I always try to do these T-Minus posts ten days before my birthday. I like to think of them as my small way of getting some shit off my chest so I can rocket into my next year of existence.
But lately, I’m wondering if it’s even worth it. (Bear with me, because this is about to be a bit rambling and might not make a whole lot of sense.)
That gnawing, wondering feeling is one that I’ve had since Black Gay Blogger turned 10 last year. When you’ve put a decade of your life out there on the Web — your work, your life, your loves, your dreams, etc. — you kind of want to know that you’ve connected with someone. When I first started blogging, this wasn’t the case. I was pretty vocal in saying that my site was for me. My opinions. My life. And that hasn’t changed.
But I have.
Since I started Black Gay Blogger, I’ve grown tremendously. I’ve made some good friends, had some great experiences, and seen a side of life that I’m not sure I would have if “Karsh” wasn’t a part of it. I’ve gotten to speak at conferences about the work that I do, I’ve been quoted as an expert…I kinda “made it” (if you want to call it that.)
Thing is, that was back in 2006.
Right around then, Black blogging really started taking off into the mainstream. I know I was the “blogfather” for several young blog sites that are extremely popular now. As I kept Black Gay Blogger running, I saw the focus of blogging shift from telling personal stories to shilling for brands. Blogs weren’t just these intimate little sites to let people into your world. They were brand platforms. They were heavily sponsored. Blogging was less about storytelling and more about becoming these little advertising microsites and personal news aggregators. And I knew that Black Gay Blogger, despite the fabulous SEO potential of that phrase, would never be a Towleroad or a Pam’s House Blend or a Rod 2.0 type of site. It just wasn’t my cup of tea and not what I wanted to talk about on my site.
Eventually, old blogging dinosaurs like me would either have to learn to adapt or become extinct. For me, I adapted using Twitter, but I’ve been there now over five years, so I’m the old bitch in the club on that site too.
On a whim, I decided to end Black Gay Blogger when I turned 30. I was updating the site’s WordPress back-end, opened up a new post, and just sat there staring at the screen for a good five minutes.
“I don’t even know if anyone is reading this anymore.”
I glossed over this completely with my final entry:
When I started this blog back in 2003, I was trying to be shocking. I hadn’t seen anything online which talked about being young, Black and gay from a personal perspective. So I just talked about myself and my experiences, and I didn’t really know if anyone would read.
Boy, was I wrong!
Now, over 7 years later, my perspective on life has grown and changed and well, I’m not the same guy that started this blog anymore. I’m my own boss with a successful business, I’ve got financial security (for the most part), and I’m in a really good emotional and personal space right now. Going into the future, things are looking quite well. I truly feel like I am going into a new chapter of my life.
So with that, it’s time to close this chapter. It’s been a good run, don’t you think?
The truth was, no one was reading this anymore.
Here’s the thing: I started blogging in 1997 on a Geocities page using basic HTML. I was one of the first people using Blogger when it launched in August 1999. I was in college at Morehouse and wanted a site to chronicle my time there. From there I switched to LiveJournal, which also launched in 1999. Then went back to Blogger in 2000. I tried out Greymatter in November 2000 when I was home from school for Thanksgiving. Switched to Movable Type. I got my first paid blogging gig with Backwash in 2002. Tried a super early version of b2/cafelog. I experimented with Textpattern when it launched in 2003. b2/cafelog became WordPress. I jumped ship to WordPress in 2004 when Movable Type 3.0 came out with that pricing model.
I designed WordPress themes and Movable Type themes. I coached, schooled, and showcased some of your favorite bloggers for years. Backwash folded. I wrote for Metroblogging for a few years and several other sites. Was one of the first people to get fired because of my blog. (I quit before I got fired, so I called it getting “Karshed”.) The Washington Post ran with the story.
So by the time 2006 rolled around, I was 25 and knew my shit. A seasoned vet in the game. But I was also a Black gay man working in corporate America and writing under a pseudonym which, in those days, was a pretty controversial thing. So I don’t think I really ever “took off” like I should have.
(I also don’t think that some of the same friends that I made over this whole blogging time were really trying to help me take off either. And I don’t mean in a nepotistic sort of way, but I mean helping with opportunities, introducing me to people that could see the work I’m doing, etc.)
Nonetheless, I kept writing. Kept making behind-the-scenes moves. Trying to make progress, but every step forward was three steps back. Quit a very stressful job to start at an even more stressful job. Went to grad school. Got my Master’s degree. Started a business. Sold a business. Spoke at SXSW. Did the speaking circuit for a hot minute before getting blacklisted because I dared ask a conference if they would pay for my lodging and transportation there since they wanted me to deliver a talk. Now I just speak a few places locally — all for free. I still think if you’re trying to get me to speak at your event, you gotta pay a brotha an honorarium or something.
This leads up to 2011. The blogging game is just that now — a game. Metrics and numbers and followers and subscribers and retweets and reblogs and likes and all that shit. Less about stories and more about numbers. Even modern journalism online has changed into this. Headlines for clickbait — more clicks = more views for an ad = more impressions = more money. Doesn’t matter if it’s real or not (and these days, it’s mostly not). Listicles and quizzes and memes and shit like that have replaced that storytelling that I knew when I was coming up as a blogger. Now you can have a blog that’s entirely made up of other people’s efforts but still “yours”. It’s still weird to me. And I was never writing for numbers because that didn’t mean anything to me.
So I folded Black Gay Blogger to little fanfare. I kept it moving. Started Karsh Writes in an attempt to write more. Black Gay Blogger turned 10…again, to little fanfare. Two years later and I’m not sure if that goal of writing more has really been fully met. That hasn’t changed.
But I have.
Now I have new projects on the books. I’m podcasting again, as you’ve seen with The Black Sex Master. I have other things on the horizon I want to do to, but frankly…I don’t know if I want to, because that same feeling I spoke about earlier pops up.
“I don’t even know if anyone is reading this anymore.” Not just reading, but I don’t even know if anyone is checking for work from me anymore. One project, which I’ve been working for over a year now, was met with surprise by a blogging friend who said “I didn’t even know you were working on that!” Said friend also follows me on Facebook and Tumblr and sees my weekly updates about the project.
Maybe part of this feeling comes from me just being older and more secure in who I am. I’ve never felt the need to be overly social. I’m usually very busy with my business and other projects. I can’t easily be put into a box. I suck at marketing despite putting a lot of work into my business and projects. So with all of that, I’m probably not the poster child for being a “successful blogger”. In the annals of gay blogging history, you probably won’t find my name.
So what has all this blogging brought me? Some good times, some bad times. Some good friends, some backstabbers. Not the most extensive blogging resume, but I’ll take it, for what it’s worth. I’ve heard that the worst feeling in the world is knowing you did the best you could, and it still wasn’t good enough.
I’d like to think what I’ve done — what I’ll continue to do — is good enough.
Like I said earlier, I always try to do these T-Minus posts as a way of getting some shit off my chest so I can rocket into my next year of existence.
This has been heavy on my spirit for a while now, so it’s good to cast it off.
Let’s see what 33 has in store.
(This post was inspired by Nelson Roberto’s Medium post titled “Why you should support (and share) your friend’s work.”)