Community Versus Audience

Recently I stated that “I have little respect for my community, yet I adore my audience.” Some folks believe that audience and community are synonyms.

They most certainly are not.

An audience may be an interactive audience, as this one sometimes is. In reality very few of my readers ever comment. Some of you email me, and I delight in that. I don’t need your comments to know you are here. I see you. We have a nice rapport, you and I. If I didn’t want you here, I’d keep a journal. Y’all delight me.

Conversely, it is entirely possible for a community not interact at all, but simply to be present. It is possible that the community can lurk, demean and harass It is possible that my friends would alert me to strange searches on their sites. Entire sites within the blogging community exist solely to destroy other people. Publicists behave like sullen teenagers throwing their weight behind blog posts that take an entire company and pit it against one (very green) mom blogger.

I’m not exactly sure how to proceed. Blogging used to be fun. I met amazing women, I’ve been given great opportunities, and this has been a nice living.

The reality is that my husband and I don’t need this income. I don’t need the feedback, the accolades or the headaches.

I’m back to the same silly place. The community is rancid, but the audience is terrific. We’re going to have to find a way to make this work.

Photo Marfis75 via flickr creative commons

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Comments 24

  1. I believe that it is at that point when you realize you don’t care about the income or the accolades that you can actually begin getting back to loving to blog. Without concerning yourself about how people will respond, what will drive in traffic, or how many back-pats, nods, and high fives you get, your blog is simply your blog. It’s nothing your obligated to do, but it’s always there when you have something to say.

    Most of us started blogging because it was an amazing outlet. Marketing and blogosphere expansion has sort of thrown a curve ball at what blogging was intended to be. When I started blogging nearly a decade ago, it was ONLY about what I wanted to get out of it and not so much about what I felt it was necessary for me to put into it. I enjoyed that about my blog – last summer, I was SHOCKED to learn how HUGE the “mom blogging” community was. I had never connected with another mom blogger. My blog had about 200 visits a month from friends and family. It was exciting to have an increase in traffic, to see numbers I never knew existed, and to become part of an online “world” that I was previously unaware of… to get my feet wet in the “business” of blogging, working with companies, etc. But, you know what… it’s tiring. And it sucks out of my blog the whole reason I created it to begin with. That being said, it’s sort of a catch-22 because there are awesome aspects of everything I’ve gained and everything that has changed in the last 13 months.

    Now that I’ve written a novel, I suppose to sum up what I’m trying to say, I’ll simply leave off by saying that I think blogging stops being enjoyable when we consider what is relevant to the audience (and/or the community) more than – or before – we consider our own reason for blogging and what we personally gain – aside from the money and the kudos. I love to interact with other bloggers, think about things I wouldn’t have otherwise, or see things from a perspective I wouldn’t have on my own… but in the end, when I share what’s on my mind, I don’t want to have to think about anyone but me because even though I TRULY appreciate my readers, it is, after all, myself that I am blogging for.

  2. It sort of boils down to asking yourself what you want out of blogging. Once you know what that is you can determine whether it meets your needs or not.

    On a side note, the dad blogging community is a pretty friendly place. Most of us are just happy to share a virtual beer and talk about whatever. Not to mention it is where all of the men share our real secrets, things that never make the papers or the magazines. Woohoo.

  3. I read your blog and enjoy your voice. You wrote my favorite blog post ever. You are interesting and clever and intelligent.

    That being said, however, leaving blogging is like missing a party. You wonder what it will be like. People say that they wish you were coming, then that they wish you had been there. But, really, the party was just fine without you, and you are just fine without the party.

    You are a woman with a lot of ideas. If blogging is no longer the right space, you will, no doubt, find a terrific new venue for that energy, whatever it may look like. I am excited to see what you do next — whether it be blogging or otherwise.

  4. Kat said it better than I ever could have. I don’t blog for any reason other than it gives me an outlet and I love it. I also love reading other blogs because I get good parenting information, a good laugh, a pat on the back that they didn’t know they gave me when I needed one, etc… I don’t embrace the entire community by any means. I actually think a couple of the biggest, “best” blogs are boring as all get out.

    I do think it’s both a small world and a large one. Some of the best comments I get are totally random and from people who don’t blog but some of the others that I love the most are from other bloggers.

    I don’t have “haters” yet (please don’t find me because of this). I haven’t had one in all the years I’ve been writing, mostly because for years I didn’t comment on other blogs and I kept to my own corner. Since branching out I’ve found something I really needed in kindred spirits. I wouldn’t have found that without blogging so I am eternally grateful for it. Just as an example, I found another blogger who lost her home to a fire and struggles from serious PTSD like I do. I wouldn’t have found her if I didn’t blog or use Twitter. I could have a million haters and it would still be worth it because I found one person who understands me.

    Sorry this is so long, I’m the queen of long comments!

  5. I just want to put my opinion out there that I hope you don’t quit blogging. I enjoy your blog, your videos, your twitter stream. It’s educational and fun and entertaining and important, all of the things life and human interaction should be.

    I would be very sad to see you stop what you’re doing – that being said, you should only do this for you and no one else. So I’ll support your decision, either way.

  6. I thought I drop you a line; I have followed you for several months and your materials is worthy of more than acolades, you create a good effect on other peoples lives; I can almost see you personally when you write something; this article is moving and crystal clear to me. I know you need no advice (you listen to others anyhow) and I know somehow that you will stick to your guns and stay around longer, much longer than many of the creeps you have found trying to block or cause harm. Let me just leave you my very best wishes for success beyond dreams. Your faraway friend, Gaston

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  8. I’ll be blunt and say I’m not a huge fan, mostly because I find you very judgmental. BUT: don’t quit blogging because people are assholes. Those people exist everywhere, the internet just seems to be the place that makes them feel they can put on their crazy hats and start jumping all over folks. The medium is just to easy to utilize. When they make you quit? They win.

    We should be able to have respectful discourse, even when we don’t agree. I would hate to see anyone shut down their blog because of the nastiness of others. You seem to be a very confident, smart, tough cookie. Don’t let people with bad manners chase you off.

  9. Yeah. I know what you mean.

    I like what Kat has to say.

    I hope you continue to blog. You are smart and provocative, and say what you mean. You make people think. I like that.

  10. Jessica, I know all too well about the “haters” people who need to tear down others to feel important. Imagine the self-importance they will feel if their mean-spirited ploys to dishearten and discourage you and other voices works… they will continue to take down the strong out there and it will only be left with the weak. But if you turn a blind eye and continue on your path and speak your truth, they will shrivel up and crawl back under the rock from whence they came.

    They are not fooling anyone – everyone knows THEIR truth and they are exposed. They are scared and weak and their blathering only makes them even more easy to defeat. I say …………..

    (Okay… now I’m raising my hand and gonna say “Can I get an Amen”… someone stop me!!)

  11. I’m not up for moving to LA, so you best not stop blogging. Call me what you will – audience, community member, lurker, fan girl — but I would miss your voice desperately. Please. Don’t. Stop. xx Lisa

  12. That is an excellent distinction. Well said.

    Ultimately the decision is yours, but as a new audience member I hope you stick around awhile longer. It rare to find voices of clarity and certainty around these parts.

    There is a retired attorney here in town. His job was to sue other attorneys for malpractice. He was a good man with a huge Texas personality (and actually had his own TV show for a bit as a “judge” which we all found highly amusing). A well-respected attorney, he was always the “gatekeeper” for the profession. You remind me of him. And both of your roles are very similar.

    It’s a heavy responsibility – being a watchdog, an “elder” if you will – but it’s needed. Those that live in the grey areas need to be shoved into the black or the white on occassion. We’re all better for that spotlight showing things that are hard to see and interesting to discuss.

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  13. I am a lawyer first and a blogger second. The community there is certainly a mixed bag, particularly in Las Vegas. Sometimes, I look around, shake my head a little and take a deep breath and remind myself that I have to kick someone’s ass and there is work to be done. Regardless if I can’t stand the company.

    As for blogging, I attempted to fit into a particular blogging community for a while and it just didn’t work. It became a huge source of stress for me. So, I killed the blog. Now, I’m back to basics and I’m finding that the community is just fine, so far. And I couldn’t love my audience more.

    Keep on kickin’ ass.

  14. right on.
    and right on to suzanne!! i’m still trying to find my happy medium. i’m bordering on the not giving two shits, which is why i’m about to get into trouble with my husbands school district.
    time to start drinking MORE heavily!

  15. I have always envied the people that really can live the water off a duck’s back saying. Meh, not for me. That said, the good I find in the crystal moments are too potent to forsake it all on account of ______, ________, and __________! I get this, but I do hope you find the way to make it work.

  16. What can I say..I am ecstatic that you are still here! I think we share this philosophy. I really don;t understand the cliquey, catty bullshit. Why the fuck cant we all just be? Im all for sticking up for what we believe in and freedom of speech but it feels like if you don’t kiss the right ass, you become the focus of a witch hunt. I guess the choices are become focus of a witch hunt, alone on a bloggy island or just not giving a shit about what everyone elses opinion is and pursuing your passion.In the end, the authenticity of who you are is visible to those who look.People can see through bullshit a mile away and those who go that route, don’t make it that far.You rock! I hate that people even made you consider quitting!

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