As I re-read through my blog yet one more time, I find myself wondering – when did my sense of blog audience change?
I didn’t start my blog with a specific audience in mind. I wrote it for me, but also for my family and friends – so they would know what was going on. I also in part thought I was writing it for healthcare professionals (or health science researchers). I was in part in search of ways to make meaning out of what was happening to me. I wanted to make sure that my experience mattered.
At some point, my blog audience changed. Not that it was reduced, just that I realized that part of my audience was fellow breast cancer patients. At some point I realized my most important audience was fellow breast cancer patients. I realize that by sharing my experience I was helping others understand their experiences.
I do wonder if it was one particular commenter on my blog that changed my perspective on my blog audience.
I started to look through the comments on my blogs, in search of where I started to see comments from others who where not family/friends/acquaintances before my cancer. I’m not including Kate in this analysis. I didn’t really know her before cancer, but was connected with her within the few couple of days of my diagnosis. A long chain email communication ensued – and many of my blog posts are inspired by our conversations. I’m having difficulty articulating why, but this relationship was different and not exactly what I’m getting at with the change in blog audience.
My early connections with other breast cancer patients was through breast cancer blogs or social media sites. I see their comments on my site, in part as a response to comments or pings I had left on their blogs. The first was August 6, 2014 when I wrote about how transitions matter. Stacey left comments on my blog after I mentioned our in-person conversation.
August 13, 2014 when I wrote about Wondering Why? was when I first really welcomed into the breast cancer blogosphere. Several fellow cancer bloggers left a comment on my blog that day, after I had linked to a post by Nancy Stordahl, who blogs over at Nancy’s Point. Her blog was one of the first breast cancer blogs I followed. More specifically, she is someone who I had not come into any contact with before breast cancer. In some ways, this can be seen as my official entrance into the breast cancer blogging community. That same post also saw my first response from Catherine at Facing Cancer (which appears to be a commercial website so I’m not going to link directly to it here). As time went on, Catherine continued to leave inspiring comments on my posts, letting me know that someone was listening.
On August 18, Wendy left a comment on my August 16th post – Courting a New Lover which was a repost of a story written by Cathy Foster. This comment represents a bit of a transition. In the comment, Wendy says “I wanted to thank you for writing your blog, I have just finished treatment for bilateral breast cancer and so much of your process resonated for me even though our treatment plans are completely different.” This comment goes to the heart of what I’m getting at when I talk about the change in audience for my blog. I don’t know that I had realized it at the time, but later I would realize that comments like Wendy’s are one of the biggest ‘rewards’ I get for the work of blogging about my experience.
I regularly received comments but also private emails encouraging me to continue blogging and thanking me for sharing my story. Here are a couple more:
- Elaine on September 28, 2014 on the post I wrote September 23, 2014
- Dianna on November 13, 2014 on a post I had written on June 21, 2014 (before I started treatment)
So, although I received comments as early as August 18, I think the transition took place closer to September 23, 2014 – when I started to write more about the research I was doing, and what all that information meant (from my perspective).
This is something I’m going to have to think more about. Was there a specific time when my blogging changed as I saw the new audience – that of fellow breast cancer patient?