadays, between 500 and 800, which is kind of insulting but very well deserved after 18-22 months of near total neglect -- other than posting, of course.

Here's a total waste of my time with a whopping 50 readers a day, but I don't do this blog for readers, this is just my whimsy. My "I can't afford therapy, so..." blog.

I'm angry I've allowed Smut to become so neglected. I'm angry I have to more or less start from scratch with my readers there. I'm smart enough to know how to build my traffic up, to a degree, and what I don't know, I can learn.

The one thing I have is my writing -- and that's been getting a bit stronger of late. Whatever other bloggers have, I need to remember my writing was very, very popular for a little bit and my linkage was fucking insane back in the day, propelling me to the top 8,000 on Technorati (out of 65 million at the time) for Smut's precursor, the Cunting Linguist. Hell, one "manifesto" I wrote received such incredible viral spread that I had people for months saying "Oh, so you're the author of that brilliant...", and it was such a high, being "the author of". I want that high back. Man, do I.

I can build it back up. I spent the whole night last night ignoring the mess in my apartment and retooling the site. It looks much prettier now, even sexy, which has certainly been some of my problem with the blog. Another problem has been my laziness and not finding images for each posting. I'll need to start getting the graphic content up 'cos a lot of people are scared of all text. I've got an awesome eye for aesthetics, and I need to put it to work for myself.

I need to start reading other blogs and leaving comments on significant postings when I know there's a big readership. That's how I did it the first time, it's how I'll do it this time.

I wasn't ready for my blog to be a success two years ago. When my life came off the rails, the blog had been shadowing my life, and it went hurtling off-track too. I felt like a fraud, trying to run a blog about improving yourself, caring for others, and feeling sexy... I wasn't that person, I didn't feel like pretending to be her when I felt like everything around me was blowing up. Plus, I was depressed as all hell. I was terrified that success would prove to me that everything about myself is a lie.

I don't feel that way now. Now I feel like I'm proving all the things I've always believed. Now I know I can continue to do that. I'm feeling more successful in my personal life, despite the dryspell of epic proportions (or maybe because of it... lovers tend to take our focus off ourselves), and I'm ready to be She of the Blog.

I just can't fucking believe I've let it go this long. Had to... it's taken me this long to feel like I'm getting my shit reasonably together. But now I'm daunted at the prospect of redoing all the work I've done before. I need to learn all about stupid widgets like Dig It and stuff like that, which I don't yet know much about and have never cared much for, but grudgingly have come to realize how important it is on a site.

So April's all about getting my food and diet on page, but it's also about starting to rebuild my web popularity.

'Cause I know I can do it. Did it before with nothing but my voice and sense of humour, and I can do it again. I need to remember what I think people like about my writing -- one, a constant willingness to dig deeper, two, a relentless quipping ability, and, three, a pretty hip worldview worth sharing. Right? Something like.

Fucking writing, though, man... my coworker's this really cool artist. She does this great charicature work and has a real throw-back to the stylings of people like Edward Gorey, and if I ever do a kid's book, she'd be my illustrator hands down. If she'd have me. But she's great to talk about work ethic with. She's struggled through times of having challenges with focus and applying herself, and has drawn quite a bit remembering that her art is a JOB, not just a passion, and things need to be worked through.

I work through things, but I focus too much on myself. That's all right here, where 12 people will read what I write and most are good friends in real life, but I can't be doing that as much on Smut. I need to write about issues. How hard is it? I read news, read other people's blogs, and I comment -- that's ALL I need to do.

Writing's hard to fucking fake when you're not in the headset for it. I tend to allow myself to believe I can't fake it when I'm scattered, but that's a lie. I can. I choose not to. I take the path of least resistence, and like a fucking 3 year old child, I make it all about me instead of ignoring life's little annoyances and focusing instead on the real world. Blogging needs to be my job.

I've gotten out of the habit of reading other blogs -- I'm in a news rut. I read CNN, IHT, and a few other news sources, and that's it. I have to find the blogs that are read the most, have the healthiest comment communities, and that can provide the most fodder. The more blogs I link to, the more reciprocal links I'll get, and the more I comment on others', the more they'll comment on my comments, and the higher my links will place me on Technorati.

That's it. That's the simple secret to basic blogging success. Everything else helps, but THAT's what you need to do for success.

And all of that matters precious fucking little if all you have to say is simply rehashing what others have to say. THAT is not a problem I will EVER have, and it's time I start really believing in myself on that front.

Anyhow. Retooling the basic look of my blog has been 18 months in the making. Now it looks cool. Now everything else will fall into place, because I know what I have to do... and I'm getting prepared to make the committment.

But SIGH. The believing in my writing thing... wow. I tell you, that'll be the hardest part of this journey. I suppose it's why I'm avoiding going back to read all my shit from the last 18 months for sidebar-filling purposes... hell I haven't even updated my best-of-steff archives on this sidebar in two years. I have no fucking idea what I've been writing. Everything I write, I spend 30 minutes on, tops, I move on, and I never read it again. Nothing fills me with "wow, I churned that out, baby!" because I never give myself the chance to digest it. When I do reread work of old, I tend to be shocked at my occasional eloquence and am often pleasantly surprised. But leading up to that, whew... I just hate it. Oh, I hate it.

So now I'm terrified that my writing was sufficiently shitty enough to lose literally 60-90% of my readership. But what I should be reminding myself is that, despite never writing on the issues, despite not keeping current culturally, despite never having graphics, despite being all me-me-me, despite never having a nice-looking design... I've KEPT 30% of the readers through what is solidly the worst blogging I've ever done, and for about 500 days, too. That says something, right?

I'll tell you the one thing I keep saying to myself that I'll one day believe. It's something I heard Patti LaBelle say, I think it was Patti, when asked what she wished she could have said to herself in her 30s that she now, older and wiser, truly knows. Know what she said?

"Believe the hype, baby."

I totally don't believe the hype. But first I gotta build the hype back up... Then I'll figure out whether I think it's believable. :)

Ah, fuck it, I have a real job to go to. Right. Well. There I go then.