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.