I've read a lot about BlogHer, both this year and the preceding years. I've never wanted to go, not since the first time I heard about it and the focus seemed to be on increasing traffic and making money from your blog. My blog is so far away from being a money-making venture, that the concept of discussing how to make it more commercial seemed utterly alienating. I do this to get my thoughts out there in a constructive way, I do it to be part of a community, I do it to keep in touch with people I love, even though I've never met most of them.
What also put me off was when Julie and Julia went, I think in 2006, and Julie reported back that this was not a happy place for the infertile. Fine, I thought, I'm sure yet again that this is not the place for me. And then there's the whole America-as-the-only-country-on-the-internet blinder which is guaranteed to drive me bananas, so that was the final nail in the coffin.
My impression has been both confirmed and confounded by the reports I've read this year. The American focus? Yes. The unfriendly place for the infertile? Yes, yes and yes again. The perhaps minor but still irritating lack of concern for some substantial minorities attending? Yes (Mel, you may think it's ok not to provide something you could eat in the building, but I don't).
The commercial thing? I'm less sure about. It is not my focus, and just won't be. I have an extremely well-paid job that I'm lucky enough to enjoy. Like most of us, I'd love to write a book someday, but I show no signs of getting on with it. My blog, however much I try to push it, market it, get it linked to by all and sundry, could never be an important source of revenue for me. However, I love the idea that here are a bunch of women, all together, with some shared goals and aspirations, figuring out ways to subvert standard business models and make money in a way that suits them. That I like, that speaks to the feminist in me. So while that focus may not be for me, I can see how it is a good thing.
The thing that has stayed with me, although I'm not sure what, if anything, to do about it, is Cecily's report back from the 'make something of your blog' section about deciding what you're about and sticking to it. Isn't that the critical problem all of us who went through infertility and loss but are now parenting? We were about one thing, now we're about another, although we might dip back into the first from time to time, and we certainly don't feel at home - and aren't connected to - the community on the second topic.
So what do my readers come here for? Yes, for a few people it's about continuing to follow the story. But for some people the story has changed so they aren't interested or can't bear to read the story any more. And right now I'm in the middle of being ultra-unfocused, since in one week I've written about Pob, about an IVF cycle, and about breastfeeding. No wonder no one left a comment yesterday (except Jenn!). it just wasn't what pretty much anyone came here wanting to read, and so no one had anything to add.
What do I do about it? The blog is really for me, although of course I'm also writing an extended letter to all the readers I know about and understand. I want to keep writing about what I want to keep writing about, but I also do want to continue to have a community of people who tell me what they think about what I've written. Should I write separate blogs for separate topics? I don't love that idea because it separates out the story. Should I edit out some topics partially or completely? Perhaps, although that affects the integrity of the story.
There are some obvious things to do to help bolster that sense of community. Keep leaving comments, that helps. Write more regularly, that helps a lot. Get more original content in rather than life updates. That helps but it's hard with limited time.
Or decide that the blog really is for me, and I should let go of needing the validation of the feedback and conversation with readers, and just write what the hell I like.