First of all, I will end the suspense, little as it may be: I did accept the “Beautiful Blogger” Award. The writer of Anxiety Adventures was kind enough to nominate me for this, for which I am very grateful. But, if you’ve been following my writing for a bit, you also know that I tend to think about things a good deal. So I’ll offer you a few thoughts prompted by this little bit of recognition.
Before I do that, however, I need to tell you about three other blogs worth your attention. My acceptance of the “Beautiful Blogger” Award actually requires seven such nominations (it is a little like a chain letter), but I’ll give you just three for now, with more to come in the future:
I’m happy to hear from other bloggers who might wish this sort of recognition. My panel of judges is a tough bunch, but you never know whether you might get lucky. Bribes may increase you chances! Now, back to thoughts inspired by the “Beautiful Blogger” Award. Questions, actually:
Question #1: How many bloggers are out there? According to NM Incite, “overall, 6.7 million people publish blogs on blogging websites, and another 12 million write blogs using their social network.” The same source states that they tracked over 181 million different blogs by the end of 2011. WordPress indicates that there are about 500,000 new blog posts each day on its WordPress sponsored sites alone.
Question #2: With so many posts, how does anyone get noticed? Unless you are writing for some outfit like Huntington Post that will promote your work by its very existence, people spread the word via Facebook, tweets, and other social media sites and methods. They use photos to get attention, try to “tag” their posts with key words so that search engines like Google will pick them up, and send their URL (web address) to those individuals who might find their writing interesting. In turn, those contacts are encouraged to pass the posts on to their own friends and acquaintances. Bloggers are also wise to leave comments on other bloggers’ sites as a way of encouraging reciprocal attention to their own blogging activity.
Question #3: What did you do, Dr. S, to get an audience for what you write? I did some of the above, but not as much as you might think. First, since I don’t use any of the usual social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, there was only a limited amount of self-promotion. For the record, I did not tweet, chirp, squawk, or transubstantiate to get the message out. I did not pray for readers or wail. I did not beg or plead with my patients, only with my friends. I did not wear sandwich boards (see the image just below) announcing my new venture. I gave some consideration to traveling from town to town, setting up a tent, and performing miracles, but dismissed the idea when I couldn’t get a good price on a tent.
I did, however, put the URL for the blog on my business card and my website. I also told a number of people about what I was doing. I linked my blog site to some online therapy referral services where I was listed. Mostly I just wrote and let the writing do the job. Eventually people read my stuff, but this didn’t happen very quickly — I had only eight “page views” in the month that I began posting, February, 2009. As a few of the posts became popular (see particularly the first two items on the list of Top Posts in the column to the right), more and more people began to pay attention. Last month I had 7,411 “page views.” Clearly, I am not Oprah. OK, I’m not even Oprah’s assistant, but neither am I anonymous. Were I to try to do more to promote my writing, I’d need to read and comment on the blogs of others a good deal more than I do.
Question #4: How has the blog changed over time? I am doing more writing now that I am retired from clinical practice. I’m also freer to share whatever comes to mind, including humor and fiction, than when I had to be somewhat more concerned about the professional impression I was making. Moreover, now that I’m not working for a living I’ve discovered that my imagination is less restrained than when it was more narrowly focused on helping my patients and tending to the business aspects of my corporation. As a consequence, I’ve written humorously about invisibility, masturbation, and nausea. Very soon, I will post something about the male fear of the digital rectal exam! Apparently, I am becoming more shameless in my writing.
Question #5: How are your posts different from those of other bloggers? I’ve ignored the general rule to be brief. I tend to write essays. I try to keep a conversational tone so that you, yes you, will feel that you are engaged with me and that I take you seriously, because I do. I hope that people will think about the topics, not necessarily just turn the page and forget about the issues I raise. I’m older than most bloggers, half of whom are between 18 and 34, again according to NM Incite. And, of course, the last time I checked I’m not a woman, as are more than 50% of bloggers.
Question #6: For whom do you write? I start out with topics that are of interest to me, so I begin by writing for my own satisfaction and enjoyment of the process of putting words on the electronic white board of the Internet. I also try to do a bit of education, touch the heart every so often, and produce an occasional smile. I hope to have done a bit of all three before the end of this post.
I write, in part, for my adult daughters, so that they will have this small piece of me to hold on to, kind of like Jor-El in Superman, who created a hologram of himself so that his son (aka Clark Kent) could interact with and consult his father even though he was long gone. I’m not planning to leave the planet for a while, but the idea of emptying myself of whatever I have learned about life has some appeal, whether for them or those sympathetic and kind souls who find what I have to say has some value.
Question #7: Does any of this make you a “Beautiful Blogger?” The adjective in question — “beautiful” — is probably not the first one that comes to your mind when you look at my picture, but, as the old maxim tells us, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Seriously though, I will say one more thing: I’m pleased that you are reading my work. If you enjoy what I do I’d be grateful for you to pass it on. And to show my thanks, here is something of beauty that doesn’t require a vote or a nomination — a performance to tug at your heart: Slower Than Slow (La plus que lente) by Debussy; four minutes of music that expresses things that words cannot.
The June, 1988 Bonn, Germany image of people wearing sandwich board advertisements comes from the German Federal Archives by way of Wikimedia Commons. This sort of ad was common during the Great Depression. You even see an occasional sandwich board today, usually during “going out of business” sales.