behind the scenes: is this blog worth it for me?

So what makes this blog worth it, for me? Is it worth it?

It's not very clear sometimes.

Okay, I run this blog and I haven't monetized it. I just don't so it's not always a priority, if I have more important work to to do. But professional bloggers do blog without pay, just as long as they have other ways to get value.

For example, just showing that they have a blog with 10,000 subscribers would be payment in itself. But, look at my subscriber list right now. I say it with a laugh because right now, it's at 14. Bloggers also feel happy when they get lots of engagement and participation in the comment sections. When no one comments, it's like giving people a lot of value, people use it and no one says "thank you". It's like posting into a void and never really know if people care. I get virtually no comments on this blog. I literally find my readers comments all over the place, from different forums to comment sections in other blogs to tweets on twitter and emails and tumblrs. But this blog is pretty devoid of comments and reactions, for the most part. So it doesn't have all the visible trappings of success. But it is.

Ok, let's put my blog into perspective: It generates an impressive amount of views. Many in the Tessa and Scott fan community depend on this blog for news and information, including Tessa and Scott themselves. The ideas I write about contribute to the fan discussion around the internet and sometimes people take a moment to talk specifically about those ideas. The way I wrote about the nonsense that defined the press around 2013 Worlds helped many people find their voice to say how they felt. I've received emails from people thanking me for finding and sharing the news because they can't get this info where they live. It virtually functioned as the official Tessa and Scott website when they went a year without a website and even now that's it up, it's still a resource that the website depends on to supplement the official site. In fact, it's basically pr for Tessa and Scott. They at IMG know it and I know it and fans see it. Fans have openly speculate that my blog is the reason why IMG doesn't bother to improve the official website. But all of that isn't here and that would be a big problem to a professional blogger. It has a few consequences ...

I had to deal with the fallout of this on Saturdray. I'd given someone a link to this blog to show him how I write and he was pretty much stuck on the low amount of followers. "Only 14 people follow your blog?" I smiled and slipped my hands in my pockets before I started a fairly simple explanation of how to judge my blog's significance (or any blog's significance for that matter). But this raises an excellent point: you can tell that my blog achieves its purpose, which is to "collect news since the 2011-2012 season" and be "organized, elegant and useful, a Tessa and Scott haven" but there's nothing about it that accurately explains the impact it has. In fact, people don't know how to measure success on social media, even among pr professionals, so they expect that high numbers mean success and low numbers are problematic.

So here's a quick tip: it's really not about numbers, but how engaged my readers are and engagement isn't actually happening here or even in a central place. Numbers, even high, could never really explain how my blog matters to the figure skating world. For example, this man was majorly impressed with the comments for the Debut of Carmen post, but only Shay's comment is there right now. I love that comment, but honestly, if that impressed him, then it'd just blow his mind to realize what the full magnitude of the reaction across our social media world was like.

When this post was mentioned on fsu and made its rounds around the community, I didn't ask people to leave the comments on the blog. I know it's illogical on a social media strategy standpoint. To you, though, it seems normal to leave comments on my blog on fsu (let's have a focus). I guess people think that those reactions will remain, right? Well, those comments were posted in a particular thread, which reached 1000 posts so it was locked and abandoned. Now it's probably on page 20 or something and it'll eventually be archived on fsu and be virtually inaccessible. So I can clearly see that having comments posted at fsu doesn't help the blog in the long run. Think about it: if you were in the Tessa and Scott thread when the "Debut of Carmen" came out, remember what that was like and look around ... what, looking around now, would ever show what that reaction was like? Nothing. You said a lot. It meant a lot, but in the end, none of that remains. To someone finding that post or that series now, it's as though none of that happened. Fascinating, right? I knew that and I still didn't even ask you guys to post here or post a second comment here, along with your fsu comments. Same goes with twitter and tumblr and email.

Why?

The forums are a closed community and that matters in terms of what people will share. It's for devoted figure skating fans and our thread is for devoted Tessa and Scott fans. No one  else would really care. So, yeah, I know a lot of posters only feel comfortable discussing their reaction to posts in the comfort of the fsu thread. Without the thread, I wouldn't even have seen those comments. They feel safe telling me in private via pm's or email. Some people were crying. Some were overwhelmed. Some were inspired. Some were happy to relive moments ... would you want that reaction of yours attached indefinitely to the post, or posted but eventually lost on fsu? So I understand, many of the reactions were private, though they were public.

Second, I long knew that I didn't want to create a community here. Tessa and Scott fans have communities everywhere on social media. I wanted to tap into them to create a resource. Deep discussions about just about every topic mentioned here happen in all the major forums and on twitter and livejournal ... in English and Russian and probably Japanese and Chinese and French and Spanish. Seriously, nothing I could ever do could get that level of conversation here + Tessa and Scott communities get people talking a lot but they eventually implode (or explode) with drama. I'm used to it, but I'll leave it at fsu or fanforum or twitter ... and maintain my sanctuary here, even it comes with "0 comments" just about everywhere.

And commenting is difficult. If its easy for you comment, it's hard for me because I get inundated with spam. And weirdly enough, a lot of people will choose to post anonymously or use different usernames. Maybe I want to know that you've left four comments, but if 2 other people comment anonymously, I can't track your comments. It's not really the comment I appreciate, but that it's an actual person saying that comment. Maybe I know you from fsu and I absolutely adore the way you write. So I'd be amazed to learn that you are saying such sweet things about the way I write. That matters. I actually value reading comments on fsu or twitter or tumblrs because of this, even if its not the most useful thing for the blog itself. There's much more than simply getting comments if we're talking about what adds value to me as a blogger.

So to recap: the blog costs a lot to run and it doesn't compensate me for my time or expertise. It adds value but doesn't show it. It is nice to do social media since I do social media professionally, but time is limited ... it's not the most useful project to have. In fact, this series has been the most useful thing I've done with the blog for me in a while.

So why do I stay and keep blogging?

For me, this blog is for a specific readership: it's an extension of all the Tessa and Scott communities around social media. The forums, tweets, livejournals, tumblrs, etc. Its the blog format to all of that. In terms of gauging success, I know how to find your reactions. Your thanks are just for me, private though public, so even though none of them remain at the end of the day ... it doesn't matter. I saw it. I'm fine with how many things are left unstated and if someone's baffled, I'll smile and explain it.

Communications professionals talk about the importance of the audience. It's so theoretical sometimes, but you can see the impact of the audience here. First, there are audiences. I can think of four. If you are the audience of the "Misha sent me the link and I know nothing about blogs, figure skating or Tessa and Scott" slash "I just wandered here thanks to Google" audience, then it's a resource of links and videos and photos. Its empty of engagement and participation. If you're in the Tessa and Scott fan community, this blog is a part of something much bigger and I don't even need to tell you what goes on behind all these "0 comments" and 14 subscribers. You know. The blog also has a third audience: Tessa and Scott themselves, their families, coaches, friends, Skate Canada, IMG, etc. + a fourth audience: all the fans who will belatedly discover Tessa and Scott post-the Olympics and post-their amateur career and they'll be looking to experience what we're living through now.  For different audiences, my blog becomes different things. It meets the needs of its readerships in a very unique way and without it, a lot of people would be at a loss.

It's a really fascinating study of pr and the nature of communications right now ... how different audiences perceive the blog in different ways, where do you actually go to measure success and in the end, who needs to know it? What means the most to the blog and the blogger seem to be two different things. What is the relationship that a writer has with the readership?

Sometimes I wonder about the usefulness though. I'll keep this short ... basically, I was thinking hard about the new off season article where Tessa and Scott gushed that "we can't wait to go to a post-Olympic worlds. There's no way we'd miss it". I wondered with that meant for all the previous articles where they stated, "we cannot stand post-Olympic worlds and will never put ourselves through the physical and psychological torture to do that again". Basically, one article invalidated a year's worth of previous articles and made their information incorrect. It now sucks that those articles remain available on the blog because that information will mislead people now + we've all noticed by now that Tessa and Scott, like everyone else in figure skating, say what needs to be said even though they don't actually mean it because that's really all they can say at the time + they rarely surprize us with new and interesting information. It's usually the same topics, key message and visuals.

It's a lot of work and lately, I've been thinking that it doesn't really matter. It's info, but does it really have value? Do I need to track to it? Maybe this information just deserves to get read then forgotten, watched then overlooked, found then buried under new and more timely information and so on. Maybe I should just enjoy the skating, which speaks for itself -- and why I'm a fan.

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