Blogging Is Not An Obligation

We get letters, oh yes, we get letters. And lately we have received several that suggest that your old pal Jack is a scoundrel and a scallywag. They have chastised me for a variety of things and have accused me of intentionally committing a multitude of blogging sins.

Some of the letters have suggested that I do something that to the best of my knowledge is anatomically impossible. It is an interesting idea and if I could I might not ever leave the house. Unfortunately I am not quite that flexible. Sorry Charlie. But I did decide to dedicate this next sentence to you and therefore I am typing slowly so that you can keep up. I know how cumbersome it is to read words and not look at pictures, especially the glossy kind.

Another one of my fans wrote in to say that I have an obligation to do better than I am doing. I am in agreement that I want to do better than I am doing but it is not because I think that I am doing poorly- it is because I always want to improve. I want to become a better writer. That is a natural desire on my part. But I don’t feel obligated to do so because of the reader.

This isn’t my job. I don’t get paid to do this. I do it because I love it. I do it because I enjoy the interaction and engagement with people. I like talking to moms and dads about parenting. I like sharing stories and talking about science/medicine/music/sports/business. It is fun.

What Makes a Blog Successful?

I could write an entire post about this but it is Friday and my time is limited so I’ll keep this short. The definition of a successful blog is subjective and based upon the goals of the blogger.  It is not contingent upon being paid to write or getting a hundred comments per post. These things are only significant if they are meaningful to the blogger. Without his/her approval they are meaningless.

For me the most important part of blogging is that I enjoy  it. I love writing. I love the interaction. I love meeting people and developing friendships that could never have come about in any other way. That makes me happy and that is what makes me feel like I am successful.

Keywords and Most Popular Posts

Some people will tell you that you should determine what posts are most popular so that you can focus on writing more about those topics. They’ll tell you that it is important to see what keywords drive traffic to your site so that you can leverage that. I pay attention to those things but mostly because I find it interesting. Here is a snapshot of some of my most popular posts based upon my stats. If you are a regular reader you’ll notice that most are recent.

It is interesting to see, but like I said most are recent so I have to wonder what is missing. Or should I say that I wonder about posts that didn’t benefit from being showcased/promoted as well. What about posts that weren’t pushed in front of as many eyeballs. Maybe lack of exposure doomed the finest thing I have ever written to obscurity. I wonder about it, but I don’t spend too much time wondering/worrying about it.

Because I do this for fun and not obligation. More importantly, I feel good about it and that is worth a lot. How about you? What do you think? Why do you come here and what do you hope to get out of it?

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Comments

  1. @therapydoc That feeling of obligation strikes all of us. When it does I try to step away from the ‘puter or at least take a moment to catch my breath and then just write.

  2. @therapydoc That feeling of obligation strikes all of us. When it does I try to step away from the ‘puter or at least take a moment to catch my breath and then just write.

  3. @adamsok Hi Adam. Thank you for the visit. I apologize for the delayed response. I think you are right that most people have a purpose in blogging, but I often wonder how many have really thought through why they are doing it.

    I think that it is great for people to try to monetize their blog. It takes some effort to do it and there is no reason not to be compensated for it, provided that you can find a way to do so.

    Looking forward to seeing you here again.

  4. @adamsok Hi Adam. Thank you for the visit. I apologize for the delayed response. I think you are right that most people have a purpose in blogging, but I often wonder how many have really thought through why they are doing it.

    I think that it is great for people to try to monetize their blog. It takes some effort to do it and there is no reason not to be compensated for it, provided that you can find a way to do so.

    Looking forward to seeing you here again.

  5. therapydoc says:

    I hate that Must Blog feeling of obligation, and it can really paralyze me. I like this post.

  6. Hi Jack, this is honestly the first time I am reading your blog. I came to this article from another blog, because as a fellow blogger, the title sounded interesting.

    I believe everyone has a purpose for blogging, some is monetary, others for a cause, and some as a creative outlet. For me, I’m looking to help fellow small business owners to grow their businesses. The blog is a conduit for communicating those messages, though I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t tell you there were monetary reasons as well.

    Anyway, nice post! Looking over those others you listed in this article, I have some more reading to do.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better!

    Adam

  7. Jared Karol says:

    @TheJackB thank you very much! I agree that it can feel magical when it’s really clicking. . . Yes, would love to hang out again!

  8. @BrandonPDuncan It is too hard to try to please everyone so there is no need to try. Better to just write and be happy with what you have written. It is much more enjoyable or so I think.

    I am always happy to see visitors here and I appreciate your time.

  9. BrandonPDuncan says:

    I’ll be honest, I don’t read you to ‘get’ anything. You are interesting, so I read. The hype about the perfect blog is a bit farfetched to me. Especially when it is changing daily or worse, when the way to do it is argued. I am almost over trying to get things juuuust right. I am just going to concentrate on my writing, same as you. Somebody will like it. 🙂

  10. @SeattleDad Some people have too much time on their hands. It is actually kind of funny to me to think that a few words here can cause so much craziness.

  11. SeattleDad says:

    I can’t believe that people take the time to write and criticize. Why? I just said this same thing over at SuperDaddy, if you don’t like something that is written, go read some of the billions of other things out there. You will probably find something that suits you. Just let us write what makes us happy.

  12. @John Falchetto No worries. We scoundrels do as we please. Sometimes that means that we nod our heads yes at your suggestion and then do whatever we want anyway. 😉

  13. @TheJackB Just kidding Jack; its your blog; not mine

  14. @John Falchetto That is a fine idea- will do. 😉 @girlygrizzly

  15. @JessicaNorthey I am a big advocate for riding the wave. I don’t believe in ignoring inspiration- when the words flow from our fingertips it is time to write.

    I appreciate your visit. It is fun getting to know you too. I am glad that joined Anubis.

  16. @KDillabough Kaarina, I’ll quote my grandfather and say that you are my favorite Olympian- of course you are the only one that I “know” at all.

    But seriously, I appreciate your visit here. I really like your landing page and the things you said there. Partners in accountability and the decision to do make a lot of sense.

  17. @Hajra We sometimes forget how unique and interesting our lives can be to other people. It is not necessarily through any voyeuristic tendencies but through genuine curiosity. There are people living lives that may seem ordinary to them, but to others they really are extraordinary.

    For example a reader from Israel asked me to write about my fraternity experiences. Initially I was surprised, but I came to find out that he went to a university that didn’t have any and was wondering if it was like the movies.

    I agree that our reasons for writing is personal and I am good with that.

    @John Falchetto

  18. @Jared Karol Hey Jared I was just talking about you and some of the other dads who have twins.

    Anyway, as I mentioned on the hangout- I like reading your writing too. It may sound silly, but blogging sometimes feels magical to me. The chance to interact and talk about the mundane and the profound is something that I appreciate.

    I look forward to hanging out again.

  19. @John Falchetto It really is amazing to me to think of the friends I have made and the people I have met through blogging.@girlygrizzly

    People have lots of choices for how to spend their time. It is not our responsibility to try and make them happy.

  20. @StartYourNovel Your story about Will Wheaton reminds me of why I am not anxious to be famous. There is much to be said for being able to live unencumbered by the “trappings” of fame.

    You are right about the “vampiric lurkers” they are out there. It is part of the package that the blogosphere presents.

    I was thinking about you the other day. Those pictures you shared were great. I think that they stimulate thought and ideas for writing.

  21. JessicaNorthey says:

    I always say blog because you want to. I go through phases where I blog everyday then sometimes I don’t for a week. i have been very inspired lately…don’t know what has gotten into me but I figure I will ride the wave til I fall off, right?

    thanks for always being supportive of me. I truly enjoy you and getting to know you! xo

  22. JessicaNorthey says:

    I always say blog because you want to. I go through phases where I blog everyday then sometimes I don’t for a week. i have been very inspired lately…don’t know what has gotten into me but I figure I will ride the wave til I fall off, right?

    thanks for always being supportive of me. I truly enjoy you and getting to know you! xo

  23. I come here because I love how you write. Your sentences are poetic: you string words together like lyrics to a good song. Frankly, I don’t always understand what you’re saying…I get lost in the flow of words. But that’s what I like. I don’t try to figure it out…I just go with that flow. You’re a drink of cool water on a hot day, my friend. Cheers! Kaarina

  24. I just wrote a post about how I don’t know what to blog about at all! And to think about it, I have been here, just a year!

    We do it for the fun, really I would agree with @John Falchetto ; also meeting new people. Why are we doing this is totally personal..to each his own!

  25. Jared Karol says:

    Hey Jack, great post once again. . . I come here because I enjoy your fluid writing style and your honesty to tell it like it is. I also like your appreciation of the reader and your openness to want to talk with us on a personal level–whether it is within the comments here on the site, or through outside channels. Keep it up!

  26. @TheJackB I feel you should add more photos and write more about music Jack 😉 @girlygrizzly

  27. “I don’t get paid to write’ this is the bottom line Jack. We do this for fun, if it helps someone along the way, all the better. If someone doesn’t like what we write about, or thinks we are doing it wrong, well there are tons of blogs out there.

    I love the social aspect of blogging, meeting new people from all over the world, @girlygrizzly in Alaska, you in LA. This wouldn’t happen without my blog. But in the end we don’t get paid to do it so we don’t owe anything to anyone either.

  28. StartYourNovel says:

    People can burden you with their expectations and all too easily forget you never committed to anything they want.

    The other day on Google+, Wil Wheaton (remember Wesley Crusher from Star Trek TNG?) described an incident where a bunch of TNG fans surrounded him outside a hotel, separated him from his friends and young son and shoved photos in his face, clamoring for autographs, and for each photo he signed three more would take its place.

    With help from his friends he was able to extricate himself from the situation. One woman followed them, screaming that she had camped out in front of the hotel for whatever length of time, and that Wheaton “owed her.”

    Owed her? Excuse me? Since when are you responsible for the actions of deranged lurkers-on-the-fringe (hey, there’s a Lovecraftian word for ye) that have singled you out as their prophet?

    All I’m saying is, this can happen to bloggers on a smaller scale. Keep at it long enough, grow a large enough community, and you’ll end up attracting the vampiric lurkers, the ones who think you owe them something. Their claims don’t matter. You’re not on their payroll. They do not understand most bloggers do not write (exclusively) for money, nor that they have interests outside of blogging and maybe even the limited range of topics that their blog covers.

    Me, I’m very much into film, painting and photography, but I don’t write about those things very regularly — imagine if someone tried to coerce me into blogging about a particular topic. Whew. I would a) feel slightly bemused b) ignore them.

    Though you should write some more about scalawags, Jack. I heard they can change their color, like chameleons, and have trouble breathing clean air.

  29. @girlygrizzly Hey Amber. How are things in Alaska? johnfalchetto ‘s post about getting away made me think of Alaska. I could use some time away from everything- Alaska is close enough to get to easily but far enough away to feel like I have stepped out of my world.

    Anyway, I don’t pay much attention to the trolls and naysayers. They are part of the blogosphere and sometimes they make for good blog fodder.

    Glad to hear that your blog is growing. When you work hard at something it is nice to see that your efforts are paying off.

    One of the big tricks in blogging is to sustain your effort. If you do that good things usually come of it.

  30. @subWOW Somewhere in the archives is a post about the time I called Panda Express and ordered 2 pounds of Panda meat. Does that count. 😉

    I wouldn’t say that I am huge, but I am good at making waves. Not sure if that is the kind of skill that I need or want, but…

  31. I am absolutely incensed that you are not writing more about baby pandas! It is your obligation as a blogger to write about them because they are popular and loved by all!

    Seriously though, when I saw the title of your new post, my heart skipped a beat. Whenever I feel obligated, it stops being fun; and since I am doing this for fun, I’d be putting the horse in front of the cart, so to speak. However, I am jealous: having irate readers only means that you are HUGE. 🙂

  32. girlygrizzly says:

    I say, “Lemme at ’em” (no, no, hold me back, I’m a momma, cant go to jail) “lemme at ’em”! (Hey, keep up here, or you’ll have two more littles to watch over!)

    Jack. (Scallywag, eh? huh.) Dude. You’re awesome. I always learn “stuff” from you! About business, about being a blogger, about how to be a better one, things about myself and honestly, I feel like we are friends. So. Other things come to mind, but I don’t want the disappointed look I am sure I would earn if I let-er rip, some of the Ladies would have on their faces next time I saw them…if they let me stay!

    My blog is growing, Jack. It’s a really big deal. Even with my stupid Discus not cuttin the mustard…do I dare try Livefyre?? (cringe) I had an email waiting for me to turn it all on this morning.. I swear, it made me cry! (No, don’t worry, not the creepy-evil-stalker-dude) That email is exactly -from every single angle you could read it from, the REASON I started blogging. Now? There is so much more.

    Just do it!

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