Here at ChicagoNow, there has been quite the kerfuffle over the past few days involving a post by one of our fellow bloggers, in which she stated her case for possibly leaving this platform.
I’ve read this gal since her inception here, and she’s really good, so I hope she decides to stay. But if not, c’est la vie and all good luck to her.
This event put a fine point on the issue of blogging for a lot of us. Like so many media outlets, ChicagoNow is in the throes of change, and many bloggers here are up in arms about those changes. In fact, many are royally pissed off by them, and claim that their readership is, as well.
I’ve been blogging here at CN since September of 2015. While I’m certainly no maven, one learns lessons pretty quickly writing an online blog – or should.
Here’s how I see it.
Lesson #1: We are tiny fish in a vast, online sea.
There are zillions of blogs. It is the most competitive of endeavors, an environment in which it’s very difficult to stand out. The vaunted viral posts are, simply, lucky. Right place, right time, while thousands of equally-entertaining posts go unread. You are, basically, a garage band. You have to learn to validate yourself.
Lesson #2: We write because we are compelled to write.
You’re probably not gonna make money at this, nor have a huge following. Get over it. Write because you love to, and love whatever following you do garner. Provide a good product! I write a lot of humor and satire, and I have one criterion: If I don’t laugh, probably no one else is going to. Keep high standards for yourself.
Lesson #3: Think of the Viral Post as an illusion.
Sure, posts go viral every day. There is no secret, no rhyme or reason to it. It is arbitrary. The average online reader (me included) has the attention span of a kid off his Ritalin. If one day you write a post that snags a lot of readers, bully for you. But understand it’s a rare occurrence, and don’t obsess over it. Just keep writing. Keep improving.
Lesson #4: It is wise to be part of a bloggers’ group, a platform.
Going it on your own has merit, but joining a group of bloggers has more merit. Where we blog – ChicagoNow – is legit and has international reach. Plus it has a really eclectic assortment of bloggers in a generally very supportive community. I’ve learned so much from my peeps here. I’ve also garnered some cool reader friendships, some overseas.
Lesson #5: Things will change.
Even if you do hook on with a blogging group, rest assured, things eventually will change. ChicagoNow changed community managers several months ago, and we are in the midst of parent-company upheavel. Just breathe and keep writing. It’s like investing. Be in for the long haul.
Lesson #6: Give new management a break.
Our former community manager was a legend. Our new man has the thankless task of following him, and in a more difficult managerial environment, one dictating changes that many bloggers don’t like. Not fun for him. Remember that your editor often is just the messenger – and learning as he goes, like the rest of us. (If you’ve ever worked for a newspaper, you know that editors can be major assholes and really unhelpful. We’re really very lucky here.)
Lesson #7: Eyes on the prize.
And the prize is keeping your blog up and running. Changes here at ChicagoNow have rendered it looking more like the rest of the ‘Net, busy with ads and vids within our posts. Welcome to capitalism! We were lucky to have written unfettered for so long. But if you can’t figure out a way to write around the ads – if you can’t contribute some fun, entertaining, compelling writing on a consistent basis that keeps readers rapt and forces them to look past the ads – then perhaps you shouldn’t blog. Get better! Rise to the occasion! Play up!
We are lucky to have this place, this crazy-quilt platform called ChicagoNow. It probably won’t be here forever. But don’t let it die of neglect.
Stop cursing the darkness and light a damned candle.
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Filed under: Blogging