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Which Came First: Blog Reading or Blog Writing?

It’s the blogging chicken-and-the-egg situation: did reading blogs make you want to be blogger, or did you start your blog and then find other blogs to read in order to build connections with other bloggers?

I’m asking because I suspect the way you enter blogging shapes your blogging experience.  Are you the egg, hatching the chicken, or are you the chicken laying the egg?  While it doesn’t really matter which version of poultry naissance you believe comes first unless… perhaps… you are deeply ensconced in the farming world, I think that your satisfaction level with blogging is directly tied to how you entered the blogosphere.

egg_chicken

Image: Woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Read Blogs Before Starting Your Own

Sometimes people read blogs for a while before starting their own.  Maybe their friend starts a blog and they read it to be polite, and one things leads to another until their rss reader is filled with their favourite sites.  Maybe they’ve even started commenting or becoming friends with bloggers via Facebook or Twitter.  Then one day, they wake up feeling the itch to write, and they think, “why not?  Other people blog.  Why don’t I start one too?”

Advantages: You know the drill.  You know what you like about blogs and what you don’t like about blogs, and you come into the blogosphere already connected to people who will probably want to read your words in return.  You get the importance of sharing your posts via social media, and you have people to ask when you can’t figure out how to do something in your blogging software.  People who read first tend to have a smoother entry to the blogosphere.

Drawbacks: You come in with expectations because you’ve been around the block and know what’s out there in the blogosphere.  Any good Buddhist will tell you that the root of a lot of our problems is in our expectations.  If you expect the readers to come, the comments to pour in, free products on your doorstep, then you’ll likely be disappointed in blogging.  The cure?  Release your expectations and go back to that original reason you started your blog in the first place.  Return to that “why not” attitude that provided the wonderful hubris to set your words and thoughts out there.  Blog with the energy of someone who is sending her voice into the world just for the sake of getting the writing off her heart.

Start Writing a Blog and Then Find Others to Read

Listen, it’s impossible to start a blog whole cloth without ever having seen or heard of a blog.  But there are a lot of people who start writing their blog because someone suggests the activity, and after they’ve already set up their Blogger or WordPress account, they seek out blogs to read in order to make some connections with like-minded people.

Advantages: It’s easy to enter the blogsophere with a lot of energy and excitement because you are tabula rasa, a clean slate.  You don’t care in the sense that you’re doing it your way because you don’t know any other way.  You’re not weighed down by the “shoulds” and you do what makes you happy because you have no comparison for your blog.  Until your blog enters the equivalent of preschool, you have no clue whether you have a great blog or a mediocre one.  You’re just writing for writing’s sake.

Drawbacks: Entering the blogosphere like this is akin to touching the elephant; you can’t get a sense of what you’re touching or how large it is because you’re learning what the blogosphere is day-by-day as you move through it.  And that can be a very frustrating, especially when the noise clears and you start figuring things out and blogging starts to look like a clique that you’re not a part of; one that has a cool kids table and seemingly no room for yet another blogger.  It can be discouraging to discover that it’s not enough to just write your blog if you want people to find you.  You have to plug your blog on social media sites, or read and comment on other people’s blogs so they discover that your blog exists.  A lot of the effort you put out won’t be rewarded.  The cure?  Remember that confident, energetic person who dove into blogging head first?  Find her again because she’s buried somewhere inside of you, waiting to pop back out and say who cares to all the things outside her control.  That’s the person who writes because they love writing.  And if they get the rest of the stuff that sometimes comes from blogging, that would be the icing on the cake.  But hey, they still have the cake itself.

The Egg Carton

There is also a third kind of bird: the person who goes to the blogging conference to find out what blogging is all about and starts their blog when they get home.  I’ve met plenty of people at BlogHer each year who tell me that they’re going to start reading and writing a blog when they get home from the conference.  And those people are sort of the egg cartons of the blogosphere, holding the eggs (or the chicken?  This analogy is getting a little messy).  They have an interesting cushion in that they took in a lot of information about what blogging is and how it’s done before they’ve ever really read or written a blog.  It’s sort of like learning everything there is to know about food before you’ve eaten or cooked.

This is obviously an unusual route, up there with people who only observe and never participate in social media (yes, there are people who silently read Twitter without ever leaving a tweet), or those who write their blog without ever reading anyone else’s site.  And I kind of like that there are egg cartons out there, charting a very different path.  They prove that there is no right or wrong way to blog.

Which way did you enter the blogoshere?  Did you read a lot first, write primarily first, or are you that elusive egg carton who started your blog after learning about blogging at a conference?

28 comments

1 nicoleandmaggie { 05.19.14 at 7:29 am }

Read a lot first. Found more after starting.

2 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 05.19.14 at 9:07 am }

I wrote first. I had a bit of culture shock when I learned of people who did it the other two ways. I remember being pleasantly surprised when someone actually started reading my stuff.

3 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 05.19.14 at 9:08 am }

Nothing wrong with the other ways, of course, it had just never occurred to me.

4 Justine { 05.19.14 at 9:31 am }

I read first … and my goal was to go to BlogHer someday. Then I walked on the moon and I’ve been a bit adrift, on and off, ever since … !

5 Ana { 05.19.14 at 9:45 am }

Read a lot first, and wanted to enter my voice into the conversation. Definitely reading more/different blogs since I’ve started blogging.

6 Esperanza { 05.19.14 at 12:52 pm }

I started writing before I started reading. I was participating pretty heavily on FertilityFriend but felt I wanted to be writing more about my experience, in a different way than was possible on the forums. A fellow FFer suggested I start a blog. It was the first I’d really ever even heard of blogs, let alone the ALI blogosphere. I wrote for a while before I started reading and commenting. After a few months I wa totally immersed in the whole thing, both reading and writing, and I’ve never really looked back.

7 Life Breath Present { 05.19.14 at 1:01 pm }

Definitely read a few first. I read more and more now that I, too, blog. I also needed – wanted – to do something more than sit around taking care of Baby Boy and our home. I’m still a super-beginner, if you ask me, even though I’ve had my blog for 10 months 🙂

8 nicoleandmaggie { 05.19.14 at 2:47 pm }

come to think of it, we’ve actually posted our origin story: http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/our-birth/

9 Betty m { 05.19.14 at 3:01 pm }

Read first. Blogged after. Gave up my blog but still read. No one gets deleted from my reader!

10 mrs green grass { 05.19.14 at 3:22 pm }

I starting writing first. I started first on forums: wedding, then babies, then IF and at some point decided I wanted to say more so I started my own space. Around that time I found this space and my network grew from there. (So thanks!)

11 Sharon { 05.19.14 at 3:59 pm }

Hmm, not sure how to answer. I had another blog before my IF blog where I wrote about my daily life (boring as it was), and I noticed the topic of my failures at TTC creeping more and more into my posts. I didn’t really want to share those thoughts on that blog, for a number of reasons, and I had begun discovering IF blogs (like yours, Mel). . . so I decided to start a new blog dedicated to writing specifically about my TTC efforts and IF. Here I am, over five years later.

I’d never even heard of BlogHer or anything like that until a few years into writing my second blog, so the whole “egg carton” scenario seems odd to me.

I really started my IF blog just to have somewhere to put my thoughts, without any real expectation that anyone would read them and respond. When people starting following–mostly in response to my comments on their blogs–it was a welcome surprise, but I’m pretty sure I would’ve written regardless because I really needed the outlet at that time in my life.

12 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.19.14 at 4:08 pm }

I had read only 1 blog post before I started a blog. When I look back, it really was just about writing then. Now it’s so much more. It’s visual, social, financial, technical (do I sound like Supertramp’s Logical Song yet?).

13 GeekChic { 05.19.14 at 4:10 pm }

I don’t blog – i just read and occasionally comment. I also read tweets without being on twitter and I very rarely read anything on Facebook (not on that social network either).

I’m not particularly moved to write. Just read.

14 Mellie { 05.19.14 at 4:23 pm }

Im a newbie to blogging- about 3 months now. I read several blogs before I jumped in with both feet. I enjoy getting others perspective – it keeps my juices flowing for my own writing. Am attending my first Blogher in July- cant wait! I hope to learn a lot.

15 Joan Stommen { 05.19.14 at 4:29 pm }

That’s how I learned…reading others first and asking lots of questions! Having written all my life….I felt like blogs came with a different set of rules! Great post asking which came first and how some started writing theirs first! Freedom to be is what makes the blogosphere unique!

16 A. { 05.19.14 at 4:56 pm }

I stumbled across one special IF/RPL blog on some Dr. Google research project and was so moved by her spirit, so connected in a hundred small ways, that I thought: I’m a writer too and I want to have a voice of my own.

17 pia { 05.19.14 at 6:06 pm }

My friend asked if I wanted to start a blog. This was in 2004. I barely knew what they were. She was younger and totally hip. My blog took off, hers….I began meeting the most incredible people. When I would tell my RLF’s and sister I was going to meet a blogging friend they would scream–well mostly my sister–that I was going to be killed or worse. Now she sees these people on facebook and is amazed by the collection and quality of my friends.
Blogging opened new worlds to me–and I thought it was just going to be writing practice!
But I’ve often thought had I read many blogs first I might have had a plan, a direction and a theme.

18 Mali { 05.19.14 at 7:37 pm }

I’ve done two of these.

I started a blog (non-IF) just to write. It was a writing exercise blog – every day for a year, with a word limit. But through that, I “met” people, and began reading their blogs.

I started IF blogging after finding that a messageboard I had been using (and where I had been writing) was not delivering what I needed, and I had searched out a few IF blogs. I hadn’t really been aware of the IF blogging world, so finding these blogs (Pamela’s, Loribeth’s, yours) motivated me to start my own.

19 MissingNoah { 05.19.14 at 10:47 pm }

A little of both. I read a few funny parenting blogs, and the rare firend’s IF/loss blog. But it wasn’t until we were losing Noah that I felt this NEED to write. To acknowledge and preserve his existence and my love and grief. Slowly I got some followers, and sought out other loss blogs for somine who understood. As time has gone on I have read more IF blogs as I delve more into IF treatment myself. All this in 7 months! Whew.

20 deathstar { 05.20.14 at 11:25 am }

Pamela Jeanne from Coming 2 Terms was one of the first blogs I ever read and she really encouraged me to start writing. I was so desperate for someone to just understand what I was going through and I found great solace being a part of this community. I’m a joiner I guess and I just wanted to spread out my arms to support someone else.

21 Tiara { 05.20.14 at 12:39 pm }

Huh, as always, I’m not sure how I fit, lol. The carton maybe? From the time I first heard about blogging, I knew I wanted to do it. I love writing but didn’t really have anything to write about. When I started researching about being a single parent by choice, I found blogs written by other SMCs, that is when I 1st started reading blogs & knew right away I would blog about my experience, I finally had a topic to blog about!!

22 Turia { 05.20.14 at 8:33 pm }

I started my own blog before I read many others. I was on forums (mainly baby centre canada) but I knew as soon as we started going to a clinic that I was going to need a better outlet.

But I knew about blogs, and I must have known about yours, because I can remember asking to have mine added to the blogroll (although I don’t remember how long I’d had the blog by then). But most of my readers I found through the blogroll, or through their commenters, after I had started.

23 Peg { 05.21.14 at 10:22 am }

I started reading blogs (this blog in particular) to learn more about how to help my sister suffering from infertility. I got hooked. I have always been a reader and this type of genre was enjoyable and addictive. When tragedy hit my family and I needed an outlet, starting a blog seemed like a something that might help me process all that was going on and get some much needed support. Worked all all counts.

24 Brittny Hamilton { 05.21.14 at 2:33 pm }

I dove head first into blogging not having a clue what I was doing. I just knew I had a story to tell and there was a big world out there to tell it to. Once it was out there and I started reading other people’s blog I began to feel like mine was missing a whole lot. So now I’m trying to hold onto that excitement while learning all that I can. I have learned a lot about blogging and about infertility and loss (which I have suffered from myself) by reading this blog.

25 JustHeather { 05.21.14 at 3:19 pm }

A bit of both, but mostly started writing first. Years ago when I first heard of blogging, I started my own (a webpage in journal format) with the hopes my family would read about my life in Finland. I’m sure none of them read a word. I got bored and stopped. I was on message boards and the one I was most active at started a blog-like feature which I LOVED! And then they discontinued it. ;( I started up a blog at blogspot, wrote a bit here and there when I felt the need, but didn’t really start until I was dealing with IF for a year-ish already. I know I had to have read some blogs before, during and esp after, but I don’t think reading blogs really hit me until I found your site, Mel. I was hooked!!

26 Megan { 05.21.14 at 8:33 pm }

I think I kind of did both at the same time. I started a Livejournal back in 1999 or so because a friend had started one and recommended it to me, so I had a built-in reader who I also read. It grew from there to people I still have relationships with, including my husband. But when I started blogging (separately from LJ) about our infertility, I think I read blogs first before I realized I should add my voice.

27 St. Elsewhere { 05.22.14 at 5:06 am }

I started a general blog first and a niche IF blog an year later. By the time I started my second blog (which has now taken over as my main blog), I had already started reading around.

28 loribeth { 05.22.14 at 8:36 pm }

Blog reader first — yours, Pamela Jeanne’s and a few others that I don’t think exist anymore. My own blog came about a year later. I was already commenting anonymously on Lushary posts, but I think it was the book club posts that made me take the plunge — I was dying to join in & add my two cents. 😉 And almost 7 years later, I am very glad I did. 🙂

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