When Your Blog Forces You To Keep Your Commitments
KUOW/National Public Radio’s show Sound Focus (November 29, 2007) featured an interview with blogger and reporter David Swidler, of the Seattlest, about his project to learn how to cook by researching an “ethnic” recipe associated with the city the Seattle Seahawks football team was playing every weekend during the season. He wrote about the research he did on the city, and the recipes he would prepare that weekend in his Friday post. On Monday, he’d reports on how he did preparing the weekend football feast, and what he learned along the way.
While the purpose of his blogging is unique and fun, and definitely of interest to sports fans and cooks alike, something he said during the interview really caught my attention.
David said that he wanted to learn to do this in a way that he couldn’t escape. He’s wanted to learn to cook for many years and hadn’t pushed himself to do so. He wanted to force himself into a situation where he had to keep his commitment and finish the project because people were counting on him.
…people were waiting and expecting this. It was not going away. I had to force myself to do it.
No excuses. By combining a blog into the project, he was forced to keep his commitment to himself because the blog was waiting, and so were readers.
In other words, his blog forced him to show up and keep his promises.
A blog does that. It may start out being about you and what you want to blog about, but it soon becomes about the readers, about the content, about the feeding of the blog. It forces you to show up.
But only if you help it.
A blog can’t make you do anything unless you are willing to go there in the first place. David wanted to learn to cook and needed a method to keep him coming back to the kitchen. His blog kept him interested and actively participating.
He set a schedule of posts, pre-game and post-game, setting aside time to research and find the recipes and information about the challenging city.
He admitted that his joy at first was the sense of accomplishment with those first meals. As the blog grew in popularity, the feedback from the readers kept him going as they added tidbits of information and history to the recipes and the cities he was researching. The readers would explain why which ingredients were used in the recipes, and which methods of preparation were their favorites. He looked forward to what they had to say each week.
On my blogs, every week, I have two dates I have to show up for. One is my WordPress Wednesday News reports on the Blog Herald. Friday/Saturday, I do a Weekly Digest summary on Lorelle on WordPress of what I’ve been up to on all my different blogs and speaking engagements, etc. As much as these started out being enjoyable and for a good reason, I now dread them.
But they make me show up every week for my blogs and my readers. They keep me on track and focused. I hate the intensive work these take to create, whining and fretting during the week, and smacking myself for taking these things on. When published, I love them and am proud of them. It was hard work, but achieving these weekly goals is more important than the agony and time to produce them. I can pat myself on the back and relax for another few days before I’m called to action again.
The fact that people depend upon these “regularly scheduled” blog posts means a lot to me. Sure, they don’t get many comments. They don’t need them. I know people are reading them not just from the traffic but from what happens when I’m late or miss a week. Then I hear from people!
The cycle of expression and support and encouragement, which turns into a form of dependence, knowing your blog audience is counting on you to show up and keep your commitments, and the readers anticipating the promise being kept, is a heady one. One that can make or break a blog’s success.
Are you keeping your blog commitments?
Without that commitment to your blog, either in purpose, intent, or calendar, it’s hard to keep it going. Having a solid sense of purpose and schedule keeps you on track, meeting those commitments, and sticking around for the rewards.
What do you do that keeps you coming back to your blog?
Here are some recent blog posts by David with his Seahawk’s city competition recipes:
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Nice post, but I don’t think this is by any means unique to bloggging. It has always been true that announcing something publicly, whether it be a stated intention to your co-workers to lose weight, speaking your wedding vows in front of a couple hundred people, or announcing plans on your blog to learn to cook, is a recipe for commitment. Anyone who evangelizes about something in front of others knows it binds them to a course of action or a way of thinking. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad, but it’s almost always true.