One piece of advice that is often given out to newbie bloggers is that it’s your blog, so do what you want. And yet, what does this even mean? Our readers are essential to our blogging experience, and blogging for ourselves seems to be contradictory.
But it’s not. No, really. It’s not.
Here’s the thing. People — readers — are initially attracted to your blog because of you. Your design, your personality, your voice: YOU. To bury yourself underneath what your readers want is to do yourself and your blog an injustice. You must own yourself and who you are.
Your readers read because they identify with you. They like you. There are a million reasons why they decided to subscribe to your blog, to nestle your feed into their feed readers. You cannot please everyone completely, and neither should you try. Everyone has their own opinion about what is “right” and while one person may follow you for the honesty in your reviews, another may follow you because you have similar reading tastes, and yet another because you write thought-provoking discussion posts.
They follow you for YOU. For your charming awkwardness or your eloquence with words or your amazing insights or your snort-worthy sense of humor. Do not apologize for it. Do not stop to think that your readers know what your blog needs. If you feel the need to change something, change it. Think about it. Discuss it with a trusted confidant who is willing to have a multitude of ideas bounced off them if you need another opinion. And then make the change.
Those of your readers who are here for YOU will stay no matter what you do. They will follow you when you changes from Blogger to WordPress or WordPress to Blogger. They will follow you when you take a month-long hiatus because your real life had to take precedence over your blogging life. Your readers are understanding, caring people. They like you. They are with you. Don’t worry about pleasing them; worry about doing what is right for you.
One very valuable lesson I have learned over the years is that I do myself no favors trying to please others. I make the best friends by being who I am. Because the people who are drawn to me while I am being ME are the ones who will stick by me no matter what. I see blogging the same way. I try to do what is right for me and my blog knowing that those who matter will continue to be my readers through thick and thin. We’ve made a real connection, and that is not something that is severed lightly.
And let’s be honest here. I am not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I make mistakes. My blog is not perfect, either. But I strive to improve. If I am not happy with something, I pinpoint the problem, identify all the possible solutions, and then keep making changes until I’m satisfied with the result. This, I believe, is blogging for yourself.
What do you think it means to blog for yourself?