The whole Overblog thing got me thinking about why I blog, whether or not traffic matters, and who I believe is an overrated member of the bloggerartti. For what it’s worth, here’s what I think:
I blog for me. Not for traffic, not to cause controversy, not to please the people who visit my site. I began blogging to fight boredom while I was working for Shockwave. My boss was one of those people who, as brilliantly creative as he was, didn’t like to be bothered with management issues. I only spoke to him when he had a problem with my writing, or he wanted to give me further direction. He rarely bothered me otherwise. I would finish most of my work in the first hour after arriving at work each morning. This left me HOURS of idle time. You would think that a company with so much content to play with and look at would provide an easy way to pass time, but actually, it didn’t. I’d wander the halls, challenge people to a game of fooseball or a video game in the lounge, but for the most part, I was left to fend for myself.
A blog was a good way to keep myself entertained and allow me to explore both editorial and creative writing. As anyone who has worked as a professional writer knows, writing well requires writing as much as time allows. The more you write, the better you get. That’s the simple truth. Good writers write and bad writers don’t.
As an exercise in writing style, a blog can’t be beat. Few courses can teach you the little things that make you a better communicator. The bottom line of a blog is afterall communicating your thoughts, beliefs and understanding of the world around you (both the real and virtual). If you can’t communicate, your blog is really not worth reading.
Most people might quickly point out that traffic (the number of hits or links your blog generates) are an indication of whether or not your blog is worth reading. The short answer to that supposition is, “Yes, that’s true.”
For me though, it is only partly true. A good blog is not decided by the amount of traffic, but by the relevence of the content and the ideas communicated. I am constantly reading blogs, but rarely visit a blog more than a few times before I get tired of rants against the war, links to tests that will reveal which member of Menudo my blog is most like, or piss poor writing. Those things will turn me off faster than amateur porn featuring Paris Hilton.
My girlfriend has accused me of being addicted to blogs and she is quite frankly right. I enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing and many blogs are fantastic reads. I read maybe one or two blogs that have heavy traffic (Defective Yeti, Wil Wheaton), but for the most part, I like undiscovered blogs. They offer personal glimpses into their daily lives and for a voyeur like me, that’s the attraction. Amelie est Bonne is one of the few blogs that I’ve been reading for about as long as I’ve been writing a blog myself. She’s interesting, smart as a whip, and while I don’t particularly agree with her politics or her unabashed tree-hugging, she ALWAYS has something interesting to read.
As far as the most overrated blogs, I think any blogger who can gain an audience and keep it must being doing something right. The easiest way to show your contempt for a blogger is by ignoring them. As far as the blogs I once enjoyed but now find less than satisfying? I can only speak about the blogs that I read consistently for a period of time, then found them to be either too cryptic to understand (Tony Pierce), unabashed traffic whores writing solely to please an audience (Moxie), or stopped posting for weeks on end (Dawn Olsen). Each one of these has a hundred-thousand times the traffic that I generate here and with good reason. I’m not doing this to get another gig, to validate my self-worth through popularity or to become famous.
I blog for an audience of one. Me.
If you read something in my blog that reaches you, causes you to think outside the box or makes you laugh, fan-fucking-tastic. If you return, great. If you don’t, I’ll still be here tomorrow, posting about whatever it is that catches my interest.