The XYZ of Blogging, Or What It All Boils Down To In The End

Why do people blog? What’s the point? Isn’t it just about students putting their diaries up online, as a kind of extension of Facebook? Isn’t it just for those with far too much to say and nobody nearby to listen?

The XYZ Of Blogging, Or What It All Boils Down To In the End

Hey, Ewe! (sorry) Yes – you. Why aren’t you blogging? *

No candle jokes, please. the sheep are a bit sensitive about title of this post.

I have to admit, that’s what I thought, once upon a time. I thought blogging was a deeply personal meditation, turned public outcry. But then one day, I went into a search engine, looking for something quite specific (most probably a deeply intellectual search term, such as “shirts for bored office workers” or “where the hell is Darryl Hannah these days?”), and I clicked on a link which looked a hell of a lot more interesting than Wikipedia. And hey presto! I discovered blogs.

I started with political and fashion blogs, and quickly moved on to anything which made me laugh. I found bloggers who wrote about things which had nothing to do with my own life, such as being unemployed in Galway, farming cattle in the midlands, or photographing landscapes in the US. But anything funny made me come back again and again, and along the way, I learned about subjects far removed from my experience, along with plenty of stuff I could readily identify with.

Bloggers know things, and have ideas for posts which commissioning editors could never dream of. I realised that blogs could could make a rainy Saturday morning fly by; lobby for social change; give me a recipe for wheatgrass sausages (whether I wanted it or not); help me with a bizarre techie problem on my phone, or give me advice on how to control my eyebrows (which frequently tried to take over the world).

They could build brands, and sell things. They could say what the newspapers wouldn’t say. They could be columns for great and entertaining writers who didn’t have their own columns, or had other jobs outside of journalism, which didn’t make them inferior writers – in fact, quite the opposite.

The XYZ Of Blogging: Or What It All Boils Down To In The End

You read my BLOG?!

These and other reasons for blogging will form part of the workshop I’m facilitating in Carousel Creates on Saturday March 7th, as I’ve already mercilessly plugged here: because before we know how to blog, we need to know why. I’ll also be looking at building readership; getting inspiration for your content; dealing with adversity; and figuring out exactly what type of blogger you are – or could be – in order to reach your personal goals.

If you want to join me on March 7th in the Dublin mountains, to meet fellow bloggers/potential bloggers, and to take in some passable pontificating, decent discussions and a vat of coffee with sweeping views of the city, go here,  and I’ll see you there.

In the meantime – and particularly for ewe bloggers out there who can’t come and play with me on Saturday week – I want to do a bit of sneaky market research. Why do you blog? What are your goals? And what do you find you get out of it?

  56 comments for “The XYZ of Blogging, Or What It All Boils Down To In The End

  1. February 26, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Tara – I wish I could come and hang out with you in the Dublin mountains and talk blogs, but life intervenes and so it cannot be. However, I will say that I started blogging because I thought I should (being a writer and all), but then I found it to be more than I ever imagined. I’ve made connections and learnt so much, both from other writers and about myself. It’s given me a freedom with my writing that I think (hope) will lead to better books. And it’s a lot of fun! As a goal I hope to get more followers, but I understand this is a give and take game, so I also want to find more and more blogs to follow (though where I’ll get the time in the day I’m not sure!). I think this modern world gives us so much opportunity to share our thoughts and dreams with more people than we could ever have imagined and, when communities are fracturing and we can sometimes feel quite alone, it gives me hope that we can build something new, a global community for all. Gosh, that got a bit deep and meaningful at the end didn’t it? But that’s another thing I’ve found with blogging, that it can sometimes take you to places you didn’t expect 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • February 26, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks, Helen. Beautifully put (and duly noted…. scribble, scribble 😉 )

      Liked by 2 people

  2. February 26, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Tara – your Carousel Creates link doesn’t work yet – waiting until 7th March to add it? 😀


  3. February 26, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I too started a blog because of my novel writing. I actually started three, but two are moribund, and if I knew how to delete them I would. I didn’t really take off with this blogging stuff until I got the wordpress site. It turns out I blog for reasons far beyond my writing, although my writing informs much of what I blog. I use it to rant and rail against stupidities and idiots in the world or to comment on today’s funny happenings. I write to daily prompts occasionally. And I drop hints about my writing and my forthcoming book.

    Sometimes I’m very active, and sometimes I disappear for a week or more. Sometimes I only comment on blogs I’m following (like this one) for days on end. I’m a very little fish in a big pond and would love to come to your class. Unfortunately, there’s a very big pond between us and getting there would be onerous at best. So I wish you well and that I were there!


    • February 26, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Do you mean you have blogs you want to delete? Perhaps someone here has a way of helping you on that? I think it might happen a lot of people, that something loses steam and needs to be laid to rest – a common occurrence. And indeed it is a big pond. If I had a private jet, I’d send it over for you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm

        Actually, one’s on Blogspot and one’s on Tumblr (I think). Neither offered the support and companionship I’ve found on WordPress. And the cool people, of course, like you! And if I had a private jet, I’d come to your conference and see your beautiful country!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. February 26, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I’ll be with you in spirit. 🙂

    As to why I blog, I started to introduce my books to the world, then it took over. Now I *have* to blog, or it feels like I haven’t been in touch with a bunch or wonderful friends, albeit ones with weird (cough – data) fixations. You know the kind, those who offer you hot beverages with, erm, unusual properties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 26, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      It does become a compulsion after a while, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine what it’d be like if I couldn’t spout all over the Internet. Cleaner and more peaceful, probably.

      And people with data fixations are weird, Nicholas. Stay away from them.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. February 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I originally started my blog because I’m building a 100,000+ word monster of a first novel that will eventually need a home. Over the past year that I’ve had it the posts have jumped from being moments of everyday life to anti-recipes to a home for my photographs and rants about the growing inequities of American life. It’s not any one thing, just like its author.

    Liked by 2 people

    • February 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      I have an image of you labouring under your 100,000 word monster, like Atlas. I hope it’s not as burdensome as that! I like the notion of a blog being “not any one thing, just like its author”. There is a teeeeeeny chance I might end up quoting you. And in the meantime, I absolutely have to have a look at your anti-recipes. They sound like something I would need on horrible Tuesdays…


  6. February 26, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Like many others, I started blogging when I started my novel writing journey. I then stopped because I found writing about writing as dull as hell, so I started a seperate blog where I write about anything. The odd thing is, this blog eventually morphed into a blog where I write about writing. And it’s no longer dull (well, at least to me). Blogging, eh?
    I too am very jealous of all your attendees learning about blogging whilst enjoying the beautiful Irish countryside. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 26, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      No, Dylan, your blog is certainly not dull! You have great insight into a lot of things. Perhaps it’s just that the more you learned, the more you had to say? Looking back on some of the stuff I thought I knew 18 months ago, my mind’s changed, and so has my writing style, to a degree. I do hope that the workshop will be fun, but I’m not sure how to fit it in amongst all the slave labour. I’ll keep you posted 🙂


  7. February 26, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Tara,
    Great question. I struggle to answer it. I love writing. I love cooking and I love photography. Combining the three seemed to make sense a couple of years ago. That’s what started me off. The friendships, interactions and general fun is what keeps me at it. We are off to Amsterdam later in the year to hook up with some blogging buddies. I am looking forward to some American blog chums visiting us later too. Also, without the blog, I would never have met you….

    Nuf said!


    • February 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      NEVER nuf said, Conor, that’s one of the 72,923 reasons I never miss your most excellent and witty posts. And it’s a great point (and one which will be quoted, but not legally) you make – that our reasons for starting don’t end up being the reasons we keep at it. For instance, I started blogging because I thought I needed a platform of some sort, for writerly things. I’m going to keep doing it, however, because once I found out it was a secret society, I realised that it considerably hastens my plans for world domination (or those of my eyebrows, at any rate).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. February 26, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    My reason for blogging? The need to get them out—the thoughts in my head. I often found, as I’d note of what was happening in the world, read an article that provoked me, or heard some nonsense in the news that demanded some kind of response, that I HAD to say something. It wasn’t ego or arrogance; I HAD to say something or my head would explode. I was that person who wrote Letters-to-the-Editor (LTTE), but since I rarely (only once in my entire life) got one published, I took to blogging… a sort of personally-controlled LTTE forum! When someone at a bigger news site then printed two pieces that were essentially LTTE in article form, I knew I had my outlet. And since it was likely I had more to say than anyone would ever want to publish, I started my blog, Rock+Paper+Music, which IS a kind of column for me.

    So that’s the “why?” As for what I get out of it?: sanity. Seriously. There were times—during election cycles, when I’d read a piece on the value of hitting kids, when Tiger Mom erupted, when the “Defense of Marriage Act” was all the rage—that I felt I’d go insane if I didn’t find some way to cogently, intelligently, and with a certain sass, say what I had to say on those more incendiary (idiotic) matters. Topical response made me feel like I’d at least put some sanity (as I defined it) out into the world, shoved something enlightened into the debate (at least from my point of view!). When I got response that expressed relief or commiseration, telling me I was giving voice to those who felt the same way but didn’t have the ways, means, or desire to speak out loud, I felt like I was providing a public service. Very noble. Until I discovered, and become enmeshed in, the grinding, hashing, redundant, poop-throwing vitriol that seems endemic to topical writing… after years of that gauntlet, weary and in need of a figurative shower, I got out of politics, deciding that, whether readers wanted it or not, I had to focus on more creative, positive, productive topics. Again, for my sanity. See, it’s all about my sanity! 🙂

    So my latest goal is simply keeping readers informed on stuff related to publishing, my work, the work of others, with some occasional perspective on topics I think deserve some perspective. I’m not blogging as much, I’m not as funny/acerbic/snarky as I used to be, but I still write when I think my head will explode if I don’t. The sanity defense.

    All that was probably way too long, but since I can’t get to your event, and I so enjoy and respect the blogging you do, Tara, I wanted to answer your “market research” with some thoroughness. Continue what you do, please; I smile and/or laugh every time I read you…

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 26, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      All market research is gratefully accepted, Lorraine, before being perused, analysed, re-hashed, and quoted! You’re the first to give the political angle, too, which is great, because I need voices from across the spectrum. Thanks for your kind comments, by the way. And I have greatly admired your pieces on Huff Post as well as your own blog. Keep the sanity coming 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. February 26, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I’m not sure why I started blogging, it was to share books I loved and promote the authors, but I can’t honestly say why I felt the need to do that. My blog has taken on a life of it’s own. It is about books and authors, but also a place to promote other bloggers, share stories of my family, and meet new friends. I live in Ohio, a mid-sized state in the middle of the U.S., but I have made friends all over the world that I would not have met otherwise. And more than anything else, it’s these friendships that keep me blogging. There are some I regularly have conversations with via social media. I’ve learned about other cultures, I’ve met authors, book bloggers, photographers, poets, computer geeks, educators, and more. It has been a fantastic experience, one that I hope to continue for many years to come.

    Liked by 2 people

    • February 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Why does anyone feel the need to discuss what interests them? I think blogging comes in to bridge the gap – which is often just geographical distance – between people with similar interests, who want to discuss the same things. It makes the world a smaller and friendlier place (mostly) and your busy blog is perfect example!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. February 26, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    To find a husband.

    I made that up. But it could’ve happened. I was lonely, feeling isolated where I live and missing the banter with far away mates. I hate running, reading had lost its allure for a bit, I work some evenings, and I wanted out of my comfort zone but compatible with my laziness. The motivation for starting is one thing, reasons for keeping going another. I find it relaxing, and have always had a particular fondness for the sound of my own voice. But I can see there’ll come a time when I get more from reading others 🙂


    • February 26, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Ah no, surely not, Tenderness. I like the sound of your digital voice too, but if you start getting more from reading others, you might turn out like them, and you know they’re just not nice people. They’re only out to force you into wedlock. I am glad you don’t feel isolated anymore, though. It’s a terrible curse. Plays havoc with my political leanings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 26, 2015 at 5:28 pm

        I was hoping the poor-lonely-me routine would generate at least a few sympathy clicks on my page. I really should commission somebody to write my ‘about me’ page. Along the lines of My or something. I’d love to be joining yiz on the 7th for a laugh. Yizer sure to have a lorra fun.

        (p.s. Darryl Hannah is flexing her left-leaning political muscles and copped off with Neil Young during their “campaigning” last year. He left his missus of donkeys and added a few bitter P.S.’s to her in song on his last album. The cheeky article. Hey, ask me anything)

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 26, 2015 at 9:45 pm

          Oh, but you don’t want sympathy clicks! You want matey clicks, and har-de-har clicks, and Angry In Manchester clicks. After all, you don’t visit anyone else because you feel sorry for them. You visit them because, like me, there are far too many wrongs in the world, and we need to gather the posse together, in order to have a party and a bloody good laugh about it. Amirite??

          (P.S. Thanks for the heads up on Darryl. I’d been calling, and calling, but she’s got me blocked. Something to do with an amendment to her Wikipedia page, or something. You are a veritable fountain of useless information. Just my type of gal.)

          Liked by 1 person

  11. February 26, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I started blogging to let off steam then turned to sheer naked commercialism after I fell into all this self-publishing malarky and needed to sell novels nobody wanted to read. Now I’m back to letting off steam and using words to try to comprehend an increasingly baffling world. (I still haven’t solved the great Shiver and Shake mystery.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 26, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Shiver and Shake, Chris? What’s that? Some sort of online investigation? I hope it involves spies and fast cars. Or perhaps even just bloggers in capes. But not Madonna capes. That never ends well.


      • February 26, 2015 at 11:49 pm

        Shiver and Shake was a children’s comic published between 1973 and 1974. The stories were mainly about ghosts and monsters with names like Frankie Stein and Horrornation Street. But I bought a copy whilst on holiday in 1978 and started subscribing to it when I came home. That was fours years after it had ceased publication, so what was it I was buying every week? Had I slipped through some kind of comic time portal into an alternative universe? I still haven’t found out and probably never will!


        • February 27, 2015 at 7:26 am

          Very curious indeed. I hope it never turns out that you were funding an overseas coup or anything, that would be embarrassing.


  12. February 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I blog because I love to write and let’s face it, most of us only have so many friends who can bear endless newsy emails. I sought a wider forum and the blogosphere suited me just fine. I use my blog to wax lyrical about all aspects of my writing journey. Almost three years at it and I’m still going strong. Yippee for blogging and bloggers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • February 26, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Yes indeed, yippee for us. If only the people around me realised how amazing we are, I wouldn’t have to keep telling them all the time. You are certainly going strong, Francis, and long may you keep it up!


  13. johanna buchanan
    February 26, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    I started blogging because I read somewhere that I needed an “author platform” if I was going to be an author and that a blog was meant to be the centre of the master-plan you needed to create one – an author platform that is.
    Unfortunately my great i weakness in life is research and I got so hopelessly bogged down in advice like this that I soon began to feel that I never wanted to hear the words ‘social” and “media” in the same sentence again. In fact, I’m sure I’d be on my third novel now instead of my second if I’d devoted those hours to writing. The truth is I got a little bit sick of it, but then I found that once I threw out all the “rules” that I enjoyed blogging for it’s own sake. Now I’m at the stage where I’d like to know more about maintaining a regular blog and building a readership. So looking forward to a great day out in the mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Nothing as liberating as throwing out the rules, Johanna. Although having said that, whoever said there were rules for social media in the first place, clearly never spent any time on Facebook. Or the Internet. Looking forward to our mountainy day myself!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. February 26, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I needed to find 68 men, or at least their living relatives. They had been Far East POWs in WW2 with my father, and their relatives at home had written to my mother while they all waited out the silence for three and a half years. It seemed like a good way to raise my author profile and for some mad reason I thought it would be less pressurised… ? than Twitter or Facebook (which I attend as a wallflower). It’s fun and I get to meet Tark and Mara.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 27, 2015 at 7:22 am

      Tark and Mara are shocked, Hilary. Of all reasons for blogging, they never expected you’d say something like “I needed to find 68 men”. Still, they’re kind of admiring at the same time. 😀


      • February 28, 2015 at 11:41 pm

        It is an enterprise beyond shocking when the men (if they are still with us) stretch from the ages of ninety to ninety-nine or so, but, like T and A, I’m up for a OTT challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Ali Isaac
    February 26, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Just like everyone else, I started my blog to support my books, although I had no clue what to blog about. It turned into a place where I could write about all the interesting (to me) things I unearthed during my research, with a bit of opinion and other writerly writings thrown in. It has now morphed into a blog of Irishness, and I love my blog and the people I have met through it! I would now continue to blog even if I never wrote another book! ( But of course I will…)

    Liked by 3 people

    • February 27, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Isn’t it mad, the kind of niches we find with our blogs? Goes to show how gaps in the ‘market’ can be found in the strangest of places! I love your blog ingredients, Ali. They bake into such a delicious mythological and topographical cake 😉


  16. February 27, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Good insights!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. February 27, 2015 at 7:34 am

    I feel like one of your sheep following the herd, my current blog is to support my novel writing. However, that’s relatively new. My first blog was an extention of family newsletters to share news when we were living in Crete. Now, after various different blogs, I’ve settled on building up a brand based on my knowledge of Crete, that in turn supports my writing set in Crete.

    BTW having a meeting of real people, instead of a virtual meeting sounds fun, hope it goes well. X


    • February 27, 2015 at 9:54 am

      It’s a bit daunting, Yvonne. I mean, we’re talking about real live people here. What’ll happen if they find out that I’m really just a tiny, tiny man, who’s just wizard with machinery?!
      Just kidding. I’m not tiny at all.

      Many’s the blog that started out as an emigrant newsletter. They go firmly in the column bracket, to me. Colour pieces and virtual travel!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. February 27, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Don’t think I’ll be able to come to that Tara, but the very best of luck with it. Knowing you, it’ll be brilliant. I started a blog, like all your other readers, above, because I wanted to write about writing. But then my family starting edgiung in occasionally, and I started writing about completely random stuff, and, er, well now I’m posting a travel diary I wrote 30 years ago. I don’t have a goal, except to keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 28, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Thank you Elaine! I think for you and I, going by our blogging styles – whichever reasons we started out with, I think a major goal for us, now, is to entertain. At least, that’s what I tell myself, as I’m tap-dancing for pennies on street corners in Dublin. It’s a dirty business.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 28, 2015 at 11:30 am

        You tap dance??? Where is that street corner? I’m coming right now with my penny whistle.


        • February 28, 2015 at 11:33 am

          All over the place, Elaine. I used to do just one particular corner, but the competition was fierce, and I found I had to diversify.


          • February 28, 2015 at 11:38 am

            I can juggle, but only with two balls. No. That didn’t sound right…


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