Holy Crap! I forgot my anniversary!

03/13/2011 By Shawn Burns

So, I forgot that my anniversary was on this past Wednesday. I missed my anniversary. Not the really, really, really important one, mind you. If I forgot that one there would not be a blog post about it, there would be an obituary.

No, I forgot my blogging anniversary. I posted my first blog post as Backpacking Dad on March 9th, 2008. It was about this one time when I inadvertently made out with one of my mommy friends. It’s here, and everything has been downhill since then. That was back when I was still going outside and talking to people (a.k.a. before blogging took over my life).

I had been writing in a LiveJournal account for a while before then. I think I had three regular readers, two of whom were high school classmates of mine. I didn’t understand blogging, but I knew after Erin was born that I was having lots of new dad-type experiences and I kind of felt like I was imposing by sharing them with people who didn’t have kids. I have a better perspective now, but it made me feel uncomfortable back then. I resolved to create a space that was just for the interactions I had in Dad World, while I would continue to use my LiveJournal account to chronicle stray thoughts about everything else. So I started a free Blogspot account and started reading other parenting blogs and writing my own stories down to share.

My two-blog world lasted three or four posts, I think, before I was almost exclusively writing at Backpacking Dad.

My first commenter was FADKOG, who writes For A Different Kind Of Girl. I left one or two or three or eighteen comments on her blog when I had my first post up, armed with my new Blogger identity, and she reciprocated with a read and a comment. That’s how you build readership, relationships, and reputation: First you must read, read, read, comment, comment, comment, and read, read, read some more. I don’t know how many of my first-post commenters still read my blog, but I know at least one of them does, and that’s pretty damned special. Thanks, FADKOG.

I’ve never had a huge blog readership. I built it very slowly, by reading and commenting on a lot of blogs early on, but I lost momentum with that quickly as other things ate into my blog reading and commenting time. I never pursued dramatic increases in blog readership, or if I did it wasn’t with any kind of consistent effort, and I think I have exactly the readership I am comfortable with. I have, since a strange Feedburner purge a few months ago, about 800 people who care enough about what goes on here that they are willing to subscribe to the feed. In addition to them, or amongst them, I can usually count on about 100 visitors each day who just come by on their own. Some days there are more (some days there are WAY more), but there are hardly ever fewer unless it’s a holiday weekend and there’s been a massive world tragedy that is keeping people off of personal blogs. Those numbers are far, far fewer than many other bloggers, and if it’s ever seemed like I have a more popular blog than that, I suspect it’s only because I made some friendships very early on with some very popular bloggers. My Twitter presence may also distort my real impact as a blogger. I’m not great at this. I’m just a fun guy to know for five minute intervals. But whatever the real numbers mean, you have all chosen to read this, many of you regularly. Anything more than zero readers counts as winning at blogging in my book. So I think I’m doing just fine at this.

I’ve been vain here, I’ve been a navel-gazer. I’ve been funny, I’ve been argumentative. I’ve been smart, I’ve been inconsistent. I have loved my kids, and I have loved my wife. I have shared some of that with you.

Thank you for reading.