Saturday, January 28, 2012

Raising Bees or Raising Visibility?

You may notice the addition of share buttons at the bottom of posts now.  I just added that feature, so we'll see if I notice the same kind of bump in blog traffic that Robert Lee Brewer mentions in this post about increasing your blog traffic.  Even if you're not sure about share buttons, or if you've been using them for years, he's got 24 other tips that make a lot of sense.

I'd been thinking about adding buttons since I read his earlier post on it, but it sounded somewhat scary:  going to a website, getting some code, inserting it.  And then, yesterday, I thought, I bet this feature is already built into Blogger somehow.

Yes, it is, and it couldn't be easier:  just go to the Design tab and hit the edit button on the bottom right corner of the big square that says Blog Posts!  There are all sorts of things one could add.

I don't blame you if you say, "Oh, just leave me alone.  I just want to blog, and if only 10 people read my post, I don't care."

In some ways, the recent fervor about building your brand as a writer and increasing traffic to your blog and trying to learn how to live in this brave new world of ours reminds me of issues the modern mainstream church in America has been facing.  I woke up thinking about all the ways that the church struggles work as a metaphor for all sorts of struggling communities to which I belong:  artists, higher ed, and the larger issue of workers in general.  I've spent many a conversation in church, in groups of artists, in school meetings where we try to discover some secret to letting people know who we are and what we're doing and why they would like to join us.

I was already thinking of these ideas, and then, on The Writer's Almanac website, I find out that today is Rick Warren's birthday.  He wrote The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? which has sold over 30 million copies.  I have always wondered if people picked up that book without realizing its Christian focus and then were confused when what they thought would be a self-help book turned religious on them.

I have read that book, and while I didn't agree with all of its theology (it seems to discount free will in a way that makes me uncomfortable), I didn't find it egregious.  I also read The Purpose-Driven Church.  The tone of that book reminds me of the tone of many an increase-your-visibility books/articles/blog posts I keep reading today. 

Here's one reason that I won't be casting away my stable job to become an entrepreneur:  I am not a good salesperson.  My model is much more monastic:  I will quietly do my thing, and maybe people will discover it, and maybe not.  I've talked before about Jane Hirshfield's Buddhist teahouse theory of work (see this post), and it fits for my writing/creative world too.

Of course, I want it to be easy for people to find my Buddhist teahouse, which is why I put the button feature on my blog.

It's a struggle for most modern folks, I think.  Do we have the energy for self-promotion, which takes a lot of being plugged in, or do we really want to just run away and raise bees?  It's not only Rick Warren's birthday, but it's also Sue Hubbell's birthday.  In the 1970's, she and her husband bought 99 acres of land in the Ozarks where they raised bees.  She's written several books about that experience.  I vaguely remember reading them.

That vision of land in the country still speaks to me, and I'm not sure which part is most appealing.  Part of it is having space to spread out, and in my daydream, my neighbors are far away and quiet.  Part of it is the idea that I could be more self-sufficient, if necessary.  Part of it is that I spent my formative years reading books about going back to the land, and that reading has permanently re-wired my brain.

If you spent your formative years reading books in the Foxfire series, check out this Slate article.  It asks whether or not today's do-it-yourselfers are in the Foxfire mode.

My grandmother would scoff at it all.  She actually lived on a farm, and she remembered how hard it could be.  Sure, they didn't starve, but they worked hard for every calorie they ate.

So, wherever you are this Saturday, whether you're building your blog visibility or working on other do-it-yourself projects, whether you're plugged in or tuned out, I hope it's restorative for you. 


Kathleen said...

Oh, all your connections are sparking in my brain (and might set it on fire)! I appreciate your discussion the branding dilemma. We sold a big bunch of the Foxfire books to a farmer's market guy when I worked at the used bookstore. And I've been pondering my own continuing retreat from the world, even while, in some ways, being more in the virtual world than before. Thank you. I will keep pondering all this.

Hannah Stephenson said...

DIY projects aplenty, today. Lots of writing and planning.

Thanks for that "Share" tip, though, and the instructions!

Kristin said...

I'm glad you found the instructions useful, Hannah. I'm often surprised at how easy the Blogger interface tends to make everything.

And Kathleen, I'm glad to be a spark--you are so often a spark for me.