On March 15, 2019, I took my maiden blogging voyage, not knowing what I was doing. I’d hardly classify myself as an expert, but I have a lot better idea of what I’m doing now than when I started. What began as an experiment to see if I could set up a blog has taken me on a three-year journey.
People start blogs for all sorts of reasons. For many, it’s an opportunity to grow their business. For me, it was as simple as having a place to exchange ideas and thoughts with people who enjoy writing and conversation. Other forms of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are fine and serve their specific purposes, but I find far fewer trolls lurking about on blogs. I see blogging as a model to society about how we should treat one another with respect and dignity.
One of the most pleasant things I’ve found since I started blogging is all the friendships I’ve made with people, not only across America but in different parts of the globe. WordPress tells me I’ve had views from people in 97 countries since I started. (I’m somewhat skeptical there have been that many.) Remarkably, I’ve not had one view from Russia during that time. That statistic alone makes me appreciate freedom of speech.
After starting a blog, we quickly learn our “followers” list is an artificial number. Some follow with no intention of ever revisiting our blogs. My best guess is they follow with the hope that we’ll turn around and do the same. As one quickly learns, that isn’t humanly possible. If I follow your blog, please take that as a compliment because that means I think it’s worth spending part of my day with you.
The people who respond to my posts are far more important to me than raw numbers. I enjoy conversing with people, whether it be in person or online. Many writers tend to be introverted, and while I like my privacy, I’m an extroverted person. The pandemic has been challenging to everyone, but I think it’s tougher on guys like me who enjoy being around others.
I organize a monthly retirement lunch with my retired colleagues. I’ve missed not being able to gather with friends. I’m hoping to get that off the ground again next month as we seem to be in a much better place with Covid.
Whatever your interests, it’s likely other bloggers share your passions. It’s just a matter of finding them because they’re out there. I’ve learned to be more selective about the blogs that I follow. Here is my unofficial list of qualities that I look for on a blog:
- Engaging content I like bloggers who write about new and fresh topics. Writing about things that everyone else is doing gets stale quickly. It’s a similar comment I’ve read several times from literary agents as I begin to explore the world of publishing. What makes your story or blog unique?
- Thought-provoking material Similar to the first, these writers bring up interesting angles and have intriguing ideas that get me to think and often lead to lengthy responses. These are the bloggers I am excited to see a notification from in my in-box because I know it will be worth time well-spent reading their articles.
- Humor Laughter is part of my day. One of the qualities I find most appealing is a good sense of humor. It’s a common denominator in many of my closest friends. Part of that quality involves the ability not to take oneself so seriously and to be able to laugh at ourselves. Many studies show that laughter is healthy for us, but I already know that from my own experiences. Laughter takes our stress away, and what could be better for our physical and mental health than that? If you can make me laugh, there’s a good chance I’m going to be a regular on your blog. Even in a serious piece, there are often opportunities to inject humor.
- Make me feel something Writers/bloggers must make me experience emotion when reading their material. If I finish a book or blog post and feel nothing, the writer has missed the mark with me. I want to identify with the writer or main characters in some way. These emotions can range, but I want to feel empathy, happiness, sadness, surprise, interest, awe, amusement, joy, admiration, or excitement through their words. We connect with people through human emotions, and writing is one way to do that.
- An environment that fosters kindness The people I avoid in my daily life seem to always be in the center of drama. It’s almost as if they aren’t happy unless they are stirring the pot or fighting with someone. That’s not the way I want to go through life. Fortunately, most blogs are ones where people respectfully exchange their thoughts. One of my favorite sayings is “Let’s agree to disagree,”—the notion that we may not share the same opinion, but we respect the rights of each other to have different beliefs. I am usually on Facebook a few minutes most days, but nothing turns me off quicker than those who resort to name-calling and insults with anyone who disagrees with their opinions. We have a responsibility to be respectful toward others because our children watch and learn from us all the time. If someone takes the time to leave a comment, it’s important to acknowledge their thoughts, even if we disagree.
I have no idea if I’ll still be here next year (that’s the plan), but I want to thank all of you for three wonderful years.