Why Blog?

This will be my 671st post.  I must be approaching or just passing my millionth word written, so I think it’s time to evaluate why I blog.  When I started I wrote whatever I felt like and didn’t worry if anyone read what I wrote.  Sometimes I’d ask my wife Susan or a friend to read something, but for the most part I considered my blog a diary that I left around opened.  I’m interested in a lot of things my friends aren’t, so I used blogging as an outlet for discussing various topics I had no one to talk about with.  I guess that might mean I use blogging as kind of therapy.  Blogging is also a great way to practice writing, organize thoughts, and learn to research – sort of junior journalism.  All of these various purposes are great so long as I don’t think too much about being read.

During the last year I’ve been getting more readers.  Mostly by accident.  Sometimes I write about a subject that people are researching on Google, like encrypting files for Dropbox, or science fiction books from the 1950s.  I have a few friends that actually follow what I write, but you can count them on one hand.  I do have 468 followers on WordPress, but I think that’s mostly due other bloggers wanting to attract readership themselves.  But it does make me think about what I write.  If I hit the publish button and hundreds of people get an email then what I write can be an annoyance or entertainment.  That thought has made me delete most of the posts I’ve written lately.

My friend Annie has even been critiquing my posts, with comments like, that one rambled on for far too long, or you didn’t stick to your point, or that topic was boring.  I don’t disagree with her assessments either.  If I’m going to write something people will be reading then I have a responsibility to make it worth reading.  And this presents some problems.

There are three kind of readers on the internet:  browsers, subscribers and searchers.   Some people get to my pages because writers link to me, others subscribe and get everything I write, but most people read what I’ve written because it’s something they Googled or Binged.  Just look at my stats.  (You might need to click on the image to make it large enough to read.)


I get the most  hits for writing about something specific, like a Toshiba netbook or LG Blu-ray player.  But I also write about a lot of topics few people are interested in.


Most of my favorite essays I’ve written get few readers.  That’s because they are personal and personal essays don’t get hits.

If I want lots of readers then I’d need to write about something that lots of people want to read about.  Well, that doesn’t actually work either.  Writing about what everyone else is writing about gets damn few hits.  The key to getting search engine hits is to write about something few people have written about, but enough people want to read about.

The key to get subscriber hits is to always write about a specific topic and find fans for that topic.

I don’t do ether.  I write about whatever interests me at the moment.  That’s good for me but bad for regular readers, and gets few search engine hits.

What I need to do is decide what kind of writer I want to be – at least when it comes to blogging.

JWH – 6/25/13

11 thoughts on “Why Blog?”

  1. I think you’ve hit on a point that a lot of us ponder on a regular basis. Unless you’re looking for financial payback (and how many writers truly get that??!!), I vote that you continue to write about your own passions and enjoy it for yourself first. By the way, I’d be ecstatic if I had 468 followers 😉

    1. I’ll still write for myself, but I’m just going to worry a little more about boring people.

      Those followers are deceptive though. Many of them are people with commercial blogs hoping I’ll come look at their pages.

  2. There is a lot to said for persistence, this is what old people say as a parallel to experience…. Just showing up and doing the work Is hard and should be given a nod… 671 … this is like running a marathon … Connell

  3. Just a quick note to let you know some of read it all. Don’t often comment, but I do read them. Enjoy quite a lot of them too.

  4. I don’t exactly remember how I stumbled across your blog, but I read a post you had about the possibility of people settling space. I wrote a joke reply about it not happening unless a cabal of people formed who used violence and blackmail to force governments to support the research and missions. I subscribed to your blog so I could reply if anyone replied to my post. And I tried my best to argue that human survival depending on getting pictures of politicians boinking young boys and assassinating the anti-science, Jesse Helms types.I never unsubscribed because I found many your subsequent posts interesting. So don’t delete anything and keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

  5. James, i cames accross your blog while searching for audio equipment. In fact I hit your post – Audiophiles and the Quest for High Fidelity. I love your style and am impressed no less with your wide range of knowledge. Keep it up.

  6. Like you i’m also going through a sort of identity crisis in terms of “why i blog”. Of course, you put considerably more effort and thought in your posts than i do.

    Recently i started i’m posting a greater variety of posts to see how it affects readership. Also, i play around with the time these are published. This is temporary though. I think it’s just a phase.

    You should definitely take into consideration your readers and how much information there is already available on a given subject you are thinking about writing.

    Ultimately though it has to be something that makes you feel better and prouder. Prouder in terms of how you have improved your knowledge through your research, your critical thinking and of course writing.

    I think your posts are just a means to this.

    Keep on blogging! 😉

  7. James,
    I came across your blog searching for some sci-fi stuff. Liked what I found, and now I am following everything you write.
    Not all of it interests me, with some of your ideas I don’t agree, but – so what?
    So, I suggest you keep your blog a diary of a kind, without thinking much about what you write, how many followers you have, or what comments they post.
    If you start thinking about their wants and likes, about acquiring more followers, then it becomes, like, work. And do you really want that?
    Have fun 🙂

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