Not Much of a Blogger

I don’t think I’m doing this blogging thing right. First of all, I’m in no danger of dying from blogging, which is what sort of happened to a couple of prominent bloggers I’ve never heard of. No anxiety or lost sleep if I don’t post. Also, I don’t have anything to sell you or a cause for you to join. I don’t have a mission to preach or an agenda for change. I know that there are some readers out there and I hope you’re occasionally pleased, but except for my journal this is probably the space where I pay the least attention to audience in the sense of trying to attract readers or please editors. The audience I think most about here is me, and the kind of library writing I’d like to read. And I sure don’t make any money from it. In fact, since the blog is hosted on the university blog service, I don’t think I’m even allowed to make money with it. I don’t even promote myself as a potential consultant or speaker or anything.

So just from that I figure I’m not much of a blogger, and then I ran across some blog post with 10 questions every blogger should ask, and I hardly ask any of them.

For example, there’s question #1: “How quickly can my readers understand what my post is about?”

Probably not very quickly, and I’m assuming this isn’t a good thing. Sometimes I finish writing a post, and I’m not quite sure what my post is about. “Libraries” is about the best I can do, except when it’s not.

“2. Does my blog offer something novel or unexpected?”

That’s a tough one. I guess it depends on what you expect. If you expect something concise and topical like Library Stuff, then no. Nothing on the blog seems novel to me, so it’s hard to answer. This is just stuff I think about.

“3. How helpful is my content?”

What am I supposed to help you do? Reflect? Sometimes I might help with that, I guess. Certainly nothing practical. That’s always been my problem as a library writer. Definitely not practical enough for a very practical profession.

“4. Why should my readers trust me?”

I guess “because I say so” doesn’t work well as an answer. Because I can write coherent paragraphs? Because I work in a library? Do I care if you trust me? After all, I’m not trying to sell you insurance or anything.

“5. Does my content speak to people on a human level?”

Something tells me the answer to this question is “no,” especially since the writer interprets “human” as “emotional.” I think if you read all the posts, you’d get some idea of my personality, but I don’t push it, probably because I don’t have much of a personality. Sometimes I talk about myself, but usually not, and rarely about my emotions. If I start going on about my emotions, you’ll know the breakdown is eminent.

“6. Is my post easy to read and scroll through?”

Well, the writing’s pretty clear, if that’s what you mean, at least I think it is. It’s grammatical, and that’s something these days. I don’t know about being easy to scroll through. That probably depends more on your browser than my blog.

“7. Does my content cover what needs to be discussed or answered?”

Probably not, because hardly anything I write about really needs to be discussed or answered.

“8. Am I revealing enough information about my topic?”

I probably reveal too much information about my topic.

“9. Am I fulfilling my readers’ expectations?”

I’m not sure if my readers, such that they are, even have expectations, so I don’t know. This is bad, isn’t it.

“10. Am I reaching out for support?”

Not really, but I’ve always been something of a loner. The exposition continues, “Writing content with their interests in mind, as well as the interests of your readers, can help boost your blogging authority if said experts find your articles useful.” I doubt I have much of a blogging authority, though I suppose I’m sort of an authority about something library-related, but probably not any more so than most of my readers, who are, after all, librarians.

“You should always have an active interest in the social networking community and be willing to express it in your posts – either by explicitly mentioning other blogging/bookmarking talents or by editing your content so that it is more bookmark friendly.” I don’t do much of that, either, do I, and I’m not sure I could because I cringe when “talent” is used as a noun to describe a person. I always think of the line from Groundhog Day: “Did he just call himself ‘the talent’?” I don’t even link out to other blogs very often, even though I follow a lot of them. It’s nothing personal. I’m just not seeking “link love” or whatever it’s called.

I definitely don’t have an active interest in the social networking community. I ran across the blog post above via Walt at Random and the AL Direct, which apparently thought it worth reading for library bloggers. That’s about the best I can do to link out to the “blogging talent.”

Also, I don’t even understand the “bookmark friendly” advice, so I know I’m not doing it right. I use Google bookmarks, and I can bookmark anything on the web, which doesn’t require any special skills as far as I can tell. Is there something besides having each post as a separate url that makes it any easier to bookmark? I don’t know, and the sad thing for my professional blogging career is that I don’t really care.

7 thoughts on “Not Much of a Blogger

  1. Well,now, this is interesting. I deliberately didn’t link to the “10 questions” post because I didn’t think all that much of it–but I thought Ms. Mazar’s comments on it were worth noting.
    So are yours. If you plan to be a professional blogger, you’re probably doing it all wrong, but it’s pretty clear you’re no more planning that than I am.
    Interesting post.
    I’m not sure what bookmark friendly means either. It might mean having permanent links to individual posts that make sense as bookmarks–in which case, yours do and mine don’t. Darn. I would change that if I had any interest in being a professional blogger. Which, fortunately, I don’t.
    One side benefit of your post: Checking the post of mine that you link to, I found and corrected a typo (in the “transparent blogger” manner, overstriking the wrong letters and adding the right ones). Now for the other few dozen (few hundred?) typos here and there…

  2. My interest, as is probably obvious, was to subtly mock it. I agreed with your criticism, but after it was directly linked from the AL Direct, I figured one more library blog link wouldn’t make that much difference.
    And yeah, professional blogger isn’t a goal of mine, though it might be for some blogging librarians. I’m content enough being a librarian, and based on the article on dying bloggers, it seems like even librarianship is more lucrative than professional blogging for the majority of professional bloggers.

  3. Wayne, please just keep up whatever it is that you do here. Some of us appreciate it quite a bit.
    Other than commenting at either Walt or Rochelle’s post about that article I had nothing to say on it. I was almost tempted to do so when I saw that AL Direct linked to it, but it is too reminiscent of the crap espoused by Jakob Nielsen a few years back that I did invest a fair deal of effort in trying to debunk.
    Some of us do this because we want to and not for any of the reasons assumed by Nielsen or the Times.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Mark.
    I found the post amusing because of the assumption that there is this monolithic thing called a “blog” and a type of person called a “blogger,” and that these bloggers share the same motivations and environments. I suppose I write a blog, since it even says so in the url, but I’m not sure I identify as a blogger. And based on the description of the lives and typical income of the professional bloggers, I’m definitely better off being a librarian. With the NYT and myriad other newspapers and magazines hosting “blogs” alongside their traditional op/ed columns, and with many online publications allowing comments on articles, “blog” could probably come to encompass almost any kind of online publishing.
    As for the content, I write the same sort of stuff I would write for publication elsewhere if I were more motivated to publish and there were more library publications appropriate for what I write.

  5. I started blogging because I wanted to mention it in a workshop for teachers, so I thought I should know what I was talking about. I have the most random personal blog I know of, yet through my blog I’ve been interviewed on NPR, communicated directly with four authors whose books I mentioned (and who subscribe to Google Alerts), and made a few blogging friends. According to Bloglines, this blog has 47 subscribers. I finally thought of a single focus blog that I might start in the near future, so I have a theory that I *could* now make money from blogging, but dropping dead is definitely not what it’s all about. As a school librarian, former academic librarian, and current online reference librarian, I like your blog because it reminds me of that other path I was on for awhile. I like having readers, but would I be happy if I blogged for other people instead of myself? Nope.

  6. That’s funny, because one of the reasons I started this blog was because I was speaking to groups of librarians about blogging and figured I should do some myself. I had experimented successfully with blogging as a pedagogical tool for teaching writing, but not as a tool of professional development. So far NPR hasn’t called, though.

  7. I used to work in the University of Bath Library and they used a blog to communicate with the students and it worked out okay.

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