Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blogging 5 Years - a few thoughts a long the way

Last month marked my 5 year bloggiversary. I thought about it a couple of times along the lines of "wow, has it really been five years since I started blogging?" but was then quickly distracted with other things and never actually blogged about it. Besides, I've had NRCTM syndrome for quite a while now, and haven't blogged even a 10th of the things I think about. In case you were wondering, NRCTM syndrom is "nobody really cares that much". I started getting that when I would spend large amounts of time writing about something dear to my heart, and no one commented. Yes its true, bloggers LIKE comments, no matter how much they might deny it. The sound of crickets chirping at your blog is a good sign NRCTM is going on.

So, other than whining about the lack of feedback, here are some extremely random observations I've noted in five years of blogging:

• Five years in blog-time is like 100 years in real time. Blogs have always been and still are, time-sensitive. If you blog about something next week that was interesting today, you've already missed the boat. People lose interest VERY quickly and are already being drawn away to the next blog that is featuring today's hot item.

• You can write the most important post ever, in the history of the world - but if someone comes along and posts about something scandelous and/or controversial and/or trivial, it will ALWAYS get more response. Scandel trumps important in bloggyland, and that's just the way it is.

• After blogging for five years, I've learned how to punctuate a little better, and never spell alot anymore, I spell it a lot. Blogging has been good for my grammar in at least those two ways. I still make plenty of spelling mistakes but I can live with that. Someone once called me the Queen of Commas, and when I look back through my archives I can see why. I write the way I speak, and when I speak I take short pauses between thoughts, so that's where commas go. I honestly don't give a rip if that's a violation of some sort of grammar rule. Although I have tried to use commas a little less.

• A couple of different times at conferences, people have approached me and told me they know me from my blog. I found that rather surreal, and cool at the same time. I still meet people from time to time that tell me they read my blog - when I had no idea - because they never comment. It always makes me wonder who ELSE reads my blog, and never comments. Maybe my arch-enemy from the third grade, Joe Jonas, or Sarah Palin? Hey, you just never know. (By the way Joe, we loved the concert movie, loads of fun to watch for the whole family - tell your brothers for the Rolfe family that we all appreciated it, good job!)

• Blogging for me opened a door to some really cool offline friendships with people I'd have never known, were it not for blogging. Its been a really fun avenue for that, and I dearly treasure those friendships.

• Blogging has also opened a door for me when it comes to graphic design. Its a pretty cool feeling when someone asks "can you create a graphic for me?" for a special project, their own blog, a concert poster, a t-shirt or some other need. No question there are designers out there that make my work look like a headless chicken got into a box of markers, but I sure appreciate that some folks out there like my work. I love to do custom designs, and usually have at least 2-3 on the go at the same time during the week. Its a blessing to be asked to do, what you love to do in the first place.

• Only 1 time in my five years of blogging, did I post something that I meant to save to draft instead. That's a pretty good stat for a misfired post. Only 3 posts have ever been pulled because they created more heat than light. I'm just really glad the misfired post didn't say something SUPER embarassing that should have been edited first. I can't even remember what that post was about, but I do remember all 3 of the posts I pulled.

• I'm glad my mom reads my blog everyday. Not everyone can say that, but I can.

• I no longer subsribe to any of the sites that tell you how cool your blog is, how your blog habits rate you as a sloth-like mammal (or whatever those categories are), or that sort of thing. For me, all they did was feed my ego and that was the last thing I needed. I do subscribe to feedjit and sitemeter because I find it fascinating where people come from that land here at Reflections. I don't look at the numbers anymore, so without checking right this minute, I wouldn't have a clue how many people visit this blog every day, or every month. I really like feedjit because it tells me what folks are looking for. For example, folks in NJ, TN, PA, CA, IL and Hong Kong have all arrived here in the last 24 hours by searching google for a John Calvin 500 t-shirt. This is very helpful information if you're in the business of selling John Calvin 500 t-shirts, which I am. (Okay I just checked the numbers in sitemeter and it tells me this blog is visited by an average of 3,500 people per month, over the course of the last year. Is this good? Is this low? I honestly don't know, and honestly don't much care. If what I have to say blesses, encourages, helps, benefits even one person in the smallest way, then I'm good with that. On the other hand, if each of those people would buy just 1 t-shirt from any of my stores - in a year Kev could retire early and we could spend our days eating cheetos, blogging more, travelling and having a good time. See, this is part of why I don't check or really care about numbers, it makes me start having silly, unrealistic thoughts! Although, I will certainly not be offended if you buy a t-shirt today.)

• Blogging has been an incredible resource for all kinds of things. From great recipes, to great music, homeschooling resources, book recommendations, conference dates, movie reviews and more. The blogging community I'm a part of is quite generous with resources and recommendations, and my life is truly better for it. I hope that continues, I count on it.

• I've limited the number of blogs I read to less than 5 daily. I just don't have time to read more than that, and even that is too many some days so I have to spend some catch-up time on some of those during the week. The last time I checked my bloglines it had over 700 unread posts from all the rest of them I have subscribed to over the years. I simply marked them all as "read" and started with a clean slate. I have no idea how anyone can read so many blogs during the day, unless they do literally nothing else but read blogs.

• Blogging has caused me to become LESS critical and more compassionate. Way back a million blog years ago I had another blog where the ENTIRE FOCUS of the blog, was to critique a movement within the evangelical church. It was needed at the time, but one day when I was reading through the archives (still available via the wayback machine) I quickly became depressed at the tone of my own writing. About a year ago some other things came down the pike that I didn't expect and caused me to think hard about this whole idea of open criticism once again. It's really easy to be critical of all kinds of things, and while some things need to be critically commented on for the good of others, there's a way do that and at the very same time be an encouragement too. Thats key, and the goal I aim for now. One good friend I have calls this being redemptive in your speaking, and that's a good way to say it. I would much rather be redemptive in my blogging than just critical without edification. I still miss the mark a lot of the time, but it is the goal.

I'm sure there are other things I've learned through blogging over the years, but those are the ones that came to mind as I wrote this. I love writing, and love blogging, and have no plans to give either up, any time soon. I do however, have a garden to water, dishes to wash, a cake to bake, and a grocery list to write, so this trip down bloggy lane is now over. I hope it was fun for you. :-)

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