It doesn’t matter what we are doing, consciously or not, we all seem to set ourselves arbitrary milestones. Some decide on them in advance, creating a deliberate goal that is as firmly fixed as a guiding star, others simply recognise them in passing, but whether it is a chosen goal or a surprise, we will nod in its direction, acknowledging its presence as we pass.
Blogging is no different. Some are professional in their approach and goals; they start with a definite purpose and the numbers matter because they generate revenue through advertising or paid services. Others are writers building the obligatory platform from their garret and who find, in the discipline of blogging, a tool with which to hone their craft. Yet others blog for the love of it… for pleasure or to share a passion or viewpoint, to highlight a cause or just because they can. For all who blog there is also the chance to connect with people from almost every nation; people we would not otherwise have met, even in the virtual world.
Whatever the reasons for creating a blog and no matter how much they change and evolve over time, there is always a first… in fact, a series of ‘firsts’ that are, inevitably, milestones. Some are the result of our own efforts, others are dependant upon other people and are out of our control. We can only ever hope that they will happen, but unless we put fingers to keyboard and keep on typing, we can be sure that they never will.
Blogging, like any form of writing, is all about people. It is the reader who gives life and vibrancy to the written word and it is they who hold the power to imagine the magic into whatever they read. It is the reader who ultimately holds the key to a writer’s excitement. It is here that the ubiquitous OMG effect comes into play, regardless of the actual words or expletives chosen. As I personally do not speak in acronyms, mine tend towards the more colourful. However, it always begins, especially to the technologically challenged, in the same way…
“OMG, I actually managed to set up A Blog!” These words are generally spoken in uppercase. Well, they were by me…
Then you have the inevitable next step… that first foot in the public world of blogging. It may not be a very good step… I know mine wasn’t… but it is another milestone.
“OMG, I managed to publish A Post!” This one may be followed after an indeterminate delay by, “OMG, someone liked it!” It may actually knock you off your feet if you can follow up rapidly with, “…someone I don’t even know!”
Encouraged by being noticed by at least one total stranger, you may publish a second, perhaps more considered post. You now have a voice that can be heard…in theory at least. In my case, it was heard by a whole six people in my first year! I didn’t write much… I had no purpose to begin with. I wrote a bit more the second year, but it wasn’t until the third year of blogging, with the books and the birth of the Silent Eye, that I found a direction.
Then there were the other firsts. The innocent, “OMG someone is following me!” Experience will teach you that, of the followers you acquire while blogging, only a handful actually do… especially if, by this time, you have begun to explore the alternate universe of Twitter. But the ones who come back, time after time, leaving the calling card of a ‘like’ or eliciting an “OMG, I got a comment!”, they are the ones who may become real friends.
If you are lucky, you may one day be able to bounce up and down to the tune of, “OMG, I got reblogged!” or even, “OMG, someone wants to interview me!” Maybe I am just weird, but I found all those ‘firsts’ incredibly exciting. After a few more years of blogging, I still do. Which is just as well, because I would hate to get blasé and lose the sense of excitement.
In the early days the stats may hold an endless fascination and you may watch every number. I can remember quite clearly the gobsmacking awe with which I reached two-figure ‘likes’ and eventually “OMG a hundred followers!” You don’t pay quite as much attention later on… it is more important that there are real people, not just numbers, who find something of value in what you write and share. Even so, “OMG, five thousand WordPress followers!” drew more than an ‘OMG’ today… even better, some of you have been with me since the earliest days of the blog. And that is exciting.