I have been blogging a very long time. I started first with a hand-coded site so long ago that it was never indexed by the Wayback Machine. I moved on to Diaryland, and front there to Diary-X, and then Livejournal. I lived through the 'Online Journal' vs. 'Blogger' debate; was condescended to by other academics when I was not on the forefront of the 'vlogging' movement; lost an entire six years of my life when Diary-X went down; and spent six months establishing a 5,0000 person following on Tumblr before abandoning it to work on my dissertation.
I regret that choice, sometimes.
One of the things that people fussed about, back in those early days, was what did it mean to be an online presence. There had been online communities since the first time computers networked; but the online journalling/blogging/vlogging movement was different. It was in some ways a pyramid scheme: there were central people who got a following around whom a community built itself (the introduction of commenting was an earthquake), and then people tried to copy that central blog, or expand on some new theme...hoping to be the next Dooce. (That's what we called it, before the term 'viral' took over.)
The thing is, the absolute central part of it, was that an authentic community could not in any be faked. It could not be simulated and it could not really be copied. If someone managed to hit that critical mass to form a community, there was no way to replicate it. The frustrating part, of course, was that sometimes people were doing the same thing as whatever new star was out there - they may even have done it first or even better - and still they wouldn't get the following. They missed the moment.
The reality of blogging - even in my cantankerous endless-September woes I know that this is the term we must use - is that we are, and were, always doing it for the fame. Not necessarily the money, but we were all looking for a place to belong, for recognition, for understanding and the support that is provided from being in a group that recognizes each other. I think it's true, that many bloggers - the well-known central ones, at least - do it 'for the love.' The money that comes isn't incidental, but it isn't the point.
And that's probably the key to being a successful blogger. To not think about what will get clicks and likes and is most likely to turn someone in to a viral star, but that which will be authentic and bring people together, to your page and site, to talk and respond and be part of the world. Together.
This is something I have a hard time with. I know that I have interesting things to say and I want to share them with people, but often when I try to do it I run in to the same trap I did with my dissertation: instead of producing something authentic with real meaning and my own voice, I replicate and echo what I believe to be what people want to hear. And I tell myself that I shouldn't bother writing something because it won't be understood or have any appeal, or it's not good enough.
But that's absurd.
I am good enough, and if you are reading this, you thought so too. You stuck with me through these 500 plus words because you saw something in them that appealed to you, that spoke to some part of your soul, and that is a connection we share now.