broadsideblog

Men Won't Shut Up — Women Hesitate To Speak Up — Why Men Blog More

In Media, men, women on March 19, 2010 at 8:48 pm
Causerie / something to talk about

Maybe we're just talking to one another? Image by prakhar via Flickr

Are women less likely to blog than men?

So says Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente — hardly someone known amongst her colleagues in Canada for faint-heartedness:

People often ask me why I don’t start a blog. After all, it seems almost everyone else has. Thousands of new blogs spring up in cyberspace every day. All the mainstream media have added bloggers to their websites. Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, can get 20 million hits a month, and has made him one of the most popular opinion-mongers in the world.

The answer is pretty much the same as why I don’t get a souped-up snowmobile and drive it straight up a mountain at 120 kilometres an hour into a well-known avalanche zone. It’s more of a guy thing.

Guys seek thrills and speed. They go for the adrenalin rush. They get pumped by going higher, faster, farther than anyone else. They want lots of action and instant gratification. That’s also why guys like blogging – instant opinions, and lots of them.

Wente thinks many/most women lack the confidence to speak out publicly — is this true? Really? Still?

There are many female bloggers. I don’t read many of them, because so many blog about mothering (I have no kids), marriage and/or relationships (not terribly interesting to me, compared to other topics), politics (not my thing.)

At True/Slant I have indeed noticed that the most frequent bloggers are always men, except, usually, me and Sara Libby. I can’t possibly keep up with the men’s verbal Niagara, and don’t even try; I do follow a few T/S men, and they tend, for whatever reason, to post infrequently. They’re more modest? Busier? More thoughtful?

I don’t think it’s because they lack confidence, at all.

Even my Dad (not a compliment, it’s OK) has noted my lack of fear about speaking my mind, and wonders where I get it. Three places.

The first, and — hello, Hillary! — not unsurprising, was attending single-sex schools, as she did in college. From Grade 4 to Grade 9, I was surrounded by smart, competitive girls and taught by smart women. Smart, verbal and articulate counted — n0t being skinny or pretty or popular. We all wore uniforms, so  clothing was comfortable camouflage.

I also attended, ages eight to 16, all-girl camps every summer all summer. Same thing: the leaders were women, the cool kids were female and no one worried about speaking up or out. The counselor who could get us across a wide, windy lake in a rainstorm, motivating weary teens to keep paddling hour after hour, had the right stuff. The girls who were fun and brave and led the rest of us won respect.

The second — smart, confident and  accomplished female relatives. One flies a Cessna. One imports Moroccan rugs after living there for years. One was leading a local environmental movement, and organizing protests, back in the 1960s. My granny was always up for a good rousing argument and my Mom, a journalist and film-maker, covered some tough and scary stories.

I also grew up the only child in a family of professional communicators: film-maker, television and radio stars, television writer, TV host, magazine editor and writer. We made our livelihoods, and good ones, by taking the risks to share our ideas with millions of people. Seemed fun and cool to me.

Our family is so verbally ferocious and competitive — high-volume, too — my quiet, modest sweetie, during his first Christmas dinner with us all (I have two younger step-brothers) 10 years ago, bamboozled by the table-pounding and chest-beating, shouted — “Quiet! Everyone speak in turn.”

Our jaws dropped open. It was like turning the hose on fighting dogs. Shock! It worked for….ten minutes.

So, you know, I’m fine being a mouthy broad. I’ve traveled widely, speak two other languages, consume a pile of other media (and ideas) daily, am fascinated by the world and how it works, or doesn’t.

Since January, 10,000+ unique visitors/month are stopping by this site, none of them related to me, so someone’s finding it worth their time. I’ve even been asked to write for a new Australian blog, plucked from amid the gazillions of bloggers out there to join a small group of 12, all of us without kids.

Women have plenty to say!

But, if you read the letters pages of most newspapers and magazines, let alone the comments boxes of most blogs — they’re staying quiet.

I don’t think they lack confidence. I think most of them are too damn busy.

What do you think?

  1. There are real good women writers here at T/S, you, Wasabi Mama, Megan Cottrell, Andrea Spiegel and Kashmere (and others!)I really look forward to, and I think that you all show great personality in your writing, which is what the guys I follow have too, and I know that is a hard thing to pin down on someone you do not know but it is recognizable for sure!

  2. Thanks.

    I agree that T/S women have a lot to say and in very distinctive ways. I love Fruszina’s indignation, Megan’s passion for social justice, Gina Welch’s quiet wisdom, Lisa’s snark and Laurie Essig’s take-no-prisoners tone. We have a lot of smart, cool women here — which is also a direct result of our bosses here appreciating our value by giving so many of us a platform.

  3. Caitlin,

    Can a man speak to this subject?

    My experience involves being raised by women, my mother took her baby and escaped the life of a small town policeman and bake sales for life in New York city circa 1950. The idea was to be a journalist, maybe today not then.

    She and baby me moved in with Aunt Jane who fled a orphanage at 16 for the big city. They raised me…all the embarrassing moments of learning how to piss in a pot…were learned from women.

    Now I’m a pretty quiet kind of guy and as a kid learned to entertain myself…mostly because my mother had women around all the time…sucking cigs and coffee and talking and talking and talking and laughing and howling about some poor man…one of the regulars…a french woman…had a husband who would peek his head in to a barrage of language and he would hustle me upstairs to give me respite with some TV (3 stooges) and relative silence.

    Do we men blog that much…can it be we found a place to talk, to no doubt to be heard somewhere, where we could have an opinion on something besides sports.

    Men won’t shut up? Yeah that’s why we hide in corners typing on computers…going…anyone out there? i.have.something.say.r.u.out.there.

    In my younger years I would go to a bar to meet women. Two women together, facing each other, deep, deep in talk…it is possible to approach…but be careful…parade the goods first…a drink maybe…a bribe to interfere…three women in discussion…forget it…danger will robinson danger…chance to be eaten alive.

    Three women in a room, any room, talking…men do not exist…we could shout, scream, talk a streak…we do not exist.

    A man watching The View knows the scene…men do not talk together like that…its too fast, crazy fast, jumping all over the place…WTF are they laughing at…we know…us.

    I grew up in New York…then through the woman lib and the sexual revolution…your’s not mine…timid, afraid to express themselves women? My aunt jane, my second mother, taught me to be tough, taught me to listen to my inner muse, to value my imagination and follow my dreams…she worked as a waitress at a famous Italian restaurant in NY that we often went to…the owner told me he how much he admired Jane…”she dumped a plate of spaghetti and meatballs over Rocky Marciano’s head for something he said to her. Nobody insults Rocky…but her.”

    So this premise you got going here…I suspect most women are just talked out…no need to share with men…what the hell do we know anyway?

  4. Libtree, thanks. Lots of powerful memories…Women do talk to one another and, I’ve been told, men don’t do this, as a rule. Maybe, as you suggest, it’s a safe — faceless, sometimes nameless/anonymous way to communicate, maybe(?) the way we’ll tell a seatmate on a plane or train something intimate, secure in the knowledge we won’t see them again to face the consequences of that shared intimacy.

    I do find, here, some amazing, thoughtful and moving writing by men, not just the opining that feels opaque and windy.

  5. Hmm… can I suggest that Wente is incorrect – that she might not have done her homework? There are plenty of female bloggers out there (and yes, some of them here at T/S). It’s a guy thing? Nah.

    • (Ughh that’s annoying – published it before I was finished.)

      Reading the Wente commentary just sort of seems like projection. She’s got her own hangups and suggests, with limited examples, that it’s the same for every woman. Of course women have opinions and voice them. As you say: it’s kind of boring and, well, inaccurate, to suggest otherwise.

      Just as unfortunately, she also paints all men with a fairly wide brush, suggesting that we’re all thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies stomping through life looking for a fight – that the comments received are always going to spark a row, which is… male? huh?

      Anyway… back to the blog.

  6. I think she — as a columnist — wanted to be provocative, but I think she is right in her larger point — that men tend to dominate the conversation. Women, in general (my point about op-Eds and letters to the ediitor, certainly) don’t jump into the argumentative fray with such abandon. It is very noticeable.

    I also think T/S has an unusual set of women writers; so many female bloggers focus on traditionally female topics, like beauty, fashion, parenthood and food – taking the most traditional of “female” domestic pursuiits to larger audiences.

    Maybe it’s more a question of tone — that men are more comfortable speaking in a way that’s pugnacious, feisty, unapologetic. Maybe — you and I being Canadian — Wente’s POV is culturally biased?

  7. Margaret Wente is a beloved, influential figure in Canadian journalism, which does not prevent her from being full of shit on occasion.

    This is one such occassion.

    According to every study for the last four years at minimum, women constitute the Majority of bloggers and social media users, and are significantly more prolific than men; but nobody should take my word for it.

    They should do what Wente should have done in the first place and just Googled it. The Pew Institute studies are a good place to start.

    As for me, yes. I’m too busy to write frequently at TrueSlant, in part because I contribute to six other blogs on a daily basis.

    Gotta dash…

  8. Men don’t dominate the blogging field in numbers, but they do in visibility. I think it’s because men tend to write about topics that are interesting to a broader range of people, where a good portion of women bloggers tend to keep their writing focused on things that are primarily of interest to females.

    I have found over the years (I’ve been blogging since 2001) that people who write articles about the demographics of blogging rarely look outside the circles they are familiar with or associated with for data, or they look at such a small set of data it’s impossible for them to draw an honest conclusion. As Lorraine pointed out, studies show that the majority of bloggers are women; a little research would have gone a long way for Wente. She still might have a point, albeit not the exact one she was trying to make – that there are plenty of female bloggers, but they lack the visibility of male bloggers because they are talking amongst themselves.

    I can tell you from nine years of experience as as female blogger who writes mostly about music, video games, sports and politics: Getting your voice heard in any of the non-traditional female subjects takes a lot of work and selling yourself and, unfortunately, a lot of good female writers have relegated themselves to writing about the usual stuff instead of branching out because it’s hard to rise above the male crowd.

    • Is it also possible that a lot of female bloggers don’t self-identify as female? This is literally the ONLY place I use “Lorraine Murphy” instead of “raincoaster” as my personal pronoun, and in general online I am assumed to be a bitter old gay man. It shocks people when they find out I’m female.

      I mean this literally: they are shocked. People complain, accusingly, that it’s my responsibility to identify my gender right up front, which makes me laugh. I very much enjoy watching people assume I’m male and then asking them why they did that; it’s most enlightening.

      Generally, they say it’s because I’m outspoken, I never seem deferential, and am relentlessly self-promotional.

      The change in their tone and interest once they realize I’m female is the most fascinating part of this phenomenon, though. I see the true thinkers sticking around, and I see the majority of readers sloughing off, rather sorry they got caught treating a woman as an equal.

      This sounds harsh, I know, but this is something I’ve observed over half a decade. I’ll bet if I were to leave a comment on Margaret Wente’s article and sign it raincoaster, she’d assume I was a man, too. And (yes, even women do this) she’d treat me with more respect because of it.

  9. Michele, a few questions…What made you want to blog in the first place since you started so long ago?
    And why is it so difficult for a female blogger to gain the same visibility as a man, as you say? Surely rellentless self-promotion would do it? What are women not doing well or enough to gain equal visibility?

    Lorraine, are you paid by each of these blogs? Is this now your primary income? I may add two new ones, but couldn’t possibly do six/day with my other print commitments.

    • I came across an article about blogging (I don’t remember if it was actually called blogging then) at plastic.com in late 2000. I was excited at the prospect of combining two things I love – writing and voicing my opinion – in a forum where there would be feedback and other people wanting to talk/read about the same things as me. For an introvert like myself, this was the perfect opportunity to be the blowhard I always wanted to be!

      I started off (in January 2001) writing about a bunch of different things (parenting, sports, video games, current events) and then 9/11 happened and my personal connection with that event made my blog blow up. I ended up with a very popular blog that at one point had 10k readers a day – but it was through a series of unfortunate events, so to speak, that those readers found me. I did work hard at promoting myself to some of the more popular male bloggers, but it was a lot of work to get them to acknowledge that I (and other female political bloggers) could write about the same things and write about them well.

      I think part of the problem with the visibility of women bloggers is that they tend to be very niche. There are thousands of mommy bloggers and they are a very vocal group, but people will never give them the same respect that an Andrew Sullivan or Glen Reynolds gets.

      The only way for women to get recognition from people outside of their circle is to break free of the confines of that circle and from my experience with female bloggers, most of them are just too comfortable being part of a group of similar people (and please note here I’m talking about parenting/mommy bloggers, not women in general).

    • Blogging and teaching social media are my ONLY sources of income, and have been for the past five years. I’m not paid by all of these blogs, but I own the ones that aren’t paying me, and have used them to both position myself as a leading social media professional in my cit and as a portfolio to get paid gigs.

      I vastly prefer blogging to print journalism; I always used to say “they don’t pay to publish me; they pay to EDIT me.” Print journalism editing is less velvet glove than iron fist, and blogging is quite the opposite. I love the speed, the direct contact with the audience, and the fact that virtually all of my words end up being read, which is quite different from when I worked for a newspaper.

      Michele’s comment has got me thinking; the other day I organized a panel event, and as two of my (male) friends pointed out, all of the panelists except the moderator were white men. My response was that every woman I’d approached had either turned me down or never answered, whereas none of the men turned me down. For some panelists, I hadn’t even known what colour or gender they were when I invited them, and yet…we ended up with something Wente would have expected, and I didn’t.

      Looks like I’ve got a blog post coming on the subject… I’ll let you know.

  10. Interesting conversation. I read more personal blogs than professional ones and I would say this: The blogs people start as hobbies (although frequently with aspirations) definitely seem to be woman-dominated. The blogs written professionally (although frequently with haughty amateurism) do seem to be mostly written by men. I’m not sure I’d even try to figure out why the dichotomy but it seems true.

    I will say this about my experience with blogs: Professional writers who are also generous commenters on other people’s blogs seem to be 100% women (being 100% Caitlin.) I find that a pretty admirable quality.

  11. “verbal Niagara”, I love it. I think that really goes straight to the point. Love your blog and the insight you provide.

  12. doug, thanks…Really interesting and helpful. I’m somewhat groping in the dark on this one because I read few blogs, whether written by men or women, professional or personal.

    For me, the challenge is — I’m an omnivore. I am equally passionate about the Viennese Secessionists as Japanese maples, Prada’s latest collection to health care reform. By their narrow-casting niche nature, most blogs focus on one primary issue, or voice. No time for it all!

    I read several T/Sers because they’re fantastic writers and thinkers, and a few other sites. But, mostly, I stick to my two favorite media, radio and print, for my consumption of others’ ideas.

    I don’t read most other blogs for lack of time. It takes a lot of time to produce my own and produce my paid work. I also, forgive me, am not wildly interested in endless argumentation, intellectual arcana and chest-beating, which some of them seem to be. If someone’s smart and thoughtful writing moves me emotionally, that’s a great start and I’m likely to eagerly return.

    I comment a lot because I have way too many opinions! But what I really love about smart bloggers is that — they talk back! I’ve become a little addicted to the conversation and now find the one-way-ness of print (where it is very rare to get much feedbacl) a little dull and pompous: Listen to Me!

    fleetlee, I’m honored. I asked my sweetie this morning if he’s paying people to become followers. (He said no.) I’m delighted you find this of value.

    • Well, but you seem to write your comments after reading the posts you comment on, which is a virtuous way to balance your opinionatedness. Blogs are really an interesting medium for a voyeur/consumer of thought.

      Since self-revelation is au courant here, I started reading blogs because coverage of the 2004 elections drove me batty and I wondered what regular folk like me were thinking. It turned out, based on the private blogs I found, we were thinking almost verbatim what the pundits were saying. But even if most of us were and are apes, it was kind of intriguing to see how we imitate in public.

  13. Michele, thanks…We’re lucky to have found a place to be, hmmm, blowhards. I’ve always very badly wanted a radio talk show. I think it would be so much fun — but this is a blast.

    Can I ask you to say more about this? You’re teaching me a lot…

    “I think part of the problem with the visibility of women bloggers is that they tend to be very niche. There are thousands of mommy bloggers and they are a very vocal group, but people will never give them the same respect that an Andrew Sullivan or Glen Reynolds gets.”

    Why, then, does an Andrew Sullivan or Glen Reynolds get this respect? Their topic? Their tone? Their consistency? Their…gender? Do the “mommy bloggers” blur into one huge mass of teething/breastfeeding/Ferberizing — while the men do not?

    Are women — to be blunt — not being strategic about their blog choices in so doing?

    Seems to me REALLY obvious. If 100,999,999,999 people are already writing a lot on X, why on earth would you try to compete on so crowded a field?!

    “The only way for women to get recognition from people outside of their circle is to break free of the confines of that circle and from my experience with female bloggers, most of them are just too comfortable being part of a group of similar people (and please note here I’m talking about parenting/mommy bloggers, not women in general).”

    Really? Wow. Maybe it’s me. I’ve never ever been a girly girl or very comfortable around classic womens’-y stuff. I don’t have kids, am not insanely interested in marriage or makeup or fashion or beauty. I always sat at the boys’ table in our high school cafeteria because the girls — zzzzzzz — ate celery sticks and talked about their diets.

    Why are women bloggers addicted to comfort?

  14. What happened with Sullivan and Reynolds is they gained popularity when warbloggers were all the rage in blogging (disclaimer: I was one of them for a time). It was out of the warblogger circle that a legitimacy was given to bloggers – press passes, being invited to media events, a place at Republican/Democratic conventions. The warbloggers were primarily men. It was a tough crowd to be a part of if you were a woman. I can’t tell you the reason for that, though I’m sure it has something to do with a certain mindset that women go shopping, men go to war (I’m over generalizing, but you get my point).

    I’ve never been a girly girl either. While I have kids and did a fair amount of mommy blogging myself, that has never been my comfort zone as far as writing goes, so I was never really accepted inside that circle and being accepted inside the warblogger circle made a lot of my female readers dismiss me as not one of them (video games? sports? heavy metal? It was like I was foreign to them). The blogging word is strange. I used to think it was a microcosm of society, but I think now it’s a society unto itself, one that I’ll never figure out.

  15. How many women were Minuteman during the Revolutionary War…the men had to go out and do the dirty work of shooting british soldiers

  16. huh???????????????

  17. Great discussion. I don’t consider myself a mommy blogger, although I do write about parenting sometimes. I also write about relationships, middle age, fashion, self image, and life on the North Shore of Chicago. This is stuff I know, stuff I’m writing about elsewhere, and also my suburban “beat” here on T/S.

    To write thoughtful opinions (not just one-off reactions) about topics outside my area of expertise takes an enormous amount of time and energy, and frankly, there’s not enough reward to motivate me to do it. With my other blog and freelance assignments, I find it challenging to post original stuff here twice a week.

    That said, you all have got me thinking that maybe it’s time to step outside my comfort zone. The great thing about blogging is the freedom to take all kinds of risks.

    I’m sure Caitin will have something to say about it when I do!

  18. Sorry, i meant Caitlin. Need coffee.

  19. “I was never really accepted inside that circle and being accepted inside the warblogger circle made a lot of my female readers dismiss me as not one of them (video games? sports? heavy metal? It was like I was foreign to them). The blogging word is strange. I used to think it was a microcosm of society, but I think now it’s a society unto itself, one that I’ll never figure out.”

    Thanks….This is sort of where I was headed.

    Scary. Women soldiers are fighting and dying in two wars right now, just from the U.S. and Canada….Women bloggers should be all OVER this subject!

    How can women NOT be into sports, video games or heavy metal? I’ve been quite intrigued to see Fruszina here going on about her love of video games (I have never played one or even been interested) and I would assume there are women (not me, but) who are completely into heavy metal. I’ve emailed Viv Bernstein from T/S (sports) and enjoy Jody’s blog on the same subject. Where are we, 1953?????

    Is this an American thing?! Are French or German or Brazilian (or Canadian??) women more open-minded about what’s OK for women to like to be insane about, let alone blog about?

    This explains why I have never fit into women’s magazine editors’ Rolodexes, or whatever they now use. I read all the women’s magazines and feel like I am reading Martian half the time, as they obsess (zzzzzzzzz) over orgasms or infidelity or the same six topics. Men’s magazines (the smart ones) are so much better. Which is why I wrote for Penthouse — I am likely one of few women journos who’s written for Ms., Penthouse and Boys’ Life.

    Marjie, I originally told T/S I would blog about women. I also blog a lot about work, and writing. Then I just blog about….whatever hits me hard (and usually something people are currently obsessed with) that I think I have something useful or interesting to offer in addition to a link. That assumes, I know, some scary level of arrogance that: 1) I do know enough 2) it’s interesting.

    My embarrassment threshold has always been set very low and my pain threshold very high. Probably a useful combo.

    My per-hour pay rate here — I’ve calculated it — is just about what I earned in my retail job. But this doesn’t make my feet hurt and I don’t have to swallow *&^%$#@!@ from anyone. I also need to grow a very substantial audience, which I hope will happen, for my new book, so I have additional agendas here beyond this week’s pay.

  20. “I mean this literally: they are shocked. People complain, accusingly, that it’s my responsibility to identify my gender right up front, which makes me laugh. I very much enjoy watching people assume I’m male and then asking them why they did that; it’s most enlightening.

    “Generally, they say it’s because I’m outspoken, I never seem deferential, and am relentlessly self-promotional.

    The change in their tone and interest once they realize I’m female is the most fascinating part of this phenomenon, though. I see the true thinkers sticking around, and I see the majority of readers sloughing off, rather sorry they got caught treating a woman as an equal.”

    Lorraine, this is so interesting….and SO depressing. (Shrieking noise at top volume.) So, men are allowed to speak out publicly and have/gain/build street cred/audience in so doing, and women aren’t? Because….? I now have 167 followers — 78 of whom (which is extremely important to me) clearly IDed (some names are ambiguous) as men. That’s almost half. Something I am saying must resonate. Which is the point.

    If only women were listening, I’d stop tomorrow.
    Most real conversations need to cross gender lines. Deferential?! I am deferential to the IRS, ICE, customs/border officials and to my physicians, sometimes. That’s about it.

    “the other day I organized a panel event, and as two of my (male) friends pointed out, all of the panelists except the moderator were white men. My response was that every woman I’d approached had either turned me down or never answered, whereas none of the men turned me down.”

    Say more! Was this in Canada? You and I know that Canadians are, generally, much less comfortable (than Americans and certainly NYC-area types) with self-promotion. I’ve done a ton of speaking on panels and at conferences. I love it and am going up to Emerson College next month to lecture there. Why on earth would a woman, invited, not answer you (rude) or shy away from exposure?

    My new agent found me after I spoke last March on a panel and sold my book. QED.

    • This was in Canada: in Vancouver, in fact, and Colin was part of that panel (and a great panelist). It was the launch event of the Social Media Club of Vancouver, of which I’m vice-president. http://smcyvr.com/

      Here’s the press release, including mini-bios:
      http://raincoaster.com/2010/03/15/social-media-club-of-vancouver-presents-olympic-lessons/

      The only person who contacted me and asked to be on the panel was a woman, it must be said, but I was still waiting to hear back from two other women and one man at that point, so I put her on the waitlist.

      The moderator was a woman, specially chosen because I knew a panel that big would need a strong moderator. She, like the panelists, was chosen for her skills and knowledge base, rather than her gender or her skin colour.

      But yeah, why did it all turn out this way? Copywriting, blogging and journalism (at least in this town) are staffed primarily by women, still.

      Blogging grew out of the tech community, which is a total sausage fest, and I think that’s where the “Men Blog More” perception comes from, but it’s ten years out of date.

      My priorities for the panel were to gather individuals who came from different industries and aspects of social media use. We ended up with yesses from most of the people who were my first choices:

      - a photographer, e-business consultant, and blogger who went from strong B list to A list on the strength of his work during the Olympics
      - a local blogger and newspaper employee with a high-exposure international platform (that would be Colin)
      - the managing editor of a major newspaper
      - the PR rep for one of the Olympic sponsors, who was in charge of social media outreach
      - the local organizer of ImprovEverywhere, who organized several flashmobs last month which have garnered hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube
      - a filmmaker who is finishing up a documentary on social media use during the Olympics
      - a copywriter and communications consultant as well as one of the organizers of the Blogger’s Meetup
      - the author of Blogging for Dummies, who happened to work across the street from the hockey stadium during the Olympics

      It literally just happened that the ones who came to mind first (who were NOT “the usual suspects” at social media gatherings) AND who responded to my invitation positively were men.

      As to why they came to mind first, that does probably have some connection to the ability to self-promote, or at least to reach outside pre-existing circles. And to get promoted to major positions, so perhaps there’s a secondhand glass ceiling effect there?

      • Oh, and the only one who begged off citing family commitments was, in fact, female, but she’d just gotten back from spending time at SXSW, having left her husband at home to look after the offspring.

  21. andylevinson, I suggest you read my book — page 49-51

    http://blownawaythebook.com/

    for a discussion of the 400 women who fought in the Civil War, a fact many men, and women, are unaware of.

  22. An excellent topic for Saturday morning. Caitlin, you wrote, “Are women — to be blunt — not being strategic about their blog choices in so doing?”

    I’d say no, especially in your case where your blog, by your nature, is one that is not subject to a choice, a definition, or a single topic. But you and others might be suffering from a lack of strategy nonetheless. Part of growing your blog and entering the fray is not simply a matter of writing in the same topical space as others, but in engaging and collaborating with others in their space. In verbal conversation, women do this naturally talking with, over, and concurrently, with one another without even thinking about it. In cyberspace, this occurs in the blogging too, but through a different medium.

    One of the reasons Andrew Sullivan is so popular as a destination is because even though his topic is politics, he often has a wide variety of links, and deep links at that, to other topics. In that regard, while his blog is specialized it does serve as a platform for diving into other things and that keeps people coming back too. What I mean to say for you though is that in developing your posts you can be strategic about who and what you link to and it’s not a trivial thing.

    If you look at how Sullivan does it when he takes someone down or adds to a bit of conversation, he writes, links, writes links, and he often continues conversations by linking to rejoinders and so on. All this linking is called Cross Linking in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) business and when it is done strategically it can benefit you enormously by allowing readers to find you and identify you as a node or platform for diving into all sorts of interesting topics.

    It’s something to consider, because it may not really matter what you, or any other woman, chose to write about as much as how you write about it. This applies to your unique content, which of course is paramount. But it also applies to how that content is linked to and embedded within the larger macrotext that is out on the web. It’s the difference between talking to someone and with someone applied to blogging.

  23. John, thanks. I’ve been told many times to do much more of this — which I do rarely.

    My answer, (not that it’s an excuse because it’s my own self-limiting choice), is the additional time, energy and lost income this would require of me for….? To achieve what exactly? The ego massage of more readers or followers? More comments?

    Those of who us who are already well-established in print/books have already won, some of us for decades, the ears or eyes of millions, albeit not daily. Goal achieved — and five figures a year, staff or freelance, earned from that work. Until the Internet paymasters start offering me $1,500, $2,000, or $5,000+ per set of posts (i.e. the same time, energy, word count as print), my energy has to go where the financial rewards clearly lie.

    The pay structure here gives us bonuses — but to hit the next level means I’d have to pull in 50,000 uniques a month. Not going to happen. I am not that compelling or unique, nor am I willing, right now, to invest the kind of energy — doing the very smart (thank you!) things you suggest that *might* bump me to that level. The economics of blogging, here, are such that even adding on that next level of bonus, while pleasant, pays me an additional sum I can much more quickly earn by banging out in a few hours a much better-paid newspaper or magazine story.

    That is partly to do with my ease and familiarity with those media and how to work very quickly and efficiently and maintain quality, and simply already knowing a ton of editors who take my calls and emails and assign, or reject, quickly. I may try to more on-line (paid) writing — but am not focused on hugely expanding this blog’s readership. I am glad it’s growing. But it’s organic and I can’t — pardon the metaphor — dump on a pile of fertilizer right now because of the cost of the time it would require.

    I am so unfamiliar with other bloggers who I might even want to link to (and I have done some roaming and reading), I can’t imagine the time and energy to: 1) find them 2) read them all the time 3) follow them closely enough to link their stuff to my stuff on a topic. I find many bloggers too narrow, too dogmatic or too nasty.

    Maybe I am missing something here?

    • Why are you so confident that you’re not going to have 50,000 readers a month? Frankly, I think you’re lowballing yourself and your potential reach.

      What john said is absolutely right in every detail.

      My latest TrueSlant post http://trueslant.com/lorrainemurphy/2010/03/20/kimveer-gill-jeffrey-dahmer-and-me-flailing-upward/ has 18 links, four of them to my blogs and the rest to a wide range of things which expand on the content. It also has a YouTube, and when you embed a YouTube your blog shows up in the stats which any Youtube viewer can see on that video’s page.

      I’m always telling my students (to paraphrase Tom Lehrer) “the internet is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” If you give links to other people, they will find you and presumably link to you.

      Side note: they will PARTICULARLY do so if you’ve mocked them. They won’t be able to help themselves. And thus ends Internet Drama 101: Flamewars for Fun and Profit.

      • I should clarify, because what is obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to everyone (or anyone) else.

        You do this to give an additional dimension to your blog posts. If your blog would lose nothing whatsoever by being read aloud, you’re not blogging; you’re writing a radio script. If it would lose nothing by being printed on paper, maybe you shouldn’t be blogging at all but should be writing for print exclusively.

        I actively enjoy and seek opportunities to include media in blogs that can’t be included in things like books, newspapers, radio or film. This is why it used to be called New Media; that’s actually a plural word. It makes no sense to me to exist in four dimensions and only use two of them.

        When a multimedia post is truly good, the meaning is intertextual; it lies in the written content, the extra media, and the relationship between them. Links, alt text, photodescription text, images, sound files, videos, flash; these are all components of something that can be more creative than words on a screen. I don’t know what you’d call this new artistic frontier, but it’s a great privilege to be among the pioneers.

  24. Ah – well the reading & following bit can also be addressed with an RSS reader so that the things you might want to read come to you and not the other way around. In other words, technology can also help you skim through what might interest you and allow you to pick and choose what to actually read closely.

    I’m kind of surprised to read you don’t do this already being a self-proclaimed generalist. Where do you get that next idea? Just about everyone in print is out there online and so again, developing strategies for monitoring the ever growing macrotext is also part of this.

    And for what? Well, it kind of goes back to brand if you like. And if you want to build that in this non-print domain you can’t simply rest on your print laurels, can you? Maybe you can, but I’d be willing to bet paid print gigs are shrinking while paid internet gigs are growing. And either way getting noticed here gets you noticed there and viceversa. Maybe I am wrong about this. The point is that you’re already an active contributor posting very regularly, so regularly by the way, that that is how I picked up on your writing. That’s one level of commitment in and of itself that most of your contemporaries do not match. All I would point out is that employing a simple strategy is trivial and the benefit of it could be big, and who knows? As long as you’ve conquered one world why not another? Who is to say what is compelling or unique in this world. Do you remember that old series Connections by James Burke? He was a generalist too and as compelling as they come.

  25. Caitlin: Links to other blog posts are, in effect, self promotion. The person you linked to will come here to find out what you said. It may be you just get a unique visitor out of it, or maybe that blogger will link back to in the context of a conversation and then you have that blog’s readers coming here to read your post.

    Lorraine, I love what you said about good multimedia posts.

    • Thanks. I have even been poking around with a new form of poetry in which the traditional poetic structure exists, but where words are linked to other words to form another layer of poetry. Dorothy Parker used to do something like that, where she’d take a poem or song lyric and put her own lines in between the existing one, turning the entire meaning around.

  26. “I’m kind of surprised to read you don’t do this already being a self-proclaimed generalist. Where do you get that next idea? Just about everyone in print is out there online and so again, developing strategies for monitoring the ever growing macrotext is also part of this.”

    John, I just counted 13 blog ideas sitting on my desk waiting to be thought about and written, all of them from print. (Plus stuff that just pops into my head.) I have another four in the can ready to publish and one in process.

    I read about 90% of my material in print. I’m fine with it, no matter how much it may horrify people. That takes a lot of time. I do not have additional hours or attention to devote to processing a lot more online material, even with RSS feeds. I have to earn a living! I do read a few blogs, but not that many. Time is money. I either earn money by producing material or lose it/invest it in potential future earnings by consuming others’.

    Typically, as in print, I have many, many ideas — the challenge is deciding which of them are worth my time, will be (heavily) read or tweeted and fall into my areas of interest, expertise or passion. I often stay far away from blogging THE hottest topic of the day because it’s (zzzzzzz) Bieber or some other pop culture thing which is 99% of the time not of interest to me, even if it would clearly pull in a gazillion visitors.

    “And for what? Well, it kind of goes back to brand if you like. And if you want to build that in this non-print domain you can’t simply rest on your print laurels, can you? Maybe you can, but I’d be willing to bet paid print gigs are shrinking while paid internet gigs are growing. And either way getting noticed here gets you noticed there and viceversa. Maybe I am wrong about this. The point is that you’re already an active contributor posting very regularly, so regularly by the way, that that is how I picked up on your writing. That’s one level of commitment in and of itself that most of your contemporaries do not match. All I would point out is that employing a simple strategy is trivial and the benefit of it could be big, and who knows? As long as you’ve conquered one world why not another?”

    Money, money and money. Time and not enough of it. I am already spending about 50% more of my time online than I ever have, and it crowds out leisure, rest, life.

    I need to make a decent living. I plan to retire. In addition to this blog and my book and my print work, I also serve on two journalism group boards and am a judge right now for a set of awards and…I have to prioritize my time and skills.

    I don’t see any benefit (ie. more work or more $$$) in my print work from blogging nor vice versa, while this may be working our hugely well for others. Blogging — in plain, unvarnished language — COSTS me lost time, energy and income from pitching and getting work from better-paid markets. So doing more of that which hurts my income — makes zero sense to me. I’m not someone to conquer a world for amusement, not try it and fail, nor to think I’ve got the skills to do so. I have a lot of respect for people like Michele and Lorraine, who are much more devoted to this world and have a decade of experience already.

    Job One right now is finishing my book, while also, somehow, fitting in a few freelance gigs to make income and this blog, for a small steady income and slow, organic brand-building.

    I know others are very diligent about building brands — doing multi-media etc. That’s cool. To each, his or her own.

  27. I’d be surprised if this was true, since the overwhelming majority of bloggers I know are women. But since the Globe and Mail columnist Caitlin is discussing doesn’t mention any basis for her belief that men dominate in this arena, such as a poll or study, I see no reason to take it seriously.

  28. I have to tell you all, I did discuss this before deciding to post this with someone who knows the blogosphere well — much better than I and better, clearly, than Wente — and he confirmed her assertion.

  29. I would suggest that if a blogger wants to get their stats up, accepting advice seems to be the right way to go.

  30. The reason to post cross links is to create community, to educate, to share. You know… the stuff women do. Although guess what, men bloggers do it too. Cross linking is what makes blogging so special. Community, generosity and a desire to teach and share. And, it helps bring you readers. That’s the bonus.

    On the other hand, failure to link is a form of social media narcissism. The writer is concerned only with their own words,it’s all “me, me me” not taking the time to introduce their readers to some of the other wonderful thinkers/bloggers the writers knows. Very selfish. Eventually, I think it comes back to bite you in the derriere, like all forms of narcissism. Because eventually, your readers begin to notice that you hoard your own toys. And they get bored and walk away.

    By the way, there are thousands maybe millions of women bloggers writing about politics, art, the environment, activism, and all kinds of topics. Once you make the effort to find them, you will be surprised.

  31. It’s been interesting — and useful — to watch a post focused on women bloggers **in general** become a critique/analysis/suggestions on this blog, which was not my goal or my motivation. There are times I genuinely seek advice and this was not about me or my blog.

    As I have explained several times, the sites I’ve found — so far — do little for me so I don’t link to them. I am happy to showcase excellence when and where I find it.

    doug, advice is terrific. Some works for the person it is offered to, some doesn’t.

    What every commenter here is failing to acknowledge is that many of my posts — and I won’t spend more energy being defensive — offer many links, some to on-line sources, some to photographs and videos and film, some to people whose work appears (or I found it) in print. Most times I post BECAUSE I have found something of value (i.e. a link) to share; anyone who feels otherwise needs to read all 500+ of my posts since July 1 and do a content analysis.

    As much as there is a clear feeling that a blogger must link primarily/exclusively to other bloggers to showcase their on0line work and skills –

    “taking the time to introduce their readers to some of the other wonderful thinkers/bloggers the writers knows”

    I disagree. I admire a tremendous number of writers and creators, in a variety of other media and have focused on many of the, in Canada, the U.S., even Cuba. lizadiamond, how long have you been reading this blog? If often, you would know this.

    But thanks, all, for lots of helpful suggestions. I will take them in the spirit of generosity and helpfulness.

    • I wouldn’t take it too personally. As with the Balkans and history, bloggers produce more wisdom than they can consume locally. A long comment thread does tend to substitute itself as a topic for the original post.

      To wit, If I can give a conspicuously, intentionally and manifestly amateur/consumer response to some of the advice above: The biggest blogs may follow all the advice above but the least readable ones also do. You can almost feel it when someone is choosing words for the search engine instead of the paragraph or linking for a reply not to clarify. As a reader, I much prefer blogs, like this one, that seem to be written directly from the mind of the author to the eyes of the readers which may or may not involve links, video, etc.

      I have no advice to give on how to grow a blog or make it famous, but I would give this advice to any blogger who asked what I like as a reader- only be strategic haphazardly.

  32. HI. Actually, this is the first time I’ve ever read your blog. I was responding to this:

    “I am so unfamiliar with other bloggers who I might even want to link to (and I have done some roaming and reading), I can’t imagine the time and energy to: 1) find them 2) read them all the time 3) follow them closely enough to link their stuff to my stuff on a topic. I find many bloggers too narrow, too dogmatic or too nasty”

    Of course it’s totally up to you how you spend your work time. You know your limits. It seems like you don’t really enjoy reading blogs, which is true of a lot of folks, even those who write online. But…if you or your readers should become interested in reading blogs, there is a whole universe out there. Once you’ve found a few you like, just follow their blogrolls, or click onto the URL links that most blogs allow for their commenters. You will, I guarantee, find a treasure trove of articulate, passionate, informed, often funny, sometimes generous, highly motivated writers.

  33. doug, thanks for that clarification. Part of my approach to blogging — which I know is not typical — is to not do it the way many people do. I know that can limit my appeal. But, as you say, it’s also organic and personal.

    liza, thanks. You have helped me make this further exploration a priority. I have done some of this reading of others’ blogrolls, and thereby found (for example, Shakesville and BitchPhd, which I enjoy and have linked to.) If you have any URLS or favorite bloggers you’d like to recommend (?), please email me.

  34. thanks Caitlin. I’ll have to read more of your work to see what kinds of blogs I think might interest you. Cheers. Liza

  35. Liza, much appreciated!

  36. Hi Caitlin,
    I blog about animal welfare issues, and find that my readership is 60/40 female/male. Both women and men who read my blog–Pet News and Views–are active in animal causes. I don’t think pets and wildlife are male or female issues. It’s something that all of my readers care about.
    My blog isn’t about women’s issues. It’s about animals, and my readers care deeply about their pets and wildlife.

  37. I agree with a lot of these comments. I personally think its silly to suggest that all men or people blog for the same reason (adrenaline, instant gratification). That’s certainly not why I blog, as a woman, and my male friends who are bloggers usually just like to write. They tend to be less concerned about readers even, than they are about putting out a creative product that they just enjoy doing. Wente is being offensively stereotypical in so many ways here and making assumptions about blogging as well as men/women in general. I agree with Colin in that I think she has her own hang ups that frankly have nothing to do with women or bloggers in general.

  38. Michele, what’s interesting to me is this notion of a passion for X creating an organic community sparked by or coming to a blog on that subject. I blog, most often, on women, work and writing but my interests are ridiculously varied and I have strong feelings so many things that I indulge that here and hope readers find it useful or interesting to come along. I always want my posts to be useful — if “all” readers do is make someone stop for a minute and think (or think anew) of something. I am very well aware that super-focus or niche writing would make me MUCH more popular, but it’s simply not who I am and, frankly, would bore me to be so limited. I admire specialists but don’t want to be that focused — and I’ll take the hit for it.

    missyr, thanks…Why do you blog? How long have you done it and what do you blog about?

  39. Hi Caitlin,

    I first have to say that I began following your blog just a few days ago. Due in part to reading your response to another blog about hoarding coupon crap. So, I looked into your previous posts and started following you. What I do like about your blog in particular is that when I get that little notification that you have posted something new, I DON’T already know what the subject will be. I think a blog that isn’t married to one subject is a wonderful thing. It interests me to learn what interests others.

    Now all that being said… I personally think the reason a lot of male bloggers seem to get more visibility (and thereby seem like they dominate the blogisphere is the perception that all female bloggers blog about shopping, make up and being a mommy. I think the general misconception that female bloggers have nothing, new, educated, insightful, socially or economically relevant to say flourishes even among women. An example? This recent NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/fashion/14moms.html

    If this “Blogging Boot Camp” had been comprised of male bloggers I don’t think this article would have taken the same perspective. Is it a sad fact that male & female stereotypes still exist in 2010? I think so. Is it a sad fact that mentality extends to the way female bloggers are viewed as a whole? It seems so.

  40. joy, thanks.

    I’m delighted you found me and like what you found. When I decided to blog here last July, I told T/S I would (and generally do) focus on women, and I’d guess that about 60%+ of my posts are about women. But I get bored easily and have so many interests that I need the variety of roaming about — and appreciate your willingness to follow that!

    I think part of the male/female split in visibility and “fame” is that women political bloggers (like Alison Kilkenny, here) probably only draw in anyone who agrees with them. I’m sure there are women blogging on environment, sports, science…?…I need to go seek them out.
    I did read the Times piece about mommy bloggers; I can’t imagine there being THAT much interest in the same subject.

    I see and write about women as thinkers, professionals, workers, athletes, citizens, travelers, patients — not primarily or exclusively defined (I don’t have kids) by their marital status, biology, sexuality or parenthood.

    Being a generalist, I don’t think in niches but find cool stuff everywhere — and am open to it.

  41. [...] talking with users from communities other then their own. Caitlin Kelly’s post on Why Men Blog More is a perfect [...]

  42. [...] I’ve blogged about this issue many times — here, here and here, on why men seem happier to blog more than women. [...]

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