Elders Dancing in the Street
Leaping the Generational Divide

The Art of Blogging

The other day, Crabby Old Lady asked for some help in reorganizing Time Goes By’s Elderbloggers List – the blogroll – because it has become unwieldy in its length. Tabor of One Day at a Time thinks Crabby may be overly optimistic in taking on such a sizeable project and she could be right. But it will be done eventually; when I’m eager for the outcome, I have a high tolerance for tedium.

Relatedly, I get a lot of requests from novice elderbloggers for advice on how to get started. They tend to arrive in rashes and there have been a bunch in the past couple of weeks. I’m always happy to help because blogging has many high-end benefits for elders which I wrote about here last year, and I want to do all the evangelizing I can.

Once a new elderblogger is up and running, I check in regularly and if they stick with it and if their posts are consistently compelling, I add them to the blogroll.

With all this thinking about beginning bloggers and blogroll links lately, I was interested to read Doc Searl’s refutation of this guy who wrote:

“...in the end, that's what the A-list is all about: directing traffic. They are the traffic cops of the blogosphere and they are not as easily replaced as some would like to make us believe. They are brand names and we tend to trust them, even if they let us down sometimes.”

To which Doc replies in part:

“As often happens, I'm listed among the [A]'listers. “For what it's worth, I don't consider my readers ‘traffic’. Nor do I consider my links to other blogs or sites a way of ‘directing’ anything other than a reader's interest.

“If I thought of myself as a ‘traffic cop’ of anything, much less the blogosphere, I'd hang it up.”

And then, in response to this other guy’s characterization of all us non-A-listers as “blog peasants” and “the great unread,” Doc gets to his really good part:

“Want to succeed in the blogosphere, or the Web in general? Easy. Do search engine optimization. Here's how:
  1. Write quotable stuff about a lot of different subjects.
  2. Do it consistently, for months if not years.
  3. Link a lot, as a way of giving credit and of sending readers to other sources of whatever it is you write about.”

Right on, as we used to say in the 60s. The only quibble I have with Doc’s list is No. 1 since Time Goes By, while far from even approaching A-list status, does quite nicely with the single subject of aging. But this blog covers dozens of sub-topics to aging, and I’m pretty sure that fits with what Doc means.

Now I don’t want to hear from any of you elderbloggers that you don’t care if only a few people read yours. Only a saint takes on something as time-consuming (to do well) as blogging and publishes in a space where the world can read it without desiring some feedback and acknowledgement. (And I’m not so sure about saints.) But certainly, every blogger needs a better reason that high readership numbers to do it.

When, years ago, I first ran across E.M. Forster’s line, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say,” it was an instance of "I’ve always known that, why didn’t I know that before." I write to figure out what I think about things and it is astonishing how many times I start a blog post and wind up in an entirely different place at the end than I thought I intended. Writing is a joy for me because it organizes my thoughts, forces me toward clarity and often leads to discovering what I didn’t know before.

Today’s post is a case in point. I thought I was going to tell you about how, when I first began Time Goes By in late 2003, and stumbled around trying to find my voice and point of view for several months before I started publishing daily, it was disheartening to see the visitor stats flatlining. And I thought I’d tell you too about the thrill at seeing the surge in reader numbers when Typepad featured TGB on its landing page.

And maybe I’m not so far off from that point after all. Whenever the topic of his A-List status comes up, Doc is self-deprecating about it and I mentally shout, “Hey Doc, it’s okay to be an A-lister.” And for the rest of us, it is okay to not be. The Technorati Top 100 should not be the goal; there are better ones to aim for.

In addition to my enjoyment of writing and having a place to put all the research I do about aging, my main blogging interests are aging itself, blogging’s benefits to elders and building the community of elderbloggers and their readers. The more of us there are, the wider the range of voices, the better the discussion and the opportunities for friendship, learning and support among us. It thrills me every time I receive an email asking for help in getting started because it means one more elderblogger who will add to the store of knowledge we are accumulating.

So, follow Doc’s three rules of blogging and you will succeed as long as you don’t measure success by rank in the blogosphere. Doc said it best at the end of his post I’ve been quoting:

“I can't promise royalty, because there isn't any. But I can promise a rewarding relationship with the readers you'll get, regardless of how many there are.”


I have no advise for the task you are about to undertake. I will tell you I have been searching for a site like yours that joins us together by age. So thank you for your hard work to put it out there. When I first started blogging it seemed like it was all young people blogging. You certainly have pulled together a generous list as well as a great assortment of elderbloggers. Not many people visit my site because I am leisure blogger and although those are the sites I like to read I don't feel most people are interested in the simple things in life like whats for dinner or photographing a beautiful sunset. I don't blog about politics or religion, not because I don't have opionions about these subjects and how screwed up this world really is, I just find it to demanding to keep the facts straight and get my thoughts out in a logical fashion. I blog about the simple things like watching what's going in nature and watching my husband build our home (off grid I may add) in the middle of nowhere.
Thanks again for your hardwork.

I won't tell you "I don't care how many people read my blog" because you're right, Ronni....that's not true. At least now it's not true 15 months into doing my blog.
When I began the blog, it was basically for "me"...me and family and friends.
But as my scope of readers grew, I was amazed at the hits/visits that I was racking up. I really enjoy the comments and have even blogged on "would it kill you to comment" when they seem to slack off.
But...as my blog today indicates, the people/readers that I've "met" via this medium is the rewarding relationship that Doc talks about.

I've been at it for a year now Ronni...as of Monday. (my 1-yr Blogiversary post) I don't know how I would have managed through this past year without blogging and the the blogging community. (Ronni, you know what kind of a year it was for me.) What I've gotten from blogging?....rewarding, would be an understatement.

Amen to you and your commenters.
And reading these lines, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say,” it was an instance of "I’ve always known that..." was like a voice in my own head. Writing is thinking for me, too. I didn't know of the quote before, so thanks for that!

Well said (or should I say written). I still struggle with "why" I'm blogging since I started my blogger acct and profile only wanting to comment on my favorite blogs. I do enjoy the comments almost as much as the posts and really love it when a post creates a dialogue among commenters.

Joy's post about her One Year Anniversary blogging hit home in so many ways for me and clarified why I like getting up in the morning and having a cup of coffee with my friends in Blogland.

Well this is all very interesting for most of you I’m sure. To each his own but because of this blogging crap my life has turned into a “use to could” life!

I use to could go right to sleep each night without anticipating what treasured comments might be waiting on my blog when I awoke.

I use to could turn on my computer each morning without eagerly awaiting the infamous “You’ve Got Mail!”

I use to could be able to get up each morning and enjoy my coffee without having to laugh at someone’s off-hand comment and have coffee run out my nose.

I use to could reach into the better part of a day without feeling someone else’s pain and heartache.

I use to could get through a day without someone telling me how much I had added to their day.

I use to could get through the day without shedding a tear for anyone but me.

I use to could go through the day without the least of a smile on my face.

I use to could go through the day without desiring to share my life’s ups and downs with someone.

I use to could get through the day without someone helping me lighten the load on my shoulders.

I use to could go through the day without having to endure the many blessings of a blogging experience.

I use to could go through the day being as alone as I chose to be.

And finally….

I use to could remember all the names of my friends and….

I use to could go through the day without getting a sore ass from blogging all day long!!

Heh. Didn't know I was a "saint". That would surprise a few people who know me! ;^)

Sorry Ronni Dear,
I must disagree. There are a few of us out here who just want to share our elderhood with our peers. Is that a bad thing? Not to me.

I didn't get a sitemeter for almost 4 months because I didn't want to make blogging a competitive sport. I still seldom check it, but when I do it's to identify noncommenting visitors I might want to visit. I would be crushed if my closest blog friends stopped commenting and emailing but I con't care if a number-raising surfer doesn't come back.

I think your post is wonderful but I also know there's more to it than cultivating an audience. I feel blessed beyond words that I've been able (thanks in large part to Ronni and Millie) to cultivate real relationships. Like any other group, we ancient elderbloggers don't always agree, but I truly believe we always care. I pray I can pass that on.

Omigawd! I meant to say I take issue with Doc---not you, Ronni. Mea Culpa and all that jazz!

AlanG, I like your "use to could" listing.

Ronni, I see the "A list" as the central circle of blogging but other circles of friends are equally valid and equally important in the "long tail". From time to time, I wonder if I didn't write in so many different places, would I rank higher? And then turn around and say, I am not after ranking anyway so what's the diff!

I think those who last find something to feed themselves for what they do. That something can vary from person to person, and viva la difference. For some it may be the clarity of thought, for some the comment email, for some the community of a common interest.

I love the variety and the communities associated with each of my "circles". I could not accomplish as much so easily without blogging. I recall the younger years, struggling to find the right bar or gathering spot to share what we are sharing sitting at a keyboard brings us today with folks would we could not have found in that spot then.

Long live the "long tail"!

Long live the elder bloggers!

Long live each circle of bloggers!

If links are the key to success in getting high up the blogging chain, I probably aren't reading A list blogs-- except Sullivan-- because I am not fond of a lot of links other than how it was used in this story-- increasing the information to that specific story. If that's how A list is determined, maybe it's more about getting traffic for the internet than information, great writing or getting to know other people's lives?

I do like to know I have readers but only got a site counter this last week because I didn't want to think that was the only reason I wrote and was thinking if very few came, I might feel bad. I found the site meter interesting as to where people come from but mine is free and doesn't tell me where they really are from, just their server. In my case, it'd look like I came from where that is based, not where I am.

Interesting topic and interesting why people write. For me, I do it to hone my own skills, because I have always loved to write, and to share ideas with others. I think that's pretty typical of most from the sounds of it.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question. Sorry, Hamlet.

I'm looking at the "wh" questions:

For whom do I want to blog?
What do I want to blog about?
Why do I want to blog?
When can I take time to blog?
Where will I blog?

Have to pause now so I can come up with some more questions. Guess I could write about that.

That first "wh" is the biggie question.

Yes, I know, this post and comments provide some answers.

I would be remiss if I did not express my deeply felt gratitude and appreciation to the blogging community for simply being.

Fifty years before I took up blogging, I took up amateur radio. Surely, for the same reasons--to make new friends. (I would be content to just leave comments on other people's blogs; but, finally got to the point where I felt that I was "using" the bloggers who were willing to pay their dues.) Just throw me into the bucket with all of the other retired engineers who are socially inept and need help in establishing contact with real people (real people being those who are not scientists or engineers.)

Alan - Great comment!

yes to all the above plus my own need for visibility as an elder. to paraphrase AIDS activists of the 1980s, "we're here; get used to us!"

My journal has been going now for 6½ years and I try to link a lot, I try to read a lot of other blogs/journals and leave comments, and I also try to vary the content, so there is a little something for everyone. Dogs, political commentary, family stuff, theatre, TV, funny stuff, reminiscences, travel etc. I am not one of the "A listers" either, but I might be at the low end of the B lists. I have a gratifying number of people who log in daily and though I say I do this for me, it's nice to have people actually reading the stuff!

Cop Car's comment raises a question in my mind, as someone without a blog, who has commented somewhat frequently, at times extensively, on others blogs.

I have not thought of myself as "using" bloggers "who are willing to pay their dues." While using others in life, or on blogs, has never been my intent, I understand what the road to hell is paved with ... good intentions.

I find myself wondering if my hope is false, that maybe some of what I/other commentors without blogs, have contributed in comments has added to the dialogue, thus, at least partially, offsetting the fact I/we do not have a blog.

The flip side of a perception commentors without a blog are "using" bloggers suggests to me that bloggers who think that way might prefer comments only from other bloggers. Or, maybe it's only a matter of degree and at some point a non-blogger's comments become excessive. Maybe most, or all bloggers, think that way.

I, for one, would respect any blogger's preference re non-blogger comments, frequency and/or length, if known to me.

I'm just a rookie in the Blogosphere -- been here since 01/06 -- but it's been good for me so far. I love to write & sharing my thoughts. As the blurb on my blog reads: This is a place where I think out loud about Life, the Universe & everything. Yeah, I'd like it if everyone who visited made a comment to affirm that I'm not talking to myself. ('cause we all know that people who talk to themselves are crazy! :)) I don't always leave comments either but I do enjoy my visits with many of you so I guess I can't complain if y'all don't drop me a note. I do like feedback -- good, bad, or indifferent. Maybe I should get a sitemeter? Happy Blogging!!!!!!

I had just a few moments befor heading out to work today, and found you via Autumn Leaves and a Quote from "Can You Hear Me Now." John Bailey, the Old Grey Poet, was one of the first of us older bloggers. I don't see a link to him here, but I can't imagine my morning coffee without him.

I agree with you, but find not everyone of us leap onto the journal/diary bandwagon. I have several close friends who couldn't make it work yet whose voice would make a major difference if out there. Just keep keeping on. I'll be here when I'm not at work.

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