Monday, August 23, 2010


The other day one of my co-workers, a woman who is a few years older than I am, was admittedly having a hard time concentrating. She had, as my mother would say, ants in her pants.  She decided to distract me as well, pointing out all the invitations she had for Facebook, which had been puzzling her for days, because she wasn't on Facebook.  Turns out her daughter had created a page for her about a year before and she had forgotten.  She admitted being confused by social networking on the Internet and asked me what the difference between blogging, Facebook and Twitter was.  Well, now I was distracted as well, since I imbibe in all three.  I have to confess, I like the feeling of knowing more about a certain subject than others.  It's an unattractive vanity of mine.  But, when it comes to the mysteries of the Internet, there aren't that many people who know less than I do, so I appreciated an audience and eagerly took her on a tour of each venue.  Since that time, I thought it might be an amusing post to explain what I do know - and by omission - what I don't know about the medium I am writing in.  Therefore, here is a snapshot of what I showed her:

I began blogging in April 2009 as a release from trying to care for Mother.  I was out of work and therefore isolated.  I had no one to talk to really.  I knew several of my much younger friends had these things called blogs, so I knew a little bit about the process. What better way than to vent to everyone and no one all at once.  No one had to listen, but anyone could if they chose to.  One day I decided to try it.  It was easy enough to start one up.  I was writing away within a few minutes.  I fancy myself a decent enough writer, and I was aware of one young man who actually made money by allowing advertising on his blog.  So, I signed up to allow ads and tried to promote the blog.  At the time, it was innocent enough.  My adventures in caring for mother had some humor, if I would allow myself to see it, and I thought I could build an audience.  Two months later everything changed, and my blog has been down a darker road every since.  Without this outlet, I'm not sure I could have gotten through the long months since my daughter's death, but I still feel sometimes as though I am writing for an audience of one.  My daughter has to remind me at such times that this is just fine.  But, my ego gets in the way occasionally.  The stifled writer in me wants an audience.  Yet, at its core, it's an outlet for myself.  Anything else is gravy.  And I'm certainly not getting rich at it.

I have yet to make a single penny at blogging, despite having ad space.  I tend to forget I even have an ad on it, and I'm sure the poor sponsor who pays to have it put there is not reaping any benefit from it.  At this point, I simply tolerate it, they no longer try various ads, so it's not too annoying.  It's just there.  At first, the ads flowed with whatever topic I blogged about, which is what they promise you when you sign up; the ads will be appropriate to your content.  Problem with my blog is that it is all over the place.  One day I'm talking about eating disorders, one day I'm spewing about Ben Roethlisberger and the next I'm gushing about Sidney Crosby.  I'm sure it's all automated based on key words, but none of the ads ever got more than a day or two's exposure before I was bouncing off on something completely different.  Occasionally the ads were highly inappropriate given our circumstances.  When the Nordstrom outlet opened here in Austin, an ad for it popped up on my blog with a willowy young model.  My husband called me at work to complain about it.  I told him not to worry, I'd blog about the Steelers and it'd be gone by the next day.  It was.  At some point, I exhausted the folks at Google and they just planted the ad for a non-profit group that probably didn't pay full rate.  Fine by me, it's nondescript and non-threatening.  I admit, I'd have it taken off if I knew how to do that, but that's the thing, I really am pretty clueless about the inner workings of a blog.

This ignorance was illustrated when I began looking at some of the blogs of my friends, with their stunning graphics which draw you in.  My original blog was extremely plain.  After some frustrating days of trying to figure out how to make my blog on par with some others I was seeing, I finally asked my friend and fellow blogger, Jenn B Says how she got her blog to look like it did.  She let me in on her secret:  her cousin designed it.  Her cousin, it turns out, designs blog pages for a living under the name The Frilly Coconut.  Jenn got  her to donate her services to my cause, and I love the results, but it wasn't without a few giggles on her part during the design process, as my extreme lack of technical savvy kept it entertaining.  The most blatant example is when she showed me a sample that I liked, but it had this funny writing across the photo.  I couldn't decide what to do about it.  I was so grateful she had agreed to help me, I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but I didn't want that weird script across my blog either, so I finally spoke up.  After she stopped laughing, she emailed that it was a watermark across the iStock photo that wasn't technically mine until I paid for it.  The end results are what you see now as you read this.

So, with some Frilly Coconut help, I had a professional looking blog.  Finding an audience to appreciate my new slamming site is harder.  I have a core group of loyal followers.  Thank you all.  But, I was motivated for a while to reach a far wider audience.  I felt as though my best bet to honor Kelsey was to prevent another Kelsey.  The only way I knew to do that was to share my story and let parents know the consequences of not acting, or acting inappropriately.  It's a dark message and not one readily picked up for mass consumption like some of the more light hearted blogs out there.  I explained blogging to my co-worker as an online journal that anyone can access.  That's true for me.  I've had readers from Russia, Slovenia, Greece, Ireland and India among other places.  They've found the blog through all kinds of interesting ways, but they're not staying around.  My lone reader from Russia has not reappeared on my horizon.  Finally I've come to realize that I have to continue writing for my own reasons.  If someone finds it and finds some value in it, then that's awesome, and I will find it a great honor, but it can't be why I do this.

Finally, the thing about blogging is that any idiot can begin a blog - I mean, just look at me.  Our First Amendment rights are well worth protecting, but at times they can run amok because people run the gamut from reasonable and sane to NOT SO MUCH.  I confess, my blog is primarily opinion based so I don't spend a lot of time doing research.  I don't really need to in order to explain my feelings, but there are many, many, many other blogs floating out there that do present their own opinions as facts with about the same amount of research and thought.  And gullible people swallow them whole.  I've been pondering the polarization of America (a future blog topic for me to be sure), and I wonder how much the vast dissemination of unsubstantiated crap readily available on the Internet plays into that.  For those of us who blog to try and help others, promote our small businesses, share our love of some thing or other, or just allow our family and friends to know what we're up to, I salute you.  For those of you who spread fear, lies and propaganda by spewing it on a blog, shame on you (Sarah Palin).

Next up...Facebook.


  1. Hmmm. Looks like you were cut off or cut yourself off? Either way, thought I'd let you know that I read your blog. Hello, audience of two!! Although by the looks of it, you have more 'followers' than that. Most of the time your blog leaves me speechless and I don't know what to say. I believe you've written something of that nature in your blog. I will say that I sometimes selfishly read to gain insight for what my husbands going through with his mother. However, I do have genuine interest in your well being. You're a good person; you deserve good things. I enjoy when I see it reflected in your blog.

  2. Actually, I prematurely posted - proof that one should not blog and watch football at the same time! But, to everyone out there, the comment above was added by an individual who was one of my original inspirations to blog in the first place. Her words mean a lot.

  3. I read your blog and have seen much about you that makes you such a nice person and in many ways it shows who you are. I hope it has helped you through you rough times. It appears that it has. I have wanted many time to respond but did not feel you would welcome what I had to say. But I have enjoyed your points of view on many subjects. Thanks friend.

  4. I read your blog, way more often than I comment. But really, about every 2 weeks, I read about 3-4 entries. I've always loved your writing. It's very inspiring...