Blogging for Dollars

January 24, 2007

I was glad to hear that Douglas Bowman intends to start blogging more again. His StopDesign has long been one of my favorite blogs. For good reason it seems, because right off the bat he wrote something that struck a cord in me. In his explanation for why he took a sabbatical from blogging, he said:

...I felt greater pressure to write longer article-like posts with take-away content in every entry. More nutrition in every bite. And I was tired of other blogs. Tired of keeping up with hundreds of feeds. Tired of posts that pandered for comments or held contests to gain traffic, or those that recycled another me-too meme or blabbed about the wonders of Web-2-point-whatever.

Bowman articulated for me something I've been feeling increasingly uneasy about for a while: the commercialization of blogging. The truth is I don't completely trust most blogs that carry advertisements or are clearly a publicity venture. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against making a living—even a living off writing a blog. It's just that I probably am not going to trust you completely. I might still read your blog. I might even enjoy and learn from it. But there will always be a question about what your motivations are for giving a certain opinion or even for blogging in the first place. How much of what you say is influenced by your love for traffic? Which brings me to the second thing Bowman mentioned—the pressure to increase traffic. It's probably the single biggest killer of bloggers. In my case it's not so much pressure as desire. I want people to read what I write, and like it or not that desire has influenced my writing...and taken some of the joy out of it. This blog has never been wildly popular. Lately, with my move from Moveable Type to Drupal and other "real-life" obligations, traffic has decreased from a trickle to barely a steady drip. But after thinking it over, I've decided this is the best thing that could have happened. From here on in, I'm going to do my very best to not to let my writing be influenced by traffic or popularity or pleasing my "reading public." I'm leaving comments on because I love the interchange with thoughtful people and because, in the past, some comments have turned into almost forums in which users helped each other with design issues. You just gotta' love that. But from now on, I'm going to try to approach this blog more as a design diary. I have no real idea what that means, so this ought to be interesting. What can I say? I am in perpetual beta.