My guest blogger Suzanne Rico who used to be the morning news anchor for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, made a life-changing decision with her family and in the words of this talented writer of Walking Papers, she and her husband are “now 21st century nomads on a quest to discover what should come next – for our kids, our marriage, our finances and our sanity”.
I quit Botox cold turkey on a smoggy Friday morning last year after I suddenly lost my job as KCBS-TV’s morning news anchor in Los Angeles. Feeling both liberated and scared (and in the mood to make rash decisions), my husband and I rented out our house, sold our cars and traded a comfortable city life for a low budget, long-term trip around the world with our two little boys. I opened a WordPress account to blog about what I hoped would be a “Motorcycle Diaries For Middle-Aged People With Kids” kind of journey. If I write it, I figured–and write it well–readers would come.
Nine months later, practically the only one who reads my “Walking Papers” blog with any regularity is my mother. When I posted My Argentine Angels Drives A Compact Car about rushing my five-year old son to an emergency room on Christmas Day, she commented “superb!” And when I wrote Natural Born, Stuffed Animal Like Killers about nearly getting flattened by an angry hippopotamus, she complimented my “wicked wit”, but if I’m so fabulous and funny, where is everybody?
Perhaps my blog is lost in cyber space because I am a social media moron. I don’t promote “Walking Paper”. I don’t post everyday. I don’t Twitter it, Reddit, or Digg it. To me, the difference between a pingback and a trackback is as confusing as the old “chicken or the egg” conundrum. I’m even a Facebook virgin, fearing this potential time suck after watching my former co-anchor invest hours each day promoting his blog. I know this resistance to social media is like driving Fred Flintstone’s stone-age car on a modern day freeway; it might be unique, but it will never get you anywhere.
One night in Peru’s Valley Of The Incas, a thick mist creating ghosts at the windows of our small pension, I did try to educate myself. WordPress suggested “tags” so I read up and then chose words like “travel, adventure, mommy blog, parenting, and unemployment”. My readership spiked–by a few and recently, I stumbled upon StumbleUpon, and took the time to upload my posts, but so far, I’m the only one who has stumbled upon them. I clicked the little “like” icon on each one, feeling both embarrassed and hopeful, as if I were trying to win a high school popularity contest.
Being currently unemployed, I have no real excuse for being a social media moron, but between planes, trains, buses and rental cars–between dodging a terrorist scare in Turkey and nearly having a fist-fight with my husband at The End Of The World–I barely have time to upload one post a week, much less learn the tools to promote them. I am mystified at what qualifies as a good blog; one day, while reading Freshly Pressed, I clicked on a blog about writing only to find the post was a link to a famous author’s writing tips—something that probably took five seconds to upload. This feels like cheating to me. I’m no Sylvia Plath or Heather B. Armstrong, but I work hard on writing stories that only family and friends read.
So here are my questions for the experts—bloggers who have been sharing their message longer and more successfully than I: is there space in the blogosphere for someone who is not passionate about social media? If you write it well, but don’t promote it, will people ever come? Is content still king or do clicks rule? Or do both? I freely admit that I don’t really understand what defines a good blogger (but I do understand why The Honey Badger gets five million views), and only blame myself that Walking Papers is about as popular a destination as Siberia in February.
On a sweaty afternoon in Brazil, both kids finally sleeping after coming down with a mysterious illness we prayed was not Dengue Fever, I expressed my frustrations to my husband Ethan; my blog, I complained, is like the tree that makes no sound when it falls in the forest because no one is around to hear it.
“Maybe you should just scrap blogging altogether and get really proficient at playing “Plants Vs. Zombies,” he suggested. “Then your oldest son will think you are even more of a goddess than he already does.” Ethan is trying to help me temper my life-long need for achievement and external approval—not an easy task when your ego was formed in front of a television camera and though I knew this was a gentle reminder that my blog should be a pleasure and not a pain in the ass, quitting didn’t sound like such a bad idea. It would be a relief to stop checking my dismal stats—and worrying that the reason people don’t read “Walking Papers” is not because I’m a social media moron, but because I just don’t write it that well. I appreciate any feedback you can provide.
Image: cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net