“Blog for yourself” is the first piece of advice I used to give people. And everyone said it to me. Just do things for yourself; don’t care about what others think!
Now I regret it, because it’s led to bloggers who harm other bloggers just because they don’t think about anyone else. They took it seriously and didn’t understand where to draw the line. They defamed bloggers and copied blog posts. It was really bad. It still happens. People still think that’s okay.
A less radical version of a blogger who is still a bit radical claims to blog for herself, but wants things out of it.
The point we’re discussing today is that you can’t have both if you want to blog for yourself. If you want what bloggers who blog beyond themselves have, you have to consider your audience, too.
In other words:
You can have your cake and eat it, too, but unless you divide it evenly among the rest of the people in the room, it’s just yours—and is it even your party?
Blogging for yourself with an audience in mind
It’s like getting dressed: We can wear what we want, but we put on pants for other people to avoid traumatizing them.
In blogging, if we want what we expect out of it, we have to consistently look at things with a stranger’s eye. Maybe there are still posts we write and publish and share for ourselves first, but at the end of the day, we still have to consider that other people exist in the world.
No one wants to read a blog wherein the author only talks themselves, because we’re all boring—unless maybe we’re in the talent industry. But even people in the talent industry have to put in the work to earn those fans (not unlike bloggers + readers). In newer series, actors must live tweet during the show. Shadowhunters actors without Twitter accounts had to make one.
Telltale signs you DO want to blog for more than just yourself:
- you have an about page
- you allow comments
- people can follow you on social media
- you promote your blog/blog posts
- you want comments
- you review products (includes book reviews) — reviews are for consumers; don’t tell me you’re telling yourself what you think about things
- you keep track of your stats (e.g. Google Analytics)
- you publish how-to posts, tips, etc.
If you’re guilty of any of these—congrats. The second step is acceptance.
Blogging for just yourself
This is the very literal sense of blogging for oneself, but I think it’s something we all need to talk about so we can get off our high horses and stop saying, “I don’t care what you think! I don’t blog for you!” because there are much, much kinder ways to say that.
Also, people who blog for themselves only these days don’t stick around for long—the disappear, because in truth they wanted to be blogging for more than themselves because they wanted comments and interaction with their readers, but their readers didn’t like their blogs too much because remember that list up there? Yeah, well, those are telltale signs for a reason.
For example, you don’t need to tell yourself about yourself/your blog/etc. If you’re Wikipedia-ing up your about page with a complete history because YOU think people care about it, it’s not as much an ~about page~ as it is a prologue for your online diary. At its core, the about page is for the visitors (potential readers) and readers. Because you don’t need to tell yourself who you are and all that jazz in front of the whole world. You should consult with yourself in private instead.
Likewise, areas for discussion and interaction—on or off your blog—are calls to action. You’re literally saying, “Hey! Come here and interact with me!” And wanting people to want to do things on or to your blog? Well…I surmise people don’t enter romantic relationships for themselves.
It took me a bit to feel confident saying this, but I blog for more than just myself. And I like it. Before, I thought I had to blog for myself and that it was wrong to feel any sort of wanting for this or that—the benefits of blogging—but I like it. I like the give-and-take camaraderie that goes along with blogging. I like getting comments and “fan mail” and reaping the benefits of having a blog people read.
Overall, I’m not saying no one can blog for themselves…I just think, if we’re claiming to blog for ourselves but are demonstrating the opposite of that, we need a reality check. If you’re happy with your blog, you probably don’t have a problem. But 99 of my blogging-related problems? They all led me here.[1. I’ll explain more about this over time. Eeee, so excited!]