We’re into the second month of the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival and what an amazing event it’s turning out to be. Over 60 bloggers took part in the last month’s session, in which we were all asked to explain why we blog about archaeology.
The responses were as diverse as the authors themselves. Some started their blogs as a way to share their research with a wider audience while others, such as Graecomuse, simply wanted to cut through the romanticised view that the general public have of archaeology and archaeologists and show how real archaeology is done. I wrote about my own reasons for blogging in my article “Why I Blog About Archaeology (and Tomb Raider)”.
The theme for December 2013 is “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Blogging”. In other words, what do we like, dislike and absolutely abhor about blogging. So I thought I’d take the opportunity here to describe my love-hate relationship with blogging as well as share some insight with people who may be new to blogging or are thinking of starting their own blog.
Let’s start with the negative aspects of blogging. Not because I’m a fairly pessimistic person at heart (well, I suppose I can be at times) but because I want to end this article on a positive note. After all, if I found blogging to be such a chore, why would I spend so many hours of my precious free time working on this blog?
So let’s begin…
What I Hate About Blogging:
Writer’s Block – Let’s admit it, we’ve all suffered from writer’s block at some point in our blogging careers. There are days when you’re in the zone, typing away like a madman (or madwoman), and then there are days when you find yourself staring at the screen, watching the cursor blink incessantly. Your mind begins to wander so you decide to check your emails or log onto Facebook or Twitter to see what’s going on…and before you know it, it’s past midnight and it’s time to head to bed. Another day has gone by and you’ve written zip, zilch, nada. Heck, it’s taken me over a week to write the post you’re reading right now. And I’m not alone. Even professional bloggers find themselves stuck in a rut once in a while. So if you’re struggling to get those creative juices flowing, check out Problogger author Darren Rowse’s tips for battling blogger’s block.
Slave to the Stats – Professional bloggers often advise bloggers not to spend too much time worrying about their blog stats and tell them to focus instead on writing new content, sharing links on social media, and establishing relationships with fellow bloggers. But I admit it’s very tempting to keep checking and refreshing the stats page. A spike in the blog traffic can really boost your morale but, conversely, your self-esteem and enthusiasm can take a blow when there’s a dip in readership. You begin to wonder if there’s any point in updating your blog if it feels like no one’s interested. The best thing to do is to keep on writing and keep in mind that it can takes weeks, months or even years to build up a steady readership. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Just hang in there, kiddo. And don’t get into the habit of spamming people with links to your blog. It may be tempting but this can do more harm than good in the long run. You don’t want to scare away your readers by pestering them, do you?
All Tweeted Out – Another aspect of blogging that can sometimes drive me to the edge of insanity is social networking. In order to boost your blog stats and reach new readers, you may find yourself spending a lot of your free time on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. It’s not that I hate social networking. Far from it. I’ve met a lot of amazing people on those sites and genuinely love chatting with people who share my love of archaeology and video games…but sometimes I really feel a need to step away from the laptop and take a breather before I go, in the words of comedian Al Murray, “bonkers mental”. Remember, folks, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance between your online and offline activities. Don’t let blogging or social networking take over your life completely.
Impostor Syndrome – I’m probably one of the few bloggers taking part in the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival who isn’t an archaeologist so occasionally I feel like I’m venturing into unfamiliar territory and that I have no business writing about a subject that I’m not really qualified to comment on. At times, I wonder if other archaeology bloggers think I’m helping to promote an inaccurate representation of archaeology or that I’m somehow condoning the looting of archaeological sites. I’m sure my fears are completely unfounded but these thoughts sometimes run through my mind when I’m writing my articles…
As you can see, there are times when I feel like blogging isn’t really worth the bother. I’m sure many other bloggers can agree that we all have our moments of self-doubt and wonder whether we should just throw in the towel and call it a day, especially if we’re not getting paid to write. So what drives us on? What compels us to log onto WordPress (or Blogger) and start working on our next post?
What I Love About Blogging:
Passion – Working on Tomb Raider Horizons has allowed me to combine two of my passions (archaeology and video games) and share these with people all over the world. And what’s more, it’s given me the perfect opportunity to hone my writing skills and conduct background research into the ancient cultures and artefacts that can be seen in the Tomb Raider games. I love to learn and blogging has proved to be an excellent platform for stimulating discussion and imparting my newfound knowledge to others.
Community – Blogging might be considered a solitary endeavour but I’ve found the opposite to be true. I’ve found that there’s a real sense of community in certain blogging and social media circles and have found other people’s enthusiasm to be quite contagious. I’ve learnt a lot about blogging and public outreach from fellow archaeology and video game bloggers and was even inspired to take part in this year’s Day of Archaeology and in Doug’s Blogging Archaeology blog carnival. Furthermore, I’ve used my blog and social media pages to raise awareness of others’ fundraising efforts and personal projects. It seems like the least I could do to repay others for their interest in the blog and there’s something heart-warming about helping others achieve their goals and dreams.
Recognition – Admit it, deep down we all want to be recognised for something, even if we prefer to stay out of the spotlight. I normally hate being the centre of attention but seeing my articles being quoted or mentioned on another blog or shared on social media gives me a buzz and a real sense of achievement. I’m reluctant to think of myself as being an authority on anything, let alone Tomb Raider or archaeology (see Impostor Syndrome above), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the attention.. 😉
My Readers – OK, OK, I know this is clichéd but the main reason why I keep on writing, even when I don’t feel entirely up to it, is because of you, dear readers. Yes, you. Ever since I started this blog in March, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from readers and a lot of support from fellow Tomb Raider community leaders and I’m truly grateful to each and every one of you for your kind words and encouragement. There’s nothing better than chatting with people from around the world, making new friends, sharing jokes, having fun, and talking about the things we love. It’s a pleasure and honour to share my knowledge and passion with all of you. You guys rock. 🙂
So that’s it for another month. Let’s see what Doug has in store for January. As always, you can follow the progress of this blogging carnival on Twitter under the hashtag #blogarch or keep an eye out for the trackbacks on Doug’s blog. It’s never too late to join in the fun so if you’re an archaeology blogger and want to take part, click here for more information.