Week 2: What, Why, and How of Blogging

For this assignment, you have two options:

1) Respond to the Week 2 Prompt, written below. [100 words]


2) Respond to at least two of your peers’ responses to the Week 2 Prompt. [60 words each]

No matter which option you choose, make sure to tie your responses to either Rettberg’s “What is a Blog?” or Sullivan’s “Why I Blog.”

Prompt: Begin following at least five blogs. (You may find interesting blogs to follow by searching Google, browsing an aggregator such as Feedly, or soliciting recommendations from others.) Read a few sample posts from each blog and analyze those posts using ideas from Rettberg’s and/or Sullivan’s essays. If you can, include quotes and links to your sample blog posts and the readings; doing so will help you to practice for your own blog. If you have trouble including quotes and/or links, write yourself some notes in Evernote or whatever other journal format you prefer so that you can get help during class.



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I am a lecturer for the Sweetland Center for Writing and the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.

19 thoughts on “Week 2: What, Why, and How of Blogging”

  1. The first blog I looked at was Peanut Butter Fingers (https://www.pbfingers.com/), a blog focused on healthy eating and wellness. This blog is a mixture of the three kinds of blogs defined by Rettberg, as a personal blog, a topic-driven blog and a filter blog. The author Julie defines her blog as a way to “document my life, fueled by (mostly) healthy food and fitness.” She has a thread titled “Things I’m Loving Friday,” in which she links things she has found that week that she enjoys, emulating a filter blog. Her other posts are focuses on health (both fitness and food), encapsulating a topic-driven style.

    Amanda Bucci (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHoUCBKPrngzm5FqrIq2tlA) is a social media influencer/blogger I have been following for the past year or so.  Amanda focuses on health, wellness, and about building a business around social media and the challenges of doing so. In this video, (https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf_3jaohO1D/) Amanda talks about “instant, personal, and brutal” feedback that Sullivan also mentions in his piece, and provides a method of dealing with it.


  2. The first blog I poked around at is called The Blonde Abroad (https://theblondeabroad.com) , and was created by a woman who quit her corporate job to travel the world. The blog is currently set up as what Rettberg classifies as a personal style blog, but also shares aspects of a topic driven blog. In many of her posts, she includes personal photos and stories about her travels, but the blog also focusses more generally on traveling in relation to fashion, food, photography, etc.. She uses blogrolling by linking to certain travel sites in her posts. For example, in a post about fun trips to take with friends, she mentions: “I’ve done four all-girls trips on The Yacht Week and they’re some of the best trips I’ve ever taken”, and inserts the link to a site where people can plan their own Yacht Week.
    Another blog I started following is The Waitress Confessions (https://thewaitressconfessions.wordpress.com), which is mostly a topic-driven blog that focuses on server and diner etiquette, all written by the creator of the blog. However, the blog does have a section called True Stories where other bloggers write in and the creator posts their stories. This seems like a really great component because it adds to the friendship between reader and blogger that Sullivan references in his Why I Blog (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/11/why-i-blog/307060). This blog’s posts are mostly short and sweet, supporting Sullivan’s claim that blogs are “spontaneous expression[s] of thought” as well as “unprecedented, visceral and sometimes brutal”.


    1. Hi! I love that The Waitress Confessions has a section for other bloggers to contribute their own [I’m assuming, server] experiences. As someone who is really big on communication and feedback, I think the social component of blogs is an incredibly powerful tool for collaboration and sharing knowledge. The “colloquial, unfinished tone” that Sullivan refers to, the obligation of bloggers to create a welcoming environment for reader participation, and the greater experience offered with the use of hyperlinks are all components that contribute tp the comfort level of the readers and their willingness to engage with the blog and its audience.


    2. Rettberg describes how blogs, although the “backbone of social media,” must also adapt to the evolving social media ecosystem. Not only can the appearance of blogging change such as micro-blogs through Twitter and Facebook , it can also integrate other mediums. I found it fascinating that in The Blonde Abroad, the blogger often uses hyperlinks to bring readers to her Instagram account where she showcases photos from her trip. It creates a closed loop of personal blogging content.


    3. Sierrarae97,
      I really like the Blonde Abroad Blog. I think because her life is interesting, it’s interesting for other people to look at. Even more so, I think a blog like this inspires people who don’t have the confidence to do something so radical and life-changing like quitting your job and travelling the world. For people who really can’t uproot their lives for whatever reason, her experiences and photos on her blog are a way for people to vicariously live her incredible life!


  3. One of the first blogs that really caught my eye was called LongReads. It is pretty much an accumulation of all of my interests. It is most like a filter-style blog as it combines investigative writing on both national news but also personal investigation. Yet, it also includes a personal aspect within the blog that features short stories, essays, nonfiction pieces, and honestly every another type of writing possible. For example, there is a post called the invisible lives of young women with chronic mental illness by Jessica Gross. It is an interview with Michele Lent Hirsch about her experience with mental illness and how it affects women’s relationships, careers, and self-confidence. Then, there is a story called The Stuff That Came Between Mom and Me: A Story About Hoarding, which is a personal essay by Susan Fekete that documents her mother’s hoarding addiction. Her writing, as stated by Retterberg, allows Fekete to “understand herself more clearly”, such as how her relationship with her mother has affected her trust in others. Moreover, she relates to Sullivans point that it is the epitome of “raw honesty,” in essence, she pens about her family problems, and her struggles, in a deeper way than say a news reporter could if they were interviewing her.

    Another blog that I decided to follow, which I talked about in my reflection, is the blog called 50 Word Stories, which I believe to be just a very niche subject, or a “topic-driven” blog as Retterberg says, that was specifically created with the intention of creative writing. It is really interesting because I did some digging and it looks as if a lot of the bloggers that post on the website are familiar with each other. For example, in a story titled “The Squirrels,” one comment is from someone named Mary who loves the “tenacity of his characters.” Much like the article in The Atlantic by Sullivan, there is an interesting friendship through reader and writer that was created through these websites. The connection, as he states is that the reader and writer’s “proximity is palpable,” making the blog a extremely more vulnerable, yet intimate community.


  4. 5 news blogs I follow:
    Olivia Rink
    Bre Sheppard
    I am a food blog
    World of Wanderlust
    The Pin the Map Project

    A lot of the blogs that I discovered in my searches were 1) written by women and 2) personal blogs, like Rettberg describes in her essay. For example, Olivia Rink’s latest blog post was a piece describing each room in her house and links to every piece of furniture, rug or decoration. I’m not sure what is more personal than bringing random online strangers through your home. I found this post interesting because it kind of contradicts the veil Rettberg refers to. Olivia Rink is letting complete strangers envision every room in her home; she’s not keeping much of anything behind the ‘veil’. I think this is why users like her however, because she is so authentic and open.

    I found Rettberg’s 3 categories of blog somewhat limiting. I would argue the travel blogs I found, both World of Wanderlust and The Pin the Map Project, could be both personal and topic blogs. They only concerned with travel, but they are personal experiences of one’s travels, which can be used by readers to guide their own future adventures. One blog I identified with that was more personal over topic was about travel anxiety that a travel blogger experiences whether that be while flying, planning or other aspects that go into travel.


    1. Hi! I like how you mention the concept of the veil that was presented in Rettberg’s book. I took a look at Olivia Rink’s post about her home decor, and I think I would actually argue that her blog post is rather impersonal. I say it’s impersonal because other than the fact that the images show actual items in her home, the items look rather new, are strategically placed in the images, and are very commercialized in her post (she even posts info on where to buy them, etc.) As a reader, this doesn’t make me feel any sort of empathy or connection to her unique life or who she is as a person.


  5. One of the blogs that I started following is Penelope Loves Lists: Unapologetically Organized, run by woman named Meredith…not Penelope. The personal blog focuses on a type of person, a Penelope, who has some quirks (including but not limited to OCD, ) and how to learn not to be ashamed of them. All the articles, written by “Penelopes”, range on the topic from Type-A struggles, to work/home lie balance and food. An article that caught my eye, Sit Down and Shut Up, describes, “one of those days… the ones where you honestly want to call it a day and hope tomorrow is better”, where the author reveals some not so pretty information and why sometimes you just need to sit down and shut up (aka recognize you had a bad and find a way to move on). This post is in accordance with Sullivan’s idea that a because a blog is instantly public, personal reflections are instantaneously and painfully public, but that’s what makes this blog so interesting to read.

    I also started following Smitten Kitchen. Unlike the personal blog format that Penelope Loves Lists, Smitten Kitchen is more of a “topic-driven” blog that focuses on cooking in a small kitchen with “non-pretentious” food. The first button at the top is a link that leads you to a random article on this blog. The first article that I got, titled Parchment versus waxed paper, is a short blog post simply about parchment versus waxed paper. This reminds me of the blog, Dooce, in Rettberg’s article, where some posts are short and sweet while still getting to the point, and some are longer. I think this makes a blog successful because not every post needs to be pages long.


    1. In the Sullivan article, blogs are comprised of not only information but opinion and scholarship. The Penolope Love Lists fit well into this description as it fulfills the role of a “private Wikipedia.” It is almost like a personal encyclopedia of different types of “Penelope’s” as well as the various struggles and quirks that they might go through in life.


  6. 3 blogs that I already followed are:
    Hyperbole and a half
    Reflections from a redhead
    Joel Bein
    2 blogs that I recently followed are:
    Ladyhood Journey
    Reflections and Life Lessons

    Reflections from a Red Head is a filter-type blog run by a woman named Janine. It’s a filter-type blog because while it does not read like a diary, she does occasionally draw on her own experiences. The blog focuses on motivation and self-care, which is the type of blog that I would be interested in running. Her blog posts range from making time for yourself, finding work-life balance, getting fit and healthy, and developing gratitude. One post that I really liked was Attitude of Gratitude and the health benefits of practicing gratitude. One thing that she does really well is interacting with her readers in her blog posts. For example, she asks the reader to “What are
    Grab yourself a piece of paper and quickly write down the first three things that jump into your mind. You could be grateful for something as simple as a hot coffee in the morning, friends, or an amazing sunset.” This is reflective of Sullivan’s idea that modern blogs are like jazz – it needs to be engaged in.

    Another blog that I followed previously and had actually forgotten that I followed until I came across it again until this assignment, is the blog Hyperbole and a half. I love this blog because the author includes funny anecdotes from her life along with cartoons that she drew on Microsoft paint. It’s a pretty random and hilarious blog, and I would consider it to be a filter/personal blog. In one of her posts, Menace, she describes an anecdote about when she was four and dressed up as a dinosaur for Halloween, and how being a dinosaur gave her a feeling of power that was unlike being a human being, with cartoons scattered throughout the post. Rettburg says that it’s hard to have a tight definition of what a blog is because it’s shaped by the author and I think it’s very true for this blog, which reminds me somewhat of a children’s book in blog form.


  7. 1. Every Silly Little Thing
    a. Towel Mountains
    i. A short, 6 sentence piece about her cat sitting on top of the piles of towels in her apartment. Concise. Cute. Witty “Cats gotta have goals.” Placed firmly in the personal/diary style genre. What makes it stand out is the way that it brings a moment of focus on a single aspect of a person’s day, a single observation while staying to the point and not trying to dig too deeply into the topic at hand. Staying concise and pithy. https://itsshortytime.com/2018/03/14/towel-mountains/
    b. Snot Sucker
    i. Describes a woman’s frustrations on the bus. It touches on many different, very relatable gripes with public transportation. The length of the ride, loud people, sick people, often having to stand because there are no empty seats. But it does it in a way that seems not like a conscious discussion of the subject but a snapshot of her thoughts at the moment. https://itsshortytime.com/2018/03/10/snot-sucker/
    2. The Task at Hand
    i. A lovely, very thoughtful blog written by a woman who is clearly very skilled at writing. Her writing style is quite formal but personal. Each of her posts a piece of a memoir that follows a certain thread of her life. With insightful observations “Even though my coloring books had been set aside, the importance of remaining within the lines remained unquestioned.” https://shoreacres.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/living-outside-the-lines/ She often brings in poetry that fits her topic and provides a further insight on the subject.
    3. The Simple Dollar
    a. As a college student who is only just getting a taste of financial independence and responsibility, I want to do what I can to make sure that I can meet my financial goals and, most importantly, stay afloat financially. So this blog The Simple Dollar https://www.thesimpledollar.com/, Which touts itself as a personal finance blog aimed at real-life people is something that seems like just what I’m looking for. This is a topic-driven blog written by a team of people, so its posts are not terribly personal, but rather maintain a formal, informative voice, while using catchy titles like “16 Little Frugality Tips That Make a Surprising Difference”. These titles tell the reader just what they can expect to find in the post. This site is quite adept at coming up with catchy titles and making use of buzzwords like ‘surprising’ and ‘power’ to give a more informal relaxed feel to the content, making it fun.
    4. The Minimalists Next Door https://minimalistnextdoor.com/
    a. A minimalist blog that covers a wide variety of topics regarding living a simpler life. This appeals to me because it seems to acknowledge that minimalism doesn’t have to be extreme and that it is more of an ongoing process and mindset than a very specific style of living.
    5. Minimalist Under Construction https://minimalistunderconstruction.wordpress.com/
    This blog seems to cover a lot of the same topics that I think about on a regular basis: Minimalism, budgeting, mindfulness. This blog is constructing and framing the story of a person’s journey to self-improvement, with clearly set goals and regular check-ins, at least until February of last year. I think that the author’s goal to record the thoughts from each of 100 days may have been too ambitious for their life at the time.


  8. For me, personality is the essence of any blog; it can make or break a blog, and plays a role in how eagerly and avidly fans interact with a particular post. Personality also gives a blog post more passion and serves as an expression of the blogger, making posts personal. Sullivan confirms this notion explicitly in his article, suggesting that “you have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts,” suggesting that the self-expression and personality add more passion and can help push a blog to new heights.

    One good blog that capitalizes on personality in sports is Deadspin (www.deadspin.com), which often uses crude or brash language to get points across. Unlike other sports blogs which often just report news and leave opinions up to the fans, Deadspin writers bring their thoughts to the forefront of their articles, offering entertaining takes on typical sports news stories. A good example of this was with their post, “Shit, There Might Be Logic Behind The Jets’ Plan At Quarterback” by Dom Cosentino (deadspin.com/shit-there-might-be-logic-behind-the-jets-plan-at-quar-1823763199). The Jets are a team that has become synonymous with failure in the past few years, and the news of offseason signings from the team wouldn’t excite much of anyone around the league. However, Cosentino’s critical and rough tone, his skeptical perspective, and even a link to a previous article where he gives a sarcastic history of the Jets quarterback mentoring “dynasty,” all push a unique personality presented by Cosentino that takes his critical analysis of the Jets’quarterback situation and twists it into a pessimistic yet hopeful outlook for the future. To be honest, it sounds reminiscent of sports talk with a friend at a bar, and that’s what makes the blog so engaging; it’s that crude outlook that sports fans love.


    1. Ejshub, you said it perfectly when you said that personality makes any blog. I couldn’t agree more — in a blog I would write, I would probably use a litany of sarcastic comments and “choice words.” The minute you hear about something that intrigues you, makes you angry, makes you excited, or makes you think, you have to sit down and write about it. You have to put your feelings down into words while they’re still fresh! It reminds me of when you’re in an argument with someone and an hour later, you think of all these sassy comebacks that would have been great at the time, but now it’s too late! Truly, I think writing is a powerful and non-violent way to channel your emotions.


  9. New Blogs

    I took a closer look into “cupcakes and cashmere” since I was very intrigued by its title from the start. From the home page, there were many different blog posts ranging from fashion to motherhood to inspiration quotes. I took a look at one of the pinned posts entitled “New Things” which talked about how the author was changing one of her stable weekly posts to reflect new wisdom that she had found after her recent anniversary with her partner. I found this really interesting and immediately thought back to the idea of how blogs are never fully published as mentioned in Rettberg’s article. Also, the author really evoked a lot of emotion through her word choice such as when she states “ I remember what the first few days felt like..” and it makes the reader feel as if they are listening to the author tell their own life story! But the author doesn’t make it too cheesy with a lot of pictures and stuff, so I really enjoyed that.

    Another blog I looked at was the running off the reeses blog, where two woman document their running adventures while making a joke out of everything. Although they do tend to have some serious blog posts, many of them are quite funny! I personally really enjoyed their most recent blog post that had serious commentary on food and nutrition, but had very playful gifs to accompany them. As Rettberg mentions, blogs have a similar purpose to books but tend to be a little more playful which I think this blog does very well.


  10. A blog that I looked at was Bucketlist Journey (https://bucketlistjourney.net/category/wellness/
    ). It is a blog that talks about her personal bucket list goals, How to walk-throughs of places she has been before, and lists of things to check out at different places. According to Rettburg, it is a personal blog and a topic-driven blog that primarily focuses on travel. In addition, Annette uses links in almost every blog. According to Sullivan, hyperlinks to the original source transforms the experience. Another blog that I looked at was Eat Like a Girl (http://eatlikeagirl.com/), a blog that focuses on food and travel. She posts recipes of all different types of foods and logs about her adventurous travels, ending each log with some tips and tricks to improve your traveling experience. This is also what Rettberg describes as a personal style blog, but also is topic-driven since she sticks to two particular topics.


  11. By reading the article “What is a blog”, my vision has been widened, specifically in the world of blogging. And it is interesting to know that the origin of the word “blog” is actually a contraction of “web” and “log”. Blogs share similarities in layout and elements, but they are far more diverse in their topics and subjects.
    I like the metaphor that Sullivan made about blogs and hobbies – “There are as many different kinds of topic-driven blogs as there are hobbies, passions and professions.” And here are some blogs I followed based on my appetites.
    1) FiveThirtyEight http://fivethirtyeight.com/
    538 is a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging. The site has published articles – typically creating or analyzing statistical information – on a wide variety of topics since 2008 including economics, politics, cultures, etc. I enjoy reading and interpreting those graphs and charts contains underlying interesting statistics for our life, which enable me to comprehend information efficiently and pleasantly. I discovered many favorite data visualizations from this websites.
    2) Aileen https://iamaileen.com/
    The blogger Aileen Adalid quit my corporate job in the Philippines at 21 years old to pursue dreams of traveling the world and building her own business. Today, she is a successful digital nomad (online entrepreneur, travel blogger and travel vlogger) living a sustainable travel lifestyle. She is using this blog to share her international experience and detailed travel guides. I enjoy her articles and diaries that make me believe the infinite opportunities and odds outside of this amazing world.


  12. Five blogs I began to follow are:

    Oh! That Film Blog

    Bottle Magazine



    Cinematic Slant

    The first blog I stumbled upon was “Accismus”, published by a woman who works for WordPress’ parent company, Automattic. The blog consists largely of Elizabeth Urello’s personal thoughts about the world around her, “rants,” and reviews of popular movie and books. She wrote a particularly moving piece on the recent movie Wonder Woman, where she says, “There was a moment at the beginning of Wonder Woman where I cried. It was when I realized I was not going to have to watch a woman — any woman — get graphically raped onscreen.” Her take on the film’s representation of women in movies–specifically superheroes–is especially meaningful coming from a mature woman in the workforce. Urello’s blog reminded me of Andrew Sullivan’s piece in The Atlantic titled “Why I Blog,” in which he writes that publishing a personal blog like Urello’s “transforms this most personal and retrospective of forms into a painfully public and immediate one” (theatlantic.com). While I wouldn’t categorize Urello’s thoughts as “painful,” her blog is certainly public. As a woman who frequently follows pop culture and media, it was refreshing to hear her public, personal thoughts and to be able to reflect on them myself.

    I also enjoyed reading “Oh! That Film Blog”‘s take on several contemporary films. Their review of Shape of Water intrigued me. Movies, although shared by millions, can be deeply personal experiences. Each viewer interprets the content against his or her personal experiences, biases, and environments. Blogging about them is an amazing way for people to share their own take on a shared human experience. Reading about how “Oh! That Film Blog” saw the same movie I did was moving. As Sullivan explains, bloggers “experience the same things you are experiencing, and share the moment” with you (the reader). I saw most of the films nominated for Best Picture this year, and related  deeply to the blog’s interpretation of Shape of Water: “In a time where movies tend to have to stick to a certain type of grit and realism to achieve Oscar success, it is wonderful to see something so surreal, so fantastical, so filled with escapism.” I felt the exact same way after the film and it was surprisingly emotional to read.


  13. Blogs I followed


    The first blog I followed was http://saltyluxe.com/ because oh my god she’s painting the perfect picture of how to live your life to the fullest while traveling – aka I want to live this life. With just a few clicks away, I believe she has done exactly what Rettberg has said about “focusing on happiness” and “blogging for bliss” (p29). Sarah, the owner of saltyluxe.com creates an invigorating blog showcasing stunning travel photography, destination guides, and lifestyle advice. The words “A Place to Inspire the Wanderlust in You” smack dab in the middle of her home page immediately grabbed my attention. I am very passionate about travel. I love learning about the best places to go and I spend my money on experiences. Therefore, when I travel, I make sure to be smart with my money, and I often take advice from bloggers. About a year ago, I searched for travel “experts” on social media and came across Salty Luxe (Sarah) on Instagram. I found out shortly from researching blogs for this class, that she has a blog too!
    Specifically, Sarah uses her blog as a personal photo diary. The purpose her of blog is to inspire and connect other travelers. She provides travel guides that review the best destinations in that area and housing reviews for the airbnbs, hotels, or resorts she stayed in. Paralleling Sarah’s blog style with Rettbergs article, saltyluxe.com, excesenutates photos over words as way to “reveal” her life moments to her followers. She lets her photos do the speaking. The short blurbs that are a part of her blog, still in fact “gives readers a strong feeling of knowing the blogger, but that also keep many secrets” (p21). I am able to see the way Sarah constructs herself digitally. Her pictures do the speaking but, at the same time reveal mystery. One could argue they leave the reader wanting more than just an image and a few sentences here or there. Overall, Sarah’s blog is the medium to which she utilizes to engage with her followers. Whether its through her quite envious instagram posts or beautifully designed blog, I am able live vicariously through her travel experiences.


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