How about our Blog?
Do we owe them anything at all???
I should mention I’m not talking about people who have patrons. That’s a different relationship and if you have patrons, you probably owe them whatever you promised on your Patreon page.
But I have often talked about the general “bloggers guilt” many people experience. After numerous conversations with my fellow bloggers, I have come to realize that a lot of us have a slight sense of unease when it comes to our blog. We feel like we’re not doing “enough” or that we should do “better”, in a sort of loosely defined way. Maybe we don’t post often enough. We don’t watch enough anime or don’t keep up with the news….
It’s a sentiment echoed by a lot of bloggers and although it can bring on some stress, it’s also not entirely a bad thing. We feel this way because we care, and we are doing something that matters to us on some level. And usually, when we do manage to feel like we’ve lived up to our expectations, we feel proud. The flip side of the guilt is the sense of accomplishment we get from our blogs. I think the secret to not letting yourself get bogged down and demotivated is figuring out exactly what we owe our blog and/or readers. Not that I have an actual answer.
For bloggers such as myself that have no monetization at all, the easy answer would be that I don’t owe anything. I mean it’s free! That makes sense. And I fully support bloggers that feel that way. I have grown up with video games. I wired my brain to collect gold stars and pass checkpoints. It’s silly but if I don’t set up some expectations for myself I tend to lose interest. This has been a bit of a challenge though.
Generally, I like to think of readers as guests. Like when I invite people over for an evening. I don’t actually owe them anything and I would be very off-put if they demanded better food or something (make no mistake, my friends definitely would…) But at the same time, I really want them to have a good time. I clean my place, carefully pick out a menu, plan out entertainment and refill the bar. Sometimes I run out of time so we order a pizza. Sometimes I’m super tired so the entertainment isn’t as great as it could be. But I try! And it’s the same idea with my blog.
I owe you guys something. Not because you demand it but because I want to be a good host. Now the secret is what that something is. We all have a limited amount of hours in a day, we’re not going to be able to do *everything*. A perfect, meaningful, impeccably researched and typo-free post on a topic that actually interests everyone and that comes out on a regular schedule every time is impossible. Heck, most of those things are beyond my reach and if I tortured myself by trying to stick to such expectations I would burn out in no time. And probably make myself miserable in the process.
On the other hand, I am not going to get much satisfaction out of just throwing whatever on a page because I need to post something. It’s about figuring out what I want to prioritize and why.
My first priority was my schedule. Not because I actually think schedules are that important to blogs but it’s because it’s important to me. First I simply work better on a schedule. Doing something regularly is the best way for me to stick to it and improve. Secondly, I have some OCD tendencies and as such, I find rituals calming and comforting. I adapt very well to new and unpredictable situations and work great with pressure as long as there is something in my life that’s routine and predictable. That something is blogging. It’s why I created the blog in the first place, as therapy. I found my previous little rituals weren’t challenging or satisfying enough so I tried something completely out of my comfort zone and it has worked really well. However, I lose that if I don’t stick to a schedule. And therefore, I figured that would be my first deliverable. I owe you guys regular posts, and when I manage to stick to my publishing schedule I get a little thrill!
The second thing I arbitrarily decided to owe you was candour and open-mindedness. I’m not saying I always succeed but I really want to try to offer those things. Because of my lifestyle and schedule, I write on the bus. By pure practicality, this makes a stream of consciousness the easiest form of writing for me. And the best part of such a structure is the feeling that you get to glimpse inside the author’s mind. I don’t mean to insinuate that there’s anything great inside there but I’m working on it.
Without candour, the best part of stream of consciousness goes down the drain. I’m not yet good enough a writer to get you on pure style or the beauty of the written word so some level of sincerity is all we got to go by. And with that, are going to come differences of opinion. Unless I keep all my writing very neutral and never let my full feelings about things out, eventually someone is going to disagree. Potentially passionately. I need to be able to take things with a grain of salt. I’m still working on that one. I’m a bit of a rebel it seems. The things you learn about yourself when you start a blog…
I know I am not the best writer. Some readers have pointed out typos and faulty sentence structure. And I have corrected published posts often enough to scold myself about more diligent proofreading. It’s not my forte. So instead I’ll do my best to share what I truly think even when it’s not that interesting or popular an opinion and listen to what you have to say if you’re kind enough to say it.
For now, those are the owables I’ve chosen to concentrate on. Sure I would love to publish perfect posts. I want to pick out the best images, point out the most intriguing details. If I can I will. However, as long as I can write a sincere post on time and take in whatever comes after with good humour, I consider it a small victory. I’m probably going to add in proper post layout to the list soon. I’ll keep adding and taking out things until I get to a place where I’m proud of the posts I publish but not burned out by the effort. That’s the ultimate dream.
Do you have anything you feel you owe your blog or readers? Are there elements you prioritize?
33 thoughts on “What do we owe our readers?”
“I owe you guys something. Not because you demand it but because I want to be a good host. ”
I can’t even calculate how much better the world would be if more folks would adopt this perspective…
“The second thing I arbitrarily decided to owe you was candour and open-mindedness.”
I hate to say that I like this or that aspect of your site the “best.” That would seem to suggest the other aspects are somehow not best. But if the figurative gun were placed to my figurative head and I had to name one thing about your site that made it the most enjoyable, it would be that I get a sense you’re sharing your honest perspective.
That’s probably the best gift you can give a reader.
Thanks Crow. Not sure all my readers would agree but it means a lot coming from you!
While I don’t have any monetary compensation tied to my blog, I still try to maintain a personal standard of quality for any post. I also tend to not be overly negative on any post, because that’s just how I write. I also don’t hide the weird stuff that comes to my mind. I don’t know about owing anybody anything while writing, I don’t tend to have those feelings of guilt, probably because I also have this terminal problem called laziness.
I’m not sure you can “owe” readers anything. Did one make any kind of promise to be fulfilled upon payment? To the extent that such a debt can be assumed, it is a debt to yourself. One has standards to live up to.
I try to be honest and try to be interesting. These things I owe myself. Should I not succeed, the only person who has lost is me. And, since I am writing purely for fun, I don’t take these things terribly seriously.
Sounds like a great way to go!
Lately about the only thing I’ve been seeking in other blogger’s is a sense of authenticity. I’m not sure how I would describe how a blogger can come across as authentic or not in the age of the internet (it helps that we have choices), but I like to see the passion behind a post or a comment rather then just putting stuff out there to put it out there.
Personally, what I strive for is talking about things I am passionate about and willing to put in the work to write about. I’ve taken a couple steps back from writing anime reviews at the moment because I’m not passionate and it shows in my drafts. That’s not stopping me from trying other stuff and still putting out content, but it’s a bit of redirection is all.
I too also struggle with editing before posting. I changed my schedule to open up more space to do so, but some mistakes still happen. People have been too kind and not mentioning some of the bigger things lol.
You don’t give yourself enough credit – as I think you are an excellent writer and I’m picky. There are published writers I don’t think are good writers, okay? You’re a good writer. And one way you know you’re good is you are never quite satisfied, you can always pick a nit, so you care and you are forever polishing your skills.
Back when I wrote blogs for money I treated it very much like a job. With 12 blogs I tried to get at least one entry a day in each (! I know, I’m insane) and keep them quality entries whether it was a vegetarian recipe, bird watcher news, or erotic fiction. I was reasonably successful if you consider being the #1 blog in Google search results for bird watching success. But things were a lot different then. I feel like a professional blog probably should have a daily schedule, or perhaps 5 or 6 days a week – like a full time job or a regular newspaper.
Now I have one blog and I really only keep it up for myself and a few friends. I noticed the other day I got 27 likes on a post and I have 37 followers – LOL. About the most I think I owe any body is any major changes in hubby’s health, and now and then my opinion on something or a general update on life.
I’m thinking about posting my fiction since they are no longer available on Kindle. And if I DO start that, a chapter at a time, then I will feel like I owe it to my readers to finish what I start and post chapters in a timely manner. I dunno – like 3 a week or something. How fast do blog readers read? I’m also considering, now that I have a new computer, maybe going for the Sketch A Day thing once I get some sort of graphics program and can actually do digital art again. Maybe. I don’t know if that’s owing readers or punishing them 😛
12 posts a day??? I have no clue how much you got paid but I can confidently say it was not enough. ow did you even do that? It was black magic wasn’t it? Yeah, I know it was…
Green maybe… LOL. And for most of it, I only got paid what I made on ads. Never said it was a good way to make a living…
Personally I see monetisation like Kofi or Paypal Donation, like a reactive monetisation. People like a post or your effort and reactively reward you. Debt paid.
As for what else you own a reader, i’d say you owe them you! To a certain extent! I dont believe any of us are followed because of their ideas on Escaflowne or Madoka, we are followed because of the voice we tell it in. Or for extra follow backs.
We owe it to our readers not to lose that voice, whatever is your thing, yet we are not indebted to our reader, they have no right to tell us how to write, nor do they owe us loyalty. Instead I see it as a symbiosis. If we keep writing good posts they react and read and give us confidence. If the transaction stopd being useful for one, we should by move on.
Its more like we owe it to ourselves to nurture that symbiosis if we still benefit, and in doing so we should give a piece of us to the audience
I feel like I prioritize quality content over a schedule. I have a very loose posting schedule of at least twice a week. Sometimes if I’m feeling frisky I’ll make three posts in a week. Over the last year I’ve seen my writing style become better and that was the goal from the very beginning. The only thing I feel like I owe my readers is what I’ve promised. Which are my messy thoughts from the books I read.
That’s awesome. I don’t that type of discipline. If I didn’t set a schedule I would probably still be trying to perfect my first post…
I love and also hate this question/prompt at the same time because I find it difficult to answer since it makes me think about the type of creator I am today and aspire to be. (Like, will I finally decide to monetize my hobby?? Who knows.)
My blog offers little to people, but at the same time, I think it represents the desire to connect with others and be a part of an community talking about something I love. I agree with the thought that my non-monetized blog doesn’t really owe anyone anything (and technically vice-versa), but I appreciate and am happy when people read my work and gain something from it. I try my best to participate in the community through likes and sharing others’ work around.
What I like about reading others’ work is how they present their authentic self and I sense that in your writing.
A desire to connect is a great thing to offer I find. I like that a lot
What’s impressed me about you since I’ve started getting involved in the whole blogging thing is how not only consistent you are as far as posts go, but how consistently good they are. I’ve never really seen a dip in quality to get something out, which I respect tremendously, and with how often you post is something I don’t think I could ever do.
As for my blog, I often wonder what’s the point, really. Not why I have it, I have it because I love working on it. I just wonder what I particularly bring to the table over any other blog and why you would read mine instead. So I do feel like I owe something. To make up for that, I just try to improve as much as I can. I try to learn to write better, pick better, more interesting topics and just try to adapt to what people would want best I can. Like this season, I started keeping up with some of the anime because I feel that I owe them that. I feel that I owe the people who read my blog knowledge about the things I write about. Besides that, I try to also be as sincere as possible. I always respond to comments, try and thank people as much as I can. I also try and read a lot of other blogs and try and get involved in the community. I try and let people know that they are doing good work, especially if it’s a newer or smaller blog. I try and do my best to just be kind and encourage people. I want to be a part of the community and make it a better place because of it. So as I continue to improve, I want to be able to make up for my shortcomings as best I can.
I think we all sort of feel our blogs are pointless at some time but I can assure you, to us the readers you bring something completely unique that absolutely no one else could.
Also thank you so much
The only thing I really feel that I owe is to be a contributing member of the community. I should read other people’s blogs and comment, if I have anything to say
Most of what I write is to get it out of my head. I try to make sure it’s understandable and presentable. I hope other people like it, but I don’t get a flood of readers. So I have to accept that I’m writing largely for myself.
But to repay the people who visit, I feel I should read or listen to their stuff.
That’s a great view. I wish more poeple shared it. But I do know a alot of bloggers don’t have the time to read other people’s posts. I understand that too. I appreciate that you do though!
I hear you! I can easily wander around the blogs I follow for hours, commenting here and there. It is possible I’ve written more words in comments than I have in blog posts.
You seem like a very kind host. I think that’s all it matters.
That means a lot!
You are welcome. If I have ever said anything in the past that have offended you, I apologize. I think your blog is great and it’s amazing that you can write so much with a busy schedule.
No way, you’re great!
“… I’m not yet good enough a writer to get you on pure style or the beauty of the written word…”
I disagree! I think you are a good enough writer to attract readers with your style
alone! I try not to miss any of your posts.
I also have a different take on what “we owe readers” as well but that’s good. Differences make us interesting and fun.
Even if I still think you’re too hard on yourself at times! 😂
You are so nice Colin! You know what they say, the secret to happiness is reasonable expectations!
The only thing a blogger owes their readers is their true self – to ensure that we write what we write, and opine what we opine, not for the sake of artifice or pretence or in pursuit of some agenda, but because it reflects who we truly are, what we feel and how we view the world. And readers are perfectly free to agree or disagree, to take or leave what we have to offer; and we must accept their decision without taking it personally, without seeing it as either vindication or rejection. And bloggers are entitled to respect: to not be trolled or abused or made fun of simply because someone doesn’t like or agree with the content of someone’s blog. Doing anything in social media, no matter how “insignificant” in terms of audience, is hideously risky, because it means exposing yourself and making yourself vulnerable for the sake of putting something out there in the public sphere; and if you’re going to do that, then it’s my view that it should be who you really are. Otherwise, the risk just simply isn’t worth it.
I aree with you, then again I do know quite a few excellent bloggers that have told me they consistently exaggerate their impressions of episodes or shows for the sake of a post. Because it makes for more entertaining reading and it’ smore eyecatching. And they do write great stuff so I can’t really argue.
There’s nothing wrong with bloggers using “poetic licence„ ~ so long as they are aware of the difference between exaggeration and distortion…
I feel exactly the same when it comes to my youtube. I only found this blog a few days ago its fun. Keep it up
YouTube looks like so much work! It must be extra tough to set reasonable expectations there