Fourteen years ago, when online chat groups first formed, I spent up to two hours each morning chatting about art quilting and surface design with people who were passionate about the same subjects as I am. After a year-and-a-half of this routine, it finally dawned on me that I could be spending those hours in the studio, actually DOING what I was passionate about. I missed those virtual friends, but that addiction to “chatting” faded.
For three years, I have been blogging about building our new green home, including the costs we have incurred in the process and reviews of trades and products we used. I chose to record our building experiences because there was a dearth of information online about building green. It was difficult to wade through all the commercial sites promoting their “green” products. I was looking for some objective advice and budget projections for someone in our position. I wondered if there were any other homeowners building a new green home. I built a blog that I wished someone had built for me to read before we started this project
In the past year, I have found only two other bloggers who include some of the technical details that I wanted when we started.
(One, Journal House Project, is an amazing project by Dan Sawatzky about his fanciful home. He is a specialized sign-maker who has elaborate equipment and trained employees in his shop, so many of his techniques are not applicable to most people’s homes. The other, Shannon and Patrick’s A Green Hearth, is about building an affordable green home for two families. Shannon is a gifted writer, and her occasional posts are a joy to read.)
As all bloggers know, it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare a post. On top of actually doing the work (or hobby) that you’re posting about, there’s the writing, the photography, the editing, and figuring out the tags to encourage search engine optimization (SEO). I can spend the better part of a day preparing a post. And then, there are the efforts we put into getting traffic to our sites. I understand that the more hits you get, the higher priority the search engines will put on your site. Success breeds more success.
When I started blogging, I reasoned that people who needed my information would find me through search engines. To a degree, I think that’s true. But, when we had largely finished building the house, I began a new “daughter” blog (this one you’re reading), started reading more blogs and, on my sister’s advice, joined linky parties to dramatically improve the amount of traffic coming to my blogs. My new blog has the potential to appeal to more people who are interested in green crafts, decor, philosophy and recipes. With the amount of effort it takes to prepare a post, maybe I want to justify it to myself by having some readers.
This brings me back to my opening sentence.
I’m spending up to two hours a day reading your great blogs and linking to your generous parties. I’m not doing my art or building projects during that time. Obviously, it’s a choice I make to read my favourite blogs in my leisure time. (Quit-cher-whining, Gail.)
But… (and you knew a “but” was coming) here are some observations I have made:
1. Some posts go on and on (like this one, you ask???) Every little detail of a room is photographed from every angle, and then posted. Sometimes the same photograph is included two or three times (acceptable to save us time scrolling up to the “before” photo, but not usually necessary.) Do we really need quite so many words and photographs on the same subject? I do know how difficult to pick just four photos from the 48 that I have taken. (Again, I hear you saying, it’s my choice to read it or not. But, maybe the succulent tidbit I’m seeking in the post is at the very end, so I keep reading.)
2. I think some bloggers feel they need to post every day, whether they have anything to show-and-tell or not. I imagine this is partly an effort to keep their profile and numbers up for their sponsors and advertisers. (I don’t know this for a fact. As you can see, I have not attempted to monetize my sites.) I really don’t think anyone is interested in who my visitors were today, or that my dog, Kitty, had a medical event a couple of days ago, or that we cooked Moroccan stew for dinner last night, or that my New Year’s Resolution was to smile and laugh more this year. I’m not a blog-star like so many of my favourite bloggers are. The public is interested in the tiny details of famous people, and I have to accept that. Wonderful blog relationships are built through your emotionally-wrenching and quotidien details in your posts. I feel as though I know you as a friend, even though you have not a clue who I am. Your posts that interest me the most are about original and informative subjects, not yet another copy of something I’ve seen on another blog.
I try not to come across as a self-appointed expert, because I am not very good at doing this building stuff. Rather, I am documenting my journey, including my mistakes. I have watched bad YouTube “tutorials” about laying ceramic tile, wherein the “expert” is making so many mistakes that he’ll have leaks in his shower within a year.
3. I spend a truck-load of time navigating around sites, trying to find something I need or remembered reading before, or reading through ALL the recipes trying to find just the one on Christmas appies, or following a bunch of links to nowhere. My blog hero suggested that it would be easier to navigate my site if I indexed all my posts, directly linking the posts to the index. It took a truck-load of time to do that, but now it saves me truck-load of time, because it’s quicker than going to my dashboard and painstakingly scrolling down all the posts. I would love it if more bloggers would index their posts.
And, although the following pet peeve has nothing to do with saving time while reading blogs, I can’t stop myself. (Maybe I should get therapy for this problem, and then I could blog about it.)
Blogs, by their nature, are written by all sorts of people, not just English literature grads, professional writers and photographers. Most of us just write what we want, and don’t have editors on-staff to fix it before publishing it to the world. Many bloggers, more qualified than I, give plenty of tips about improving your photography. But, from this writer who has been known to carry Wite-Out around in my purse so I can eliminate unnecessary apostrophes on public signs and menus, here’s the rule about apostrophes: It’s is only short for It is. It’s not a possessive (e.g.”Its food is other insects.”) And, when you mean there are more than one of something, i.e. a plural, there is no apostrophe. It’s pizzas, not pizza’s. A teacher friend of mine just banned all apostrophes in her classroom because of their proliferation. (If in doubt, leave it out.)
Whew, thanks, my three readers, for letting me get that off my chest, and for reading to the end. Now, I will go to my favourite, interesting, well-written blogs and spend two hours living off you vicariously. You know who you are, because I join your parties and leave comments. I love you, and am happy to waste time with you.
First, though, I will leave you with a pretty picture, so you will leave this post with a pleasant feeling:
I’m sharing with these most excellent blog parties:
Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Boogieboard Cottage’s Masterpiece Monday, Mockingbird Hill Cottage’s A Favorite Thing, Funky Junk Interiors’ Saturday Night Special, DebbieDoo’s, Coastal Charm’s Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Creating My Way to Success’s A Round Tuit, Alderberry Hill’s Make the Scene Monday