My friend has become very established in the social media consulting space over the past three years. Her life had changed significantly since we met at the bus stop located between our two homes. She had left her job to pursue career and nonprofit consulting opportunities. I had just left my job to consult in the social media space. I told her about blogging and she must have been ready to learn about it, because she took it on, to the point where she now speaks and trains people in it.
I had told her, for the umpteenth time, that things were changing for me. I was going to take my blogging seriously again. As seriously as I could anyway, considering I no longer had the stretches of time I used to to blog, and as seriously as I should, considering my role as a thought leader in the social media marketing space. The feeling of discomfort I've had about my blogging was like a sock that I put on early in the day that had something in it. I could feel something small in between my toes, but I just didn't have time to take off my shoes and deal with it. I've just kept walking with this thingie in my shoe. And over time I got used to the thingie, used to the annoyance, and yet I could feel it with every step.
I told my friend that I was going to revitalize my writing by redesigning my blog; she was only too happy to help. She'd started coaching independent proprietors, typically creatives, who were building social media strategies for their businesses. I had helped to build strategies for my business, and our clients' businesses, but had not built a strategy for myself.
My friend's questions were deceptively difficult.
"Who do you want to reach with your blog ... and don't say everybody."
"But men and women read Pause."
"I'm sure they did, but if you had to identify THE person that would be interested in your blog it would be ..."
"People interested in, you know, what I write. There isn't an age, per se ..."
Very difficult stuff.
"I noticed you've taken down your blogroll. You should get it back up."
I scoffed at this initially, guiltily. The truth of the matter was that I had taken down my blogroll because I hadn't added anything to it since 2005, back when I worked for myself and took the time to methodically check my feed readers. I used to make it the first thing that I did in the morning, but then the company started to really take off, and I woke up to emails and early morning meetings with people on the East Coast. I rescheduled my reading to afternoons, but gradually found that by 10 pm I was still finishing proposals, catching up on email, or checking into a hotel and desperately wanting to sleep.
"Do people still care about blogrolls?" I was embarrassed hearing myself, as I thought about the myriad times I shared with people who asked me, a few years ago, how to get started blogging. And my standard answer, "Read. You must read."
My friend started to ask me about what bells and whistles I would place on my new, revitalized blog. Save for my Twitter feed, all of my blog bling and traffic-generating features were circa 2006. I have a Facebook and Twitter account, which have grown through no effort other than accepting the invitations that have come my way. I don't have any philosophical issue with pursuing friends, fans, or followers, but more a fear of commitment. I recall days when I would spend hours trying to hack at a line of code in an old version of TypePad that screwed up my Typelists. I recall reading my posts many times before posting, just to make sure the punctuation was correct, and responding privately to every comment I received. I remember being vigilant about tagging and tracking back, working well into the night to make my beloved piece of internet real estate as inviting as possible.
Now, I kick aside cobwebs on the front porch. I feel embarrassed about the old furniture. I want desperately to be social, but don't want to invite anyone over, lest they see the tattered curtains.
"Where have I been all this time?" I said to my friend.
"You've been on the other side of things."
"The out of touch side?" I thought to myself.
I realized that I've let the blog go by choice. And I haven't added much to it because I haven't determined who I want to be as a blogger. I used to love being fairly naked, though I don't feel quite as liberal as I once was. Old age, maybe? Or maybe a few too many run-ins with people who later questioned me, or were even hurt. And running a business that involves others adds a layer of responsibility I haven't figured out how to navigate. So I've stayed away, sometimes angrily, like a victim who complains that her hands are tied. Sometimes with fear that I couldn't write powerfully like I used to. Sometimes I just don't know what I want to say.
A funny thing happened on my entrepreneurial journey: I became OK with just getting it done. Not talking about what else needed to be done, or about what I would do when I got there. I just did it. I still think about things I'd like to do, like spend a day watching TV, or going to Brazil. But I don't wonder what am I meant to do. I haven't answered the question, but my life is working on it. It's a paradigm shift that renders the many book proposals and soul-searching blog posts useless now.
Still, there are reasons why I want to continue blogging. Back to the thingie in my shoe: I spend an awful lot of time pondering where this industry as a whole is going, but I haven't really spent time getting re-addicted to using social media. I don't update my profile, or follow people. I read what others aggregate and send my way, but not what I discover. I've stopped thinking this was bad; I just would like to re-engage. I don't have more time for this and will have to be realistic about my output, but I don't need to be uber-consistent. It's not about the traffic. This will keep me thinking.