I have been blogging for 15+ years. I think looking for external validation is short sighted. While people have contacted me occasionally and thanked me, and I have even gotten a few $$$ from my blog, the real reason I write is intrinsic. It clears my mind and provides a way for me to realize what I am really thinking. I do it publicly because otherwise I wouldn’t (not much of a journaler).
However, if you don’t like the way the internet is currently organized, blogging is a great way to make a small change. Never been easier, all you have to commit is your time.
This is the same with me. I typically write a post describing how I got to a certain conclusion and what choices I made along the way. It helps me internalise those and then look back and refresh my memory when needed. If it helps others who stumble upon the post - all the better. But it is not the main reason.
IMO blogging for fame or money ultimately will lead to SEO, marketing, merch and all other things of this nature in one form or another.
You’re describing a very valid use case for a blog. It is just as much there for you as it is for someone else that might discover it and find it useful. It’s a good balance to have.
Likewise, I’ve been doing it in some form since the late 90s, mostly in the same place.
I don’t run any analytics, but if I had to guess I’d assume that my readership spikes as high as a few dozen, once or twice a year, but mostly hovers in the range of 7 or 8. I could name most of them - friends, family, former coworkers. Writing for that handful of people feels valuable, as does documenting technical stuff in public view. Still, after publishing something on the order of 400k words I’ve got to say that the ratio of fame and fortune to time & effort expended is not exactly impressive, if that’s what I were looking for out of it.
Not that there’s no external validation: A long history of public writing has probably been narrowly better for getting jobs than not, though I’ll be extremely unsurprised if it bites me in a career-limiting way one of these years. Once in a while I get a few internet points. But I wouldn’t really advise most people to look for it. I selfishly want more blogs to read, but I also think that a whole lot of people might do just as well writing a newsletter for a handful of close connections or similar.
(I’d also point out that airing your thinking and details about your life on the public network has turned out to be a very, very different risk proposition than it seemed when I got a GeoCities page in ~1997. At a bare minimum, you’re teaching the ever-growing panopticon more about you, and there are plenty of scenarios where it leaves you more vulnerable to malicious actors, of whom there are plenty.)
Good point about newsletters! For some it can be an even more convenient option for a platform that they own and control.
It’s amazing when you have such a strong internal drive and motivation. And it shows in the fact that you have managed to blog for so long. It definitely works for some people. In my experience, a lot of people don’t write with intrinsic reasons as their main motivation which is perhaps why more either quit or simply choose to have a social media profile rather than a website. That external validation is so much easier to get on social media with likes, comments, views etc. With a blog, it takes more effort.
That external validation is so much easier to get on social media with likes, comments, views etc.
That external validation is so much easier to get on social media with likes, comments, views etc.
100%. And I’m no saint, I like it when a post of mine gets traffic, a comment, or hits the front page of a popular site.
I just think that extrinisic motivation will fade.
A suggested addition: Publish a feed, link it prominently, and encourage feedreader adoption.
The death of Google Reader was really the big start of this move towards closed platforms. Most people never really switched to an alternative and simply went onto Facebook and Twitter. I doubt Google had that in mind when they did it.
This is why I recommend everyone to use https://git.sr.ht/~sircmpwn/openring . It basically fetches posts from blogs you follow and integrates them into your blog.
Very nice idea indeed.
Thanks for sharing!
The issue is that beyond the networks of hackernews and lobsters people do not really care about content on personal websites. Then, that causes that if one wants to support themselves they ought to run a blog which will be of interest to techie crowd, so a lot of in-depth topics are out of the picture.
I think (I do not have any data, would be thankful if somebody knew right keywords to find such research) Majority of content consumption is on (i.e.) YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And the issue is that with these networks many people forgot about RSS and without RSS I can’t think of any real retention.
What I also see is that low-quality content retention is outright awful (https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2018/09/infographic-how-people-read-content-online.html). But, then if you are freelance blogger you have to make premium/high-quality content.
Also, huge thanks for the guide for monetization, I run a small blog which is static HTML only, and insomuch as I do not treat it seriously, I am thankful for some ideas to push forwards when I get some traffic. Then, I have a question related to that - how viable is it to give advertisers access logs instead of Analytics (as my personal views are keeping me from forcing such software).
You’re welcome! It’s more convenient to simple stay and consume on the big networks but it also shows the power they have over our attention and time.
About analytics: Difficult to say as they would definitely not be used to that with GA being the default. But it’s worth trying. Perhaps you could find advertisers that are more aligned with your views and then it might be less of a hurdle.
Hi Marko… thanks for menthioning my post on yours.
One problem are big companies using their blogs to attract people to their site, they even hire marketing companies to work on SEO and do a lot of marketing for their blogs. That does not always mean good content.
I’ve a question, which I suppose some people might consider trolling, but I do want to know:
Why keep blogging alive and thriving? What does that gain?
I’m not arguing or even implying that it’s not worthwhile. I ask because I’ve heard the sentiment several times on the past years, and I don’t see how it’s related either to the blog posts I’ve written or those I’ve proofread on for friends. Each of those has an audience to reach and a message to deliver, but “alive and thriving” doesn’t seem to matter for either audience or message. Some other things do. For example, being indexable by Google and other search engines is very important for the purpose of some postings. But if “alive and thriving” means that there should exist many other blogs with many new postings, then I don’t see how that makes a difference for actual blog postings such as the example mentioned in that audience-and-goal rant. So what does it mean, what benefit does it bring, why is it something to work towards?
If you want to keep blogging alive and thriving, you should answer, because one of the big advantages of writing is that it clears your mind and improves your own understanding. Understanding the nature of a goal helps understanding how to better work towards the goal.
EDIT: I want to digress. Writing to gain understanding is IMO a good reason to write some/many blog posts. There aren’t many formats where you can write five hundred words on any subject you want, but your blog is your kingdom.
One of the main reasons for me is that personal blogs and websites make the web different and more personal too. All Facebook profiles look the same, all Twitter profile likewise. If we all move to them and produce and consume all of our content on those closed platforms, those platforms would be in full control and will be able to decide what happens with the future of the web. Keeping independent places alive and thriving keeps that free spirit and independence of the internet alive and thriving too.
If I’m allowed some rather unkind phrasing: You’re saying that people who write should do it more on their own blogs and less on big prefab platforms so that readers experience a more diverse and more personal web. If that’s it, then I can see why the central platforms won so much — I could forget about my server’s uptime or about editing my CSS to be suitably mobile-friendly, and the people who suffer by seeing reduced diversity aren’t me. I gain ease of use and perhaps reliability, they lose diversity.
This is a great blog post! Similarly, I care about keeping independent blogging alive. Independent blogs disappearing or becoming defunct bothers me. RSS being replaced with Twitter, Facebook, etc. also bothers me.
I began blogging 14 years ago (see my first blog post). It opened a whole new world for me: I could write about topics I care about and share it with the whole world. Well, the whole world did not visit my blog, only my colleagues and friends did. Occasionally, someone would reach a blog post of mine via a search engine. That was good enough.
We used to maintain sidebars on our blogs with links to our favourite blogs. Do you know (XKCD still does it in its footer? We could subscribe to any blog via RSS feed. I still fondly remember creating widgets on Netvibes displaying recent posts from my favourite blogs. Later, I moved on to Google Reader but sadly it was discontinued. I think that marked the beginning of the end of the glorious era of independent blogging. I have since moved on to Feedly but that warm feeling of community is gone. My feeds contain very few independent blogs now than it used to before.
I still provide RSS feed for my blog. I still continue to write blog posts occasionally. But the blogging culture has changed. Most posts these days are written on centralized platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Medium, etc. I wonder what it would take to instil that feeling of a community again.
Thanks for the nice comment and the kind words! So true!
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