C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying:
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
People write blogs for numerous reasons, and I would venture to guess that many people would cite money as a reason to start one. Money, and “free” products.
Delusions of grandeur (thank you Princes Leia) run rampant in newbie bloggers. They have an “if I build it, they will come” mentality and expect that the existence of their writing alone is enough to draw throngs of readers over to their articles. They are disappointed when 10 weekly visitors brings only 1 or 2 comments especially when the comments are from their mom and their uncle. They plaster affiliate links for random products all over their site confident that any day now, the money will start rolling in, but are confused to find that not a single person even clicked on the banners, let alone made a purchase through one of their links.
The other day I read an article on Problogger.net by Kelly Diels that was encouraging bloggers to become “Red Shoe Bloggers” the gist of which is to blog not for money but simply because you have something to offer. By putting the magic of your life experiences into words and using your passion and creativity to build relationships, success will find its home at www.yourblog.com. The rest will follow if you choose to open the door to it.
I think there is a lot of value in that viewpoint, especially when it comes to mom bloggers. As a niche, “mommy blogger” is too large of a playing field to allow someone to standout simply for their writing alone. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but with the number of blogs growing exponentially, the opportunity for pure skill to drive and influence traffic is pretty slim. That doesn’t mean you don’t need great content to stand out, it just means you have to find a way to get people to notice your great content over the next person’s. Everyone is unique. Everyone has something that they can harness that makes them different from everyone else. But a red dress (or red shoes) isn’t going to stand out if everyone else is wearing bright colorful dresses as well.
So how do you stand out?
How do you get people to notice you?
It’s really very simple.
Community is the slingshot that will take you from someone who has to beg and bribe for traffic to someone who simply has to say “I have a new post up” and the traffic follows. Can your blog succeed without it? Sure, especially if you are wearing a red dress in a sea of yellow, but the reality of it is that many of us are not. Do you need it? Nope. I’m sure there are plenty of successful bloggers who have no “virtual” friends to speak of they simply rely on networking from a business perspective and work that red dress for all it’s worth.
Will the money follow? Maybe. Will the PR requests follow? Maybe. Will it be enough to make a car payment? Possibly. Will it be enough to make a mortgage payment? Not likely, though still possible.
But I propose that none of that matters.
Friendship and community are what matters. It will drive your passion, encourage your failures and support your endeavors. It will give you purpose and clarity and the confidence to open your heart to your readers and create a connection that keeps them coming back.
Community has a power like no other.
It helps win appliances.
It helps win scholarships.
It helps right wrongs.
It helps in times of need.
It helps you know that people care about what you have to say.
I challenge you to blog for the sake of blogging. I challenge you to build friendships that will change your life when you are not even looking. And who knows, maybe you will find that the money follows. But even if it doesn’t, it will reward you in a way that is so much more valuable than money.
If you are looking for a supportive community of bloggers to connect with, check out the MomDot forum.
Also, thank you Alyson for making it possible for us to probably never have to buy diapers again. You are the inspiration for this post, and the proof that it is true (with or without the free diapers).