Blogging for an audience of one: the pitfalls of personal blogs

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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.

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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.

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Comments

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14 thoughts on “Blogging for an audience of one: the pitfalls of personal blogs”

  1. Absolutely agreed. I am one of them who abandoned his blogs(months ago) . May be the reasons are not one of any mentioned ones in your blog or the article in The New York Times. The reasons for me to do were a bit off-beat, like too much work in office, blogs blocked in my office etc. However the main reason being no comments from who ever it be.
    According to me, blogging is a powerful and most easily accessible tool to become famous. Especially for people who are introverts, shy, silent etc. These people may not like to be in the limelight physically but would not mind a few words of appreciation about their writing skills or sense of humor, that too from people unknown and still can remain unknown to all these people!
    Hope to start blogging again. Thanks for writing on this topic.

  2. Sir, I’m a follower of your blog and I love to read your expert comments on various ads and nuances of advertising. It’s just that I am not at all experienced in this field and therefore, I refrain from posting amateurish comments.

    But its a sincere request that you should continue blogging with the same rigour and fervor. It is my firm belief that the audience will find its way, given the high quality of your posts.

    Regards
    Abhishek

    1. Abhishek, thanks for your comments. I am honoured and embarassed! Please don’t worry about lack of experience etc., and please feel free to comment – I value every comment that comes my way and certainly do not see any of them as ‘amateurish’. Thanks for your support. Best wishes.

  3. Nice post. It’s true how one starts a blog but fails to sustain and carry it through. As it is the concept of blogging is not big in India, compared to the US and other countries. So for the comments part, which is confined to only close friends, dear ones and colleagues. Also, at times I face a similar situation where so much work went into a post and no comments appeared. lol http://www.cockybox.com

  4. I am glad I have been able to continue writing for my blog without much comments online. But it’s helped me gain some offline popularity and people ask me questions on topics I write – feels good and in someway keeps me going too.

    Of course I think one of the biggest problems I face is writing something apt for my readers at regular intervals. And this usually has a phase, sometimes the post ideas are over-flowing in my head so I can see the rush in my “drafts” and other times I am struggling to send out something to indicate that the blog is not dead, yet.

    but I guess I shall continue to write – thanks to all the inspiration provided by people like thomas hawk, chris brogan, seth godin and a few other bloggers I follow.

  5. In my experience, blogging starts without a thought of audience. Blogs (except business blogs) usually serve as a tool for personal expression. Bloggers dream of getting readers but the primary motivation is to let go of the steam.
    We know that blogs get readers only after building sufficient content. What drives bloggers to slog for content is their personal passion.
    Blogs are also organisms which has a life. It grows along with the blogger and dies when its nourishments are cut off. My personal opinion is that blogs should be for the blogger. Audience is the outcome..

    1. Harish, thanks. Well said. I guess the urge to write on things that interests you and the passion to put efforts behind is totally personal. An audience is the icing on the cake. As others said, personal blogs have to just ‘lage raho’.

  6. Like they said in that movie- ‘You are not alone in the Universe. There are others.’

    Even though people may not comment, doesn’t mean that they are not reading.

    India still has a very nascent blog-writing-and-reading culture (whatever numbers blogging pundits may want to put throught).

    Niche blogs are further way down from general blogs such as Desi Pundit etc..

    For me, your writing is inspiring, in its thought process, and blog posts appear as they have been coherently thought through. Even though I always notice the call-to-action question, at the end of almost each post, like many passive customers, let the moment pass.

    But please go on, if for nothing, just to sharpen your writing blade constantly. That’s one place I know where blogging helps.


    From the Author of ‘Yet Another Abandoned Blog”

  7. Dear Sir,
    I have been following up your blog for the last 4 years and it has been fruitful to my career. I never thought of commenting as I thought it might not add any value to the blog. Please keep writing

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