I feel compelled to write about the blog world. I cannot keep writing posts about the “behind the scenes” process of Robin and I writing our book, without commenting on our foray into the foreign territory of blogging. My experiences as a psychologist have caused me to develop a unique way of looking at the world, and I have to say it has been fascinating to realize that the blog world represents a whole culture that non-bloggers know nothing about.
Setting up the blog site with WordPress was surprisingly easy. I was impressed by how simple they made it, and how professional it looked especially for such a low cost. I picked a “theme,” and the picture that popped up just happened to be completely appropriate for the topic of our book, at least in my opinion. I did not feel a need to customize anything. I did pay the small amount it cost to reserve the domain name without the “wordpress” preceding the “.com.”
Once the blog was set up, the initial few posts were exciting. It was very cool to have others start reading and commenting on our work. Of course we quickly learned that to bring “followers” to our blog, we needed to “follow” other blogs covering similar topics. My introduction to this concept actually happened before I even wrote anything on the blog. After I had gotten everything set up, I got an email that someone was a new follower! I was excited, but also quite confused by this, since I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to follow our blog when they didn’t even know what it was about. Obviously, those of you who are experienced bloggers will know that person wanted me to go check out and follow her blog. It didn’t matter to her what was on mine.
Sure enough, I have repeatedly found that to follow the blogs of other people causes at least some of them to come and check out ours. The traffic always increases after I have spent time investigating and deciding to follow a new batch of blogs. When I actually read them and comment on the blogs I am following, this always brings traffic to our site.
Unfortunately, I have found I don’t have the time to read as many of other people’s blogs as I would like. I love writing and reading other people’s writing. I am passionate about decreasing the stigma of mental illness and could happily spend a lot more time in the blog world reading, commenting and supporting other bloggers who are writing about any form of mental illness. But, I work full-time and am trying to finish up our book. I apologize to our loyal readers who I have neglected while the work on the book has taken precedence. There are many bloggers I have gotten to know, at least superficially, and whose work I appreciate. I wish I had more time to read your work. I know how much I appreciate it when you read ours!
After we learned about the whole “following” phenomenon it became clear that the whole concept of “liking” someone else’s blog posts is also part of the culture. Some people just “like” a post. Some people comment. Some people do both. I find myself doing the same thing. I feel compelled to comment more often on the blog posts of the people who I have gotten to know a bit. If I am short on time I will just “like” a post to let someone know I read it and I appreciated what they wrote. I know I love it when someone “likes” what we have written. I want to make sure to be a good blog world member and let others know we “like” their writing.
So what’s up with all the “spam?” I have been astonished to see the volume of spam that appears in the spam folder, and grateful to the WordPress people for figuring out a way of keeping all these ridiculous comments off our blogs. Do these spammers think we are stupid? Apparently. Enough said.
Okay, I have to say something about the awards. It is actually kind of funny to remember when Robin and I first found out we were nominated by someone for an award. No offense to those who choose to participate in the giving and receiving of the blog awards. If our blog were more of a traditional site where the posts were not telling a serious story, I would happily participate. We became an “award free” blog for the reasons described in that section of our blog site. But I won’t forget how excited Robin and I were when we found out someone nominated us the first time. It was an honor to be recognized! Once we learned we then had to answer questions and nominate other people and that all of it would show up in the middle of the story we were telling, we decided it would not work very well on our site. It was fun, though, to learn about the other bloggers we were following by reading their responses to the questions asked by award nominators.
It has been quite an adventure to get to know about this culture of blogging. While there have been a few adversarial comments on our blog from people who have had bad experiences in the mental health field, overall I have been impressed and touched by how supportive bloggers are to each other. There is much vulnerability shared on these sites, whether people are writing anonymously or not. It is scary to put yourself out there and it is important to have a thick skin. But, for the most part the comments from all over the globe, are supportive. It is a great community!
Once we finish our book, I hope to start a new blog…probably a more general one about my observations and experiences as a psychologist throughout my 23 year career. It has been quite a ride for me, and there is much for me to say. I will look forward to having more time to read, comment and get to know more of you in this unique forum, and reconnecting with those of you who have been so supportive to us!