The Blogger’s Curse

I read a post today which made me realise that, in my struggle with blogging, I was not alone. As I wrote a comment on the post, the idea for this article took shape in my head.

When I first started a blog, I knew nothing about blogging. I thought it was all about putting your thoughts out there for people to find and read, like or dislike. The most important thing was to create quality content. But my understanding couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have been actively blogging for a couple of months now. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be complaining after such a short time. I still don’t know much about blogging. But I’ve learnt some lessons.

The hardest thing about blogging isn’t the content. At least, this is true for me.

The first challenge is getting people to your blog. I began by searching for blogs with like-minded content. I invited their authors to look at my blog and share their opinion. I realised, albeit a little late, that tags make a big difference. I have not mastered the art by any means. But, I am making steady progress.

The second is to get people to read it. My blog hardly gets visitors. I used to rejoice when people liked my post. But when a post has fewer views than likes, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something’s not quite right. Spotting discrepancies like these are some of the perks of getting pitiful traffic to your site, I guess. When you like a post, it means that it resonates with you. How is that possible if you haven’t read it? For the record, I’d rather not have people liking my post if they’d rather not read it. Unfortunately, the person this is meant for won’t be reading this post either.

The biggest test, however, is getting people to engage in a dialogue. I understand the challenges of modern life. We don’t have time to stop and smell the roses let alone comment on every post we read. I don’t comment on every article I read either. But comments do make a lot of difference. Comments aren’t just words. They are pieces of you that are scattered across the blogging universe. With comments, you know the reader’s thoughts. With likes, it’s hard to say.

I searched online to figure out why I couldn’t draw my readers into the conversation. Fellow bloggers were, also, kind enough to offer their words of advice. These are some suggestions I came across. Ask questions at the end of your post. Check. Ask people to comment on your post. Check. Blog on topics that you would like to read. I’ll be honest and say that I can’t write anything else. Visit other blogs, read their posts and comment on their work. I enjoy doing this for my own reasons. Use social media to promote your blog. No can do. Why? Because I avoid social media like the plague. You won’t find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a million other sites whose names I don’t care to remember.

Maybe, I don’t create good content. That’s fine. I just wish someone would tell me that. I don’t claim to be Shakespeare. I don’t, even, have a degree in English. I started blogging because writing is something I’ve always enjoyed. For a lot of reasons, I didn’t pursue it as a career. But that’s water under the bridge. And I don’t have any regrets. I just thought that if I couldn’t write professionally, at least, I’d do it to make myself happy. It would be an outlet for my thoughts. I would know whether I was good at it. Other bloggers would help me understand what I was doing right and where I was going wrong. It would make me a better writer.

Words of support and encouragement from the blogging community kept me going. But a part of me was frustrated by the lack of success. It dawned on me that I was spending more time on finding out how to get people to read my blog rather than writing.

When did writing become so complicated? Creating content isn’t enough. You, also, have to be a marketing professional and an SEO expert.

You may think that I am complaining without taking steps to fix my problem. You wouldn’t be wrong. But, from where I sit, I don’t see a problem. I see a choice. The choice to not market my blog. This is not to say that those who promote their work are wrong. I don’t envy them. The effort they have put in is remarkable. Their success is hard-earned and well-deserved. In the end, no matter how people get to your blog, they stay there only if they feel like it’s worth it. But, I don’t think it’s for me. This may mean that my blog will take years to generate the kind of following that many other bloggers enjoy. Maybe I won’t get there at all. The feedback I wish for may, also, not come. But that’s okay. For now, I’d rather enjoy the process of writing than worry about how many people read what I have to say.

I apologise for subjecting you to this rant for no fault of your own. But if you started out as a simple writer, like me, and not a marketing genius, I am sure you can identify. If you didn’t like this post, please let me know. But if you enjoyed it, please spare the like button. Instead, leave a comment. It doesn’t matter how long or short. What matters most is that it meant something to you.


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A Matter of Choice

Life is full of choices. From something as important as which field to make a career in to something as mundane as to what to wear to office every morning; every decision involves a choice. And, you make decisions every minute or rather every second of everyday. Sometimes, the decision is easy; made subconsciously as a matter of routine so much so that you don’t even realize that you have made a choice. At other times, the decisions are so agonizing that you wish you didn’t have to make a choice or that someone else would choose for you instead. Take for instance the simple fact that most of us take the elevator to our workplace. We rarely give the fact that we choose the lift over the stairs a second thought. On the contrary, ever had to pick a mobile, a digital camera or even a laptop amongst several options available with a limited budget? Yes. Life is, indeed, full of options. And, it is when you are faced with difficult choices that you wish there weren’t so many alternatives. Most often, it is the consequences of our decisions that frighten us more than the choice itself.

Ever considered the lives of people who don’t have a choice? I still remember my mother’s words when I would bother her about what to wear on special occasions way back in school. She’d say, “You wouldn’t have to worry about making a choice if you had just one good dress, would you? Your confusion arises because you have so many.” She couldn’t have put it better. While deciding on something may be excruciating at times, we are fortunate to have a choice in the first place. This freedom that we have – to choose what we want – is a gift that most of us take for granted. Imagine being born in a country where the government decides where you will live, what occupation you will undertake and even how many children you will have. Would that have been better? For those of us who have tasted the freedom that democracy offers, this seems unthinkable. So, the next time you worry about picking something, think of those who have no choice or those who do not have the means to have a choice.

The liberty to choose is a very powerful gift. Ironically, most of the decisions we spend sleepless nights over are rather insignificant in the larger scheme of things. The choices you make determine the person you are, what you make of your life and how those around you see you. And, the beauty of life is that you always have a choice. The freedom to choose, however, is meaningless unless you make the right choice. Not making a choice is a choice in itself. Let me not reiterate what we already know – that doing the right thing is always more difficult. But, the fact remains that what sets extraordinary individuals apart from the rest are their choices.

Robert Frost, the celebrated American poet, describes this beautifully in his poem “The Road Not Taken” with the following words,
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

All actions have consequences. But, a wise choice made after careful deliberation will never give cause to regret. No one said life was going to be easy. But, no one can make you do what you don’t want to. Making a choice and learning to gracefully accept responsibility for our actions and its repercussions shows true character. The following quote sums it all up:

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
– J. K. Rowling

We all have abilities – some inherited, others developed. But what we choose to do with these abilities will shape our character and our destiny. So, the next time you choose – think twice.


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