Discussion: On Blogging for YOU

Posted 27 July, 2012 by Amanda / 43 Comments

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?

Filed under: Discussion,

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43 Responses to “Discussion: On Blogging for YOU”

  1. Excellent post, and so very true. Yet it CAN be hard to figure out what to blog about, what to say. To carve out your own niche. The pressure to stand out and sound smart, funny, and sophisticated can lead to foolish posturing as we try to impress others and end up falling flat on our face. If only everybody could read this post first ;)

    • I guess that in order to blog for yourself, you must first know who you are. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t blog for yourself, either. Because eventually, you must stay true to who you are in order not to fall into the pit of trying to impress others.

  2. Couldn’t agree more Amanda! I think it’s really easy to lose yourself in the blogging world – there’s so much other people are doing, writing, creating and sometimes that can be overwhelming and make me feel like I’m not doing enough with my blog. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I should just be me an see what happens. It’s too hard to try to be anything else:)

    You are one of my very favorite blogging people, so keep doing what you’re doing:)

    • *huggles your face* You’re one of my favorites, too!

      It is really easy to get stuck in a rut of trying to compete with other blogs. But I also think that this can eventually contribute to blogging burn out. We feel like we have to do what everyone else is doing rather than focusing on what is right for us.

  3. I agree with you 100%. If we try to please everyone we ultimately end up pleasing no one, including ourselves. It can be hard to find your voice at first but, as you said, when you do, you end up with people who are willing to stick with you.

    I’m going to stick with you, Amanda. LIKE GLUE. You will NEVER get rid of me! *evil, evil, evil laugh*

  4. Oh, yes. This is it exactly. As a Libra, I do tend to be a balancer and, I’ll admit, a people-pleaser. I don’t like conflict but I’ve also found that the more I try to please others, the more unhappy I am. So screw them & yay for me. (Not really but, yanno…)

    • In my teenage years, I went through a period of trying to be like everyone else, and I was so, so unhappy. Eventually I figured out that in order to be happy, I just had to be who I wanted to be. I think blogging is much the same. Yes, we all want comments and hits, but in the end, if we don’t blog for ourselves, it will never be enough.

  5. Amen to the gazillionith power. I’ve given up trying to be this or that in terms of blogging. I am completely 100% happy with my little slice of the intarwebs. I fully believe people are drawn to your blog because of YOU. Personality speaks volumes, and if you are genuine, I think you pack so much more of a punch.

    Uniqueness is what brings me to the yard.

  6. Wish I could come up with something thought provoking like this for my blog… hmmm…
    Just kidding, you’re absolutely right. I’ve only been blogging a year and I truly feel like a newbie. Kelly’s right about ‘finding your voice’ too. I think that I’m finally getting there, but I’ve got a long way to go. Being true to yourself and just being yourself is the first step. Once that happens, the rest just kind of falls into place.
    You’re wise beyond your years Amanda! ;)

  7. Oh YOU!

    Thank you so much for this post, my friend. I’ll soon be taking a long blogging break because of school, and I’ve been so stress out about losing my readers, but this post gives me hope that if people like me, they will understand and come back when I post again.

    • Missie! *huggles your face* I will follow you to the ends of the blogging world and back!

      While taking a blogging break is a tough decision, you have to do what’s best for you. And honestly? I would rather have you take a break than try to keep the blog running and burn yourself out and never come back. People WILL understand. And the best ones will stick out any break. :)

  8. This is a great post, Amanda! I think it’s so easy to lose track of why you start blogging in the first place. When I started my blog it was really just for me so I could keep track of what I was reading and my thoughts on what I was reading. For two years I kept that blog all to myself and had a few comments here and there, but never really ventured out into the community.

    Now, having “restarted” my blog in October, I immediately embraced the community, but still remembered that the blog is for me. People started commenting regularly and I started doing more on my blog to personalize it — an About Me page, some quirky features, Discussions — and people still comment. I took a whole month off of blogging, only leaving up some scheduled reviews and there was the same handful of people that still commented. It was wonderful.

    I think when I took my month off, that was when I had to remind myself that the blog and my reading goals were for me only. I never started blogging to get review books, or to get any kind of freebie — it just started happening. Sure, that’s a great perk, but I had to not let that shadow the fact that, when it comes down to it, I still blog for me, not for anything that I’m lucky enough to have come my way.

    The great thing, too, is that I feel like I’m actually developing friendships, so if things get too hard, or if I feel like I’m getting stressed out or anything, I’ll always have someone there to say, “Hey! Slow down! Just remember to love the books like you always have!”

    Just like the drama that happens in the blogosphere, it’s easy to think that you have to be the mightiest and everyone must like your blog and it must have everything and be pretty and informative and YOU CANNOT FAIL! But we’re all humans. Shit happens. We can’t control the world. Not everyone will LIKE what I blog about — heck, my Musical Saturday posts don’t get a ton of comments, but it’s something I think is really fun to do. The few people that DO comment are awesome.

    I guess what I’m trying to say (to make a long story even longer) is that even if my blog were to go away tomorrow, I’d still have my books, and I’d still have my friendships that I’ve been cultivating, and I’d be happy.

    Anyway … awesome post!

    • Yes, yes! All of this, yes! For the most part, I have not requested or received a lot of books for review, and I think this has helped me to focus on what I originally set out to do: read and talk about books. It helps me to remember that I’m here for ME, not authors or publishers. It’s too easy to get caught up trying to please ALL THE PEOPLE when that’s impossible.

      And THIS, exactly:

      “…even if my blog were to go away tomorrow, I’d still have my books, and I’d still have my friendships that I’ve been cultivating, and I’d be happy.”

      • Yes! It’s way too easy to get swept up in the glamourous (ha!) life of review books and ARCs and all that … I’m putting on my policy that I’m NOT accepting review requests. Really trying to whittle down my pile of books to read so that I can read some of the MASSES of books I actually have on my shelves. That sit there. Unread. Day after day. They look sad.

        And I agree with Rachel … this is sound advice for life! One of the reasons that I dumped a group of friends in high school. They were doing stupid things and I wasn’t about to change for them. If I had, I wonder where I’d be today? Probably not living the life of an AWESOME person. Ha ha …

        • It always makes me a little sad when people talk about not being able to read their own books because they have too many review books to read. We should be able to read our books whenever we want!

          Speaking of reading our own books, Kelly and I are totally going to do some kind of challenge this fall where it’s all about reading our own books! You’re welcome to join us, of course. :)

          • That was me before my month break. ALL I was reading was review books. I guess I’m doing the same thing now, but I’m trying to get through all my commitments, and then I’m going to not accept anything for a long while. The funny thing is that I buy a TON of books — what’s the point if I’m not going to get around to reading them?

            I’d love to join you and Kelly! I need to get through my shelves!

            • Yes, yes! I’m even getting to the point where I find myself asking, “Why am I buying books? I own too many that I haven’t read ALREADY.” Thank goodness I don’t accept review requests or the entire situation would be that much worse.

  9. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but I found that as soon as I started blogging for myself? My reviews improved, my discussion posts became more fun and my traffic went way up!

    And, as mentioned in a few other comments? Definitely great advice for more than just blogging!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  10. Jo

    I’m super new to blogging, only been going for about two months and I always find you’re posts really helpful! I think this is a trap I could easily full into, especially feeling the pressure of how often to post. I think you’re so right though, my favourite blogs always have bags of personality and I’ve come to realise I like them because of the people behind it. Thanks for some super advice to a fledgling blogger! :D

    • This is DEFINITELY an easy trap to fall into. I think that being on WordPress to start off is good (it certainly was for me) because there’s not an easy way to track followers like GFC on Blogger. It allowed me to focus on my content and what I wanted out of blogging, not on increasing my follower count.

      I also set a schedule for my blog very early on in my blogging “career” and I’ve stuck to it. I think this really helps me to NOT feel the pressure as far as when I should be posting.

  11. There was a point about 2 years ago where I thought blogging was getting to much about the blog (if that makes sense). I spent all 2011 trying to do what was “right” and “cool” and “whatever”. I didn’t have very much fun at all. I almost quit but then I asked myself why I was blogging.

    Starting this year (even when I was on blogger) I changed how I did things. I removed my followers buttons and made a vow not to look at stats. I have been pretty good at that actually (probably better than I should be LOL). I have looked at my stats twice this year and both times were for someone else.

    I decided to blog about what I wanted. I am a little worried that starting about mid-august I will lose people since I am going to a primarily mystery/thriller blog BUT it is what I want to do :)

    What a great post *huggles* oh and check your email cause I was little late with something :)

    • I think your blog should be an extension of yourself rather than an entity of its own. I like stats, because they do give me an indication of what’s popular or what is happening on my blog, but I don’t live and die by them. In fact, sometimes when my blog is getting a lot of hits and comments, I actually find myself backing away from blogging. It’s overwhelming, almost.

      Even if you lose people, I bet you will find NEW people, too. Which is just as awesome!

      PS. THANK YOU! :)

      • I don’t think stats are bad at all but I was tailoring my blog towards them. I was stopping stuff I enjoyed and was getting a little to meme orientated (for me–I actually have no problem reading them on other people’s blogs). So I know that stats are my crack (temporary high but really to addicting) so I had to cold turkey them LOL :) Now if I could just do that with chocolate!

        Your welcome :)

  12. Hallelujah! Amen! I’ve always just tried be the best person I can be that day. I start over every day. I don’t compare myself to others. There is always someone better in every measurable aspect of your life. I just have to be the best mom, best wife, best teacher, best friend I can be. I can only get my body to do so much, so I would be stupid to compare myself to an athlete with 20% less body fat.

    And so I’ve tried to apply those principles to my blog. I’m not going to give up reading time to blog. If I miss a post, because I don’t feel like getting on the computer or life is too busy…oh well. I don’t want to beg or harass publishers and authors for ARCs. I don’t have the $$ for giveaway after giveaway. I’m not going to require you to follow me. So my blog might never be as followed as other blogs…oh well. My blog is fun for me and I don’t look to it to fulfill me OR say “look at me” or “look how special I am.” I’ll do it as long as it is fun and the only way for it to stay fun is to let organically develop and reflect who I am.

    Do I want to provide good content? yes.
    Do I love my followers? yes.

    *huggles* you and your giraffe shifter loving self

    • It’s the comparing ourselves to others that is so, SO difficult to avoid. But I think it’s necessary if you want to survive with any bit of self-esteem intact, because you’re right: there will always be someone better.

      ” I’ll do it as long as it is fun and the only way for it to stay fun is to let organically develop and reflect who I am.”

      YES, Amy! That is very true!

  13. Yes to all of this. I think that blogging has actually helped me find my voice. At the very least, it’s given me an opportunity to be comfortable enough to “let go.” I also secretly appreciate my blog as a place where I can be in control. It’s why I don’t think I could ever have a co-blogger (though I do fantasize about it at times, especially when I’m super busy).

    Also, I think this is excellent advice not just for blogging, but for life in general. For friendships in general. Now, please excuse me while I go back to living real life inside a shell. *rolls eyes at self*

  14. I very much appreciate this post, since my real life is rather stressful (grad student) and blogging and reading is something that I do very much to keep myself sane. However, my question to you is: What if you hardly have any readers at all? Should you try to figure out what it is about your blogging that has kept people from hitting the subscribe button so you can get more readers? Or should you try to be content with just having only a handful of views a day?

    Anya

    • “Should you try to figure out what it is about your blogging that has kept people from hitting the subscribe button so you can get more readers?”

      You should try to figure out WHY people HAVE hit the subscribe button. Find out what your strengths are. Use them to your advantage. Stick with what makes people subscribe and stay true to yourself.

      Part of the problem when it comes to establishing relationships and readers is that you basically only get back what you put in. So if you don’t have time to devote to blogging, you won’t get much back. In that case, you really must love whatever it is you’re doing when you do have time for blogging.

  15. Aaaah, Amanda, you’ve put it perfectly. I’m always a little ‘mmmmm…’ about the ‘blog for yourself’, because, I mean, at the end of the day, you have to write about what people are interested in, or others won’t read. Which hey, is fine, if it’s just for you… but… WHAT YOU SAID. The fact is, people followed you for YOU to begin with.

    I think… it’s really easy to get caught up in numbers, and attracting readers, and all of that, and lose sight of why you started blogging–you love it. You love books. You love the sense of communtiy. ALL of those things.

    You are like, so made of smarts :P

    • Another way of putting it would be to blog for your own purposes. If my purpose is to create a sense of community, then to have that community with other people, I’m blogging for my own purposes and for myself even though I’ve involved other people.

      :)