“What have you learned since you started blogging?”

Earlier this month, a blurb with this intriguing title (which was prefaced by “Asking the Big Questions #001”) appeared in my WordPress reader. Being the immensely curious type that I am, as well as someone who has seen a lot come and go in my years of blogging, I simply had to click. Not only that, the post was on The Well-Red Mage, a fantastic gaming/life site that I’ve followed and enjoyed for some time. I was rewarded with, well…a call to remember and share and answer a question:

“What have you learned since you started blogging?”

What an easy question, right? I mean, at first I was all like, “Oh yeah, I’ve learned TONS since I started up these writing shenanigans!”

And then I was like, “Lemme start counting! One…I’ve learned…um…well…that things…uh…”

Yeah. Maybe not so easy.

Now, the Mage offered up two different ways to participate in this scenario. One was to leave a comment on the original post, and the other was to write a full blog post with links. Since I found myself apparently dumbfounded at first, I left a quick comment and decided to write a post after some extended pondering. This is that post.

I hope.

I’m still writing it, so we shall see.


By the way, if you want to participate in this project, just click the image below.


Maybe the best route to take at the moment would be to start at the beginning, because one of the points the Mage asked to be covered was Explain briefly why you decided to start blogging and why you picked that certain topic as your first blog post. I can easily address the first part of that directive by quoting from this blog post:

To be as concise as possible, the seeds for creating my own blog were sown in 2009 when I was part of a team that started a blog at my work. Being a slow learner and somewhat reluctant to develop an online persona, it took me a couple years to understand how blogging might work for me personally. Once I saw how it might help me overcome a number of insecurities, I signed up for my own WordPress site under its current name. (As writing about the past/history is kinda my deal, I figured the blog would follow that vein, though I wasn’t sure about exactly how then.) That was in July 2011. I sat on the empty blog for months until I received a sign: this particular commercial for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. With it clogging and offending my brain cells (I talked about that fuss in my very first post), my blogging goal became clear: to write about and share my experiences with video games — experiences from the feminine perspective, though not always with that notion at its core.

As for the second portion about why that topic…why video games? Because of all the things that IRL people know about me, video games generally aren’t one of them. No, really. Despite the fact that I’ve been playing games nearly all my life, I never really saw them as anything special, anything worth discussing on a large scale outside of my immediate social circle. Video games were simply something me and my siblings enjoyed, like playing with action figures or watching sitcoms.  I thought that if I was going to open up online in some manner, that revealing my past, present, and future with games was as good a place to start as any. Maybe it’d give me a chance to flourish, or show off, or become part of something bigger. I didn’t know then where the path would lead, but I’d never know if I didn’t start somewhere. And, in fact, blogging about video games has led to this colorful, personal space. It sounds really cheesy, but it’s something that I do take pride in. Now, anyway.

So, okay…blah blah blah…what about that BIG question?

I’ll tell ya, there are about a million different notions running through my mind right now as I think about “What have you learned since you started blogging?” They range from the mundane (“I’ve learned how to be more comfortable with extemporaneous writing”) to the abstract (“I’ve learned how to be myself”). But as I let the swirl of thoughts settle, I realize that one remains:

My blog, first and foremost, is for ME.

(This could get long, so you might want t0 hit the restroom before proceeding.)

While that might sound like an obvious, selfish, and potentially mean non-lesson for some, it took me a couple years of blogging to come to terms with the idea of truly owning this space that I had created. Because, in the end, a blog is about the blogger, not the followers. If you’re blogging only to obtain followers, then honestly, I think you’re doing it wrong.

Allow me to relay a brief story. When the idea to start a blog came up at my work many moons ago, I had to do some field work to understand what a blog was, so I spent a considerable amount of time online looking at other people’s blogs. There was one personal blog that I came across where the writer had a post up lamenting the apparently poor state of his or her followers. In the post, the author was essentially calling out various people who seemed to no longer be followers or who had otherwise stopped being regular commenters. Where had they all gone? Were they alright?? What had caused them to stop participating?? WHY DIDN’T THEY LOVE ME ANYMORE??!! Well, that was the gist anyway. At the time, I didn’t understand the dynamic of the blogger-follower relationship, so the post read as rather pitiful. However, the notion of being rejected really stuck. The idea of being disliked by a bunch of strangers was nowhere near as horrifying as the idea of being liked at first and then suddenly abandoned for seemingly no reason.

I knew I wanted to blog, but I didn’t think that I had the prerequisite thick skin. So I essentially had to trick myself into believing that if I was going to write, I was going to write for a particular audience – in my case, video game players – and not the general populace. I knew that I couldn’t connect with any and all video game bloggers, but I felt confident enough in my knowledge and writing skills to believe that I could probably cultivate a small group of interested followers. And if I didn’t, it was at least worth trying.

Well, it worked! For my first two years of blogging, my stats soared! I started in 2011, and by 2013, I had somehow managed to reach tens of thousands of readers. I had garnered a healthy number of followers, and comments, while they didn’t flow as freely as wine, were pretty steady. Sure, I posted the occasional dud of an article, but that’s life.

And then, in 2014, I took a leap. By the end of 2013, I realized that I really didn’t have enough video game nostalgia stories to maintain my momentum. So I stepped into a different realm of nostalgia (a 1980s childhood) and started telling different stories. And that’s when things changed. Even though I felt that the quality of my writing was improving, and I was really enjoying the change of mental scenery, my stats plateaued and then began dropping. A number of regular followers just keeled off the face of the Earth (I guess), and I wondered what had happened to them. Where had they all gone? Were they alright?? What had that caused them to stop participating?? WHY DIDN’T THEY LOVE ME ANYMORE??!!

And that was when I realized that I had been doing it wrong. “It” being blogging, not Pennywise. Boy, that new IT movie looks good…

Ahem.

Although I had started writing about things and stuff that I enjoyed, I was still in the mindset of writing for an “audience,” for my followers. And though I adored and respected anyone who stopped by here to read or comment, the fact of the matter was that “followers” were amorphous, ambiguous, and transient. This is a true as it was in 2014 as it is now. Of course, most of them are people (bots aside), but people are people outside of their online personas. They have things to do, which may or may not include checking your self-proclaimed awesome blog every day. It doesn’t mean that they don’t adore and respect you. But it does mean that your blog has to, first and foremost, be for YOU, because followers and statistics will come and go. My blog is for ME. Once I learned that lesson, I was free. Free to be as relevant or goofy or immoral or serious as I wanted to be in this space. I don’t care that my stats will never reach my 2013 heights, because my current content satisfies me. And the discussions that some amazing people want to have about it, are goddamn fantastic. It’s amazing and very humbling.


So that’s my story. What’s yours? I’ll take The Well-Red Mage’s cue and say leave a comment or write your own post. And if you choose the latter, trying to keep the train a’rolling by including that image and links back to the original post. Look, I’ll even include it again so you don’t have to scroll back. Because I’m totally cool like that.

“What have you learned since you started blogging?”

32 thoughts on ““What have you learned since you started blogging?””

    1. Much obliged for the kindness. I shall check out your site post haste! Having the drive to not only maintain but improve one’s blog is a key to success, no doubt.

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    1. Thanks, and I hope you have a successful blogging future ahead! I can’t recall what my very first gravatar was, but at some point, I started using the Mario invincible star. I liked the star icon and eventually made my own. Never really intended for it to be a Captain America look-alike, but I certainly like it well enough!

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    1. Cool! Hope the process turns out to be enjoyable; I certainly found it to be surprisingly enlightening. Credit goes to the Well-Red Mage for coming up with the idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I actually don’t think it’s selfish to come to the conclusion that blogging is about “me.” I think it really does come down to the blogger at the end of the day. I know I may have lost followers over the years. I don’t really make it personal. Sure, it sucks when people don’t follow you as much as they did before, but life happens. We don’t really know what’s going on in someone’s personal life. It almost always has nothing to do with us anyway. What’s really important is if keeping a blog is fun for YOU and it’s something YOU’RE still passionate about. When it’s no longer fun and rewarding for you, then what’s the point, right? When you focus on your reason for blogging, then I feel like the followers will naturally keep coming. The key is to not focus on the numbers so much. 🙂

    FYI, you know I’ve been with you since the beginning. I’m not about to leave you any time soon! Thought you should know. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I’m in the same boat – with you till the end! 🙂 As I think I said in another comment, if people only wrote because of fame and fortune, then no one would ever write anything. The whole thing about watching followers come and go here is built into the process, but I know my stats aren’t the reason I log in everyday. Our followers have lives; we have lives! Blogging is part of our lives, but it’s not everything. As you said, blogging is really all about passion and having fun, whether someone posts every day or once a month. It’s awesome to be able to partake in someone else’s joy and then use it as inspiration. And it doesn’t matter if your reading about video games or Volkswagons. If the writer’s personality shines through their words, if their passion is evident, then they’ve done it right!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s awesome that you got your blogging start as part of a team. I really appreciated having a team with me when we launched, and multiple personality tests over the years have confirmed my suspicion that I enjoy working with others more than I enjoy working alone. Collab! Thanks for giving such a real, heartfelt and honest answer to this big question. It was one that I was worried a lot of people would just brush off as being too ordinary or mundane, so I am glad you put so much heart into it.

    Speaking of hearts, I am an entertainer at heart. I’ve been told that. I used to read poetry aloud at family gatherings. I love to play the piano when I have guests over. As a public speaker, I love being able to teach a group of people. There’s some element of showmanship in me that can step too far into the realm of arrogance and pomp, which my good friends are quick to point out, but I think this is a part of why I personally write because I like to communicate to others. In this isolated sense, my posts are for others. But this is why I appreciated your response because it helps me refocus this dual reason for writing beyond others which is for myself. At the end of the day, if there were no followers or views, I would probably go back to writing novellas or journaling, so I can’t personally say that I would keep doing what I’m doing if there was no response to it. However, somewhat paradoxically, I enjoy the blogging process so much now that maybe I wouldn’t quit after all! I might just figure out a different way to do it. In trying to build my own voice, I’m trying to get my voice out to as many as possible but in trying to get out to as many as possible, I’m also learning how to do this better for myself. I view this as an expression of myself for me but an expression that I deeply wish to entertain others. There’s a strange infinite loop there and my personality on this matter can lead me to some highs and lows which is probably why I have to preach consistency to myself so often. I guess it’s still for me in the end though isn’t it, because I have some kind of need to entertain?

    And you’re absolutely right when you say someone blogging ONLY to get followers is doing something wrong because there are a heckuva lot easier ways to gain a following than through blogging, otherwise yeah that explains a lot of the self-pitying stuff we encounter now and then! I think changing subjects can lead to readership dropping, which we’ve seen now and then, but if you want to write about it then of course write it. Anyway, thank you for participating with such a thought-provoking post. I haven’t been disappointed in learning about my fellow writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that I caught your call to begin with! It actually helped me revisit my raison d’etre in terms of blogging, which is a good exercise to do every now and then. I don’t necessarily need a purpose here, but it’s good to remember why it matters that I am here. I’ll admit that I don’t see myself blogging forever and ever, but as current hobby, I enjoy it well enough. Whatever happens in the future, happens. Blogging can only ever be about the here and now.

      Your discussion about entertaining, being an entertainer, and satiating that need through blogging is really interesting. One of the things that I really like about your blog is the storytelling – you’re very good at it. One of the (subconscious) reasons I started blogging for myself was to become a better storyteller, because, growing up, I’d always been terribly shy. It took me a very long time to break away from that, though its remnants still remain. When one of my recent blogging goals became “to be more open,” that speaks directly to my constant battle with overcoming my own insecurities. To a certain extent, blogging has been therapy. I’d like to think that my storytelling abilities have improved, but there always more room for improvement. Because blogging is also learning, as you said. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that it’s important now and then to return to our original reasoning for things and reevaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, don’t you? You just confronted me with my own blogger mortality here. I have never really thought about the possibility of stopping blogging but I suppose it’s only logical that it has to happen someday because of age or death or moving on to other things. Living in the present is all we can do, anyway. Thanks for that perspective, sincerely.

        Haha I thought my bringing up the entertainer thing (can’t get the ragtime out of my head now) was really confusing so thanks for taking the time to understand me. You’re too kind for saying such words. I was also very shy as a child and it took the craft of writing to help take me out of that. I remember when I was younger that the thought of others reading my work was paralyzing to me but now I’m writing to communicate to others. Writing is a powerful thing, a remedy for so many different personality quirks that can sometimes ail us. There is always room for improvement in all of us, and that’ll actually be the subject of our next big question to ask, but the point is that we keep on aiming to improve. Practice makes better, as they ought to say!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your answer, especially the part about blogging for yourself. It’s a very wise way of approaching this, since it’s true that followers and stats come and go. It’s very easy to get caught up in the numbers when it should be about the writing. You have a very healthy mindset with your blog, and I admire it a lot! And I also have to say that I love what you write and can tell when you’re having a great time with it! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, thank you kindly! I’m glad to know that my randomness is paying off, haha! I guess part of the fun of blogging is the journey, because all to often you see blogs that hit hard and fast only to fizzle out quickly. Blogging just isn’t about numbers, it’s about people and their passions. It’s cool that each of us are part of that in our own ways. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very good read. Good insight, I can definitely say briefly I started simply to be able to interact with gamers at a deeper level. Most people I encountered aren’t into deep aspects of gaming outside of graphics and more mainstream topics. So my conversations with people were rather dull. Here on WordPress, I’m able to talk about so many things, like simple things whether or not I liked a game, to more mind bending topics with other bloggers such as how you classify villains in games and such. There’s alot to learn from yourself and other people’s posts as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a really good point. Of the people that I know who game, very few want to spend time discussing their finer points. Through blogging, we can get as granular with games as we want, and then connect with others who do the same. It’s also wonderful to see games from different perspectives and further understand how different people interact with them. Your favorite game heroes might not be my favorite game heroes, but that’s okay, because at least we’re talking. I know I still have plenty to learn about them!

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  5. This was a nice read. I started blogging because I loved Skyrim and wanted to write about it. My first post only got 5 views, but I was happy because it wasn’t about the views to me. I was just happy because I found my own personal space that I could be myself and do whatever I want with. It’s nice getting thousands of views a day, but I’m not one of those people that only writes for the views. I appreciate them, but at the end of the day I’m writing for me. Writing keeps me honest, and grounded. I love it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s it exactly. If people only ever wrote things for fame and fortune, we’d hardly have the libraries that we do today. Blogging is about passion and honesty, no matter if you get 5 views a day or 5 million. That certainly shows in your own writing, I know. Having a personal space is a big thing too, a place to be as creative (or not) as one wants to be. It’s almost like a getaway…just without the travel expenses, ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was really nice to read because when I started blogging a couple of months ago I was really worried about stats and how to build up a following, I settled into my writing style though and I really enjoy writing my blog so I’ve been less and less fussed about the stats. It’s good to know that it’s ok to not have to worry and just enjoy it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, that’s it exactly! If you enjoy what you’re writing about, it shows, and that’s what really counts. I won’t deny that days with good stats are nice to see, but they can’t be the one and only reason for someone to write.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m putting my post together now, so I won’t babble on too much, but I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding writing for yourself. I think any writer has that: they have to love what they’re doing, and write the story (or post) that *they* want to write, but (in the case of book authors) need to have their audience tucked slightly into the back of their mind, too. It’s an interesting balance, but writing because you love it I think is more important than any other reason.

    At any rate, I remember you writing a post a few months ago. I had just started blogging, and someone had asked why you still do it if you don’t have a lot of views, and your response was, “For the 30 who care.” It really made an impression on me, and it’s something I’ve really tried to hold on to. So thank you for that. I just wanted to let you know! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Much obliged for the kindness! When I started blogging, I honestly didn’t think much about what it might or could lead to. All I really knew was (1) that I liked writing and (2) I had some stories to tell. If nothing came from that, then fine. I’d at least have the experience under my belt. I never really wondered what would come of things if something happened here, if people followed, liked, and commented regularly. Truth be told, things here ebb and flow like everything else. I still have plenty of days where no one stop by, but I see now that that’s a reflection of the internet being the internet rather than the result of me putting out a crappy post. (And I still write those too, ha!) If you love what you write, then kindred souls will latch on, eventually. I certainly see that in your own writings. Your passions come through clearly in each post, and that’s the kind of writing this blogosphere needs. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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