Before You Start a Blog, Ask Yourself One Question

 

by Meg Dowell

If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering a new blog. Whether you’re already a blogger or you want to start for the first time, deciding whether or not you should begin comes with a lot of doubt and uncertainty.

You probably have a lot of questions. There’s one that I believe is more important than all the rest.

Before you start a blog, I want you to ask yourself this one question:

Are you doing this to benefit someone else?

Because while there’s nothing wrong with blogging for personal gain — we all do it to some extent, let’s be honest — you can’t just start a blog and expect to benefit from it if you don’t care about your audience.

“But I don’t have an audience — nobody reads my blog.” As I like to say, you never know who’s on the other side of that screen. Someone you don’t know is reading what you’re writing, whether your stats tell you so or not.

I’m all for starting a personal blog if you need a space to dump your writing or you have too much to say and not enough outlets to say them in. But if you’re starting a blog to make money, get your name out there, become famous, whatever — you’d better make your audience your first priority. If you don’t, you’re not going to reach your goals. Not in the way you’re hoping to.

My blog began as a home base for all my random thoughts about writing. I never looked at my stats, I didn’t care who might be reading it. I knew that having a blog as a writer, even back in 2009, was important — even if I didn’t know how, or which strategies were going to make it worth my time.

But it didn’t take long for my posts to focus in on something I wasn’t even sure I had: readers. I realized very quickly that people outside of my small circle of family and friends didn’t care about my algebra homework or my cat or my biochemistry tests. What they cared about was the small pieces of writing advice I gave, especially as I grew and developed as a writer myself.

It’s not that people don’t care about you. But they care about themselves a lot more. Yes, you’re going to have personal goals for growing your blog. But don’t neglect the most important part of blogging: the people you’re doing it for. The readers seeking advice or information or entertainment or help — whatever your blog has to offer hundreds of strangers. THEY ARE YOUR PRIORITY. They are your life now. If you’re not blogging for their benefit, you probably shouldn’t have a blog at all.

So is posting your short stories and poetry on your blog OK? Yes! You’re probably trying to introduce more eyes to your work, sure, but you’re also trying to give people something to read. That counts.

What about talking about your own experiences, to motivate or inspire someone to do something? Absolutely. The only reason I ever talk about myself is to give you an example of what to (or not to) do in writing.

Everything I post here, I post for you. My blog doesn’t get thousands of daily readers, it’s a tiny collection of pages on a very big web of blogs and sites and things much more popular than me. But my blog never stops growing, and that’s because I put my audience first. I take the time to respond to you and answer your questions. I do my best to think of things you might be struggling with and offer suggestions for helping you overcome them. I want you to be better. That’s all I ever try to do. I’ll self promote here and there, but even my Patreon exists only to help you. It’s all about you.

If you have an audience in mind, if you want to help people in any way you can, blogging is definitely for you. Writing is not all about you. Remember that.

 

 

 


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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44 thoughts on “Before You Start a Blog, Ask Yourself One Question”

  1. I recently had my blog of three years hacked and started a new one. I lost over 3000 followers that I never dreamed I would have. I am slowly building a base again. It is important to me that my blog is worthwhile and enjoyable. That is my goal but know there are many writers promoting their books, are motivated to make their blog work for them financially. Thank you for the great advice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Blogging requires a lot of selflessness – some just aren’t prepared for that, but once you start, you do tend to fall into a rhythm and it just becomes habit to think of your readers first. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am happy to report that I was able to answer your question! I am writing for me and for an audience. I am writing for the interaction. If someone comes to my blog, and spends time reading it, I want them to get something out of it. In a noisy world, there are many, many other places they could have spent their precious time. Out of gratitude, I better give them something worth reading.

    Thanks for the reminder that I have my bearings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so good to hear! 🙂 Gratitude – I like that. It’s another way to stay motivated to keep blogging. You want your readers to know you’re happy they’re here, so you keep writing for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I’ve proved this in reverse in my early days of blogging. People don’t want to hear about your problems every post, or about your promos, etc. Those type of posts generally get less views and traffic (and make you look selfish). Also, I have never fully trusted stats. They can be really weird. I always wondered how I had one visitor but 5 likes and 3 views on a post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha right?? I mean, it’s nice to see that at least some people are somehow reading. I do like to try and figure out how they’re finding me, though, but mostly just out of curiosity than promotion strategy at this point.

      Like

  4. Very true! I studied Professional and Creative Writing at university, and that was something the lecturers drilled into us time and again: write for your readers. Of course, you have to write for yourself to a degree. But priority number one must always be your audience if you want to attain any kind of commercial success. This was a great post. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome – thank YOU for reading. 🙂 Yeah, it’s a balance between writing for others and for you. If you’re writing for others, but you’re fully invested in the topic, that definitely helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is so true. And it isn’t very intutitive, I mean, most of us started a blog thinking to talk about ourselves… as if anyone cared. I sure started out like that.

    But I like reading about blogging and so I soon came in contanct with articles saying the same things you’re saying. Care about who reads.
    It made a lot of sense to me, maybe because one of the first things I learned about writing fiction is ‘knowing who you write for’. It does make a difference, not just for the reader, but also for us. The structure of a blog and the subject of your article change a lot once you do the shift, this is why it’s important to be awre of this.

    I unpublished most of the posts from my first year of blogging… errhh… it had to be done 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can I ask why you deleted your early posts? I’m just curious. I’m actually publishing a post later this week about why I HAVEN’T deleted any of my posts from my first year, haha…so I’m interested in hearing the opposite perspective. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, I messed up with the ‘send’ button.

        They just felt too self-centred and they felt like adding nothing to my massage anymore.
        In the first year of blogging I really didn’t know anything better. I was just trying, basically at random. The first year I partecipated in the AtoZ Challeng I had an illumination about what my blog should be about. Not just my stories (as it had been to that moment), but more about my journey of discovering history and why it is relevant to our everyday life. I knew, after that first AtoZ, that subject wasn’t dear to my heart only.

        The old blogs just didn’t fit into this new vision an so I just took them out.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Meg, your advice is encouraging as I start my blogging journey. I desperately want to interact with others with something worth talking about. I can’t quite put my finger on what my focus is yet, but I have decided to just write what I’m thinking about and adjust as I learn. Hopefully, I will land on a topic that is as fulfilling for me to write as it is for others to read. I see that you have a blog entitled: 5 Reasons to Keep Posting on a Blog Nobody Reads. I’m headed to that next!

    Like

  7. Yes I love your attitude! I am literally just starting to write my first blog and have wrestled with how, what, why, and so on and what to write? Thank you for sharing this nugget of revelation that will stick with me on my blogging journey!

    Like

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