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On Blogging and Birthdays

Today is my birthday! And, in light of that, I’ve been taking stock of my work, my life, my habits, and everything that goes into this website.

Whether you know it or not, a blog nowadays is rarely the online journal it used to be and more the digital business it could be. There’s nothing wrong with that – I’m thrilled to see blogging become a professional opportunity!

But, in that transition, we’ve lost a bit of the essence of blogging and aimed all our writing towards search results and ever-more pageviews. Those matter for a business.

Building a blog’s authority for a search engine means more people will find it, which means advertisers will pay for those eyeballs and potential clicks. That’s the way to make money, build a business, find freedom.

But that’s not where I’m at. And I’m still not sure it’s where I want to be.

Blogging vs. Storytelling

I love to write. I write for other businesses for a living. And I write here – potentially for a living, but not yet. Thus far, I’ve put countless hours into this website to have it make pennies for me. Actually, it hasn’t even made pennies considering the costs of maintaining a website!

But I continue to hedge on whether or not it should be a business in itself. For that, I need to write articles that are optimized for search engines, rather than proper prose for people. For this to be a successful business, I need to produce content that people search for, rather than stories that people might simply enjoy.

Stories don’t make money. Just take a look at the newspaper industry.

But stories are the basis of humanity. Recently, I was chatting with my friend when he asked if I’ve read Sapiens. I haven’t so this is third-party insight, but it bears repeating nonetheless.

Homosapiens evolved into this dominant breed over neanderthals due to communication preferences. We communicate via storytelling. Stories about other people, about places, about experiences…in fact, it comes down to gossip.

Humans communicate via gossip, this ability to hear something and then retell it – perhaps with embellishment or exaggeration – and that capacity has enabled us to dominate the animal kingdom (in spite of our physical inferiority).

We talk.

We tell stories and we love listening to them.

Humanity exists because we share information, insights, intelligence. Humans crave and survive on that opportunity to share with each other. A social species indeed, we thrive in groups where we collaborate and communicate.

My Blogging Business

And this is why I continue to struggle with blogging as a business. For me, not as an entity. In fact, I encourage all my clients to utilize blogging because it’s the most effective way to draw in new potential customers! Blogging as a business is fantastic. But, maybe not for me.

Blogging is also necessary – blogging allows for diversity of voice, opinion, and experience in a field that was (and is) controlled by money. Professionals who adhere to specific requirements fill the traditional media industry.

We need that professionalism, but we also need diversity of perspective and insight.

Bloggers can be anyone, anywhere, with such divergent experiences as to provide readers with a wide array to choose from and from which to learn.

Bloggers are the future where a single newscaster with the only microphone is the past.

So, where does that leave me and this website?

Great question! I’ve been asking it for months…probably years if I’m honest.

But, today, on my birthday, while I sit here reflecting on life from a hillside home on the island of Sao Miguel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I realize it doesn’t matter.

I could make money off this site, or not. This could be a profitable business, or maybe not.

My time could be spent researching keywords and writing for Google, or it could be spent telling all the stories I’ve written down in various ways over the years – but never wrote here. I didn’t put them here because they probably wouldn’t have been found. Or because I knew the amount of time and effort required to optimize a post and I just didn’t want to do it.

After all, this is my second job.

A Promise – Maybe?

As my 34th year on this planet begins, I’d like to promise to tell more stories the way I like to tell them. I may still write for SEO and Google, too, but I want to write more from the heart.

Sometimes, I sit down and write several thousand words without pause…it’s easy and even therapeutic for me. But writing a 1500-word optimized blog post requires many more hours for photos, editing, feature image and pin image creation, social media sharing and maintenance, networking, continuous learning as algorithms adapt, and then resharing content at intervals to keep it alive.

The blogging business exists because of the full-time, endless hours required to do it properly.

I prefer to tell a story once and leave it for a reader to internalize or not; to share, or not. I’m not a photographer and I do digital marketing as a job for other businesses all day. So, here, in this space, I think I’d like to just write more.

At the end of the day, stories keep us alive and moving forward.

Who knows how much life is left for any of us? But I think I’ll tell my stories while I have the chance. If nothing else, this site will pull together the disparate writing I’ve done and kept in various folders and notebooks over the years.

I’ve done a lot of traveling, experiencing an incredible variety of places and meeting fascinating people along the way. I am unfathomably lucky. And I like to shine a light on those places in time that affect me in some way.

The rest is up to you.

Share, repeat, retell, embellish, exaggerate, or simply forget it all and choose to retell the tale of another. Whatever you do, just remember that stories keep us alive and allow us to thrive.

I’ve been writing about my life on this website for nearly 7 years. I can write about my life for SEO or I can write about it for the stories. I’m trying to find a balance between the two. I hope you find value in both!