Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time To Hang It Up? Or, Remember, You're A Nobody

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging! You'll get to meet so many new people online and maybe with a lot of hard work and a little bit of magic, you'll be taken seriously and perhaps even get a link from one of the Stars of the Internet!

(Slap! Slap!) Wake up dummy, none of the "big dogs" give a crap about you! Sure they all accept "tips" and comments from the hoi polloi, but in reality, they all like to stick with their own kind. And you my friend are not their kind. Truth from Power, man....

Now, back to reality. Most people who blog like to write. If you are motivated to place your thoughts out for the world to see, you'd be lying if you claim that readership is of no concern to you. Readership and being taken seriously is a motivation for us all. Has any blogger ever refused to place a counter on his site? Maybe. I wonder how many point with pride to the lack of a meter, but in reality just have a hidden one? How many bloggers never check their site meter stats? Few I'd bet. Even if the mythical unconcerned blogger was ever found, what would he or she say? "Well, I'm only posting family stuff for my relatives and friends to see." OK, and are not your family and friends a readership? Indeed they are. They may not be the world at large, but eyes other than the writer's see the page. This claim to lack of care is found wanting.

The sore point for most bloggers is this: I want to make my thoughts known, I want my thoughts to be read, I want my thoughts to be taken seriously, I want my blogging to have dignity. Unfortunately for nearly all bloggers, this doesn't happen. Should we expect anything out of blogging? Probably not, yet we've been attracted to it because of the trumpeted promise that we will be read, we will be taken seriously, and we will have dignity. We will not.

Soul crushing experiences dog us throughout our lives, but it seems that public ones have more sting. We all have personal lives with hurt in them, but they are generally kept out of the public eye. Our blogging remains permanently out in the world for all to see for as long as someone's posts or websites exist. Our failures will never go away.

Consider this: You have some fair knowledge of certain subjects people might be interested in so you've started a blog, you've visited other sites to comment, and you've actually had some readers. Some of them have blogrolled you and you have a small, but constant source of visitors. Then you try to increase your readership. You comment on larger well known blogs that have the guts to let you leave comments. You think you've got it made, right? Hey, you have as much as a chance as anyone to have the top bloggers notice you and maybe even give you a link for something you've blogged about. But it never happens. That's life you say, it just hasn't happened yet. Then you take a good look to see why, just in case you're doing something wrong, perhaps you can do something to make them want to link to you or give you credit for pointing them to a story. So you look about the sites you frequent. OK, you've gotten home from work, fired up the PC and logged onto one of your desired linkers. Quite a few posts today. You've been eight hours on the job and a few more at your kids' sporting events, you've also made dinner and done some yardwork. Wow, that first post is a doozy, you've gotta comment there! You read all the comments and have a well reasoned post of your own to add. You type it in and hit submit comment. Great, wait until they get a load of you! Other posts are interesting too and you write what you want there. Oh, bedtime.

The next day you hit the scene and scroll down to read what people have said about your comments. They were well reasoned and well written and talked directly to the post. Two things have happened. On the first post your comment is still the last one. You posted on a dead thread, nothing you said was seen by anybody. The second post had a few more comments so you click to read. The commenters completely ignored your post, by the time you entered your words, the posts had degenerated into a dead end of off topic comments between people who use the comments section for their own personal chatroom. Your last post was on a live thread, but when scrolling through the comments no one had addressed your point. The thread was still on topic, but you have been ignored. Your post wasn't silly or off topic, it was reasoned and should have generated some interest. It did not.

Now you're puzzled. What happened? Well, your site meter shows that two people came to your site from the comment thread. Woo Hoo! You rush to Haloscan or whatever commenting site you use to see what they posted on your site. Nothing. No comments whatsoever. You go back to your stats to visit the sites of the people who visited yours, maybe they posted about you on their site. Nope. Nothing to indicate they even spent more than a minute on your site. You're apparently of no interest to them. Not even a comment about how stupid you are. You're beginning to think that even hate mail is better than being ignored. All of your efforts to gain readership and be taken seriously have earned you nothing. And you are rather well versed in your blogging area, yet no one save your little group of dedicated readers even visits your site. Unfortunately, most of them are in the same boat as you, grasping for readers and comments. The one or two who do have a larger readership than you like you and comment at your site, but their blog direction is different than yours and they aren't able to send many readers your way who are interested in your subject. So you end up posting less often and your readership declines. What's to do now? Renew your efforts or hang it up?

Consider this: You do have some fair knowledge of a certain subject area. One of your bookmarked sites sometimes has a post about your area of expertise. And it's a big dog of the blogosphere! Site doesn't allow comments though. You can send an e-mail with a tip. And so you do. You've seen other bloggers get links from this site for story ideas and you read them too. Good stuff, and they're also blogs with good visitor and comment stats.

So you've sent in your tip with a link to your post about the story. You visit the site every day waiting to see if your story pops up. Two weeks after your e-mail, your favorite blogger does indeed post about the subject in your e-mail. You excitedly read the post and see that the writer does give credit and a link to someone who sent in the information! It is not you. Whaaa? But I.... Yeah, someone else apparently sent the story to the blogger. You read again and you see that the blogger credited more than one source for the updated post. So multiple people were given a link about the story except you. Who are these lucky people? Why, mainstream journalists from national news outlets and bloggers with high stats of course! They get the links and the readers, you are ignored. You wonder why? The blogosphere is the new paradigm, everyone a Murrow! That's the truth put out by its supporters. The reality is far different. Take a look at the top bloggers according to The Truth Laid Bear:

Higher Beings
1.Instapundit.com (4611) details
2.Michelle Malkin (4205) details
3.Declarations of Pride (3497) details
4.Daily Kos: State of the Nation (3362) details
5.lgf: judging from the large number of shoes (3151) details
6.Captain's Quarters (2857) details
7.Power Line (2851) details
8.Stop The ACLU (2762) details
9.Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall (2191) details
10.The Volokh Conspiracy - - (2057) details

Mortal Humans
11.Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things (2015) details
12.SeekingAlpha: Stock Picks, Stock Market Investing (2005) details
13.Mudville Gazette (1917) details
14.Hugh Hewitt (1887) details
15.Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish (1846) details
16.Eschaton (1838) details
17.RealClearPolitics (1805) details
18.The Huffington Post (1685) details
19.Hot Air (1655) details
20.Wizbang: Explosively Unique... (1651) details
21.The Washington Monthly (1540) details
22.BLACKFIVE (1537) details
23.the evangelical outpost -- Culture, politics, and religion from an evangelical worldview. (1370) details
24.ScrappleFace (1353) details
25.http://imao.us/ (1346) details
26.Dean's World - - (1331) details
27.La Shawn Barber’s Corner (1312) details
28.Crooks and Liars (1302) details
29.Jihad Watch (1244) details
30.Cox & Forkum Editorial Cartoons (1228) details

How many of these are run by professional writers or those who must write to maintain their position in academia? Nearly all of them. New Paradigm? Hardly. Let's face it friends, unless you're already a published writer or have a law or political background, you'll be hard pressed to ever get a link from any of them. They link among themselves almost exclusively. You are Thersites to their Greek demigodhood. Does that discourage you? It certainly can, but should you stop blogging because of their monopoly of internet opinion? No, but it might be better to give up the hope of a link. Concentrate on honing your skills and expertise in your subject area. It might be possible to get a link someday, just don't expect one. Also, just because you don't get a link doesn't mean they don't know your name. If you continue to post and comment, someone else may notice you.

It's definitely more difficult to continue blogging when it seems you are posting for no one but yourself. What do you want? An occasional link from the giants or will you be satisfied with a smaller but loyal readership? That's the question all bloggers must eventually answer. And I don't have that answer yet.