New Year’s Resolutions, Deodorant & Car Repairs

“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”― Theodore Roosevelt

A reader once sent me an email in which they offered advice that they said would make my blog better and more popular. Here is what they shared with me:

  1. Stop updating so frequently. We can’t keep up and most people don’t care.
  2. You are too negative. You bring us down and people don’t like that.

That’s not verbatim but it is very close. I didn’t respond to their email and it wasn’t because I couldn’t.

I didn’t because I couldn’t think of a reason why I needed to convince them to like my blog or why they needed to change. I suppose that some of it was because I wasn’t going to and I didn’t expect them to either.

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: "...

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: “To a good year” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why I Do What I Do

I blog the way I do because it pleases me. This makes me happy. My posts are as long or as short as they need to be and they cover the topics that need to be covered. Some people love my writing, some hate it and some are indifferent.

This is ok. It is life and it is how the world works. I am powerful and capable of changing many things but this is not a battle I need to fight. I pay attention to those battles, especially around the new year.

I probably should qualify that and say I am talking about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is just around the corner and I am feeling a bit unsettled.

This happens every year. I could give you a long winded story about why but it is well after midnight and it is probably not necessary.

Instead let me say that part of why I am unsettled is because I am in the midst of big changes that have taken far longer to settle than I had planned for and it is a bit disruptive.

It is also because this is the time of year for introspection and while my overall sense of who I am and what I am about it is good there are things that I am unsatisfied with, hence I am unsettled.

Deodorant

This weekend we bought deodorant for my son. Today he asked me to show him how to use it. It may sound silly but it was cool and I suspect a precursor to shaving.

We are a long way off before that comes, but it is something that I have long looked forward to. I remember my father teaching me. I am not in a rush to teach my son, but I expect it will be at an older age than I was for the very simple reason that his hair is light brown.

My beard is black and distinct. His shadow will be less noticeable than mine. He doesn’t know that is a perk, but he will.

This past weekend I watched him play soccer and saw him really begin to come into his own. He has been making big improvements for a while now, but it is clear that things click in a way they didn’t before.

The boy is really turning into the preteen I have been expecting to show up. I am both excited and nervous.

His Bar Mitzvah is next year. How the hell am I going to pay for it.

Car Repairs

I am sure I’ll figure it out but moments like today don’t help. I am referring to car repairs.

Today was pretty simple, it was just a new battery but it was the latest in a string of repairs on the cars. New hoses, radiator, battery, belts and an assortment of this and that.

I am a writer but my name isn’t Stephen King or JK Rowling. The major book deals haven’t rolled in…yet. The faucet is dripping and not quite turned on full bore so the cash that comes is in dribs and drabs.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and see the flood sooner than later.

In the interim I suppose I’ll spend some time thinking about who I am and who I want to be.

Be The Blogger You Want To Be

In regard to blogging I am focused on being the blogger I want to be and I strongly encourage you to be do the same. If you aren’t doing this for yourself and you aren’t having fun you won’t last.

Be the blogger you want to be. That is all.

 

Bloggers Are People Who Don’t Like To Work

It is another sunny afternoon in Los Angeles and I am out with the boys again.  We’re all playing hooky from work…sort of. Truth is that at the moment we either work remotely and or own our own businesses so it is not hooky in the sense that we are punching time cards.

There is no plant or quarry for us to return to. No cubicle filled office with micro managing supervisors sending us emails because we showed up five minutes late…again. Ok, I am the only one who ever had that happen. It is a number of years ago but we still laugh about it.

These emails would show up in my inbox and chastise me for being five minutes late to work. They never included the times that I would work through lunch or stayed late to finish projects. Nope, they would just be these little notes in which they would calculate the minutes and tell me how much I cost the company.  Of course they were so busy suing former partners it made sense that they would pick on tiny details that had no relevance to actual production or revenue generated.

It is funny how fast time passes because what was once yesterday is now years ago and in many ways feels like it happened during a different life. And in many ways it was.

Once Upon a Time

We’re sitting around a table talking about nothing important and laughing about college memories. We’re closer to 50 than we are to twenty and I make a crack about how we used to sing “hope I die before I get old.” Don’t know how it started or when, but there were more than a few moments back then when we would start singing Baba O’Riley or some other song by The Who.

Of course there were others and since none of us were singers we always took advantage of the support of the other guys singing with us. Don’t know why it is, but you can take a group of 10 men and ask them to sing and if they do it together they can make it sound ok.

Someone brings up OccupyLA and we are all in agreement that we think it is a waste of time. Doesn’t matter if we agree with any of the things they say they are fighting for none of us can see how that situation would have led to the kind of change they hoped for.

It reminds us of the LA Riots and how many of the looters waved to the camera as they stole things from burning stores. Can’t tell you how many of those people found themselves in serious trouble not just because of the legal issues but because they threw away old furniture and then when the stolen goods were recovered ended up with nothing.

Soldiers of the (Mechanize) Artillery, 40. Inf...

Soldiers of the (Mechanize) Artillery, 40. Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) patrol the streets of Los Angeles, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a crazy time and we all agree that we have been very lucky. We have had our share of hard times and trouble, but over all life has been good to us. Still, we all work hard and there is not a one of us who takes what we have for granted because we have seen how fast things turn around…in both directions.

One of the guys asks me if I am still blogging and I nod my head. They don’t ask too many questions about the blog and that is ok with me. I think they are more interested in finding out if I am still doing it.

And then I hear a male voice behind me say something about bloggers being people who don’t like to work, are narcissistic and a host of other disparaging remarks.  I don’t react or respond to him because I don’t care. He is not the first person to say it nor will he be the last.

But I see no point in engaging with him. What am I going to do ask him how he can afford to be out in the middle of the day doing nothing. It is a stupid remark to make in this town especially because we live in a city where the coffee shops and restaurants are filled at odd hours every day. Some of it is because of the entertainment industry and some of it is just because.

Sunset at Huntington Beach, California.

Sunset at Huntington Beach, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I look at the fellas and I ask them where they think we’ll be in five years. Various answers are thrown out but I am not willing to make definitive predictions. Life is very different from what I had thought it would be five years ago and I am confident that five years from now it will probably be different than I expect.

They push for a real answer and all I am willing to say is that my plan is to be doing the things that bring me joy and make me feel fulfilled.  That is part of why I blog, because writing brings me joy and words make me smile.

Got to run play dad again, but before I do here are a few pieces of music to share with you.

Jogi– Panjabi MC (Thank you Jason)

The Power Of Bhangra- Snap! vs Motivo

Kashmir– Led Zeppelin

What Kind of Blogger Are You

The mysterious pundits of the blogosphere often say that bloggers shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. They recommend that bloggers pick a niche and stick with it. They’ll tell you that if you do it well you are more likely to find readers, build community and of course improve your SEO results.

Ask me to tell you what kind of blogger I am and I’ll give you a list. I’ll probably tell you that I am a dad blogger and or a writer. If I am feeling extra saucy I might try to spice up that description a little bit so that it packs more punch.  Or I might not. Really kind of depends on the situation and my mood. I don’t like it when people ask questions like “how are you” or “what do you do” solely because it is a social courtesy. So if I am not convinced that you are really interested I’ll probably say very little.

But that is really neither here nor there because the real test is this blog. If actions speak louder than words we need to take look at the words on the page that are here because of my actions and see what we find:

What I Dream About
A Dream As Of Yet Unfulfilled
Reciprocity in Blogging
WordPress Comments Vs. Livefyre
Do You Play By The Rules
Father’s Love Their Daddies Too

Those five posts cover parenting, blogging, writing and a few thoughts about what I am trying to do with my life. Sounds pretty close to the description I said that I would give above. But if you are trying to monetize your blog that really doesn’t do as a good a job of covering the bases as it could and should.

Because what we really need to look at is my About me page. I don’t have to look at my stats to know that it is one the most heavily trafficked pages here and I am willing to guess that it is similar for other bloggers. If you are trying to monetize your blog I’ll guarantee that prospective customers/advertisers check yours out just as they my own.

My page has a “blurb” about my professional background and links to some of my work. I tried to inject a bit of my personality into it. I didn’t want it to be something dry and lifeless so I made a point to include the paragraph about being a would be superhero and a man with Walter Mitty like fantasies.

If I have done my job properly people will read through the page and see me as a professional who has a sense of humor and is a decent writer. If I have done my job properly brands that are interested in working with a father will recognize me as such. If I have done my job properly literary agents who are looking to hire a new novelist will contact me. If I have done my job properly prospective clients who are looking for freelance writers will reach out to me.

But if we circle back to the initial question of what kind of blogger are you my real answer is that I am the kind of blogger who has fun blogging.

What do you think about all of this?

A Successful Blogger

This post is a perfect example to me of the convergence of my love for writing and blogging. The post began as five reasons why no one cares if you are an A-List Blogger and then evolved into a simple Q&A.  But midway into the Q&A post I realized that I didn’t agree with what I was writing. Midway into it I learned a few things about myself and had to stop and smile because this is part of what I love about blogging. I love this opportunity to write down my thoughts/ideas because I learn about how I really feel.

I write them down and gain clarity as to whether my ideas are based upon logic or just arbitrary decisions that stem from who knows what. People like to think that we are rational. We like to think that our actions are based upon logic but far too frequently that simply isn’t true.

My initial thoughts on what constitutes the definition of a successful blogger is that it is a subjective question and that most bloggers probably haven’t thought about this. I still maintain that it is subjective and that most haven’t thought about their personal definition of success. However where I changed my thoughts was in regard to whether people enjoy setting goals for themselves.

I don’t like planning out every aspect of my life. I don’t like relying upon calendars, alarms and or reminders. As I sat here writing I thought that setting goals for blogging sounded far too much like work and that people wouldn’t like it. But as I thought it over it occurred to me that this wasn’t entirely true for people or for me.

I am constantly setting goals for myself. I have objectives that I wish to meet and things that I want to do. In the gym I work towards certain fitness goals. On the basketball court I work to improve my game so that I can do XYZ. Here in the blogosphere I work to build my brand, increase exposure and generate more income from blogging.

And most of the time I enjoy all this. Kind of funny to me to think about it, but it doesn’t completely jibe with how I think of myself, but it is true.

Have you ever thought of what your definition of a successful blogger is?

Dear Angry Blogger

angrymommyblogger

Dear Angry Bloggers,

Consider this an open letter to any blogger who is unhappy with the way that they are being treated by brands and or PR agencies. I am a bit confused by your anger and I wonder if your outrage is real or manufactured.

We are going to operate based upon the assumption that none of us are being forced to blog. Of course in the age of reality television when someone like Kate Gosselin is famous it is entirely possible that I am wrong about this. It is possible that some man has a gun pointed at your head and is insisting that you blog about how proud you are that your son can now poop in the potty or why that one night in college is so memorable.

For most of us this is not the case and our time at the keyboard is entirely of our own choosing. And choice is the operative word here because we all have a choice as to whether we wish to work with PR agencies/brands. If we don’t like the terms that are being offered we can try to negotiate better terms or simply say no.

There is a lot of power in that word, no. Use it wisely and you’ll often find that you receive better terms but that is the topic for a different post. So let’s circle back here for a moment and talk for a moment about what is going on.

A business who wishes to use your blog for ads/sponsorship is doing so because they think that you will help reach prospective customers. This is all about the eyeballs. They want to be targeted and to reach as many of those eyeballs for as little as possible.

Your job as a content provider is to provide proof that you reach those eyeballs. If you can do that you have some leverage to work with. If you can’t prove it than you have to find a way to convince them to throw you a bone and then you have to hope that the campaign performs well enough for them to want to return.

But you face multiple challenges here. Many of you are playing a game where you do not know or understand the rules. You aren’t able to approach these prospective sponsors with the degree of professionalism that you really want to have. Learn their language, find out what sort of terms they use to talk shop and you earn some more credibility. That is not a guarantee that they will work with you either, but it helps.

It helps because you want to make a case for your blog to be included. It helps because you want them to be able to justify your inclusion to whomever it is they report to. Don’t be fooled, someone is looking at metrics here. Someone is spending time looking at the ROI of a campaign. Help them by making it easy for them to understand why you should be included.

But again, that is touching upon material for a separate post. What we are really focusing upon here is the nonsense that is being spewed by bloggers who feel like they are being mistreated. You will receive emails with multiple mistakes. Perhaps they misspelled your name or made it clear that they haven’t read your blog. That is silly and unprofessional on the part of the sender, but it doesn’t really require a 800 word post on how you are being mistreated.

Delete it and move on.

The reality is that you are operating in a crowded field with a low barrier to entry. If you don’t like how you are being treated get out or find a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd. It is not easy but it is not impossible either.