Six Ways To A Better Blog

I find it incredibly odd that anyone asks me for blogging tips. Certainly I’ve been blogging a long time, that much is not debatable, but my first blog was a sarcastic anti-blog used primarily to elicit as much horror out of the readers (who were our friends) as we possibly could. If you think I’m profane now, you should’ve seen me back then.

this is me in front of a fucking tree

(this is me, in front of a fucking tree, assholes)

 

tree-cat-paint

(this is me with CATS with frickin’ LASER BEAMS under a tree, assholes)

Anyway, here’s my yearly list of ways to be a better blogger. (see also: Blogging for Dummies)(Blogging For Dummies Deux) and (Blogging For Dummies Part Number C)

Feel free to ignore them all.

1) Forget about the numbers. I know how tempting it is to obsess over your stats, painstakingly calculating your unique visitors every day, closely following your subscriber count and The Twitter followers. I’m not a numbers person (just like I’m not a geography person) so to me, ignoring them is Easy-Peasy, but I know others are. Every other Tweet in my stream seems to be begging for more followers.

But here’s the down-low on blog statistics: they’re only a guess. And? They change dramatically depending upon which blog statistics tracking program you use.

I happen to use some geeky program The Daver installed which allows me to occasionally track the odd search terms that bring people here (sweater kittens and boring things always at the top of the list). For awhile, I hosted my blog with some crappy company that ALSO gave me blog statistics. And? The two were COMPLETELY different numbers. It’s likely that if I started looking at blog stats with ALL the programs I could find, I could average them out and MAYBE THEN get a better picture.

But that sounds like a shit-ton of work. Work = bullshit.

2) Don’t get all hot and bothered if you get lumped into a group of people. If you have a vagina and a blog, you’re probably going to be called a “Mommy Blogger” whether or NOT you have crotch parasites gnawing on your legs.

When I first started Mommy Wants Vodka, I was infuriated that I’d been called a “Mommy Blogger!” How DARE they! I thought furiously to myself as I blogged, occasionally telling stories about my kids, occasionally not. Fuck that, I thought as I clacked out a post about my vagina, how DARE they insinuate I am nothing without my children! I am more than my children! I am a PERSON!

It took awhile, but I realized that people will always slap a label on you – sometimes good, sometimes bad – and my anger was unfounded and, quite frankly, kinda dumb. I can let my blog, not the label, speak for itself.

Which brought me to Number Three:

3) Don’t take everything so fucking seriously. Take your blogging seriously and write the shit out of whatever it is you’re going to write about, but stop making every little thing into an outrageously Big Fucking Deal.

Why?

It adds stress and will eventually alienate readers. It’s one thing to be mad some of the time; but outrage! at! everything! gets old.

Life’s not always such serious business. Relax and enjoy it.

4) Blogging is important. It’s really easy to minimize what you do with your blog. Hell, I’ve done it time and again. But at the end of the day, your words all matter. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday, people will stumble across your words and find whatever it is they are looking for in them.

In the past two years, I’ve met at least four families who have received the diagnosis of “encephalocele” (generally, prenatally) and have stumbled here to read about my daughter. Those words I hastily pecked out while writing Amelia’s Grace have provided a light in the darkness for them.

I can’t place a value on that.

So even if you’re writing a blog about knitting or cooking; know that what you do matters. All of it.

5) Blog because you enjoy it, not because you think it’s going to make you rich and famous. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for an audience of 5 or 5,000, enjoy the time you spend blogging. I spend many, many, many hours every day writing, blogging, and working on my sites, and I couldn’t be happier.

Do I make a lot of money? Absolutely not. Thanks to my profane (whore) mouth, I scare off potential advertisers. But you know what? I’d rather write as Your Aunt Motherfucking Becky than as Aunt Becky Trying To Be A Famous Money-Making Blogger. I do a little freelancing, sell shirts and and ads on this blog in order to pay for servers and other boring things on my other blogs, one of which, Band Back Together, I intend to turn Non-Profit. Mostly, I run them at a loss. Which is fine with me.

Bloggers who do make it “big” are an unusual flash in the pan, not something that happens to everyone who gets a kicky URL and a great idea.

6) Be careful who you get into bed with. Your name, your blog, your unique voice and your audience all mean a lot. Be wary of those who want to take advantage of it.

You don’t have to be all distrustful or anything, just make sure to read the fine print.

————–

What are your suggestions for being a better blogger, Pranksters?

The (Judgmental) Mommy Club

Never shy, I swam up to the semi-circle of pregnant ladies in my prenatal water aerobics class noting that while they were all a good deal older than me, they all looked reasonably friendly, and introduced myself. “Hi,” I said cheerfully. “My name is Becky, and I’m 6 months pregnant with my first son, Ben!” I don’t know if they spied my lack of wedding ring or were put off by my age, but not a single one responded to me. I might as well have spoken in tongues or have burped the alphabet.

While my situation wasn’t perhaps ideal, I wasn’t sorry and I wasn’t about to apologize to anyone for it. But just as soon as I joined the semicircle, I quickly found myself wedged out of it, treading water just outside of the group. It was the playground all over again. Looking back on it, I told myself that I must have imagined it.

Three years later, my new husband and I walked into a roomful of parents at back-to-school night for Ben’s new preschool and took our seats, smiling happily. We’d not had a lot of other chances to interact with large groups of other parents before this, and while we were nervous, we were both very excited. Oddly, as we sat there among them, we noticed that we were receiving a number of unfriendly stares.

Trying to shrug it off, we listened to the director of the Montessori school lecture us, before we broke off into our volunteer groups to discuss what we were going to do for class projects. My husband and I split up and I headed over to my group.
Happily, I introduced myself and tried to make small talk with the other members of the group. Slowly, I realized that as I stood there nodding and smiling with a big stupid grin on my face, no one was actually talking to me, and I was being edged out of the group.

The circle closed with me clearly on the outside and I stood there for a second, still nodding like a fool. I tried to edge my way back into the group to no avail, but eventually, I gave up. Thankfully, I wasn’t in a swimming suit this time but I wondered why no one wanted to be my friend.

Confounding matters was my son, who was autistic, which made playdates with the few friends that we had tricky. The snide comments about the things he’d eat, or the meltdowns he’d have or the way he’d behave broke my heart. Yes, he was in therapy and no, he wasn’t like their children, and while I tried to pretend it didn’t matter, it was hard and it was lonely for a long time.

So really, it’s no surprise that when I drop my son off at school, I’m always waiting for the crowd of pitchfork-wielding parents to emerge from the playground to yell “get back in the car, Infidel! You don’t belong here.” Much as I’ve shed the insecurities of feeling like I’m a stranger in a strange land, I have a terrible time feeling like I’m an impostor of a parent when I’m around other parents.

Three children later, I realize that it’s clearly time to get my act together. I cannot allow the past events dictate the way that I live my life as a mother because I’m not an insecure person and I’m not an insecure mother.

I’m putting on my battle armor and getting myself out there so that I can meet other parents in the flesh. Time for me to join The Mommy Club. I’ve done an amazing job doing it through my blog, so I know that I’m not that defective, but I’m just not quite sure where to meet other parents without looking like a freak. I can’t exactly size up a potential New Best Friend by staring at her for the whole hour at story hour without scaring her off and perhaps landing me a fancy restraining order.

Couldn’t really blame her there.

I wonder if it’s this hard for other parents to make friends. I don’t have leprosy or gaping pustules dripping from my face, and while I certainly do have faults, they’re not the sort that one would notice off the bat. But it’s time for me to face my fears and deal with them.

I’m sure I’ll be excluded from plenty more parental circles and that’s okay because I’ve learned to make sure that anyone who ever wants to join my group of friends is included. No matter what.

But, I guess I’ll make anyone with leprosy wear a mask.