Because someone asked: Blogging about Blogging

Ms. Mazzola at State of Denmark has taken on a “senior project” of her own to keep her students company; she’s doing some research on blogs and blogging. She’s posted some questions for bloggers, and if you’d like to be part of her unscientific, self-selected survey group, you’re welcome to answer them on your own blog and leave a link in the comments on the “project” post.

This is my contribution to the effort. It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned some of these things here, but this time it’s for posterity and in the interest of science.

1.  How long have you been blogging?
I’ve been doing this for roughly two and a half years. My first post on The 3 R’s was published on March 16, 2007. I did have another blog for a couple of months in the late summer and fall of 2006, but I discontinued and deleted it because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with it. When I came up with a reason for the blog to exist, I started up again under a new name and URL.

2.  Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to have a record of the books I read and some of the details about them. I didn’t really think in terms of “book reviews” at first, but as I discovered other people who blogged about their own reading, my approach expanded. However, even at the beginning, I didn’t think I’d blog about just books, since I don’t read just books. My earlier blogging experiment had shown me that what I read on other blogs sometimes inspired responses to topics that couldn’t be contained in a comment. I also thought that I might sometimes want to talk about personal experiences, opinions, and other interests besides reading, so I wanted to keep my options open – hence the blog title: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness.

3.  What have you found to be the benefits of blogging?
In no particular order, let me name a few:

  • I have a record of significant experiences in my life since I began blogging, in both words and pictures.
  • I have a place to express my thoughts and ideas – one that has no rules except for those I make for myself.
  • I have a place to develop and practice my written-communication skills.
  • Blogging on my own has led to opportunities to write and blog in other places, and that’s given me exposure (as its own reward – no one’s been interested in paying me yet).
  • I’ve discovered so many interesting people who I never would have crossed paths with otherwise, and have come to consider quite a number of them friends.
  • I get to host my own little get-together every day, in the comments section of my posts.
  • I have a record of the books I read and some of the details about them (which was the point in the first place, after all)!

4.  How many times a week do you post an entry?
I usually post once a day, six days a week (Monday – Saturday). I may take two days off some weeks, but at this point, it’s rare for me to miss more than three days of posting unless there are special circumstances, like being on vacation, sick, or buried in other work. I try to draft my posts in advance and schedule them, and that helps keep things consistent. Although I did sometimes post more than once a day in the early months of the blog, I try to avoid it now.

5.  How many different blogs do you read on a regular basis?
I currently subscribe to about 500 blogs through Google Reader(!), which I sort into folders based on their content categories. Using the “list view” for Reader, I do skim the post title and snippet for every feed item. In most cases, if that grabs me, I’ll open the item to read it in full, but there are some blogs that I’ll read no matter what. I always prefer to read the post in Reader rather than click through a partial feed, although I understand why people use them. Considering that some blogs update multiple times a day and some are much less active (and some may be dead or dormant but still listed in my subscriptions), I’d estimate that I read at least half of my subscriptions regularly. I’m not sure I want to come up with a more exact count.

6.  Do you comment on other people’s blogs?
Yes – often on some, occasionally on others, but overall probably less than I’d like to. Sometimes I’ll link to a post in my weekend round-up, “Saturday Review: This week around the blogiverse,” rather than leave a comment – it’s faster for me, and I hope the “link love” gets more people to check out what I consider an outstanding post.

7.  Do you keep track of how many visitors you have?  Is so, are you satisfied with your numbers?
Lately, I’m slightly less obsessed with my stats. I keep a close eye on my subscriber numbers, because I hope that they’re my core audience, and while they’ve grown a lot this year, I always hope to bring more into the fold. I keep regular tabs on my daily visitors as well, although on most days, some of them are probably also subscribers. I love getting comments, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more people stop by to share their thoughts. My numbers aren’t bad right now, but I’m always a bit anxious that they’ll start moving in the wrong direction!

8.  Do you ever regret a post that you wrote?
I’ve felt bad about some posts, usually when I’ve put a lot of effort into crafting them and have been especially happy with how they’ve turned out, but they’ve generated very little response or commentary. That makes me feel like I’ve missed the mark. Other than that, I really can’t think of any posts I wish I hadn’t written – but maybe I’ve just been lucky that none have really started firestorms (so far).

9.  Do you think your audience has a true sense of who you are based on your blog?
I think they may not have a complete sense of who I am, because I don’t write about every detail of my life, but I do believe that the impression I give my readers is mostly accurate – although I think I may come across as more outgoing and sure of myself in writing than I do in person. However, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of bloggers in person during the last year, and since some of them have said that I was just the way they expected me to be based on my blog, I guess they are getting a true picture. And yet they’ve liked me anyway – go figure!

10.  Do you blog under your real name?
Yes. I decided to do that early on because if blogging ever led to other writing opportunities, I thought it should be possible to connect them. I use just my first name here, but I use my full name in other places.

11.  Are there topics that you would never blog about?
I don’t have an official list “off-limits” list, but yes, there are some things I’m unlikely to talk about here (never say never…). Because I do blog under my real name and I do hope it opens up other writing opportunities, I’d like to avoid being connected to anything with high embarrassment potential, if I can manage it. I wouldn’t blog about anything too personal to a family member or close friend, because that’s their story, not mine, and I really don’t want to offend or hurt anyone deliberately. I blog about current events and controversial issues only when I have a strong personal reaction to them. I rarely blog about my work except in very broad terms. I probably wouldn’t blog about something that truly doesn’t matter to anyone except me – that’s for a diary, not a blog. I think that covers it, in general terms; if I answered this question in more detail, I would be blogging about those topics.

12.  What is the theme/topic of your blog?
Again, it’s all in title, Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness – because “it’s not just a title, it’s a mission statement.”

13.  Do you have more than one blog?  If so, why?
I contribute to a group blog where I post at least twice a month, sometimes on topics that don’t really fit so well over here. Other than that, I really have no desire to maintain more than one blog of my own. I like the range of content I have here, and it’s quite enough to keep up with all by itself, thanks!

Over at Trish’s Reading Nook, she posed some blog-related questions in a “Sunday Salon” post:

Do your family, friends, acquaintances know that you blog? How do you bring it up in conversation? How do they react to your blogging habits? Are they mostly receptive or do they look at you a little sideways? What are your experiences with mixing your blogging world with your personal world? Or do you keep the two absolutely separate?

Some family and friends know that I blog, and some don’t. I have a link to the blog as part of my e-mail signature, so if we communicate that way, it’s easy enough for them to find out about it. I’ll mention it casually in conversation sometimes, but unless the person I’m talking with picks up on it and seems interested, I usually won’t pursue the topic. I really don’t go out of my way to keep it from anyone, but since I don’t have many off-line friends who are bloggers themselves, I don’t go out of my way to tell people about it either, because some people really don’t get it – yes, I’ve gotten more than a few of those “sideways” looks. And even those who do get it sometimes express confusion or concern about the amount of time I spend on this pretty serious hobby of mine.

It’s honestly worked out better to mix people from my online world into my offline one than vice versa. I haven’t had much luck encouraging family or friends to take up blogging (although some have become active Facebook users). On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve had opportunities to meet bloggers in “real-life” settings, and it’s been fun every time – I really enjoy having the chance to do that, and I feel like it helps build up relationships that already have a good footing. These folks definitely do “get it.”

I have more blogging-about-blogging thoughts that have been brewing, but I have a feeling that I’ve blogged about blogging enough for one post, so I’ll save those for another time. Care to do some of your own blogging about blogging in the comments here?

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  1. This was fun to read. I don’t obsess over my stats like I used to either. I think most of my family and close friends are aware of my blog, but few of them look at it – for the most part, they don’t get it.

  2. I also commented on this survey today πŸ™‚

    I really enjoy reading these answers to the questions. It allows me insight into my fellow bloggers.

  3. Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I do get concerned if the numbers take a big dive, but if they stay fairly steady or grow slowly, I’m OK. But I don’t check them six times a day any more :-).

    Molly – I’ll be sure to check out your answers!

  4. I’m not too much of a stat checker. I didn’t even use a stat counter until about 3 months ago.

    I do wonder about comments sometimes. If I regularly comment on someone’s blog, would it be unusual for them to at least comment on my blog once? I ponder that kind of stuff and am actually considering removing some of those blogs from my reader as it irks me a bit.

    I’m glad you posted your answers to these questions. I always get to know a blogger better through posts like this. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I got to meet you in real life either πŸ™‚

  5. Ti – You’re actually one of the people who can speak to how well I match up in person to how I present myself here :-).

    I think I know what you mean about comments. I’m good about responding to them here, but not always as good about commenting back on other people’s blogs. But if I leave comments often on someone else’s blog and they never do on mine, I start feeling like a stalker or something :-).

    Amy RGB – Nice to meet you! I’ve checked out your blog and added it to my Reader feeds. Hope you’ll stop by again!