Blogging for an audience of one: the pitfalls of personal blogs
‘When the thrill of blogging is gone‘, an article from The New York Times, struck a chord. As someone who got his first blog setup some 7 years ago but managed to maintain it with some semblance of regularity only for the past year or so I could empathize with it fully. The article asks:
Many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?
While I never had aspirations of blogging full time and making a career out of it, I would be lying if I said that ‘I am writing for myself’ and see it solely as a means to ‘express myself’. It is certainly not meant for an audience of one though many posts end up being read only by that exact number! Therein lies the rub. Sometimes, I slog my backside over a post – about an interesting topic worthy of discussion – writing and re-writing it several times until I am totally satisfied with it. And then I wait. I check for comments at least thrice a day. Zilch. None. Dead in the water.
Since a majority of my posts are about creative work that I have seen, I don’t expect a huge barrage of comments on them. But at least on topics relevant to the advertising industry, it is disappointing when it fails to elicit any comment or debate.
Apparently 95 percent of blogs are essentially ‘abandoned’. The reasons aren’t far to seek:
It is hard work: need I say more?
Easier forms of personal online presence: there are other forms- Facebook & Twitter – which demand less time and attention from you. Writing down your Facebook or Twitter status or sharing a photo album or taking ‘Which cartoon character are you?’ quiz is relatively easier than writing your thoughts on Politics or reviewing a book. Sharing a URL or saying that you are now having a Pudhina Parartha under 140 characters is easier.
Getting an audience isn’t easy: just because your blog is out there doesn’t mean it’s going to be discovered. Getting on top of search engine query lists or aggregators like Digg calls for understanding SEO basics and planning your blogging platform, tags and key words accordingly. Unless the content is so good that it gathers momentum through word of mouth, the chances of garnering a huge audience, a consistently high traffic and robust debate on your comments isn’t gonna happen automatically.
The big boys are out there: whether it is personal bloggers or blog conglomerates it appears that they have an army of writers and have the audience all taped up. The big boys of blogging treat it as a full time job and can shoot of an opinion about an event in an instant. And in blogging speed matters. And for consistency they have a panel of writers who can churn out 10 posts a day. An individual blogger with a full time job can’t match this kind of speed and volume of posts. I have also noticed that traffic to my blog wanes when there is a huge gap between posts. And finding time even assuming there is something interesting to write about is an issue.
New media like blogs and micro-blogs have novelty value. Apparently, a majority of Twitter users abandon tweeting within a month. Many have my friends have a Twitter account but probably have updates in single digits over the last few months. My interest in new media or blogs is linked (even if tenuously) to some kind of appreciation – be it in the form of comments, readership or followers. But that doesn’t subsume me so much and the motivation to keep blogging irrespective of an audience or not is still alive. Will it last? I hope so. At least for the sake of my audience of one.