Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why do you blog? The million dollar question.

 

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I’ve kind of fallen into a bit of a blogging funk – hence, the lag between posts.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one in the blogosphere who is feeling this way. One artist who blogs wonderfully, sharing her life and inspiring many, spoke about the possibility of opting for a monthly newsletter instead. 

110 comments later!!! she was left with no doubt that others still valued her blogging efforts most highly.

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Loads of comments are definitely a wonderful reinforcement, (I love ‘em just as much as the next blogger) but my question is more about what you want to share in your blog and why. Yes, this actually is a question, I’d love to know!

I am sure that there are as many reasons to blog as there are bloggers, and they are probably all valid.

Originally I started out wanting to show what my life with cfs was like, without specifically describing symptoms or gory details too much; more of an illustration over time of what was lost and what was gained.

Next came my masters, and that seemed a worthy process to document in a blog. And since finishing that two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve been blogging about the art I make and see around me.

Earlier this year, I realized that while I am still learning (I’m sure I always will be) I have reached both an age and a stage where I wanted to share what I know. I’m not in a position where I can run classes or workshops, but I thought that perhaps the blog could be honed to work more in this way. By confining myself to posts that might interest book artists, and working a bit harder at the research background and structure of the posts, perhaps I could offer something worthwhile.

Unfortunately, that level of blogging isn’t always sustainable for me, and while it’s great fun while I have enough energy, it just becomes something else I feel guilty about leaving undone when I am unwell.

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So just now, blogging has become a bit of a chore for me. I’ve thought about trying to turn each post into a piece of art in itself, rather like the beautiful posts on Speak Without My Voice and The Floating Bridge of Dreams. I’m still thinking about that option, but I can see problems with that too.

In the meantime, I know that after 5 years of writing in this space (yes, I’m amazed how long it is, too) I have built up a wonderful, inspiring, international network of bloggy-colleagues. You feel so much more than mere cyber-friends. You feel very, very real, and although I may be casting around for a direction for the blog just now, you can be sure that I will remain connected to you.

Watch this space!

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14 comments:

  1. hmmm why do I blog?

    I started out blogging as part of a uni group blog.... given we were all distance students, it was thought that a blog might be a nice way to keep connected to each other.... but the idea never really took off... I have found myself fiddling about with a personal blog instead and hey presto - it stuck.

    I mostly consider all my blogginess (including visiting and sometimes commenting on other blogs, or replying to comments or notes on my own space) as part of a large conversation.... as I live a long way from anywhere really, blogging allows me to share my interests and find that sometimes my passions are shared by others far far away..... its a nice feeling to find that you're not alone in the world.

    I'm gradually also finding the blog has become an artistic pursuit in its own right.... I often take pics BECAUSE I think they might be used for the blog (otherwise I would probably forget to point and shoot) - and because of the blog I tend to see my world through a lens - and I pay even more attention to what might be initially dismissed as mundane....

    I'm not interested in what I see as a crass pursuit of popularity (tips on 'how to drive traffic to your blog' make me shudder! and I loathe ads - blah - I've never thought about blogging for profit... I'm too much of an old hippie punk anarchist to sully my hands with filthy lucre!) most recently I've been thinking about an even freer approach to my copyright.... I've already set up my sams creek bookworks blog under creative commons and expect to move in that direction with my main blog site.... this is in line with my broader thinking regarding arts practice... time will tell what will eventuate


    (oh and I love all the folk who I've met and made friends with via this arena..... and like you these as-yet-not-physically-met folk are very dear to me!)

    there I think that's a fairly solid response eh?

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  2. I am often in awe of certain people's ability to "see" a great photo subject in everyday scenes. A bit like seeing the "tree within the forest" instead of the other way round. You are definately one of those people :)Mark

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences Ronnie. I certainly see the benefit of a blog to overcome isolation, whether it's caused by distance or something else. It works that way for me most definitely. I can easily go days without speaking to anybody except my husband, so the online conversations have become very important to me too.

    In particular, reaching out and connecting to people with the same artistic interests helps me overcome my inability to get out and spend my energy developing local networks. Still, I'm not sure what bits of my life I want to share with them and in what way.

    Mark: thank-you for your kind words! It's true I am a fine detail kind of person. I think photography is like most other things - the more you look at photographs by other people and take them yourself, the better you eventually become.

    My father was a keen photographer and had a home darkroom. I grew up looking at photographs - so maybe that has helped.

    Even though my photography has improved over recent years, I still don't get the same satisfaction from it as I do from making something by hand. Which reminds me - how's the carving going?

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  4. Hi Amanda - it's a good question and I think the answers change over time. I found a blog a useful quiet way to share my art with the world; I am not a good promoter or seller or profiler so a personal blog fitted my style. I love the chance connections and finding kin-folk who think and see like I do; who 'get' my work and whose work inspires me. Thats the overcoming isolation and connecting of blogs

    Like Ronnie, I also find I am now forcing myself to be creative or open to beauty in a way I wasn't before - in order to blog about it. So the blog now drives the art in small ways at times as well.

    It's also a place where I speak in the first person - my website is more formal. My blog is also where I show works in progress - and the process; the website is where the finished works get showcased.

    I love seeing how other folk are doing; what they are making; what they have found; what they are thinking or pondering - it's a lovely place to spend time. Good luck with your ponderings...

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  5. Hello Amanda, Seems like you've sparked a lot of interest and thoughtful comments with your provocative question! It is lovely to hear what you and others have to say on this issue...

    Of course it's a question I struggle with too. I often think how much better my time might be spent creating art or living my life as opposed to writing about it.

    Frankly, in the end, however, it has become a kind of necessity for me. I think I mostly write my blog for myself. I never have very many comments from others, but then again, when I've tried to stop in the past, I am surprised by how many people tell me they are missing it. Lots of people who never comment at all tell me they read it every week.

    I found, when I tried to change it, or give it up, that I myself missed having that personal weekly deadline in the back of my mind. And I missed my camera...I find that HAVING to write something, even if it's only a self-imposed project, allows me to live my life in a more self-reflective way...because I will have to write something about it in just a few days.

    And I really love taking oodles of photos of everything around me. My camera has become like an appendage. It's another way I understand my own life. I find the documenting in words and images a kind of meditation on life itself.

    If someone else is interested, then all the better! But for me that's almost a bonus.

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  6. Hello y'all, thanks for the interesting question Amanda! Like Fiona I think my reasons for blogging have changed over the years, but also my approach to blogging has changed. To begin with it was a bit like "dear diary": a place where I could put things down and review them later, and I certainly wasn't sure anyone else would read it. Once I moved overseas some on my blogs were conceived as ways of keeping in touch with people who were part of my old life in the UK: long phone calls are expensive and I don't do Facebook, but my "Off to Oz" blog was a two-way communication link with "home". Gradually those links have faded away since most of my old friends have turned out to be useless at keeping in touch! A year after I arrived in Australia I hit a really lonely low and decided to revamp my blogging as a way of making links with like-minded artists, which is how BookArtObject started. The whole BAO blog has turned into something else though: it's not my personal blog anymore but really does reflect a collective community and I love it.

    I agree with Fiona that there is a different tone to blogging: my DoubleElephant blog is informal and addresses things I bump into as life goes along (thereby charting my highs and lows!). I want to put a website together, but that would have to be a lot more "professional" I think.

    So my art blogs have a variety of functions now: keeping in touch, linking up with fellow artists, recording the progress of my work, recording things like exhibitions or books that I encounter, acting as a sort of studio workbook... and generally just being fun to write. Hope that's useful,

    Sara x

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  7. I like Ronnie'd description that its like being prt of a large conversation. I feel the same. My blog(s) were initially set up as one blog which would function as my artists news stream as an add on to my website, it has since developed and actually is much more of a conversation and a sketchbook/notebook to my artistic practice. I have several because of my differing interests and because of the different audiences they attract. One 'book-art' blog, one textiles blog and more recently the blog my sister and I use to bounce ideas, share recipes, create collaboratively over a large physical distance. I like having those separate places which can also become linked.

    Anyway, I waffle! I love your blog and find it so inspiring and you have so much knowledge to share; I hope you work out how you want to proceed.

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  8. Great question Amanda and I am feeling a bit like you at the moment - the fun seems to have gone from blogging for me. I think I started a blog when I joined Etsy because people were talking about them on the forums and posted links to all these amazing blogs showing how they had made things. Then I started enjoying my blog more than any of the rest of my online activities. I 'met' loads of interesting people. I can't remember how I first found Sara's blog with the call for book artists, probably when I got lost on the interweb one day, but I am really glad I did because I got to 'meet' all of you.

    The most interesting thing for me is seeing people's work in progress, their ideas and how they approach their work. I am also quite nosey and like seeing pictures of peoples houses and where they live ;-) I also love seeing the amazing wildlife you have in Australia and in other parts of the world - seeing what birds/animals people get in their backyard compared to my gulls, squirrels and pigeons!

    I agree with Ronnie about not being interested in the "crass pursuit of popularity". I read an article one day about how you should build content etc. Looking at the advice on there I am going about it all the wrong way - my posts are so random and about too many varied things to attract regular readers.

    It is interesting to look at the stats on the blog to see what attracts the most views. My typewriters are very popular and I get lovely comments about them and also very helpful people posting to answer and help me identify the model and year of my Underwood. I like this connection with other people and I suppose finding like minded people is a big part of blogging.

    So Amanda do you think this is a natural progression with blogging? You start off full of fun and loving it and then tail off a bit? I think this is evident on a few blogs that I follow - posts becoming more sporadic.

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  9. Thank you all for answering my question about why you blog. It is very helpful to hear how you think about your own little interwebby space and especially interesting to see that most people seem to start off with a particular direction in mind, but this often changes over time.
    Over the past 12-18 months I have certainly noticed an increase in talk, courses etc focussed on making your blog professional (read: an income source). I feel quite divided about this. On the one hand, it is something that a person who can't go out to work may be able to do successfully. I'm thinking of a blogger in the UK as an example. But on the other, this whole thing about having to post on certain days, structuring your posts in certain ways, what can you charge for and what you should give away...well it takes away all the fun and to be honest, makes me feel a little queasy.
    I don't know whether I can answer your question Angela, but I do think that unless you are running your blog as a business, then it probably is natural that your interest might wax and wane. When I reflect on my own experience, I think there is an optimum amount of time and effort that I can put into the blog.
    Too little, and it seems a bit pointless.
    Too many hours spent on posts and I start wanting "enough" comments to make it feel worth the effort.
    But just enough...

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  10. Angela, I think that sporadic posts are mostly down to busy lives. Everyone gets busy at different times and sometimes you feelike blogging more and fit it in somehow. I think that perhaps it comes round in cycles. What u all think?

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  11. I started to blog when I officially started by business and sold my books. I was told that it was an important merchandise tool, and so I set up one. Quickly it became my showcase for new ideas I had and a diary where I sorted out what I learned and what I wanted to investigate further. And that is what it still is. In the beginning I thought I was being very original with making holes in the pages of my books and so on. It was through the blogosphere that I discovered the book arts and other book artists. Like others said before, the social component of blogging is a beautiful surprise that I wouldn't want to miss. And it is what keeps me blogging. For me it is all about sharing what I know and do. Having been a teacher in a previous life I enjoy "hearing" myself "talk" :-)

    It would be a shame to see you go, I always enjoy reading your posts. So I hope you will sort out yourself and what to do with your blog.

    The photos in this post are amazing. First I thought I like the BW in the forest with the light shining through leaves and trunks best. But looking at them again I just cannot decide. They are all stunning. They make me want to spend more time behind my camera.

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  12. as long as there are stories to tell
    there will be someone to listen
    blogger has become a kind of contemporary campfire...

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  13. Answering a bit belatedly here. . . for me blogging is definitely a way of keeping in touch with the world. I never understood the attraction before I tried it myself, and now, even when I haven't been feeling up to posting much (like now), having the blog is so important to me. Because of my health (and the fact that I live in an isolated rural area) it's getting increasingly hard for me to go out into the physical world. My cyber friends mean so much to me. The interactions I have online have become such an important part of my life, even when I haven't actually been actively participating as much. And I love the international aspect.

    I've also, like you, been trying to post more about techniques. I've noticed from my stats that, by far, the posts that most get read are the occasional tutorials. It makes me happy if I can give back in some small way, since I've gotten so much from what other people have posted. There's also definitely self-interest in it, too--having to think through what I'm doing helps me a lot to focus.

    I think our blogs change over time because we change over time. Our art changes too. But what I definitely don't want to do is to make my blog more commercial, with ads and all that. I understand that some people need or desire to do that, but I find a certain visceral dislike to obviously commercial blogs.

    I try not to get too hung up on not posting as regularly as I'd sometimes like to. That's just the way my life is, as it is for so many others--whether it's health or family or work obligations, stuff slows you down now and then.

    Anyway, long answer! But an interesting question.

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  14. I blog as a way to give back. Of course, there's the other side of me that's also looking for a small side income, but making really good money on a blog takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Expecting to make a full time salary is very ambitious and requires a lot of business know-how and planning. Right now I blog because I’ve learned so much from other blogs and wanted to give back in my own way. I also find so much cool stuff around the internet and learn something new everyday, so I want a way to share that, beyond just social networking.

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