Somewhere down the line I developed a reputation as being someone who will say and do nearly anything. While this is true, there is one thing that I won’t do.
I don’t kiss and tell.
No, I don’t mean when you immediately run to your girlfriends and dish about that fantastic date that you just came back from, or when you write on your Facebook wall about just how much fun the conception of your first child was. I mean the practice of bragging about or being fairly candid about the number of page views that your blog attracts or the number of Followers that you have acquired on Twitter.
Recently, a couple of posts sprang up in the blogosphere, which admittedly were very gracious and not immediately harmless. I just want to stress that I have no personal issue with the people who decided to write these posts and so I’m not going to name names or anything. What I do take issue with is the principle behind it, which whether they meant it or not, does reinforce the idea that on some level your page views matter.
I have met a number of people who have a very strong interest in starting a blog, but won’t, because they are afraid that nobody will be interested in what they have to say, or that nobody will read what they write. I have also seen a number of bloggers who made a solid attempt at blogging, but gave up when they didn’t get the traffic that they were hoping for, or when they felt like nobody was listening.
Now you could argue that these people were blogging for all of the wrong reasons and so they were doomed to fail anyway. I have gone on record a number of times to say that if you are looking for a reason to blog and you are doing it for the page views that you are doing it wrong. That is not the reason to start a blog. It is not worth getting wrapped up over and it really can turn into an endless spiral of shame and self-loathing if you let it. But one could also say that you can’t blame people for being concerned about their numbers when they see posts celebrating these near impossible landmarks and the amount of admiration and praise that is showered upon people who do reach these heights. You can’t blame someone for wanting to be a part of that and for wanting to feel that way, too.
I compare advertising your page views or how many Followers you have to boasting about the number of people that you slept with. You may have slept with 25 people, but that doesn’t make you better in bed than the person who only slept with 2 people. We should be judging ourselves and each other on the quality of our work rather than the number of people that it attracts. I know quite a few up and coming bloggers that I have seen mentioned on Blog Azeroth< that have written some truly riveting posts within weeks of starting their blog, which I can’t always say for people who may be more well established and who have been going at this for a while. That blogger may have only gotten 100 page views or so, but I would much rather read what they have to say than that powerhouse blogger who gets thousands of views a day.
It really is not about that. I have been blogging for a long time and I can honestly say that I was never happier than when I was blogging away on Livejournal, when nobody knew who I was, and when I was talking about how excited I was that the first season of “The Golden Girls” was coming out on DVD. I wasn’t writing for anyone but me and it showed. I didn’t obsess over who was going to take something the wrong way, or whether or not my facts were straight. I wrote because I loved to do it and because it helped me clear my head and get a lot of things out of in the open that I didn’t think I could say to anyone else directly.
Somewhere down the line it gets muddled and you do feel obligated to keep going. It’s hard not to feel that way when you realize that people are looking forward to your next post or when they do get emotionally invested in the things that you write about. Blogging starts to feel less carefree, less effortless once you develop some semblance of a following. I can take a look at the posts that I wrote when I had no Followers and nobody subscribed to my blog and see a huge difference in the tone or the quality of the posts from where I am now. It really does change everything.
On a similar note, we say that we like Looking For Raid because it gets people interested in raiding, but then we criticize other players when they don’t perform to the standards that we are used to in our everyday raiding guilds. We wonder how people could be so incompetent or how they could have gotten this far without asking for help. I see elements of this in the blogosphere, too. We make comments on Twitter that we have nothing new to read and that there are no blogs out there that pertain to a certain topic, but then we hesitate to click on a Retweet from a friend that just may have an article from a new and interesting voice that has yet to be heard. Or we don’t think to write back to someone who sends us a Tweet or leaves us a comment to tell us that we did a good job on our most recent post, simply because we have never heard of them, or because they may have less of a following than we do.
Whether you mean it or not, that new blogger is going to read a post like the one mentioned above and it may deter from them even getting started, or it may convince them that they aren’t cut out to maintain a blog because they can never pull in numbers like that. I think we should be doing everything we can to remove any sort of “Why bother?” element from people interested in getting involved in the community and be more inclusive, overall. We all remember what it was like when we were first starting out and I think it’s important that we never forget that, no matter how successful we might become. There really is enough room for everyone at the table, regardless of the amount of page views that you generate. Let’s do a better job of communicating that, shall we?