A personal blog - the gift that keeps on giving

It's that time of the year when we're all thinking of holiday presents and you often see the phrase 'the gift that keeps on giving'. I saw it this morning when I read ChicagoNow blogger Barbara Revsine's post on cookbook suggestions. And I was struck by how a personal blog is the perfect gift that keeps on giving, giving to the person who writes it.

8179564865_dd87851289It's worth remembering, as while there are so many reasons to start writing a personal blog, there are as many reasons to stop. Readership - or lack of it - is probably one of the key ones. From people who feel strongly about letters, we become fixated on numbers. We worry our prodigies aren't being invited to the social media party, that they're not part of the popular group, that no one tweets about their arrival or they don't receive any comments on their appearance. And if the numbers aren't there, the letters can dry up as well. We make the easiest mistake of all - we take it personally.

But, as a wise man once said (and he knows who he is), there is really only one person you should be writing for - yourself. If you enjoy reading your own blogs, past and present, then you've found your audience. Remember why you wanted to start a blog in the first place - I would imagine it was because you wanted to write, not that you wanted to be read.

In my case, I needed to write. Putting pen to paper (or fingers on keys) helps keep the dark clouds at bay. That's as personal as it gets. The dog helps as well, but you don't have to clean up after a blog. I imagine there are many others out there who have the same motivation, even if the words they write, their written face, are as bright and breezy as the public face they choose to maintain. Each blog is a success story, each blog says 'I did something today'.

Of course it's a huge added bonus if someone actually reads what you write and likes what they read. And it's an advantage if you're not in the popular crowd as you actually get to see each time there is a single new 'like' -  once 'likes' exceed 1,000, they go up in increments of 100s only. How do I know this? In my mood of full disclosure today, I'm going to come clean here. I went to the Dark Side and boosted one of my posts on the Chicago Marathon on facebook. How much would you pay to be liked by 1.7 K? In my case, it was $30. Facebook would argue that's proof that boosts work -  and they're right in one respect. It gives your ego a brief boost - until you look at readership figures. For all of my 1,737 likes, actual page views were only 110. Enough said.

But I'm not going to knock facebook totally because it does make me feel better on many occasions. One of the great advantages of a blog is that it's timeless. You can as easily call up a post you wrote 6 months ago as 6 hours ago. And that's where the 'gift that keeps on giving' comes in. How many of us bloggers out there have received immense joy from a comment or a 'like' on a post written a long time ago? A post that perhaps is once again relevant to today's news or perhaps just relevant today in someone's life. I'm sure most of the time, readers don't even look at the date of a post. So remember, when you push that 'Publish' button, what you write is real-time for all time.

If you've been thinking about setting up a blog for whatever reason, the New Year is a great time to make that leap. It was for me. If you're a little intimidated by the technological side, make it a real gift. Ask someone who might know (and that probably covers all our children, grandchildren, younger neighbours etc) to help create it as their present to you. A gift you can re-open every month, every week or every day - it's totally up to you.

And to you, the person reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you - you are giving the best gift of all to the many of us out there who are sitting at our kitchen tables, trying to find some calm in a crowded, noisy house, hunched over a computer in an office, airport or train, or seated at a desk in a quiet, empty room in a quiet, empty house.

And special thanks to Barbara for the cookbook ideas - both are heading back to Ireland next week.

photo credit: Queen Bee of Beverly Hills Designer Handbags Holiday via photopin (license)

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