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Why Blogging is Like The Wizard of Oz and There’s No Place Like Home. A Polemic or Maybe a Manifesto. For all the Red Shoe Bloggers.

Posted By kellydiels 3rd of October 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

A Guest Post by Kelly Diels.

Wizard of Oz Dorothy Shoes  Adult costume.detail.jpgLet’s mash up reality and assume that Dorothy wrote The Wizard of Oz and it is a memoir told through the lens of pharmaceuticals and it is to be published next year.

Dorothy has written a great book: part trippy fantasy, part freudian/jungian/wonky archetypical therapy, part love letter to friendship, and a prefeminist, feminist, post-feminist meditation on the nature and power of femininity wrapped in a trendy, little-dog-carrying, hot-shoe-wearing package. It is Sex and the City meets Eat Love Pray meets Little Red Riding Hood, on acid. It is a journey. It is a great book. It must be read.

Dorothy knows this. She feels it right from her soul to the soles of her ruby red shoes. She can see the future: a movie. Musicals. The talk show circuit. Oprah. Much money, much love, much conversation, and a place in popular imagination.

It can be all of these things, not because she promotes the flying monkeys out of it – which she will, and absolutely should do – but because it offers a watery answer to our thirsty, questioning souls: you are the author of your own affair. Plus there are weird scary creatures who learn to love each other and grow as twisted, maturing moral entities and we all know that stuff sells. I hear a little book called Twilight is doing quite well these days.

So this book should sell. It needs to sell. Dorothy wants it to sell. Even more than that, Dorothy wants it to be read, to land, to take root, to grow, to inhabit, fertilize and animate our popular imagination.

If I was Dorothy – and I am – I would start a blog before I even started writing the book. I’d go all Seth Godin and build a tribe on Twitter. I’d find my people. I’d give them somewhere to find me. I’d get on the cluetrain. I’d Oprah. I’d firestart. I’d listen to Leo Babauta when he says he doesn’t believe in SEO. I’d make friends. I’d work the aich-ee-double-hockey-sticks out of ProBlogger and spend serious time with Outspoken Media. I’d figure out the lessons learned by our pantehon of blog gods and best-selling writers. I’d figure out the mechanics of demand and distribution and audience and I’d build it and they would come. And if they didn’t come, I’d go get them and then hug and pet and feed them because that is the purpose of promotional tricks and lassos and rodeo ponies and hoopla.

But I would only do that if, like Dorothy, I had something wizardly to offer: the journey. The passion. The learning. The love. The living. The lessons. The magic. The really, really great content. Please.

And this is what exasperates me about the ‘blogging and social media for money’ superhighway. So many times I follow the yellow brick road laid by an enterprising blogger who’s working the system – rocking the comments, manufacturing controversy, guest posting, paper-training SEO, tweeting – and when I get there and pull back the curtain…nothing. No wizard. No magic. No message. Just a lot of mechanics and whirling buttons and a robotic, soulless special effects machine.

Honestly, that’s what a lot of problogging and blogs and social media enterprises are looking like these days. It is turn-key blogging. It is execution unsparked by ideas. It is a waste of time and tweets and it won’t make you money.

Straight up: I don’t make a cent from my blog and I’m certainly not disparaging bloggers who do. I LOVE money. I want money. I want you and Dorothy and every other problogger out there to have as many tiny dogs – more! – as you and your minions can carry. I just want you to make it from selling wisdom, truth, experience or sparkly scarlet maryjanes (and if you are, I’m ALWAYS in the market for red shoes, so please put me on your mailing list). I want you to make an offering. I want you to have something to offer. I want you to be a Red Shoe Blogger. I just made that up.

A Red Shoe Blogger is not blogging exclusively for money. A Red Shoe Blogger has a mission and is animated by passion and all the tips and tricks and hacks and tools and tweets are harnessed in service of that divine, cosmic, helpful, genuine, meaningful objective. That mission is Home.

So this is what I want from all the Red Shoe Bloggers out there: I want you to buck the system, or work the system, but know that the system is not a slot machine that will pay off if only you keep pulling that arm and never ever run out of nickels or take a pee-break.

Success is not just about the systems. The home address of success is passion, talent (let’s be honest), creation, contribution, collaboration, conversation, and community.That is where hot sweaty abundance and cold hard cash reside (FYI, they’re totally a couple) and I wish more bloggers lived there too.

Because, after all, there’s no place like home.

  1. Kelly, this post was every bit as strange and interesting as I expected from you. I’m happy we’ve had a chance to get to know each other better. I hope you’ll be over here more often!

  2. Here Here!

    You should blog from a position of passion. If you don’t have some emotion what can you be write about.

    Sometimes I go to a blog and I feel like I am watching a commercial. Why would I want to read a commercial? I want to read about and witness the things people are creating. I want to see the passion that people have.

    I’ve got no idea what red shoe blogger means. But, a good blogger is substance first style sometime later.

  3. This post makes me feel a little better. So far, I’ve made less than a dollar in two weeks of my blog being up. According to some, that’s above average! I guess I’d consider myself a “Red Shoe” blogger.

    Would I like to make some proverbial “coffee money” from my blog? Sure. But I’d rather elevate the dialogue and conversation among my followers and visitors than making a quick buck from pop-ups, rollovers and animated banners. At this point, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and hope people appreciate it.

  4. Thanks for taking us on a trip. You’re passion about blogging is apparent!

    I don’t know if i got everything you were tying to communicate out of that post, but I can say this… I see tons of people who are trying to follow that “secret formula” and writing about things they have no experience with and have no passion about…

    If writing about things you actually like and being passionate about it is what being a red shoe blogger is… sign me up. :-)

  5. This is absolutely awesome post. Thank you for breaking the scan to bold subhead.. scan to bold subhead.. scan to… process that I use when reading most posts in my RSS. And thank you for pointing out that truly great content is essential. That while the blogosphere can be broken down and approached as something that can be used for the main purpose to profit, it is so much better, so much more refreshing when it is used to share ideas that you are truly passionate about.

  6. @Josh. Thanks. I love it when you call me strange. I interpret it as ‘creative’. That’s just how I roll.

    @Casey. Yes! Yes! Yes! And I just made up red shoe blogger. I was streeeeeetching the metaphor – dorothy. learning that it was in you all along. passion. clicking the shoes. home. red shoe blogger. It is a stretch, lol.

    @Jenny. I have been thinking about the heading thing a lot. I don’t use them because I write in a stream-of-conscious kinda way, so it is not how I think. I worry sometimes about the conventions I’m breaking…and then I don’t. Thanks for letting me know you liked it!

  7. Oh my gracious. I haven’t had this much fun reading a post in a long time.

    The run on title combined with a completely cracked out introduction was apparently just too good to pass up. :)

    Great job breaking rules while imparting some wisdom.

  8. Yay, Kelly! Your guest post kicks major ass. I got up out of my chair and cheered!

  9. Julie says: 10/03/2009 at 1:57 am

    Yours is a voice of sanity. Thank you!

  10. Katie says: 10/03/2009 at 2:11 am

    Whoa! I like you and I like what you have to say. A refreshing new take on The Same Old. And how did blogging for money get so same old so fast anyway?

  11. I totally love this analogy! The premise of my blog is all about being the new Dorothy, the new/modern adventurer and wanderer, a good friend, a courageous soul…and that we can all learn a lot from Dorothy’s journey :) Thanks for the dose of inspiration, Kelly!

  12. Thank you for this article, it is true there are so many junk blogs, just focusing in making money instead of giving quality content.

  13. I’ve got my sparky Mary Janes on, feeling the scintillating energy guide me!

    What a great visual post.

  14. this is a great post! really original and inspiring.. ^^
    it makes me more passionate about blogging, thank you! ^^

  15. I came to this conclusion a few days ago. I started a new blog before I finished my book which I actually only started. Anyway if you don’t have many visitors hardly you’ll sell anything

  16. Now humming Rod Stewart’s “Passion, passion…” And picturing munchkins following him, pied-piper like.

  17. This was fantastic and passionatly written post. I feel inspired to find that voice and story and market the heck out of it. It has to be about the story and the journey and the passion that takes us there. It can’t be about the money, because there’s a lot of easier ways to make that besides blogging.

  18. I had mentally summoned courage this morning. I was ready for “this gives me no practical tools that I can use in my blog” sorts of comments. And it is a love fest. Wow. Thanks. But where are the contrarians and practical people???

  19. “something wizardly to offer”. I guess I’m going to start a Harry Potter Blog :)

  20. Fantastic post! I have definitely had that experience of pulling back the curtain and finding nothing there, or as another commenter said, going to a blog and finding one big commercial. Blech. Good content is not enough to be successful, but you have to start there before you add in the bells and the whistles and the tweets and the stumbles and the diggs and everything else.

  21. you’re over the rainbow baby. as in, the pot of gold.

  22. Fantastic post and very well said…. I couldn’t agree more. I only hope I have the talent that you mentioned above because I certainly have the passion for my topic — I live and breathe it.

    Thanks Kelly.

  23. Oh wow. That was the giddiest, silliest, girliest most scrumptiously entertaining, but eminently sensible take on the whole pro-blogging business that I’ve read in an age. More please, my tinkly shoes are a-twitching!

  24. Beautifully said.

  25. Julie Scipioni McKown says: 10/03/2009 at 4:57 am


  26. Those aren’t Mary Janes. They’re very nice shoes, of course, and very sparkly red.

    But Mary Janes have a strap.

    This would all be easier – for me – if more people could see the poetry and elegance in well-written code.

  27. Not surprisingly, Kelly, you practice what you preach. Consistently. Powerfully. Provocatively. Thanks for the affirmation that content and passion matter, that there’s really no Wizard, and that “magic” and heart and awesome shoes really do matter.

    I’ll walk that yellow brick road with you any and every time – not because Oz is at its end, but because the trip itself is what matters!

    Thank you. Amazing!!

  28. Very passionate and inspiring post. Made my Friday that much better=]

  29. I agree 100% with Kelly. These day, there is a lot of junk online just for the sake of being. Lots of content with no value to anyone.

    I believe, that passion and willingness to share are the right fuel for the blogging community engine.

    And thanks for sharing this post Darren and thanks Kelly for writing it.

  30. i’m inspired

  31. Now THAT was a great read! I am striving to become a “red shoe blogger”. I think I have the passion, message, collaboration, community, etc thing down. My goal is to continue doing that but also make money. It’ll happen but I’m mostly in the spreading the message part of it at the moment.

    Thanks for the inspiration Kelly. Entertaining post.

  32. Interesting, did you happen to write the last sentence of the post before you embarked on the actual body? Just curious… You’re right about the passion part, while some people can make a good living off of blogging, it’s just not a realistic full time job for most people, but that doesn’t mean that they’re stories and ideas aren’t worthy of being seen / read.

    Reminds me of a blogger I know that is constantly complaining (on his blog!) about how he’s not making money off the blog so he can’t spend time on it. He should read this post!

  33. @Dave your insightful shoe analysis makes me swoon.

    @Carl please don’t. please.

    @Sami We are in sync. I want to work at what I love and make money too. I just think that getting the foundation right – ie having something to monetize other than the framework of a blog and a few marketing tricks – is the key.

  34. Kelly,

    Thank you for your GREAT post. I couldn’t agree with you more. I had my first blog over 5 years ago, read alot of Seth, and I was taught to write what you are passionate about and connect with others. Post on others blogs, connect up, network, share. etc.

    In addition, being a Dorothy and the Ruby Red Slippers (hence the spin on the Not in Oz Anymore Blog) I TOTALLY get what you said…….

    Thank you

  35. @Luis You’re weirdly prescient. The last line arrived about 3/4s of the way through the piece. This is a good thing. Sometimes (always) I go off on a tangent and am not sure how to wrap a piece up. Sometimes it ends itself. Like this time. Phew.

    @Alison. Oh my. I think you just wrote my new bio. Giddy and girly. I may have been described that way a time or two before (@joshhanagarne, I’m a-talkin’ to you)

    @Carrie That was what I hoped for. Really and truly. Thank you.

    @Danielle xoxoxoxoxo

    @Ronna You make me sound so wise. I kinda like it. Don’t stop.

  36. @Mike oh I have to hire you to write about me. I can pay you in imaginary blog tokens.

    “The run on title combined with a completely cracked out introduction was apparently just too good to pass up”.

    Yes. Cracked is my new favourite word. Thank you!

  37. Well written and unique post. Some good resources listed as well. I agree that you need to be different and have some passion/emotion in the blog, but sometimes it takes time to get there. It helps to start somewhere and then learn to find your voice.

  38. @Nathan you’re exactly right. That’s what I did with my blog. I just started. I’ve been blogging for six months, and recently it all coalesced into a purpose.

    Now, I’m working on a new design (with hot up-and-coming designer @mandalove on Twitter) for my blog, complete with a brand(y) and a manifesto.

    Yes a manifesto, not a mission statement.

    So you’re right: start anywhere. Find your voice. Believe.

  39. Liane YoungBlogger says: 10/03/2009 at 7:32 pm

    A post I’ve been waiting to read. This is major. Brilliant. All the honesty jam-packed. My congratulations.

  40. A red shoe blogger. I got to say this one had me hooked from beginning to end. Something interesting I make a decent amount of money online, but none of it comes from my blogs really it all has come from my boring static website which I built thousands upon thousands of backlinks mainly from reading the Grizz’s blog. Backlinks run the SERPs. The only thing is I have never been happy doing what I do when it comes to my website. After reading this blog I saw that running a blog has something which running a website doesn’t and that is interaction. Interaction between me and my blog interaction between me and my audience. I love my blogs but hate the lack of money I make through them and I hate my website but love the amount of money I make. I hope one day that my blogs will overtake my website in earning power, but the money coming from the make money niche and my website is hard to beat. Anyway sorry for babling I think I am a red shoe blogger since I don’t do it for the money and can actually make more from starting another website.


  41. I agree that content will make one want to bookmark or even link to the blog post. Gr8 blog. Thanks for sharing.

  42. and to think my red shoe fetish was all about them being pretty.

    I’ve always thought the world needed more red shoes – thanks for inspiring post

  43. Kelly, I could never figure out a category for my 1st blog, & now I know why: Life out Loud is a red-shoe blog. It’s abot the things important to me, a list that is broader than a single category. My food blog, my dog training blog – I’m passionate about those subjects but they’re tight-focus. LoL is all of me, unfiltered. Harder to write but, in some ways the writing comes easier because I’m on fire. Good thoughts; thank you.

  44. I adore The Wizard of Oz analogy. Just watched it with my son BTW…he’s almost 6 and I was waiting for him to FLIP OUT over the flying monkeys and the wicked witch (cause you know, they STILL scare me) but he didn’t. I’m sure this means that he will have debilitating nightmares until he is a teenager…

    Anyhow, you really hit home and I think every new “mommy blogger” should be required to read this before starting a blog.

    Because of their misaligned expectations and misunderstanding of how to stand out and get noticed many are destined to become the wicked witch of the east…..

    At least she had pretty shoes.

  45. Very Interesting piece, but I especially like the red shoe pic, it got my attention as well as gave me a few ideas . Thanks

  46. Sounds like a lot of useless fluff to me. You are a great constructive writer, however, I’ll give you that.

  47. Passion: The quality you must possess to ignore all false evidence which suggests that what you’re doing ‘isn’t working.’

    When acting from the heart, people will find you. Money will find its way into your pocket. The universe always takes care of those who honor its calling.


  48. I loved this post; it tapped into everything I’ve been feeling about blogging lately. I just wrote a very crabby post on my blog about how, in order to sell my book — which I’m feeling uncharacteristically confident about — I thought I was supposed to be writing lists and producing “useful” content instead of the quirky pieces from the heart that appeal to me. So thank you for giving me hope that there’s room for genuine writing, not just soulless content.

  49. Simply awesome post! Thank you.

  50. Love this post! Thanks for the encouragement. I will come back to your writing from time to time.

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