I HAVE MOVED

After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.

Harold

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Eight Year's of Blogging - A Reflection on Lessons Learned

It is hard to believe that I have been blogging for eight years.

Here is that first post from October 21, 2007, in its entirety:

"I just want to talk a bit about how difficult it is to teach in today's world. How do you decide how to teach with: 
Blogs, Wikki, Open Source, Proprietary, Google, FaceBook, YouTube, TeacherTube and everything else that is out there to "help" you teach. All these things that I am just starting to see, but not yet use in the classroom. I am willing to start, but am feeling very overwhelmed. 
Technology is not new to me, I have been using computers since the old Vic 20 with a cassette tape as an OS, but I am a bit intimidated about using all these web based applications to "assist" me in my classroom teaching.

If anyone out there can assuage my uncertainty or give me some helpful hints to help me be successful ;) 
Thanks 
Harold"
A helluva lot more brief than my usual posts now. I do believe that I have gotten wordy in my dotage.

That first post was very simplistic, hell it didn't even have a title, no images, linkbacks, or all the other tricks of the blogger's trade and shows just how little I knew and how overwhelming all these so-called Web2.0 tools (what they were called) were to this then newbie.


In the beginning ;-)


Back when I started this blogging adventure I was a teacher and looking at how I could incorporate social media into my teaching and tap into the world of the Internet to help me be a better teacher.

So much has happened in those eight years of blogging:


Let's see if I can remember some of the blogs I have owned or written for: My Thoughts (multiple variations), Aging Reluctantly, One Foot In Reality, Simply Living, The Harold Chronicles, Old Guy Job Search, A Veteran Runnah, Aging Runnah and now I have returned to One Foot In Reality. Yeah, I am sure that I forgot a couple that I used briefly but moved on from quickly.

I focused initially on educational technology and special education topics got pretty well known in the social media circles, then when I stopped teaching in 2011, moved on to a boomer and how aging was affecting his life, retiring early, a little simple living stuff, run blogging and healthy living focus.


While I still write a lot on run blogging, I have come full circle and my focus is on writing for fun and about whatever I want to write about on One Foot In Reality.

Which also means that I was the proverbial blog butterfly for many years and didn't let a blog being successful or having a decent readership get in the way of moving or killing it.  Which looking back was probably not the smartest way to do things and I do wonder what would have happened if I had just stuck with the same blog from the beginning and simply shifted the focus when it was necessary?

Things might have been a little different, but that isn't really who I am. I loved the idea of starting something new, trying something different and problem-solving to get things working correctly.

It is just that I did/do it too often.

Enough of the backdrop,  what are some of the things that I have learned over the past eight years?


1.  You own what you write.


That should be pretty obvious, but so many forget that basic tenant about writing on the Internet.  When you go off on a rant or bitch about something, disclose something about yourself, your work, your boss or whatever you choose to write about - you own it and the consequences both good and bad for having written in a space where others can read it and what you have written is there forever.

Discretion and using common sense are necessary if you are active in social media, but sometimes it seems both are in short supply.

2.  Write for yourself.


Yes, there are ways to write too quickly or artificially increase your stats, popularity, make more money or whatever goals you have for your blog by writing a certain way, being purposely aggressive or argumentative, using canned blog posts, lists, stuffing keywords into posts, etc..

  • However, when you write this way does it feed your soul? 
  • Do YOU shine through in your writing or are you just another blogger? 
  • Are you happy with what you write about?  
  • If not what can you do about it?
Think about why you blog and have some fun while you are doing it - yes money makes the world go round, but it always doesn't make you happy and probably ain't the real reason why you are blogging.

Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme, even though many try to sell something to make you think that it is. The reality that is writing a monetarily successful blog is a lot of hard work and takes the time to do and it has to be a passion, not just something you do.

3.  Make your blog yours.


The "experts" all have plans and ideas for your blog to make it better (some of them actually do and some will help you at the cost of a "few" dollars), but there are times when you need to change things to the way you like it or your blog will not last, because it no longer reflects who you are and you will stop blogging there.


Just do it.

4.  Just because you can write it, doesn't mean that you should.


If what you write is going to hurt someone, what is your reason?

To expose a great wrong, to put the truth as you know it out there, these may be good reasons, but is it worth the pain you are causing for someone else, to increase your blog's readership or are you just being an asshole because you can be.

Don't talk to me about "journalistic integrity", "I didn't know that would happen - wink, wink" or that "well if I don't do it someone else will".

Nine times out of ten times these reasons are bullshit and are excuses that too many bloggers have used to justify their writing crap that purposely hurt someone else needlessly.

I will be honest and say. 

If causing someone else pain is your objective or what you do for fun, you are an asshole.

Think about why you are writing a post and how what you are writing will affect those you are writing about before you publish it.

5.  Don't feed the trolls.


There are times you write about a closely held personal belief or opinions that others disagree with. If you do, be prepared for the negativity that will ensue. You will receive comments, that can range from total agreement to respectful disagreement or dialogue, to trolls who disparage your heritage and every other aspect of your being.

I have learned over the years that you don't feed the trolls. Having a conversation where you respectfully disagree with others is great and you learn from it, all feeding the trolls does is cause headaches and increase your stress levels.

When I get a troll comment, I delete it without reading too far into the comment, it ain't worth it to me and it serves no purpose towards the greater good. 

6. You too can make money from your blog


I got caught up in the hype and hoopla a couple of times that "you too can make money with your blog" and my forays into the self-hosted blog were the results of those efforts. While I experienced a certain level of success and was considered a professional blogger for a while, it was not quick or easy and more than a little luck was involved.

At the same time if you decide that you are going to become a professional blogger, be prepared to run your blog as a business, not as a lark or something less than a professional enterprise. Brands are more than willing to help a struggling blogger with samples and free stuff, in exchange for a blog post or series, which is great for a hobby blogger (but still taxable by the IRS) and gets free publicity for the brand on that blogger's blog.

However, many...well most brands do not see the majority of bloggers as professionals who should be paid, so it makes it difficult to put food on the table or pay the bills, with those free samples that they give out so readily and you have to pay taxes on.

If you are willing to work hard, play the cards dealt, you can make money as a blogger, it just won't happen overnight and you will have many a sleepless night keeping it going, especially if it does become your primary source of income. But that is like any business isn't it?

My Advice


My advice, if you are a hobby blogger, who is not going to make blogging into a business is to:

  • explore, experiment for a month or two then, 
  • settle your ass down and stay there,
  • don't get caught-up in the "I can make money blogging trap",
  • write good posts, 
  • have fun with your blog,
  • if a brand offers free stuff, be very selective. 

Is your blog a reflection of who you are? Don't go with a formula, design or posts designed to just drive traffic, just because so and so does it or says  this is the way to create a successful blog.  If you are not happy with the look or theme change it, if you don't like the direction you are headed change it, but the biggest thing is keep blogging, but at your comfort level, not what others expect you to do.

After all blogging is supposed to be for the person writing it, more than the people reading it. They were originally web logs or journals, not simply social media marketing tools.

What to expect in the future?


I am working to take my own advice. I gotta stop bouncing around from blog to blog or host to host, be more stable about where I am blogging and not worry about chasing the dream of being a professional blogger - been there done that and found out it ain't for me.

Over the past couple of years I have simplified and then simplified again my blogging and have gotten myself down to two blogs, my http://haroldlshaw.com aka Aging Runnah, which is now retired and is my archive of all my blog posts that I was able to find from all the old blogs that I had. I am turning the URL into a static webpage for Harold L. Shaw and will be using it as a portal to my online activities.

The other part is that I have returned here to One Foot In Reality on Blogger and while I write primarily about my running, it is more about my life and is a web log about who I am and what I do.

Blogging is most of all leaving behind a piece of yourself, so that your grandkids, grandkids can read about that crazy old bastid, who ran a lot and loved life - so that I become more than just a name in the geneology tree or photo in a book that nobody remembers.

I have no idea of who he was, his thoughts, ideas, he doesn't even have a name, but according to my Grandfather  I have that saw hanging in the garage (it was just a lot newer in this picture.

The reality is that


My blogging has allowed me to meet (electronically and face-to-face) many different people, be exposed to ideas from all ends of the spectrum and the world, without the filters that you get from the mainstream media, corporations or governments. 

I have read fantastic blog posts, drooled over great themes and anguished over rants and tantrums by other bloggers who I believe had their head up their asses. However, I wouldn't stop reading the spectrum of blogs that I have read and will continue to read, it gives me a view of the world that I would not have otherwise.

Blogging has also given me a journal of my thoughts at different parts of my life over these past eight years, where I could go back and read how I was feeling and what I was actually doing versus that sometimes faulty memory that affects all of us. 

Then again - sometimes re-reading those are a great thing, while at other times you cringe a little, well a lot and wouldn't want to go back to those times.

The biggest thing that I want to leave with you is...remember your blog is your blog, no one else's.

So write your next post, share a bit of your life with the rest of us, but most of all have fun with blogging...ain't that what it is all about - having fun and keeping a record of things you want to remember.

I think know that is why I really blog.

Originally published on One Foot in Reality, © 2011-2015 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to One Foot In Reality with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

2 comments:

  1. Harold, well said.
    I started blogging about three years ago and had no idea what I was doing. My blog was just for fun and to have conversations with other bloggers/runners.
    Your journey has been much longer and more eventful than mine, but just like you I have learned a lot over these past few years.
    I think I'm at the point where I know about 1.5% of what I need to know about blogging and everything that goes with it. I have a lot to learn, but I feel I am building a valuable skill and having fun at the same time.
    Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Andy - I think blogging and the ancillary skills you learn along the way are invaluable in today's world and the people you get to meet well you would not have met them otherwise. The biggest thing is like you say learn and have fun with blogging. When you begin to take it too seriously or get caught up in the I gotta make money blogging side, well then it stops being fun and becomes a business with I have to instead of I want to. :-)

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