8.07.2006

Dragged Kicking And Screaming Into The New Millennium

Now that I'm finally reading the actual recaps of the BlogHer conference panels I missed, I'm having the best time pretending I actually know a damn thing about technology. Ooh, add an RSS feed icon thingie! Ooh, monetize your blog! Ooh, insert secret James Bond-esque codes in invisible ink to increase your technorati rank!

It's all pretty funny considering I am a woman who has yet to activate her year-old, office-issued Blackberry and who, like Karen Rani, thought html was pronounced "hatemail" until like five minutes ago.

See look - I just linked to someone. As I've learned, that's a good thing. Without linking to like a hundred people a day apparently, I'm in serious danger of losing my blog license.

If I can be honest, I think I was happier not knowing any of these wacky blog secrets like reading level scores. I liked those early days when I dropped a BlogLines button and a Top Sites button in my sidebar not because I knew what they meant, but because they looked so authentically techy and made me feel like I could pass myself off as a geniune blogger. And that Bust button: Preeeeetty. I knew I wanted one of those right away.

It was purely an aesthetic decision.

For the past six months, I've been content never thinking once about what time of day to post, or how often to post, or how short or long it should be, and certainly not that you're "supposed to" drop some sort of keywords into a headline to optimize search engine traffic and get very important people to read you and link to you and make you famous--at least among those who read Technorati. Which is to say, not your parents, but very likely your babysitter's boyfriend.

It's not that I do any of these things. In fact I don't. It's just that I'm conscious of them now which makes me squirmy.

I mean, can't I just write? Link when I feel like it? Make the headlines 29 words long? Is my lack of interest in The Way Things Are Done I messing things up entirely, like Frasier's dad insisting on keeping his old comfy, battered La-Z-Boy in an Eames-heavy postmodern pad? Am I just a blogging neophyte who will Get It one day?

I'm trying to understand these uncomfortable pangs I feel reading about actively pursuing readers with the help of gadgety thingies and fancy bloggy know-how. Maybe I'm aspiring to be one of those cool kids who's all, yeah, I just blog for me, ya know? And if anyone happens to read, well whatev. I'm FAR too busy being self-confident to think about it. Also, I have a pedicure appointment. Ciao.

But I'm not one of those kids. I've admitted here before that readership and dialogue and feedback all inspire me to continue writing. I'm not good at writing just for me, as much as I wish I were. And I don't think I'm alone here. Also, I don't think that finding an audience is a bad thing--and certainly not one that should make me feel quite so dirty as I'm feeling when I read about how to achieve that very thing.

All of which makes me feel caught between a very uncomfortable rock and an extremely icky hard place.

So, well...ack.

Ack
.

Maybe I'm just insanely behind the times, as with my iTunes playlist and my fear of instant messaging.

(If I may digress for a moment, it's turning out to be a not very good idea to have Don't Stop Believin' as my ringtone. I'll be waiting on line at CVS, starting to hum along to the familiar Journey tune that I think is streaming in through the speakers before I realize, shoot, that's no piped-in music--that's my phone! By which point I've already missed the call and annoyed my fellow shoppers.)

Maybe I should just catch up with the 21st century and accept the fact that this is a medium with its own rules, and I can't treat it like a newspaper column with backlighting. Maybe I need to say goodbye to the battered recliner, no matter how comfortable it is.

Or maybe what I'll do is go back to my early blogging mindset, and treat all the thingies as, simply, accessories.

You know how I like the accessories.


61 Comments:

Blogger Mega Mom said...

Aw, just stick down here with me. I have no readers, no knowledge of anything technical (don't even know what RSS is...skipped ALL but one seminar)and I don't even own an iPod :)

8/7/06, 8:42 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

it figures when i'm only the 2nd person to comment, i'd have nothing interesting to add here.

8/7/06, 9:31 AM  
Blogger Pattie said...

I had no idea there were so many rules....I don't think I want to know anymore.... *shaking head, hands over ears*
I would still read you no matter what...good writing has to count for something!

8/7/06, 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

I'm with Mega Mom. Ignorance is bliss. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Too early to think of any more of these...must have coffee.

PS: Anyone who is annoyed by ANY Journey song lacks taste.

8/7/06, 9:53 AM  
Blogger J said...

Amen, Sister! I don't even look at my stats much anymore, becuase it gets me all weirded out....oh, wait, no one reads or comments on weekends....if you MUST post on weekends, make it crap....wha? No, if I feel like posting on a weekend, I will, and if no one reads it, that's fine, too. I love blogging for all of the reasons you mention. And that's really all that I want out of it. I don't expect to be able to make money at it...that's why I have my stupid job.

I will say that I kind of wish I had gone to BlogHer, so I could meet you and POW. That's really all I would have wanted. The sessions? Not so much. And you look much younger than you write. That's not an insult....you just seem so...polished...in your writing, and in your pictures you just look young and pretty. :)

8/7/06, 10:09 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

I'm trying to spend as little energy on this stuff as possible. That said, I too need readership to be motivated to keep writing.

Tough call. But I'd rather spend most of my energy on the writing, rather than worrying about all that other crap.

8/7/06, 10:46 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I waver between zen cool with the "who cares that no one reads my stupid blog" and admitting here that I check my site meter WAY too freaking often (they like me! they really really like me!). But? A good day for me is like 30 people, so I'm not under any illusion I'm one of the cool kids. It'd be nice to have more people reading, but I'm pretty "meh" over the whole thing.

(also, like mega mom I have no idea what RSS is)

8/7/06, 11:09 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I struggle between striking a balance between writing for me or for anyone who might be reading also.

In the end, I've decided that I'll try to use my space to document the things I want to remember or work through and hope that other people find it interesting too.

I totally get the Ack thing after returning from BlogHer though. It's hard not to get sucked in.

8/7/06, 11:09 AM  
Anonymous neva said...

product placement in the last line? oooooh clever girl!

the best blogging skill (if one can call it that) is the fashioning of "links", which i learned how to do from my son (that college education of his is finally paying off!)

as for ringtones? i totally agree. i'd love to find something less "oh goody! listen to what they're playing on the radio now!" and more... unique. ideally, i'd have THIS.

*side note... thank you so much for stopping by the Snark today!! it was a treat to see your happy face over there, and i hope to see it again, and often! xox

8/7/06, 11:24 AM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

I don't know what I love more...the fact that your ringtone is Journey or that you actually use the word, "Ack!" But I'm with you. I don't get all this blogging technology hoo-ha stuff. It confuses the crap out of me. That's why my blog looks like crap. I don't even know how to update it or even change the banner. I'm too busy writing stories about poop! Besides, I'm a little scared of those blogs that are really well-designed and have cool tools attached to them. For me, content is king...and that's what always brings me here to you!

8/7/06, 11:30 AM  
Anonymous wendy boucher said...

I am so hung up on blog bling that you are in danger of losing me as a devoted reader if you don't get some more wowza on your site. I mean really, where are the flashing lights, neon buttons, and sparkly mouse trails? That's all I live for.

And if you need proof of my sarcasm, just visit my site where the fanciest thing there is the color green.

8/7/06, 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Mother said...

I know that for me, I keep those things in mind - but mainly just small things, like linking to others or linking back to me, as well as making my titles fun since I know when I see a fun title (particularly with the blogher ad network thing), it makes me want to read it. Just how I am I guess.

As far as the techy stuff goes, like tags and this and that? Oy. I have no idea and I can't be bothered.

I figure, if I'm going back and changing words to get more hits, something is wrong and I need to rethink why I'm doing what I'm doing.

But for now, I just write and link when I can.

8/7/06, 11:46 AM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

as someone who *should* be more aware about those things (it being my line of work and all) i also tend to ignore them. i wish i could say it was because of some moral highground, but it's really about laziness.

lady, you must be doing something right. and you know what it is? writing really, really well...

(all that said, I am going to be checking out some of the stuff you mentioned out of pure curiosity, and then, like you, use it to mindfuck myself).

8/7/06, 12:38 PM  
Blogger Amy Jo said...

I always thought you were pretty savy with all that tech stuff! It's the content though, that brings folks in, and that you've got in spades!

8/7/06, 12:48 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

Yeah...the banner thing. I was incapable of happiness until I got a banner. And the stuff on the side DOES make a difference, but it takes a lot of figuring out. Don't ask how long it took me to get my crazy/hip blog-mamas tag to work. Just don't ask.

8/7/06, 12:56 PM  
Blogger movin'mom said...

Okay so what are you sayin'?

You think I should keep my polka dotted template?

I know that having the weather pixie girl is like going out and buying Jordache jeans because my best friend got them in the 6th grade.

Because that's exactly why I have her...I saw it on one site and I had to have her, who knew someone would make fun of me for that,

That's okay...the good thing about the BLOG is that if I actually do something that will humiliate me, I can just disappear from the cyber world persona I created and become someone else...haha just kidding...

I'm not that insecure.(I think)

8/7/06, 1:07 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I know of none of what you speak. Except the RSS feed. I paid $10 for to design my template and sign up for Site Meter. I don't even look at my stats much anymore except to look at the Google searches that brought people to me. More than that, and I start to freeze up about who's reading, what they're thinking, and if I've said too much. I had to quit thinking about that because it felt too much like my blog became a performance, somewhere where I could no longer be myself. Everyone looks at their blog differently, so if your goal is for more readers and to build on this community you've gathered around you, then by all means, link away and put on the pretties. But I'm a firm believer that good writing like yours will gather people to you regardless, and all that superfluous stuff may get in the way if there's too much of it.

8/7/06, 1:26 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I think you are great the way you are... however, if you choose to pursue a wider readership, then that is just more people who will enjoy Mom 101.

8/7/06, 2:27 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Rules? Ack. Please tell me that I didn't present the techie stuff as RULES. Or else I'll be going back to edit my own words.

I pick and choose among the bling. Everyone has their own ideas as to what is worthwhile and what is clutter. I try to choose bling that will expand my readership without looking like a total whore (and not a Jennster-style whore either).

Likewise, I link where it makes sense - giving someone else credit when credit is due, for example.

But you know I'm not particularly good at accessorizing.

8/7/06, 3:43 PM  
Blogger Occidental Girl said...

That's the great thing about blogging: freedom to design your blog like you want! With that freedom comes the weight of too many choices.

What does it all mean? Who cares?

No doubt about it, blogging is fun. Writing and seeing the writing get better is very rewarding. But writing and getting a response? Is so great! I think about it every time I go to post something, even as I think to myself that I really just want to preserve an experience for my own family's posterity. Even so, I am hoping for comments to know that someone out there relates. It makes it so much better.

8/7/06, 3:53 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

I tried to read about the techie stuff that mothergoosemouse linked to on her recent post and I just got really confused. LOL. I might look into it more at some point, but I barely have the time to read and write...oh and take care of my son--let alone figure out all the techie stuff!

8/7/06, 3:54 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I'm feeling better about not being at Blogher. I feel insecure enough about various aspects of blogging/readership/comments... As if my blog is going to get more readers if I have the right header. I suppose that might work for already highly read blogs, the way that shaving a tenth of a second off your time only matters when you are a super fast runner. (Hey, I blog like I run, now there's a metaphor! Then again, I exercise so I can justify eating more dessert. Not sure how to work that into the blogging.)

8/7/06, 3:56 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh great, now I've got that song stuck in my head. And it's a good song, which means it'll be there all day.

I sometimes feel like I stumbled into the readership I have. I made small attempts here and there to get noticed, but nothing planned and deliberate. I want to look into all of those fun widgets and tricks and optimization things you mentioned, but if I do it's going to be slowly, and one at a time.

For now, I can only focus on writing good posts, and getting them up in a timely manner. Someday I'll have extra time to worry about all the extras.

8/7/06, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

Reclaiming ignorance is an useful skill. Spiritual, even. I hope you forget every doodad you want to.
And "a newspaper column with backlighting" - perfect.

8/7/06, 4:33 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Bloglines states that you have 132 subsribers, and Blogrolling lists Mom-101 as having 60 subscribers. There are countless more out there everyday reading you without those tools.

That being said, I think what brought those 192+ readers to your blog is the content. It's what brought me here. It's what keeps me coming back.

8/7/06, 4:43 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Karen: really? For real? Wow. See, I don't even know how to check those things. I think i looked at Bloglines once and it said 6 and I was like, "Cool! Six people!" No joke.

8/7/06, 4:48 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

Like others have said, I think if you get too hung up on the bells and whistles and tricks, your content can suffer. Why write headlines based on key words instead of headlines that are catchy and fun?

That said, it is good to know about these things and how they work. I hope, for my sake, that a little goes a long way, because a little bit of this new-fangled technology is all I can manage.

8/7/06, 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

I think the best blogs do not have a lot of bells and whistles but have excellent writing. But I am not familiar with all the "planting hidden words" business. That seems more like a corporate blogging/marketing ploy? (This from someone who just got an iPod shuffle and who sent her first text message ever from the pediatrician's office a few weeks ago.) I'm married to a techie, so he hooked me up with my blog domain and my stat counter and told me to register with Technorati. Otherwise I'd still be content to reading parenting message boards and wondering what the heck a blawg was.

8/7/06, 5:40 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

OK. That was the longest and most entertaining post...about absolutely nothing. Are you sure you also weren't a writer for Seinfeld??
:-)

8/7/06, 5:52 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Amber, this is why you never ever want to be inside my head. Not even for a minute.

8/7/06, 6:01 PM  
Anonymous madge said...

For a person fairly obsessed with accessories, I have shunned most of the blog kind. Of course, this has only been in part because I don't have the attention span to understand them. The other part is a fervent hate of clutter. It fries my brain. I can't read something that is packed with bells and whistles.

That said, most people use bloglines which doesn't show any of it. Don't they?

(I love you for loving Journey.)

8/7/06, 6:12 PM  
Blogger Dutch said...

eh, the road to success is paved by the unsuccessful.

8/7/06, 7:14 PM  
Blogger KathyB said...

Gosh, I still haven't figured out how to link... I did it on accident once, but can't remember what I did to make it happen. BTW, thanks for sending me to Haline's blog. I love it and look forward to readina bout her adventures!

8/7/06, 7:54 PM  
Blogger Foodmomiac said...

I recognize some of these tips from the workshop at BlogHer, and I have to say that I disagreed with some of what she said. I think you have a good thing going and I wouldn't worry too much about what needs to be changed (especially content-wise). You are doing REALLY well.

That said, if you want any tips on better understanding your stats and optimizing your RSS, feel free to email me for help.

8/7/06, 8:43 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Hell girl, I don't know what RSS means. And I can't find a fucking person who will explain to me what a trackback is. Just be you. You are great at that.

8/7/06, 9:08 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

IM is the work of the devil. Stay away. Stay far, far away.

8/7/06, 9:43 PM  
Blogger Mike Karr said...

Those things are all fads and will mean nothing in a few years. It's all about the content, and your is pretty easy on the... um, brain.

8/7/06, 10:13 PM  
Blogger Stephanie T. said...

Eh, I think employing all those tricks to try to get more readers is kind of like a band setting out to write a hit song. Just write what you want, how you want, and the readers will come (hell, they're already here!)

8/7/06, 10:18 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

All those techie tips seem to fall into two categories: those designed to increase readership, and those designed to increase the number of hits. The first I'm interested in, the second I'm not.

8/7/06, 10:19 PM  
Blogger Mocha said...

You know, I love everything you said. I enjoy the banter in comments, the relationships you form and watch formed when commentors collide, and the overall sense of OH MY GOD SOMEONE IS READING ME AND LIKING IT.

So you aren't wondering, OH MY GOD I'M READING MOM-101 AND I'M LOVING IT.

8/7/06, 10:39 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

You mess with that Journey ringtone and I'm coming to Brooklyn to knock some sense into you.

8/7/06, 11:24 PM  
Anonymous roo said...

You just keep doing what you've been doing-- seems like it's working for you just fine.

Don't go changin'...

8/7/06, 11:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Holy cow. I didn't realize there was all of that "when to blog", "what to name your title" and "how exactly to maximize your readership" stuff.

Wow. But I think I'd rather stay ignorant. Not pissing off my family (who don't seem to read my blog anyway) seems to be challenge enough.

8/7/06, 11:34 PM  
Blogger Blog-o-licious said...

...um I'm just gonna write and if my sister is the only who reads it...who cares! Any you keep writing and I'll keep reading...deal?

8/8/06, 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Paige said...

I'm torn about all this stuff, too. I'm sort of technophobic and most of the talk about whatchamajiggies goes over my head. But when I was reading all of the BlogHer wrap-ups, I started feeling like I was riding with Fred Flintstone and everyone else was in an actual CAR. I don't really know that it matters because I think I have three readers and they seem to be satisfied so I'm fine with that, but at the same time, maybe I should take advantage of what's available?

8/8/06, 10:35 AM  
Anonymous editor at large said...

I know you were playing with the title, but the word "millennium" has two Ns in it.

I hate to be obnoxious, but it is one of those things I once learned and now can't stop correcting EVERYWHERE. It's like my own private OCD. My apologies.

8/8/06, 3:18 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Holy crap, that was some typo I had there. What was that, like six L's?

Thank you anonymous spelling maven. No apologies necessary.

8/8/06, 3:25 PM  
Blogger Food Mum said...

Theres more to it than just writing posts and managing to get them up there?! Help!

My husband set it all up for me and put on Adsense in case I managed to make a dollar or two and I did once...just once...it might have been me clicking by mistake though, so as a business proposition my blog is an abject failure, but as a mind-expanding, people meeting, fun thing, a huge success.

I like your blog as is - plain white is easy on the eye and you can read the content, which is, as everyone has said, why we come here again and again.

Mind you if you told me the secret easy way to get everyone to click on Adsense and earn an income, I wouldn't turn my nose up at it! Or is that too naff in the Blog world to talk about? Maybe my cred has plunged to the depths by that remark.

Now I have to go back and click on your links...

8/8/06, 3:32 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

i think is a constant battle, but it's one that comes from within. honestly. other people can attempt to make all the rules they want for EVERYONE'S blogs- but truth is.. you have to do what works for you. i think that people read your blog because they like what you have to say and how you say it- and not because you're out busting your ass visiting every single person's blog who visits yours. basically, you just have to write what you want, when you want it. make your own rules. the rules of your blog. you'll figure out what works and what works for you.

8/8/06, 5:41 PM  
Anonymous jess said...

First off i have to pimp marybeth at supafine because she will add all the bling you want for cheap, plus she's cute as a button - ha no pun intended.

I prefer to think of them as guidelines rather than rules. I love your writing and i think it stands alone - you don't need to worry about the other stuff.

8/9/06, 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Asha said...

DON'T STOP. BE-LEEEE-EVEN. HOLD ON TO THAT FEE-LEH-EE-EH-EHN. I'm with ya, baby.

About the Technorati-linking-techie stuff, I warn you, it's super-addictive. [I know of what I speak, being rather geeky and all.] Great to do if you want to, but a brain-sucking time-waster if you don't. If what you want to do is write, then use your precious time writing.

If you just can't resist, I'm happy to pass along any basic tech tips I have. I've learned quite a lot in the last year.

8/9/06, 2:22 AM  
Anonymous krista said...

Mom 101- You are a natural. You don't need all that stuff. People love your site because you are funny, honest, real, and you keep it real.

I am with Ahsa though, I love that geeky stuff. If I write a post I really like, I usually ping technorati. I don't know if it makes a difference, but it makes me feel all hot and geeky and I like it.

8/9/06, 8:47 AM  
Blogger DaniGirl said...

I only got about half way through the comments, so I'm probably repeating what at least a dozen people have already said, but what the hell.

I'll take voice and humour and pathos and a good story over blog tricks any day. Anybody can learn how to do blog tricks, but not everybody writes blog worth reading. You could teach a course on blog worth reading - and the other Luddites like me would queue up to take it!

8/9/06, 9:27 AM  
Blogger Keegan said...

I love reading your writing, whether it is tech '07 or '98. And so do many others. I think you should stick to what you do best- write- and screw all the rest. I'm with you on the tech side of things. Except you are leaps ahead of me, as I only learned what a blog WAS a year ago and only started writing one a month ago. I'm just learning how to edit a post and leave comment. So, no matter how far behind the camel you feel, rest assured there are others out here how still haven't left the watering hole.

8/9/06, 11:39 AM  
Blogger Plunky said...

OMG! You just taught me a few things! I have no idea about any of those things either and I definately picked up the BUST button because it was PRREEEETTTYY too.

Now do I use the things you taught me or just write? Is this going to be the eternal blogger question? Like do I stay on blogspot or get my own site? Oh gosh, now I need a valium.

"a newspaper column with backlighting"-brilliant!

8/9/06, 7:41 PM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

you have echoed my sentiments exactly. about being a no-tech-moronic (i've been part of bust's mom-o-rama for months but don't know how to upload the bleedin button), as well as caring about who's reading.
sometimes i even find myself not really writing what i want for fear of alienating the few readers I actually get. sometimes i just want to say 'hey, i think this/you/it sucks' but i dare not. (not you; you don't suck. i like you)
i think pretty soon i won't care.

8/9/06, 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

Dude! Whatever you're doing, don't change a thing. It's clearly working for you without all that other nonsense :)

8/9/06, 9:10 PM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

p.s. i have no idea what an rss is.

8/9/06, 9:14 PM  
Blogger Overwhelmed! said...

I'm with Izzy, whatever you're doing is working just fine. "If it aint broke, don't fix it!"

I just write to write. If people want to stop by to read and comment, great. If not, that's okay too.

8/10/06, 1:50 AM  
Blogger Clare said...

Hey, you really really don't need to worry about all that technorati-fixing nonsense.

Most bloggers are just sort of all right, and what they write is vaguely interesting, but it doesn't really stand out and the only way they can get a larger audience is by faffing about with invisible ink.

And then there are the writers*. The people who are just really good at stringing words together in compelling and amusing ways, and it really doesn't matter what kind of techno-wizardry they employ, because their content is so good it bypasses the need for all the gubbins. You are one of these. You don't need to go searching for an audience, cos you already have one. A really big one. And they will link to you and bring you readers, which means you don't have to.

And incidentally, there's nothing wrong with writing for, and yearning for, a readership. You don't have to be doing it only for yourself, but for heaven's sake try not to get pulled into the obsession for higher visitor numbers. It only makes you paranoid, miserable and frustrated with fiddly technology.

*NB I'm not including myself in this category, even if I am a writer in my day-job.

8/10/06, 7:11 AM  
Anonymous andrea from the fishbowl said...

It's already been said a dozen different ways, but a blog is ultimately about content, not the doo-dads.

The "issues" surrounding blogs aren't worth losing sleep over. i.e. the so-called "rules" about not writing on weekends or linking to some people and leaving comments or not leaving comments.
JAYZUS! It drives me bonkers.

Your writing is great Mom101. Just keep doing what you're doing and don't sweat the small stuff. :)

8/11/06, 9:24 AM  

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