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Blogs: time vampires

Posted Feb 03 2009 12:09am

Back in the day, I had a diary. (No, children, we did not carve words into stone tablets in those days. Really.) So my original understanding of a blog was that it was just like a diary. Except on the computer, and open to anyone to read.

In the past year, I’ve found that a blog is very different. A diary you write in, when you remember, and if you don’t, then it’s still there just as you left it, in the same condition and with the same level of investment.

A blog is a demanding child that needs constant attention to thrive, and threatens to distract you from any other meaningful necessity in your life. Once you make the initial investment based on your purpose in creating it, you have to justify that investment and keep tossing more fuel in to maintain, much less expand and grow.

I started this blog for several reasons, not the least of which was to leave the stone tablets behind. It’s the 21st century, after all! But I wanted to seriously pursue the business of writing, so I created what all TPTB were calling a “platform,” and also a space where people outside my own circle could read what I wrote. I now have a worldwide audience, based on the comments and emails I receive.  Cool, huh?

I also wanted to connect with others who have children with special issues, because as much as the professionals have to offer, sometimes hearing what whacky technique worked for another mom or dad is just the thing that will reach one of my kids.

I’m pleased that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. At the same time, I struggle sometimes with the time commitment the blog requires. I try to write at least two posts a week (although some current thought is that’s too much), half an hour each for creation and perhaps more time for research, if I’m creating a well-rounded post with links and pictures for real educational value.

I’m delighted to receive comments, and I like to respond to those who’ve been kind enough to acknowledge my writing. Another 30-60 minutes a week. I return the favor by reading other’s blogs, particularly those in my blogroll, an eclectic batch of very interesting people and advice columns, and one just for plain fun and a creative break. Another hour a week.

To find out what other people are doing with their blogs, I study the WordPress Dashboard everyday, where people’s latest posts are listed on a rotating basis.  I’ve learned some interesting things there–not everyone on WordPress is American, so there’s a broad world view. Another 15 minutes a day.

But I want to grow the blog, so I venture off the WordPress safety net and out into the Interwebz. I belong to Blog Village, where you can list your blog in a little community that’s not quite so overwhelming. You have to sign in at the first of each month to keep your place there. Another 15 minutes a month, catching up on what’s new. I’ve promoted my writing with pages at Redroom, the Polka Dot Banner and Pennwriters. Each of those sites requires a certain amount of maintenance and interaction with the other members, probably an hour total a month. More would be better. Then there’s Linked In. And Myspace.

To reach a broader audience, I also seek out blog carnivals. This month, for example, I was featured in the Freedom and Privacy Carnival, the Carnival of Positive Thinking, the Carnival of Family Life, and the Fuel My Blog Carnival. Another hour or two in deciding which posts to enter, then reading through the lists to see where I fit best. The effort is worthwhile, because I come to the attention of a cross-section of people I would not have encountered otherwise; many come back to visit once they’ve been here.

The Wellsphere connection I’ve been very happy with. In addition to the honors I’ve received, I’ve been able to answer questions about autism, at the same time I’ve been able to find information for fibromyalgia and stress relief. But there goes another two hours a week.

Guest-blogging is wonderful, and I never turn down an opportunity.  This week, I’ve been invited to guest at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, a romance writer/reader site, and that will appear Friday. Next week, I’ve been tapped for an entry at Gardening Nude, on community building.  These entries, because they’re more formal, tend to take a little longer, maybe an hour each.

With my job, and my family, and my writing, this is frankly all the time I can spare, and it’s really not enough. Other bloggers I know swear by Facebook, and insist you can’t get anywhere without being on Twitter. Networking is the way!! they wail as they are hauled off to the lunatic asylum or hospital muttering about pixels and keyboards. It’s true.  Networking is the most likely way that you will make those few connections that will set you where you want to be. I’m just moving in that direction at that old brontosaurus pace, slow and steady, hmm?

In the meantime, if you find something you like here, do me a favor. Network the old way, and tell a friend.Your kind act will free up some of my time so I can sit with my child, take a stress break, or maybe tell another story.

I’d appreciate it.

   Tagged: blog, blog carnival, community, diary, Facebook, fibromyalgia, Interwebz, Myspace, network, promotion, romance, social network, twitter, Wordpress   
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