From over here in the cheap seats

I am one of those crazy whackjobs who – when attending a conference – actually goes to sessions.

On Saturday, I went to a session called Where’s the Line of the Lie: Storytelling, Memoir, and Poetic License.  I went because I thought, “Hey!  What I write is memoir.  I tell stories.  This ought to be interesting.”  Well, it kinda was and it kinda wasn’t.  The panelists were good and funny and all of that, although it was weird that they chose Julie Marsh for the session, given that she kept saying she scrupulously avoids writing about the personal and sticks to the political or religion.  Don’t get me wrong, she was interesting, I’m just not sure why they chose someone who doesn’t write about her life for a memoir panel.

“Well, because she’s a popular blogger,” someone told me.

I heard a lot of this over the weekend – popular, A list, big… whatever the term, there was a line drawn between the famous bloggers and us unwashed masses.  It was like being in middle school all over again, except no one tried to cop a feel by brushing up against me in the hallway.  Mores the pity.

The conference did a nice job of creating space for a few smaller bloggers, but the first three sessions I attended were all paneled by Big Time Bloggers, despite the fact that they weren’t always the best choices.

Bear with me – there is a point here.

Then I went to a fantastic panel called “Little Fish in a Big Pond: Understanding, Accepting, and Loving Your Small Blog.”  I missed the first half hour because I was unconscious in my room, recovering from the hideous, hyena, fishwife of a woman, but when I arrived, the panel had already taken a turn.  People were eagerly sharing stories of how to improve blog stats by making people accidentally end up on your site or how to change your focus so more people will read you.

So, because I have a big fucking mouth, I stood up and said, “My blog is called Wheels on the Bus.  I get a lot of visits because of that title, but those people don’t stick around.  I’ve been blogging for three-and-a-half years, and I’m not a big blogger.  I could do giveaways and get sponsors and spend all day commenting on other people’s blogs so that they would come to my blog and maybe make myself bigger, but I’m not going to do that.  Yes, we’re little fish in the big pond of blogging, but blogging is a very little pond in a very big world.  I made a choice not to immerse my life so fully in it.  And sometimes it’s really hard for me because I’m a writer and I am not getting the response and there are times I am jealous of the bigger bloggers, but I’m not compromising my principles.”

OK, maybe I didn’t say it exactly like that.  But I basically said I am not going to try to sell people crap on my blog, even if it means I only have about twelve-and-a-half readers.

The next woman who stood up was awesome (if anyone knows who it was, please tell me).  What she said was that maybe some of us have small blogs because we’re busy throwing our kids birthday parties instead of staging birthday parties that we can blog about.  Whoever you are lady, you rock.

This was all in response to Nora, a panelist, who said, “Look, in this room, we all know who Dooce is.  She’s famous to us.  But we shouldn’t forget that there are millions of people who have no idea who the fuck she is.”  Maybe Nora didn’t say “fuck,” because she’s kinda classy, but I think everything sounds better with a “fuck” thrown in.

Nora also rocks.

I think blogging has changed an awful lot over the last few years.  Twitter and Facebook have taken over the conversations that used to be happening between all the small, personal blogs out there, and blogging has been commodified. Someone figured out how to make money out of it, and now the Big A List Popular bloggers are getting a lot of attention.  It started as a place for free exchange of ideas, and it ended up as a way to sell laundry detergent.

BUT, I think there is still space for us little people.  The ones who just want to use the internet for free speech, uncensored by the powers of the marketplace.  Blogging is not dead, but we are being made to think there is something horrible about being small.  I think maybe the awesome lady who commented about the birthday parties might have said that, too.

So, for all the little bloggers I found, I am going to do a little poll of my readers.  You may actually know who Dooce is, but I want to know if you know who The Bloggess is.  (This is not a diss on The Bloggess, who is eight kinds of cool mixed with mayo.)  Please, leave a comment on this post and answer the following two questions:

1)   Are you a part of the “blogging community”?  (In other words, do you read lots of blogs or blog yourself?  Or do you only read a couple of blogs?)

2)   Had you ever heard of The Bloggess prior to reading this post?

Please, even if you don’t usually comment, do so this time.  I really want to know.  And I really want the small bloggers who feel like they are in the shadow of bigger bloggers to know, too.

109 responses to “From over here in the cheap seats

  1. 1. I used to read a lot of blogs and comment and actually write on mine and have community. Not so much anymore. But I do have a few people I know only through the world of blogging whose posts I love to read and whose comments and e-mails are real gifts to me.

    2. No, I have no idea who The Blogess is (or Dooce) for that matter. I actually tend not to read the big blogs because I prefer to participate in ones where I can actually have a conversation with the people who read and comment. That’s what has always attracted me to your blog, the good writing that stimulates interesting and respectful conversations. (Oh, and the stories of your kids that remind me that I am not the only one out there…)

  2. That’s exactly why I never went to Blogher. I sort of figured it would be the mother of all hen parties, and I don’t really relish being at the bottom of the pecking order. I’m really an alpha hen disguised as a very reserved and non attention seeking omega hen. I always think to myself…”I can write circles around that chicken, why is SHE getting all the good feed?” And then I get all resentful and pissy, and that’s not good for anybody.

    I guess that’s kind of why my blog is now languishing. Lots of time and effort to stay a little fish. I decided the time was better spent trying to get a real writing career off the ground. But you see how far that has gone, so maybe I should take a page from your book. Blog for the joy of blogging. I keep trying to get my blogging mojo back, but it just seems to have evaporated. Not JUST because I haven’t become a celebrity blogger, but it’s definitely a factor.

    I know, I suck.

  3. I do not blog, although I read lots & lots. I read for my own entertainment & education. I used to comment a fair amount, but I was misinterpreted a couple of times and it scared me off. It also served to let me know that I am definitely too thin-skinned to blog. There is ample pain in my life without opening myself up for more on purpose. I am aware of Dooce, but seldom read her, and I am not aware of the Blogess. Sometimes I wish the whole commenting thing seemed more manageable to me because I have things to say! Imagine that. (I even have a name for my non-existent blog and the photos to illustrate it. Yes, I am that pathetic.) I thoroughly enjoy your writing by the way.

  4. I miss the days of blogging as a form of interacting with one another. Basically, I completely agree with everything twosquaremeals said – I don’t read many big blogs, nor do I care to.

    But I read the best tagline on another small blog recently. It said something to the effect of – I blog for myself, because I like having a space to put my thoughts down. If you want to follow along, please do, but if you don’t, I’ll blog anyway.

    Me too.

  5. As you probably know, I just read a few and don’t blog myself. And wouldn’t really be up to blogging, although I do enjoy posting and reading up on facebook to keep track of it all. And reading (rarely posting) on twitter. I did know of Dooce but not the Blogess.

  6. 1. I do read a lot of blogs, but I don’t always comment. Partially, because I don’t want to make bullshit, throwaway comments just to get people to come to my blog and sometimes, I don’t have anything relevant to add.

    2. I do know Jenny, she’s been a friend for years. I am glad to see her star rising, I dig her.

  7. I blog, and read comment when I have something worthwhile to say. I don’t like comment to just blow smoke up people’s blog holes.

    I have heard of Dooce and The Blogess – but I read neither. I tend to only read where I feel like I can be a part of a conversation.

    And to me, you are a blog superstar, so that must put me down in the ditches of blogging 🙂

  8. I read your blog because I know who your are and because I get nice links on facebook to remind me to read. Haven’t a clue who the fuck Dooce and the Blogess are. (Hey, you started it.)

  9. Flutter — I am with you — The Blogess is awesome and deserves it. I just don’t want other people to feel like pissants because they aren’t her. And I know she doesn’t want others to feel that way, either.

  10. She would be the first to say that she has no idea how any of it happened. She is also one of the kindest, most genuine people ever. Unlike Dooce. Who, unfortunately, buys every ounce of her own hype.

  11. yes & yes

    Also, I’m very glad you made the point in the session that being small is not bad. It is sometimes difficult for me to cope with the change in the blogging world since I jumped in – I get discouraged and flee the scene at times, but I must always remember that it is my choice. I choose to be part of this – that means coping with big blogs with ads & also means seeking out personal blogs where I can feel more part of a conversation.

  12. I don’t blog myself but I very rarely read the “big” blogs….

  13. 1. I may not be part of the larger blogging community, but I still feel part of a small community and I’m grateful for the support I’ve received ( even when I took a bunch of months off). I really like the few blogs that I go back to on a regular basis, yours included.
    2. I’ve read about the bloggess.

  14. I do not have a blog, but I read a lot of blogs (politics, academe, parenting and decorating blogs mostly).

    I had never heard of Blogess before this post.

  15. I blog. I read blogs. I used to comment regularly on blogs, but have become someone who reads on my phone which is not conducive to commenting. I twitter (a little bit), but it still can feel like I’m talking to an empty room sometimes. And I’ve been to BlissDom twice.

    I have read a bit of The Bloggess and enjoy her sense of humor, but am not a regular reader.

  16. 1. I do have a blog and I read others when I can. For a while, I became disenchanted about all of it. It became impossible for me to make all the rounds and comment, and I realized I’d gotten away from what I set out to do in the beginning: to write.

    2. I do know who Jenny is, and love her. And at the same time, I marvel at the amount of energy it would take to maintain what shes does. Pretty sure I don’t have that kind of energy.

  17. I still keep my blog but it’s increasingly more for me. Don’t get me wrong-I have some fabulous readers (who are now, in a large part,more friends than anything) who leave incredible comments, but I just can’t do it FOR the comments. I don’t feel like any part of a community though-just another fish with interesting blog friends.

    I know who Jenny is, like her, but don’t much dig humour blogs. She is awesome though. 😀

  18. Hi, I stumbled upon (literally) your blog. I’ve been blogging for years, read them, review some, run a blog ring and I’m kinda bored with them. I’ve moved onto video. Facebook took some of my friend & family bloggers out of the scene, so I spend time there too, just to see what’s new with them.

    I have no idea who/what Dooce is (and don’t care enough to go look) and I don’t really care for the whole “blogHer” thing – and the comment about staging the birthday party was pure, passionate, truth – I LOVED it!

    I am not playing “keep up with the Jones’s blog” and I don’t read the ones who obviously are.

    I sell stuff on my blog, but it’s stuff I use/like/believe in.

    Nice write-up, thanks for posting it 🙂

    Oh, and I rarely comment on any blogs. I do feel bad about that. I should comment more, just to say “hi” – – not for seeking “come say hi to me, too” views, just to be friendly and appreciate the effort bloggers are making.

  19. 1) I read hundreds of blogs. Blog reading has replaced almost all other pleasure reading at this time in my life.

    2) I’ve known of & read the blogess since BlogHer08, her breakout year. I don’t think she’s very funny and I often think I should unsubscribe but I do most of my reading on my phone & it doesn’t have that capability.

    I went to as many sessions as I could last year. The best one was on teaching women to write letters to the editor. I learned I don’t want to brand myself or hawk detergent. I like being a small personal blogger and an enthusiastic reader. The best parts of my ’09 experience were the community keynote, letters to the editor, and meeting a few people I’d read for years.

  20. I know who The Bloggess is but only because the-librarian-who-used-to-blog-as-‘Mad’ often referenced her. I don’t read her. (I think I found your blog from Mad also, but I can’t remember now.) Nearly all the blogs I read are small blogs. For me blogging is like a conversation, and how many people can you converse with at once?

    I’m not part of a blogging community. I think I cross between the place-based and parenting blogs, so it’s a rare person who cares what I have to say. That’s OK with me. Well, *sometimes* I wish I had more readers, but most of the time I accept who I am!

  21. 1. After a time of being really into blogs, I now follow very few and the focus of my own blog (which I am contemplating retiring) and most of the blogs I check out have to do with family biking/ women & bikes. I originally was into ‘parent blogs’ & wrote about parenting, the joys & challenges. I now only write about my kids publicly in context of family biking and that sits right with me these days– although I appreciated some of the mama-camaraderie I found when I was parent blogging. I just became unsure where I felt the line was between was my kids’ stories to share or keep quiet and my own. I owe so much though to family bike bloggers b/c I didn’t have family bike models in my community and found them on the web, letting us know it was possible and joyful.

    2. Don’t know The Blogess.

  22. I blog. I read lots of blogs too but rarely comment too much – a combination of there’s no point in commenting if you have nothing to say and reading in a reader from work, where if I went to visit each site it would flag me for inappropriate browsing. I know of Dooce and have read Jenny since way back when – she’s funny and seems down to earth.

  23. I have heard of The Blogess, but haven’t read her. I like the small blogs better. They seem more real, whereas some of the bigger blogs seem fakey and full of themselves. I do not have a blog.

  24. I read the Blogess because Jenny’s sense of humor appeals to me greatly. She’s twisted and salty, yet seems very genuine.

    I enjoy blogging and I use it to amuse myself and my small readership, to keep my writing skills as fresh as they can be, and very occasionally, to make a larger point. I admire and often envy those who seem to strike a chord by blogging, and can turn it into a living, but that’s not me.

    I hate conferences, incidentally, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever attend BlogHer or anything like it. Most of that is social anxiety, which makes large groups a torture akin to unanesthetized dental surgery for me…although I would have loved to been there counting lustily to ten in Korean in the hallway with you, Em.

  25. I also want to add that my biggest gripe in the past year about blogs is not that blogging is dead, but that bloggers in general (present company excluded, of course) just take themselves entirely too seriously. They forget, as you said, that it’s just a BLOG, regardless of its popularity.

  26. 1. More of a retired blogger now, but I still check my Bloglines daily.

    2. Yep, heard of the Bloggess (is it one ‘g’ or two?).

  27. just… kind of laughing over here. you know why, right? from your lips to my lips to your lips to my lips, and so on — to god’s ears? or maybe dooce’s ears? 😛

  28. I only read your blog, and I haven’t heard of the other blog you mentioned…i only have eyes (and time) for you!!!

  29. I haven’t heard of them. I read a number of blogs in different fields, mostly small blogs, though a couple of the science ones are big and unassumingly, deservedly so. I’ve had a look at a few popularly touted blogs. There may be fantastic ones out there. But the ones I saw were slight and I don’t have time for slight. I have time for real and I have time for informative and I have time for “makes me think.”

    I don’t even always have time for those or emotional or mental space. My kids are past birthday parties. I’m too busy going swimming with them and seeing terracotta warriors with them and being wowed by them. I am also busy holding my h’s hand while watching a DVD.

    Emily–there is so much pressure to be big, popular, whatever. I feel it, too. But look. We’re all going to the same place. Whatever someone’s beliefs about afterlife or lack thereof, nobody thinks how many readers you have is going to make it better. It isn’t going to make this life better for you either.

    Telling your truth as well as you can in whatever form you can, being creative, loving and being loved–that will.

  30. I read a few blogs – but yours is my favorite, by far.

  31. I just found you through flutter’s shared items. I do blog, read a lot of blogs, and comment when I have something to say. I’ve read Jenny since I started blogging on a whim and she commented on one of my first posts (about lolcats of all things!) I’ve found that if you give people like her and catherine (her bad mother) a chance, they will engage in conversations as easily as anyone else. I think sometimes we’re intimidated by our perceptions, which aren’t the same as theirs at all. Great idea for a poll!

  32. 1) Don’t blog, but read a bunch.
    2) Off to go see who this Blogess person is right now!

  33. I’ve blogged for 3.5 years, I read a RIDICULOUS number of blogs, and while I don’t comment on all, or even all that many, of them, I share links to posts I like quite freely.

    I know who Dooce and The Bloggess are, but don’t read either, although I do follow Jenny on Twitter. I used to read her blog, but sometimes she was just too hard for me to make sense out of.

    Most of my BlogHer experience was sessions too – I’m not a partier, and the whole “brand event” thing doesn’t appeal at all. But I’m glad I met you in the elevator on Friday!

  34. 1) Are you a part of the “blogging community”? (In other words, do you read lots of blogs or blog yourself? Or do you only read a couple of blogs?)

    Nope, used to do LiveJournal alot, now I do Facebook. This might be the only blog I read, I check in to a few artist ones, but not very often.

    2) Had you ever heard of The Bloggess prior to reading this post?

  35. I am part of a blogging community though I used to be much more involved than I am today. I’ve never heard of the Blogess, sorry.

  36. Although I don’t always agree with your opinions, your blog is fantastic. Don’t change it 🙂

  37. 1. I read a lot of blogs, but I only comment when I have something constructive to say (or when I’m asked to, like this post). I also have a couple of blogs, but I only write for myself.

    2. I know who Dooce is, but not Blogess.

    3. Okay, I know there’s no 3, but I thought you might want to know, I found your blog through a ‘recently updated’ or somesuch on wordpress. I was intrigued by the title and I stayed because I liek your writing. I’ve been reading about two years now, and don’t forse stopping in the future.

  38. I blog, I read blogs, and I adore The Blogess!!!! I adore you too Emily!

  39. I read a handful of blogs, including yours. I do not know who The Bloggess is. I blog, but my intended audience is my kids’ extended family. I don’t disclose – let alone promote – that site in the blogosphere.

  40. First, let me say that the first and only time I ever went to BlogHer was three years ago, when I was practically the only person I knew with a blog. It was exactly the same as you describe, complete with the session on loving your small blog that turned into “how to make it bigger” and I even stood up and said all the things you said.

    1. I’ve blogged just about exactly as long as you have. I made a decision at the beginning not to even try to be cool. I used to write a lot, and read a lot. Now I write rarely, and only read people with whom I feel like I have a relationship.

    2. Even with all this blog history, I’ve never heard of the Blogess.

  41. Oh, can I add – one of my favorite things that happens in Blog Land is when I’m reading comments on a blog I’ve “known” for year only to find that people I know in real life are also reading (and commenting) on this person’s blog that I don’t know in real life and I realize that through linking and other things we have actually interconnected each other. And that feels like community. When you know my friends.

  42. 1) I would say definitely yes.

    2) Also, yes. Although I don’t read her regularly, I have visited her blog and I follow her on Twitter.

    That’s interesting about the panelists. I was on a panel about family bloggers at a small local conference, and 2 of the bloggers on the panel said they didn’t consider themselves to be family bloggers. Which begged the question – why on earth were they on the panel? Perhaps this is a universal trait of blog conferences.

  43. i’ve heard of the bloggess, and have maybe been to her site? i dunno. no time to follow the link

    never dreamed of being a BIG TIME blogger, but do admit to having “reader envy” on occasion

  44. I LOVED your comment about blogging being a little pond. And the woman who spoke after you. That panel was super encouraging and I actually made connections with people. I know why I blog. It’s not to review shit or to become famous. I blog because I had a mission. And now that boy has a home. And so now my blog can become my own little space. It’s pretty nice. I like my blog. It’s little. Like me!

    Oh and yes I blog & read blogs, including the blogess. Love her. Talked to her Saturday, she’s a sweetie.

  45. 1. I read about 100 blogs but I only consider about 25 of them “not miss” reads. If I get behind I’ll mark the other 75 as read and not feel bad about it. There are probably only a dozen or so blogs that I comment on regularly. I just don’t have the time to comment more often and I’m not interested in taking the time to comment unless I have something worth saying. (Now here’s where you scratch your head in confusion thinking back to the meaningless comments I leave you.)

    2. Love the Bloggess. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time.

    A while back I thought I was getting sick of blogging but then I realized what I was sick of was the business of blogging. I was tired of trying to drum up readers and generate interest. So I said to myself “Self, you’ve been at this for five years. If you were going to be a big blogger it would have happened by now. Maybe it hasn’t happened because you’re not good at networking and maybe it hasn’t happened because you’re a crap writer and maybe it hasn’t happened because you’re just unlucky but whatever the reason you need to accept it.” Now I don’t do giveaways, I don’t do sponsored posts, I don’t promote my blog at all and I only write about what I want, when I want. I’m 100% happy with my small blog and my small readership. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one out there not trying to make it big though.

  46. I am not part of a blogging community. I read about 10 or 12 blogs which I check daily. I have considered and tried blogging but I don’t have the attention span to keep it up.

    I had never heard of The Bloggess until today and frankly, I find the name quite off-putting. I have looked at Dooce and spent some time reading through a number of posts but I could not find any content that held my interest.

  47. 1. I’m part of a blogging community and I love it. I’m actually part of several because I have several blogs, including a small mommy blog where I feel happy if I get 5 comments on a post. I love that “little” blog just as much as my “popular” blog because I blog for me, not for traffic, and as long as I’m happy with my work I feel cool. “Popular” is not a good measure of anything and I have no misconceptions about the fact that one of my blogs is extremely trafficked simply because there are a ton of hysterical people leaving comments who are WAY better writers than me and people come to read them. In fact, a ton of my commenters have admitted that they only comment on my blog because they get lots of like-minded commenters who find them that way and I think that’s quite brilliant. Finding your tribe is always an amazing thing.

    2. I’ve never heard of this bloggess woman but she sounds like a terrible influence. I would avoid her if I were you.

    PS. I apologize for not trying to cop a feel. If I’d known you were up for that I totally would have.

    PPS. The name “bloggess” just means “girl blogger”. Actor, actress. Mister, mistress. Blogger, bloggess. If you’re a chick blogger you are a bloggess. I need to put this on a shirt probably.

    PPPS. This is an awesome topic and you did it well.

  48. 1. I blog, and read about…30?…other blogs (of various kinds, several science-y ones, but lots of ones from other women with kids); many of the ones with mother-writers seem to read my blog regularly, too, but others don’t.
    2. Yes, but I don’t read her regularly.

    I’ve had my blog since 2006 and have avoided or turned down various opportunities for advertisement or to become more well-known. I like that I mostly know my community of readers and I’m comfortable with its size. When, for whatever reason, I get a lot of comments from strangers or more traffic or what have you, I get weirded out.

  49. Thankyou for the clarification on “bloggess”. . .. Not what I had been picturing.

  50. 1. Don’t think I’m really part of “the blogging community.” I had a blog but (as you know) it’s dormant. I read a couple of blogs I particularly like, but most of the bloggers I read don’t know each other, so I don’t think you could call it a community.

    2. Never heard of “Bloggess” before. And, by the way, I’ve heard of Dooce but I had to stop for a moment and remember who she was. To me, she’s less famous than Dave Sim or Darron Aronofsky (to name two other People Who Are Famous Within A Very Specific Subculture But Unknown Outside Of It.)

  51. 1. I have a blog, but I don’t consider myself part of a blogging “community”.
    2. Yes. I have.

  52. I always read your blog. Occasionally stumble on some others. I have never heard of Blogess, but have heard of Dooce, I think. Never read either. You rock!

  53. Too bad that you arrived at that point in the session. I’m very sorry to hear that within 30 minutes the topic was already on growth and promotion. Kind of the opposite of “loving your little blog.”

    Wow. 52 comments and counting. Seems like 2008 over here!

    I hope you enjoyed your getaway.

  54. meta-blogging. it ALWAYS generates comments.

    i love jenny, and she has earned her status in the blog world. IMHO.

    of course, i also love myself, and i never made it big in the blog world. huh.


  55. scratch that part about loving myself.

    who am i kidding? i WISH.

  56. Heather Groves

    I read 30 blogs or so a day. I have guest-posted on a friend’s blog and even got comments but didn’t enjoy the experience, so I am happy to be an avid reader.

    Yes, I have been reading the Blogess for at least a year now.

  57. 1. I don’t blog, though I have considered creating a few. I read a small handful of blogs, mostly food/cooking ones, but would certainly never consider my self part of the blogging community. Wheels on the bus is the only one I comment on with any regularity.

    2.I am aware of the blogess and have been shunted to her site a few times, but don’t read her.

  58. Yup, have definitely heard of Dooce. She was the first blog I ever read – pointed her way by my sister. To be fair, I was pointed her way because Heather is an ex-mormon and so am I.

    HOWEVER, it introduced me to the blog world for which I am very grateful because I have had my horizons stretched and my opinions enriched and challenged out here. I have made a load of wonderful friends, and have had a place to write something that I desperately needed to write.

  59. I have never heard of Dooce or The Blogess. I read very few blogs with any regularity — yours is one of the only ones. I check in with a few that are in my field from time-to-time. There is just so much out there, I find it fairly overwhelming. It’s easier to stick with the blogs of your friends — especially when I have a few that actually write interesting blogs. And if I have time to actually read for more than a few minutes, I’d like to read a book. Or even a newspaper.

    I don’t blog. (And I don’t usually comment on blogs…I prefer to lurk.) Although now that I’m staying home and worrying about my brain atrophying, I may start. Except I think I’d rather design to keep my brain from atrophying….since that’s what my career is actually supposed to be. I guess I could blog about design. But there are already so many out there….(see my first point).

  60. Yes and yes.

    I just do it for me – I like that I’ve found a tribe of similarly-minded way smart people to hang out with, in person and/or on-line. So for me, that small blog panel was wonderfully affirmative.

  61. I’ve been a small-time blogger for 7 years. I read quite a few blogs but don’t comment often. I blog primarily for my family and my blog has actually served to help get far-flung cousins, etc., re-connected, which makes me happy. I also blog for posterity. My grandfather left diaries from a few years of his life as a young man in the early 1900s and I wish that he had left more. Oh, and also simply because I love to write and post photos and silly videos and things.

    I will NEVER run ads or do giveaways and I don’t EVER participate in giveaways on other people’s blogs. I have enough stuff! Er, hmmm, maybe I should run a few giveaways to get rid of my stuff! 😉 I also don’t “do” conferences. While some of the sessions at Blogher sounded interesting, when I can get time off work, I am either with my kids or my very elderly mother or I am off at the beach or in the backwoods.

    I know of both Dooce and the Bloggess. I respect their talents but don’t read either of them regularly. Not sure exactly how to phrase this but I like blogs like yours that are “real”. You aren’t afraid to express your opinion (and do it eloquently) and you write respectfully about the people in your life as you portray life’s little ups and downs and speed bumps. So many times when you write about your kids, I think, “been there, done that”.

  62. planningdoesntwork

    I read a few blogs but I’m not a good commenter, and my own posts are rare so I’m definitely small.

    I have heard of The Bloggess but a don’t read her.

  63. I was in a few sessions with you, and you asked several good questions, so you seemed plenty big to me.

    I know The Bloggess at least well enough to be comfortable visiting her in a ladies’ room. I have the photos to prove it.

  64. 1) Are you a part of the “blogging community”? I used to blog but don’t anymore, I read lots through google reader and comment on a few.
    I wouldn’t regard myself as part of the community, more a voyeur.

    2) Had you ever heard of The Bloggess prior to reading this post?

  65. I do not blog myself. I read fewer than two dozen blogs regularly and comment only when I feel I have something to add to the conversation. I rarely read the “big bloggers.”

    Yes, I have heard of The Bloggess and read her occasionally.

  66. I don’t blog but read a bunch of blogs of women who are so incredibly different from me in many ways that I really can’t explain why I read their blogs every day. It’s probably just an interest I have in people who are different from me.

    I have no idea who The Bloggess is.

  67. I am glad you came to the session and to blogher. Meeting you seems like a good example of what many of us expected to get out of blogher – interesting conversations with cool women.

    To my mind we talked less about how to move from small than I had worried we might. Also, I didn’t say fuck because I was presenting, but the sentiment was clear. (the transcript via the live blogger is on the blogher site – it is mostly accurate except I never said I am expecting another child; heaven forbid!)

    Looks like the session and your post hit a nerve. Long live the small blog!

  68. I read two blogs: yours and my good friend Kristal’s blog which can be found at I used to write on my own blog but parenthood took my free time away and replaced it with weary thoughts about how I used to write for fun.

    Haven’t heard of the Blogess.

  69. First, I was SO excited to meet you this weekend, because obviously. You’re one of the first friends I made in the blog world, and hi, that rules.

    Second, I’m totally part of the blogging community. I’m trying to get back into commenting more frequently because it’s one of those things I’ve been bad about. I DO read, but I’ve been remiss about commenting.

    And the whole “big blog” thing is so weird, because I think it’s all a matter of “big” in relation to what? The scale is different for everyone who makes that call.

    Jenny, yes, I know Jenny. She’s my homie. Even if she does drink bullshit cheap ass wine.

  70. I read a few blogs-I very rarely comment. I do not blog.This is the very first time I am commenting on your blog though I have read it regularly for quite a while. Most of the blogs that I visit are about interiors/home and I browse them in lieu of magazines. Most of the blogs that I read are small ones like yours. I like your writing and enjoy your blog. Another one that I regularly read is written by a school teacher in Australia- Dancing with the frogs. So definitely, no big bloggers for me.
    And this is the first time I have heard of the Blogess.

  71. Okay — I hate this, but yet again, you can just copy magpie’s comment into my slot. She always says what I was going to say! Argh!

    Know of Dooce (no interest), know of Blogess (seems cool but I’m already overwhelmed so don’t read).

    Love this little blog I found awhile ago, something about a van … no wait, a BUS!

  72. I am part of the blogging community and I have a small blog. I was at the same session and remember your comment. (I’m way too shy to speak in something like that). I also think Nora rocks and was primarily there because I read her blog and wanted to see her and support her but also there because I have a small blog and have for 4 years and am totally ok with that.
    I know who the bloggess is. I love her. In my head, she is way more popular than Dooce – is that not true? 😉
    This is the first time I’ve been to your blog and I found it from the bloggess’ page, although I am hoping to make the rounds of as many of the bloggers from that small bloggers session as I can. Because my favourite comment of that session was about wishing the session had been on Thursday night because she felt she’d found her tribe.

  73. I have more to say but I’m so tired I will say three things and come back tomorrow. Because this is a great post and deserves another read through.

    1. Julie used to post about her kids and her family all of the time. But as her girls have grown she’s slowed down on it. She also post on tons of other blogs and does talk about her kids there often.

    2. I do feel like I’m part of the community. That I participate as much as I possibly can, which somedays just might not be enough.

    3. I do know who the bloggess is. Her name is Jenny. She’s a sweetheart and one of the funniest bloggers around. I’ve been reading her for five years, before she was even the bloggess. Somehow though I’ve not managed to meet her.

    Ps I am so glad we met. 🙂

  74. Thank you for the recap and highlights of the Small Fish panel. 1. I blog for myself. I tried to do the reading thousands of blogs and COMMENTING on them thing but it didn’t work out because of some tiny little thing called “FT job”. You are right: you can bring the horse to the water but you cannot force the horse to drink the water and pee there. I am at peace with this whole thing now. I am not sure I am of the “blogging community” but I am of a “group” of like-minded women whom I have the good fortune of meeting. It would be presumptuous of me to include you in that group (without your saying so) but I did enjoy meeting you and talking with you. When I cracked the joke about King Lear and salt both you and Alejna laughed and that’s when I knew I was in good company at that moment. 2. I knew The Bloggess. Could not tell you how I “discovered” her. But I adore her. Not because she is popular but because she does not take herself seriously and she is one of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve met on the Interwebz, despite the popularity. I am immensely relieved that she turned out to be exact the person she has come across through her posts, both the hilarious ones and the moving ones. 3. I have come to know your blog through the Just Posts awards and nominations. I am glad that you are not bothered by fame or the lack of it, but somehow I never thought you would anyway.

  75. 1)Am I in the blogosphere? I don’t know am I? I don’t blog as much as I’d like to. I’m maybe the definition of a small fish. I only write when I have something to say, and sometimes I feel a little depressed that a month or two can go by before I have something to say again.

    I don’t always commet. Like Flutter, if I don’t have something to add, well then, I’d just be blowing smoke up their asses. I read blogs that entertain me, challenge me, cause me to think deeper, and otherwise blow my mind with their writing. I’ve whittled my blog reader down to writers who contribute meaningfully to my way of thinking. And none of them would be considered A-listers…except for maybe Sweet Salty Kate. And she deserves every bit of sparkle that lands on her.

    2)I have heard of the Blogess.

  76. Nope not in the blog network I read a total of 3 blogs and I almost never coment…but I love reading your blog 🙂

  77. I think after re-reading this and all of the comments that I’d just like to add, I’m with you. There are times when I wish I was a bigger fish. But I just am not willing to stop being me, for that to happen. I could care less about stuff or any of that. I flat out refuse to do it. The only reason I even have BH ads, is because I honestly adore BH. Shrug.

  78. 1) No
    2) No

  79. I am active in a very tiny circle of the blogosphere. I have a very long list of blogs in my reader, but most of the time I read my favorites (my friends) and delete the rest without a second glance. I know who The Bloggess is, but only because a friend kept linking to her. I do NOT like Dooce. I don’t know why, I just don’t.

    I want to be noticed and I like getting feedback, but I am not willing to fill my day with frivolous bloggery to get it. I rarely think about my blog when I am enjoying time with my family. I am not composing posts in my head while pretending to pay attention to my kid. I like being small, but I must admit to a tiny thrill when I get more than 10 comments on any given post.

    So there you have it.

    By the way, I like your little blog. It just got one reader bigger.

  80. Crawling out of the cave in which I lurk:

    1. No, I don’t have a blog. I read 4 or 5 blogs regularly, including yours. Thank you for writing for us, your small and silent but devoted audience.

    2. I have heard of the Bloggess — popped over from a friend’s blog once — but I don’t read her and I don’t read Dooce.

    All the best Emily. Keep at it.

  81. Here’s the thing about community: I think some people think of it as friends they interact with, and some people think of it as minions who will do their bidding. I’m not trying to be judgy–the line is actually really thin, in my opinion. I think I’ve been guilty of it many times, actually, asking people to go read Violence UnSilenced when I’ve gotten so busy I’m perhaps oblivious to their own personal goings-on. Is that fair? Is that “community?” I don’t know.

    I’ll tell you what, though–I’d fall off my chair if I saw Dooce leave a comment on this post. I totally predicted Jenny would, though, and she did. Just like with kids, different people with different personalities react to different situations in very different ways. So even if you can puzzle out the rules, the rights and wrongs of it, that doesn’t mean it’ll apply to each blogger.

    I can’t even remember if I’m answering your questions anymore. What were we talking about again? Sidetracked by this weekend, much of which I’m still processing.

    This business of blogging, particularly the cult of pseudo-celebrity everybody likes to pretend doesn’t exist, is very confusing for me and makes me more uncomfortable than I’ve previously been willing to admit. I miss the old days. But then again, in the old days VU wouldn’t have been possible and so… I don’t know. I just don’t know. Is there still room for “small” blogs? I honestly don’t know. I do know that if people like you and I quit writing, then the question itself will be null. And that would make me sad. I think it’s whatever we make of it. I think we get to decide. I think we are the true market. I think all things evolve endlessly. All good things, anyway.

    I’m glad you’re still here. I’m glad I got to talk to you in person this weekend and I’m glad you are asking these questions, both here on your blog and there before a panel. That’s kind of what it’s all about, in my opinion. In my hard-to-follow, changing, muddled up opinion(s). Ugh. Tired.

  82. Dude, Emily, 83 comments… maybe all one needs for readers is a fantabulous big mouth?

  83. Hi, I’m late to this party, but enjoyed your post (and all of the comments). Little fish here who has only been blogging for a short while. All I can say is…Blogging can take up — So. Much. Time. I’m thinking being a big fish has to be a 24/7 gig. I comment on the ones I find a connection to, and write my own posts when I’m able. There is life going on outside of the blogosphere, and sharing it from time to time is what helps make up this “community.” Best to you~

  84. Thanks for the post. I wish I knew that you’d be at BlogHer (I was way behind on reading posts, unfortunately) so I could have at least tried to accidentally brush up against you in the halls.

    My blogging started around 2006 when I had my first son. It was a way for me to keep my Spanish in-laws updated on the goings-on of their only grandchild. It still serves that purpose.

    Thanks for this post and for reminding me the purpose of my online musings.

    1. I have a couple of blogs with a few hits per day…a regular blog and a photoblog. I have a regular set of blogs that I read within days of posting, and I have WAY too many others that I read when I have some spare spare time.
    2. I have heard of the blogess but don’t follow her regulary.

  85. I am a small blogger who’s blog revolves around my life’s schedule…sometimes I just don’t have the time, or am too tired.

    I love to read other people’s blogs and comment on them. I like your blog!

    I have also not ever heard of Blogess until today.

  86. Yes, I am part of the “blogging community.” I read and comment on dozens of blogs, maybe over 100. I just think bloggers are my tribe and I’m happy to be part of the whole thing. It makes me happy.

    I know of Dooce and I get to hang out with Jenny the Bloggess for several minutes a year, and they are always happy minutes. Last night her most recent post made me howl with laughter – I mean really just whoop and holler for about 5 minutes. She is one of the funniest people, both in writing and in person, that I know.

    I loved the small blogs panel. I plan to keep having a small blog unless I develop some talent or ambition, at which point things may change.

  87. 1) yes I try to read as much as I can
    2) I did know who the Blogess was and I like her even MORE now after meeting her sort of when she was typing haiku’s and after hearing her speak on her panel. And yes I have also heard of the dooce but honestly don’t read her blog.

    the small blog panel ROCKED!

  88. Of course I know who The Bloggess is; are you kidding me! Her “red dress” post was classic. There are so many great writers who blog, it’s hard to keep track. I like Twitter for giving me a heads up when there is a new & interesting post. That’s why I’m here today.
    Ps. Don’t go to my blog – I haven’t posted anything new in almost a year (hangs head in shame).

  89. Of course i am a small blogger or I never would have finished reading this post, right? I love that you articulated part of my experience at Blogher in such a great way. The multiple inclusions of fuck also made me happy.

    Rock the small blog. Thanks for reminding me we count too.

    I took a shot of the bloggess getting her show licked in the bathroom so I do know who she is. Now.

  90. The small blog panel twisted and turned throughout. I was also somewhat amused when it turned to “don’t despair, someday you may have more readers” and I agree I didn’t really think that was the point going in, but I’m sure that spoke to some people in the room. I was the person who brought up how sometimes you have that one post that continues to get tons of traffic – but where I was coming from is that I find that really fun and interesting to talk about what that post is, and that small blogs do have a voice on the Internet.

    Personally, what I believe is that when I first started personal blogging it was something that felt weird to much of society as a whole. And now small personal blogs feel weird to the blogosphere in a similar way. But hey, I’m still doing what I’m doing and what I’ve always been doing. I’ve got BlogHer ads on my blog. It pays for my monthly Typepad fee, and I love the links they serve at the bottom. Sometimes I do reviews.

    At the end of the day, I truly believe today what I believed when I started blogging in 2005. It’s the Internet, and your blog is your space on it. Do what you damn well please.

  91. Oh, and I’ve been to six BlogHers, so yes, I know who The Bloggess is. 😉

  92. There was a lot of buzz about this session, and with good reason. I think it is such an excellent topic. You wrote a great post and these comments are fascinating.

    Here’s the thing about the blogosphere, and one of the reasons I love it so very much: It’s huge. There are so many little circles of the blogosphere that overlap and abut and some that are opposite sides of the room. In my circle, maybe everyone knows the Bloggess, but no one knows Blogger X. In your circle, Blogger X is a rockstar and no one knows the Bloggess. Imagine a venn diagram. I love that. It lets each of us be a star in our own circle.

    1. Yes.
    2. Absolutely. I adore Jenny.

  93. Man, I really should have gone to that session! I could kick myself. I was going to go because I read Celeste’s blog, but something about the title made me stay away. I reasoned to myself that I didn’t need some sort of “I’m OK, you’re OK” consolation because I’m not well-read. Should have gone anyway, apparently.

    Before I go back through the comments and read what everyone else has to say, I want to answer your questions:

    1) Yes. I both blog and read blogs. I started writing my own after reading a couple of them, befriending one fellow in England after reading his blog (sadly, he took it down last year. His life got too complicated for him to find the time and/or energy to blog any more), and thinking to myself, “I could do this.” If I go by the people who comment regularly on my blog I have perhaps 10 readers. I think if I got a larger audience I’d get stage fright. And I also think that if I got paid to do this, I wouldn’t like it anymore. Turning it into a job would take all the fun out of it.

    2) Yes, I’m a fan of The Bloggess. Found her on someone else’s blogroll, which is generally how I find new people to read. What I like about her is that she feels real, she makes fun of herself, she doesn’t mind showing all her flaws. And? When you meet her while she’s hiding in the bathroom outside of the party she’s supposed to be hosting, she reads your name tag and says, “Oh! I know you!” and gives you a great big hug.

  94. Found you from a Twitter link from Suebob & Lizriz. I missed the panel, but am totally a small time blogger for lo these many years. On Saturday, someone sat down during the keynote and chatted with me about my blog. When I said I had a personal blog, but not too many readers, she said, “Oh, it takes time to get followers!” I proceeded to make her feel like an ass by telling her I’d been blogging since 2005.
    So yes, I feel like I have a community, but it’s really small (maybe a handful of people) and that’s good in my book. I only read about half a dozen blogs religiously; I’d be so overwhelmed if I read many more, but I know I’m missing out on some amazing stuff.
    Know Dooce, only occasionally read, and same thing with Jenny/The Bloggess. Although I did get some stickers on the last night from one of the bathrooms. I love that pic of her in rollers!

  95. I have a blog. I actually write two blogs, both which have suffered greatly in the two years since my twins were born. Looking back I was a much better writer when I wasn’t trying to cram in family updates and pics of my kids along with actual writing. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. I’veen contacted for product reviews and I am on the fence about that. I have Google ads but make pennies and am considering taking those down. Do I consider myself part of the “community”? I suppose if that entails writing and reading blogs, then yes- I write and read (many many) blogs. I don’t really feel like part of a community though- I’m small time over here in my part of the world.

    Have I heard of/ read The Bloggess before this post? I have heard of her before and I actually have been reading her- for the past 10 days or so. I usually don’t read the big blogs just because, well, I like my small bloggers just fine. Round the clock nursing sessions with my newborn expanded my Google reader quite a bit as I rooted around for something- ANYTHING to read in the wee hours. The Blackberry never got so much use as it has in the past ten days.

  96. I was in this session and love the recap. I would LOVE to know who said she thinks we are out LIVING instead of writing abt our life. That said I do think that doesn’t necessarily mean the “big fish” aren’t living. Sure maybe some aren’t but I’m not one who thinks it can only be 2 extremes. I will read through comments to see if anyone gave up the goods to unveil whoever that was. 

    So survey says:
    1) I blog (way small pond). And read tons. I LOVE the community aspect. Though I haven’t really jumped into the community as much as I would like to. While super social “IRL”, online I’m all stranger and creep in the back. I’m working on it. 

    2. I did know about the bloggess before this post but not a regular reader. Mostly because there are only so many hours in the day. I think she’s all kinds of wonderful. 

    I do think that the whole feeling if being read/appreciated less due to lack of laundry detergent ads/posts is more self inflicted than the “A” list bloggers actually thinking or feeling that they are in fact superior. I would guess that most know that if they are making money it’s a blessing, not the norm, based on their decision to do so, and even a little dash of luck. 

    I also think fundamentally there are different kinds of bloggers- as there are people. Sounds obvious, but I don’t think that was addressed.

    Sure I want more interaction and readers but I also need to improve my writing to do that- monetizing my blog isn’t going to get the kind of community that I’m hoping for. And there are others that would disagree with that and to those? I respectfully disagree; we can all be in the ponds living together.

    I love my 12-20 readers. And not just because I have to love them since most are family. 

    Thanks again for this post.

  97. I am a small blogger too, sorry this response is so late. I enjoyed the session because it was encouraging to know we don’t have to be trying to get bigger if we don’t want to!

    Technically I “know” who The Bloggess is, but only from hearsay, I have never actually read the blog.

  98. I have a blog, and I’ve HEARD of The Blogess, but I haven’t been to her site. That will change today.

  99. amberpagewrites

    I missed that panel, and I’m so sad that I did. Because while me answers are yes and yes, I really really don’t think I’ll ever be a big blogger and 99.9 percent of the time I’m okay with that.
    But it’s always that .1% that kills me.

  100. I love your blog.. found you hrough blogher.. im a small blog too and im with ya sister…..hugs

  101. 1. Part of the community, yes. In fact, it’s been rumored that I’m a popular blogger. Such tripe. 😉

    2. Yes, Jenny is a personal friend.

    Glad you enjoyed our session.

  102. Part of the community, love Jenny, and though you didn’t ask, love Julie too. I’d hate to think people thought she was on the panel because “she’s a popular blogger” as opposed to the fact that she has an interesting story to tell, another perspective on the topic of storytelling, she’s articulate and thoughtful, and that Blogher seeks out 80% new voices to participate on panels each year–and she was one of them.

    The cool thing about blogging is that there is no one community, not even within the mom community. There are superstars who write about the suburbs, who write about the city, who write about homeschooling, who write with snark or who write with emotion. In some circles I’m a “big blogger” and in some circles, I’m just another chick with a free blogspot account.

    I think that’s kind of neat.

    Hope you felt you found your people, big or small.

  103. I really enjoyed this post! Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to go to BlogHer this year. I do know who Jenny is and I would dip her in mayo any day of the week.

    For the most part I find that the writers that are not writing for an audience will stand the test of time whether they are popular or not. From the heart translates and is far more interesting to read.

  104. 1) If your blog is a small blog, mine can only be viewed under a powerful microscope that few people care to use. I DO read lots of blogs and blog myself. Started out reading friend’s blogs, and my blog borders between therapy (writing about the “I can’t believe this happened to me” stuff) and fluff (“Look! We went to the park!”). I just recently started following more blogs of people I don’t know. I feel that reading more and more makes me a better writer and helps keep the “fluff” at bay.

    2) I have not heard of the Blogess before now.

  105. Am I allowed to say that at 106 comments you’re a lot bigger than I am? (In a good way of course). I’m here from Nora’s blog, a couple of weeks late to the party cuz I’m moving. I have a very small blog about what it’s like to be a typical American family who just happens to live in Morocco, or Mauritania (it’s okay if you have to look it up), or France, or, as of 3 weeks ago, Oregon. I have never done a giveaway or endorsed a product although I do an occasional book review. I consider myself part of the blogging community because I have a small group of “friends” I’ve met online, but no one has heard of me. That’s okay. I like my blog, and I like posting when I like and worrying about content. I have heard of The Bloggess and I think I read her once and liked her. I tend to avoid the Big blogs. I loved this post.

  106. Hi Emily,
    I love your blog. As you can see I sometimes go for weeks without reading and then catch up all at once. I have two blogs (delusions of grandeur) but I rarely post. I spend lots of time composing posts in my head but rarely get around to actually writing them.
    I’ve never heard of Dooce, I think I’ve heard of the Blogess from Steph (LawyerMama). I can’t keep track of these things.
    I read a few blogs in addition to yours and I sometimes spend half a day following links and reading.

  107. I do comment on others blogs, do not have one of my own. And no I’ve never heard of that bigtime blogger you mentioned (forgot the name already).

    I’ve recently signed on to BlogHer in one last gasp effort (I’m 90) to properly promote my book Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? Published it POD last December (10 years late), and then have been completely inept in following through with the internet marketing one must do to promote a book. It all overwhelms me! Even though I’ve taught myself so many things over my long life, and I’m still (they tell me) dementia-free.

    I don’t want to be big, all I want to do is create a little buzz for my book, try to get boomer-age daughters to take up their mom’s bridge club as USED TO HAPPEN like a rite of passage (until the wild campus 60s and betty friedan convinced them the last thing they want to do is what mom did).

    To that endI have a profile on Facebook, just starteda Page for book (not published yet). Came across BlogHer thru happening upon White House Project looking for sources of information on how to run for political office. Not for me–too old–but for the Reform Party which I was very involved in back when Perot started it all in the 90s. I AM a political junkie.

    The survival of ladies-only bridge clubs after all the bridge-playing old ladies like me are gone is my SECONDARY cause. First is to repeal NAFTA and to have at least two more political parties for people who can’t stand either Reps/Dems.