I recently read a piece from David Risley called, “A Blog Is Not A Business,” in which he talked about how blogging (in and of itself) is not a business model. I wholeheartedly agree with Risley’s post and as I was reading, I forced myself to consider why I blog.
I don’t do it for the money, because, well, I don’t make any. French playwright and actor, Moliere, said, “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.” Right now, I’m still doing it for love. And a few close friends. Perhaps, one day, someone will pay me, but for now, they don’t. I don’t even want to pay myself. That’s why I intentionally choose not to have ads on my site (at least for the time being and probably for a long time). I don’t want to view my readers as little dollar signs trickling in. I want to view my readers as readers.
If people come to my site and read what I write, I truly appreciate that. I appreciate it even more when they comment (*clears throat*) because, at the core of why I write anything is to engage people in a dialogue. I intend for most pieces to be a conversation starter, a catalyst which can be used to engage and empower others.
I write more for others than I do for myself (although it can be therapeutic). This isn’t a journal; I don’t need to publish that. I write for you, the reader, whoever you may be. But in writing for the readers, and especially in knowing the readers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of writing what people want to hear instead of writing what I want to say.
I fear that many writers do just that — we sideline our own voice and opinions in order to gain acceptance and validation. Yes, I know topics I could write about that would make people “like” me more (for the moment, because if people are anything, it’s fickle) and in turn get me more traffic. But, if I’m not true to myself—to my own opinions, thoughts and perspectives—have I really done anything worthwhile? As the great Langston Hughes said, “No great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.”
In blogging, it’s easy to get concerned with how many hits you got last week or where the traffic is coming from. But I wonder how many bloggers lose themselves and their own identity in the midst of searching for hits. (Heck, we could wonder the same think about most artists out there nowadays.) For me, I don’t care. If eight million people come, that’s great; it eighty people come, that’s great. It’s not about how many, but rather who. It’s more meaningful if five people read a piece and reconsider a bad choice that they’ve made, or open their mind to a different perspective, than if five thousand people read it, leave, and don’t consider or remember it once they close the window.
While, yes, it’s true that the more people overall that come to the site, the higher the probability that people will hear something I said. It’s also true that more readers garners you more potential exposure, it’s not about 5,000 random people thinking your piece was great. It’s about the right person thinking your piece was great. And that one person may not come with the 5,000. (Or maybe this is all an elaborate lie I’ve made up to make myself feel better about not having the readership of others.)