So today is my 45th Birthday and this is my 100th* post on ChicagoNow. When I started blogging on ChicagoNow, my wife Nightingale and I were in the process of seeking a larger, more family-friendly abode. So I was blogging about that. Then we found a house and I tried writing “in delay” about those experiences but it just was easier to go rogue and write about whatever strikes my fancy: Technology, Chicago Bears, Do It Yourself projects, Life in Corporate America, whatever. All with the blessing of the ChicagoNow Management.
“Another thing that became a habit after that year – When something funny, sad, silly, stupid, happy or ridiculous happens, don’t just stand there, write that blog post in your head. And then write it for real when you get home. Everything is blog material, once you start paying attention.” Fern Roney
ChicagoNow is kinda like Hogwarts for Bloggers. Before CN, many of us had personal blogs on Blogger, Typepad or even WordPress where we practiced our wizardry writing craft without really knowing what the hell we were doing. CN has given us a chance to hone our magic skills and flex our writing muscles while providing positive feedback, best practice advice and lots and lots of support. Many ChicagoNow bloggers have either abandoned or virtually ignored their previous blogs in lieu of the ChicagoNow ecosystem because Blogging is a lot of work. I still post on my personal blog when I have something to say that doesn’t fit in here or when I want to flesh something out first before bringing it here. I guess that’s the engineer in me, doing something in Beta before bringing it to Production.
Blogging is a lot of work. I know I already said that, but it is so true. Most of us are like SAHP, we don’t earn a salary but the rewards are immeasurable. Another difference between our private blogs and CN is that there is a slightly elevated formality that hopefully prompts you to up your writing game.
I’m not saying every post is gonna be the works of Shakespeare, Hemingway or Some_Other_Author you respect, I’m just posing that you definitely want to bring your best. For one thing, the ChicagoNow ecosystem has its own audience comprised mostly of twentysomethings who are reading your stuff on their phones while riding the El, hoping avoiding contact with other humans as long as possible (unless they are extremely TotsMeGoats, as the kiddies say).
To that end, you have post, like, share, tweet, rinse and repeat. It helps to collaborate with others in the blogging community if they are willing. You will wonder why they don’t like your page back when you like theirs. Sometimes it’s their security settings and you don’t see it. Other times, people suck, bloggers are people, and ergo ipso factor yolo!
Promoting your blog is almost if not more work than writing posts. Technically you don’t have to promote your blog and you certainly control the level of effort you put into it. However, I feel since CN gave me a platform from which to post, the least I can do is attempt to bringing pageviews so that the Mothership Tribune Corp doesn’t kick us to the curb. [So please subscribe, share & like the fuck out of my blog! Seriously, I’m asking for a like, not a kidney.]
And that brings about another important point. While the blog is ours, the platform belongs to someone else and it can be taken away at any time for any reason. On Superbowl Sunday, for instance, two of my blogger siblings duked it out using their blogs as the backdrop for their personal rivalry and paid the ultimate price: banishment from the ChicagoNow Universe.
Milestones and Small Victories
Here at ChicagoNow we have friendly contests each month for best post and gallery, and I’ve won each one once. I’ve also made it into the top 20 visited blogs a few times. And a couple of posts have been placed on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s online edition. I think I’ve even had the trifecta of making the Top 20, being the Community Manager Pick and being on the Tribune Front Page on the same day. Or maybe I imagined that. While it definitely is bragworthy and certainly means you’re doing something right, you should also act like you’ve been there before. Besides, I’m happier when a reader simply comments, or shares our post or likes our page or re-tweets or subscribes. So please do that!
Things don’t always go as planned
*Confession: while I’m calling this my 100th post, it’s really number 102, not counting a post or two I deleted. The reason: I have some news to share and thought it would be cool if I timed it with my 100th post and posted on May 1. That didn’t happen for a variety of reasons which I’ll file under Life Gets in the Way. I started drafting this post weeks ago as a “advice to new CN bloggers” onboarding post. Instead, I’m using this post to share some personal news: my wife and I are expecting Twins in October…or late September as I’ve learned from all the mommy bloggers here that twins come early.
As of right now I don’t plan to become a Daddy Blogger although I will most likely write posts about that. My hope, like a lot of bloggers, is to someday write a best selling book or three. However, it’s more important that I be a Decent Dad instead of a Famous Father. So for now I will just blog whenever I can about whatever I have something to say all the while exercising and toning my writing muscles.
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