You determine your worth.
Sorry for the huge break between posts in this series!! When I left on vacation, that totally threw a wrench in my writing! But this is the 4th installment of the Blogging For You series, if you've missed the previous posts, you can find them here.
Blogging is an investment. And while it's true that sometimes running a blog can cost a little bit of money (i.e. purchasing a domain, hosting, blog design, advertising.. etc), that isn't the kind of investment I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the emotional investment. When we put so much time and effort into our blogs, write thoughtful posts, and make connections with other bloggers -- we are putting ourselves out there, like, a lot. I don't think we even realize how much of our emotions we are putting on the line until we're in the thick of it.
So with this in mind, even though we are blogging for ourselves (right?), doesn't mean that things won't get to us. Deep down, we are all wondering what people are thinking, afraid of judgement, and critical commenters. Metaphorically speaking, having a public blog is like leaving the front door of your house open, with a huge sign that says "Come on in!". It's not always easy to let people into our house, to see all of the messes and imperfect details. But our hope is that we can be welcoming and they'll want to come back, regardless of the flaws.
These are the three things that can wear on us the most as bloggers.
There's a lot of judgement in the blogosphere, it just comes with the territory. As bloggers, we will all be on the receiving end of it at some point. It's unrealistic to expect that everyone will like our blog, the content we write, or the people we are -- even if we go out of our way to be "likeable". There will be negative comments, and cynical people. But as hard as it is, we need to just let it roll off our back and move on. Easier said than done, I know. The thing is, though, judgement often goes both ways. We are all going to be guilty of it at some point. The best we can do is try not to do it, and abide by the old saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!" :-) But seriously, for the love of blogging, let's be kind to one other.
Plagiarism and copy-cats.
This will happen to you at some point. Whether the offender did it intentionally or not. It will happen. The world wide web is enormous, there are people out there scowling for ideas and yours might be the one they steal. You have two options at this point -- you can send them a polite e-mail and address the situation, or you can let it go. I've done both. It's really hard when you put SO much thought and consideration into your blog, and someone rips you off! On the flip side, it's also really hard to discern if someone actually copied you or not. Even if we think we had this amazing, original idea, I'm betting that there are hundreds of others out there that had the exact same thoughts/ideas at some point. That's where it gets sticky. The important thing is to remember this kind of thing happens, there's no way around it.
I don't have much to say on this besides that sometimes, blogging can feel a bit like high school. Sad, but true. Much like trying to figure out which "clique" we fit into in school and various social communities...we are all looking for blogging our niche, and a way to categorize ourselves. But here's what I say to that: Who cares! Be yourself, and write content that you are passionate about. People will like you, or they won't. Don't be afraid to break the "blogging rules", so to speak. Rules are meant to be broken. ;-)
So what I'm really trying to say, is that we shouldn't be held back by the fear of judgement, fitting in, and the struggle to be original. This entire series is centered around blogging for ourselves, and finding the value in our blog. It all goes back to the original question I asked, Why Do You Blog? If the answer is along the lines of: "I do it for myself."... then all of those above listed deterrents carry no weight as to the worth of your blog. Your blog is YOUR space, take pride in what you write, be genuine, make connections... and I promise, your blog will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. I promise.