Recently, I was accused of using my blog to build a shrine to myself. I initially denied it, but after some thought, I realized that it’s hard to disagree with. I mean, I’m not interested in this site being an actual shrine to all things Avitable, but it’s a personal blog, an accounting of the life and thoughts of one person. How can it not be narcissistic?
I blog for three reasons:
- I like to make people laugh.
- It’s a good way to find like-minded individuals who become lifelong friends.
- I believe that I have something valuable to say.
I’ve maintained a personal website of some sort since 1995, and I’ve been using the domain name Avitable.com since 2000. In the old days, my site was focused around funny stories, caption contests for personal photos, and other random humor. I had to update it manually in HTML, and then email all of my friends with the link so they’d know to come visit. In those 16 years, I’ve seen a lot of websites come and go. When blogs became popular, I was thrilled to have an easy way to update and publish content, and the advent of RSS was a huge boon.
It’s been interesting watching how blogging has evolved, as well. Originally, you blogged because you wanted to talk about something, and that was it. You interacted because it was a community, and you made friends with people for no reason other than the fact that you liked them. One of my oldest blogging friends is named Bethie. She was 16 in 2004 when I started blogging regularly, and now she’s going to be 23 this year. She has gotten married, had two children, and moved to four different states. And we’re still friends, all thanks to that initial blogging community.
I see bloggers now who have this constant strive to redefine themselves or their blog as something different. They focus on monetization and SEO and marketing and branding. It makes me a bit nostalgic for the old days. I do understand that many people are able to make a living from blogging, whether it’s writing for others or for themselves. The downfall that I’ve seen, though, is that you slowly see the personality of the blogger disappear out of a fear of losing advertisers, burning bridges with other popular bloggers, or losing traffic. One exception to this is Jenny – I think she’s managed to maintain her integrity wholly while exploding in popularity.
Do I enjoy the benefits of having some minor Internet popularity/notoriety? Sure I do – I think anyone who says that they don’t is lying. Going to conferences like BlogHer and hearing from people who have read my words and enjoyed them is a rewarding experience – it all goes back to one of the three reasons that I blog in the first place. I was joking with a friend about being a “celebrity on the Internet” and he said “You’re never going to be a celebrity, and do you know why? Because you’re too accessible.” And he’s right. If you add me as a friend on Facebook, I’ll accept you. My cell number and address are in my profile. If you email me, I will reply. If you call me, I will talk to you. And even though I’ve had a harder time recently, with work and doing stand-up, I reply to as many comments as I can. I do think sometimes that if I was less accessible, I might actually become more popular (as strange as that sounds), but I just can’t do it. I’d rather interact with people than ignore them in an effort to increase my traffic and improve my branding.
Avitable.com has no ads, but that’s not because I don’t like money. I love money, and I would love to make a lot more of it. But I know that the amount of money I would make with ads compared to the compromises I’d have to make with my content wouldn’t be worth it. If I could ever find an advertiser or sponsor who would let me be me, without restrictions or caveats, I would consider it, but since I don’t send out pitch letters and I don’t market myself to anyone, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.
I don’t need my blog to be more than what it is. It’s a place for me to write humor, make people laugh, sometimes make people think, make new friends and visit with old ones. It has grown and matured organically over the years as I’ve gotten more comfortable with sharing my personal life and letting my guard down, but I don’t have a goal or a plan with my blog. It’s my space on the web, and it is narcissistic, reflective, and all about me, and you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that.
Tonight (Wednesday) at 9 PM EST, join me for a new episode of CYR! I’m going to talk about Japan, Godzilla, hummus, take questions from the chatroom, and test out some more comedy!
As always, you can download the Talkshoe Pro client to listen in live and join us in the chatroom. You can even call in and tell me how shitty awesome I am!