Notes on the journey of motherhood

When your blog has no point … be good

printing press

It’s so easy to start a blog these days; it’s even easier to start one with no direction, or to lose your direction a few months in. This makes continuing the journey infinitely harder, because you have no idea where you’re headed. If you don’t know where you’re going, why would anyone want to join you?

As a newbie blogger, I really wanted to be featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page; in the absence of any other marker of achievement in the Wild Wild Web, that became my goal. If only I were freshly pressed, that would mean I’m good at this writing thing and I have a right to be here on the internet writing it out.

As it happens, I was freshly pressed on Sunday, after almost 2 years, 170ish posts and around 100,000 words of writing on the internet. I gave up wanting to be freshly pressed about this time last year, so to receive the email from the WordPress editors was a surprise, to say the least. It’s kind of like being invited to the high school dance when you’re in second year uni. Nice, but unexpected. I could have done with the encouragement earlier in the piece, thanks guys!

For the 48 hours my post was up on the Freshly Pressed page, blog traffic surged like a massive wave. Watching the ‘like’ counter tick over felt a lot like being a 9 year old who had just finished the last level of Super Mario Brothers. I’d never been to that level before, and while it felt good, afterwards it felt a little anticlimactic. What now? Are we finished the blog game now? Is this my top score?

For the record, I don’t consider myself a good blogger. Good bloggers collect bits and pieces from around the net (whether it be ideas or thoughts or pictures) and build little hot spots of interest that draw people in. A good blogger will cut through the clutter and buzz of the internet and share with you something interesting and unique, and in doing so will capture and hold your attention. A good blogger is not even necessarily a good writer; often writing is just one of many ways to get their message across.

Does good writing even have a place on the internet? Do people read on the internet, or are they just looking for funny cat pictures? And if you are writing on the internet, why write for free when you could possibly a) gain a publishing credit with a reputable publication and b) be paid for your work?

There are limitations to what blogging can do for an emerging writer. It can:

  • keep you accountable to write regularly
  • enable connections with like-minded people who may share your goal
  • enable information sharing within your online community
  • allow networking opportunities within your niche industry
  • after a period of time, it can showcase your writing folio for prospective editors
  • it can also be fun

The pace and size of the internet doesn’t do much to encourage quality writing. In order to be read, we’re told we must post regularly and often in order to build a critical mass. And while this is part of it, I’d say from a writer’s perspective, this is a low priority. Your first priority as an emerging writer must always be in crafting your work. Be better. Don’t show up wearing anything less than your Sunday Best.

The Freshly Pressed post is my writing on its best behaviour. The piece has since been picked up by a major online publication here in Australia, which is what I was hoping for when I wrote it. I’m super proud of it. But the real, lasting win is that this has clarified the muddy waters of blogging for me.

The internet needs good writing and good blogging. The trick is in knowing which you want to be, and aiming for that yardstick from the beginning.

What are your ‘must reads’ on the internet? And what do you think makes them so good?

27 Responses to “When your blog has no point … be good”

    • rhythm & method

      It’s funny, isn’t it? Blogging opens up all sorts of flood gates, and half the battle is knowing how to divert the water. My biggest challenge was giving myself permission to aim for what I really wanted, and if this rings true for you, my advice would be not to divert your river to a puddle.

      Reply
  1. Cat

    You are so gosh darn clever and insightful! I love reading your thoughts and deductions. You regularly put things in a way that I haven’t previously considered and this post is no exception. I do so love this idea of good bloggers and good writers and agree that the Internet needs both. I find myself reading fewer blogs and concentrate on knowing those few I visit well. I used to love Flotsam before I was blogging. Zoey at Good Googs is in a wonderful new phase on her blog at the moment and she is speaking wonderful truths. I’d love to know who you’re loving and will read the comments with interest too.

    Reply
    • rhythm & method

      My two favourites are fearfuladventurer.com and http://thesenseofajourney.com/. Two very different writers, but equally intelligent, insightful and warm. Love Flotsam and Edenland, but you already know those. Favourite blogger would have to be Pip Lincolne of Meetmeatmikes.com, with Maxabella Loves and Fox’s Lane a very close second. My reading changes, but I always come back to these. I guess that’s the true marker of goodness.

      Reply
  2. Carli | Tiny Savages (@tinysavages)

    I think you’re onto something with what constitutes a good blogger. There are blogs I go to because they have that point of difference but increasingly there are ones I visit simply because of the writing. Blue Milk is becoming a must read for me and I guess that’s because I haven’t found too many parenting blogs written from a feminist perspective – which is not to say they’re not out there. I’m always open to reading new blogs so I’ll be checking this thread out too :)

    Reply
  3. gabrielablandy

    I really enjoyed this post – for me you are a blogger that writes from the inside out, rather than writing with an agenda. I come here for a clever take on the world. There are times when funny cat photos make me laugh, but when I read I want to be made to think. I totally relate to the idea of direction – you can get such a sense of when that has happened for some blogs, and yes, I have unfollowed 2 since I’ve been blogging that started with such promise and then turned to ranting. That is my absolute no no.
    On another note – thank you for mentioning me in the above comment. I’m thrilled to be listed as one of your favourites. For me, it’s the appreciation of my readers that keeps me focused. I owe it to them to stay on track and keep them inspired. :-)

    Reply
  4. combatbabe

    In my own opinion, I think with blogging you need to write well so your message is concise, it shows the reader your intelligence and creativity. Blogs I gear toward are thought provoking, humorous, and on subjects I am interested in reading–I like personal opinions, thoughts, ideas or just daily musings. I heard somewhere, too, that it only takes a visitor 60 seconds more or less to decide if they like what they are seeing or reading. I love your blog, I think it’s fabulous you got Freshly Pressed if it was 2 years into it—you still accomplished your goal. I am sure this just means you can accomplish so much more.

    Reply
  5. The egg man

    I really like this. Echoed my sentiments exactly. This is my second blog read so far today. Both bloggers were featured on FP, the other was featured 3 times in 6 months.
    It’s funny how his blog contradicts the suggestion that one must blog often to reach an audience. Apparently, he blogs once a month. So it all depends on who you listen/talk to.
    I am learning slowly that a good blogger is not necessarily synonymous with a good writer.

    Great read!

    Reply
  6. Lipgloss Mumma (@LipglossMumma)

    As a reader of many different blogs and a blogger myself I feel that wonderful thing about the www is the variety. There really is something for everyone. I totally agree that the web isn’t the best place to find ‘good’ writing, but if you look hard enough it is there. Just like your blog. Authentic, from the heart and damn good writing. I read many blogs for different reasons. Some are fun and light, others have fabulous photography, and some just have good, insightful writing. Great post, and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Reply
  7. Zanni Arnot

    Well done Karen! I am glad you got the acknowledgement you clearly deserve. You are right…good writing is needed on the Internet. It’s no coincidence yours is one of the only blogs I read consistently. It’s a relief to read something so beautifully written in a world where good writing doesn’t seem to feature highly. Thank you always for your clear insights and perfect words.

    Reply
  8. Gill

    Like Zanni, your blog is one of my only must-reads. Bright and Precious is another. Neither of these blogs post daily but both are thought provoking in their writing. I do feel like I have made personal connections with both you Karen, and Deb and these connections have helped inspire and motivate me in my own writing journey. So that’s def. an important aspect of blogging.

    I like Maxabella loves too. I think Bron both blogs and writes well which makes Maxabellaland a good fit for the internet. I think you just have to do what you do and there will be people who love you for it and others who won’t. Your passion for writing and your authenticity shines through your blog and this makes it a worthwhile read for me. I walk away from reading and feel inspired.

    Reply
  9. Amy Knapp

    What a debate! Publish like crazy just for the SEO value or write really crafty and delectable blog posts that only go up once in a while? Some of my favourite blogs are in both categories, but it’s usually the latter category of blog that makes it into dinner conversation. Either way, I think there is definitely a place for good writing on the web. If you want to sell books, it should be a no brainer, right?

    Congrats on the freshly pressed blog. It must feel really good.

    Reply
  10. Kim H

    YAH!!!!! So does that mean a book’s in the making???? You so clever!!!

    On the writing and blogging front – IKWYM re: good writing is not necessarily found in blogging. Al Tait always says that blogging is not writing. I agree to some point but I do think it’s a form of conversational writing that has a purpose. Connecting with people online is the main point of blogging and these days it’s pretty much an essential tool to have for writers wanting to be recognised and/wanting to promote their work. All of the social media thingys have their place. It’s the way of the world these days. I can’t see why our blogs can’t be fun places to hang out at and connect with others PLUS be well written. I need to pull my own socks up, that’s for sure:)

    Your blog posts are always beautifully written BTW xx

    Reply
  11. Michelle

    That is fabulous. And when I saw which post it was I wasn’t at all surprised. I agree with the points you make in this post – blogging is a mixed bag when your real purpose is the writing.
    And by the way – congratulations! Huge achievement and fully deserved for a blog that I rate as one of my absolute favourites.
    Michelle

    Reply
  12. remodelingpurgatory

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed; your piece was beautifully presented. Expression is a human compulsion and writing is no different although unlike acting or music it is a solitary act. Thanks for the reminder to make each post a “bestie”. It is easy to not take the time to make my weekly post the best it can be but it shouldn’t be any other way.

    Reply
  13. Posie Patchwork

    Well i just found you via the Maxabella post on blogging purpose. Hello. Really great points & insight into blogging, alas so many still just blog for the hell of it & if that is their intention, fine with me. I was a pharmacologist, then mummy, now designer, you never know which path life will take you & now i’m swapping designing for mothering (i designed from home while raising 4 children) now they are teens it’s too busy, however, my blogging has remained the same, fun. Love Posie

    Reply
  14. Anna Spargo-Ryan (@annaspargoryan)

    Yours is exactly my kind of blog Karen. I don’t read blogs for the blogging (as you say, the curation and the repurposing). I read them for the writing and the insight, and you have both of those things in embarrassing volumes.

    Reply
  15. The Glass Bangle

    I started blogging recently and each post gives me a high like nothing else can. Your writing seems so effortless and it’s such a delight to read :)

    Reply
  16. Trying to be Conscious

    I think there is room enough for all types of bloggers. My favourites are the good writers, The ones who are not afraid to write long post if necessary to share what they have to say. Here is my favourite blog:
    http://truthandcake.com/
    I think you should like it :-)
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I also hoped to be featured on there for a long time but decided to stop thinking about it a few months ago. A surprise message from WordPress would still please me all the same though!

    Reply

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