So I had a stunning realization today: I lack online clout.
Back when I was a full time blogger, part of my job, other than writing, was to network and interact with other people online. I built some amazing friendships, but since then, I haven’t put the effort into them that they deserve. When I moved on from blogging, I didn’t really stay in touch with people, an issue I’ve always had, being a military brat. The silly thing was that I always assumed I could come back, like riding a bike, or walking back into a room filled with friends.
Recently, I decided to get back into blogging about the things that mattered to me. At first, I was just blogging about my personal life and interests, but now I’m working on this blog, which is more about my time blogging professionally as well as a display of my continued interest in the field. I’ve continued to follow everything WordPress, and a week ago, I was contacted by Jeremy Wright. The company that he runs was getting ready to release another plugin. I saw this as my chance to help get the word out about something cool, and so I spent a few hours contacting a bunch of WordPress news sites and bloggers that I know in hopes that they would use their platforms to help out a friend of mine launch an amazing service. I wrote a post about BackupPress on this site (BackupPress Review), but when contacting everyone else, I didn’t link to my post. I didn’t try to promote what I had done, but instead, asked everyone to check out the site and make their own determinations.
What I realized is that the WordPress community has moved on, and only a few of the WordPress bloggers left in the community recognize my name, and so I was mostly met with a “What’s the catch?” or “What’s in it for me?” attitude. The fact of the matter is, when I really enjoy or dislike something, I let people know, and that was a big piece of how I was able to build trust and attention in the WordPress community.
I know I can’t just jump back into the blogosphere and expect people to take my word for things. I know that the community is much more mature now, and more careful. I assumed that the effort that I had previously put into my writing, networking, and more, were still worth something, but I realize now that unless you continue to develop relationships, build communities, network with people and grow your clout online, it stagnates and quickly dissipates.
Thinking back, I was always surprised at how many people in the WordPress community had never heard of Michael Heilemann or Khaled Abou Alfa, and I’ve never achieved the kind of community shaping clout that they both had, so I definitely can’t be surprised that on the Internet, very few people remember who I was, and what I tried to contribute.
I hope that this post will be read by the community leaders of today, who think they are making an indelible mark on their communities, and allow them to sober up to the possibility that once they stop, their influence, ability to share, and their connections might all slip away from them.
I am also hoping that despite my inability to really drive attention to BackupPress, the WordPress community checks it out and gives it a fair shake. I’ve thought for a very long time that Terry Smith is a huge asset to the WordPress community, but he lacks the time to market himself and his skills and pretty much lets the quality of his work stand for itself. It reminds me of bloggers who write endlessly but gain little traffic and then those that write sporadically and get thousands of comments. It really comes back to marketing.
Thankfully, I love to write, and will continue to build this site. I will post about things I love or hate, and hopefully through careful networking, community management, and conversations, I can build back up my community clout to a place where I can drive some reasonable attention to both the amazing things happening online and what to potentially avoid.