Who do you blog for?

In the land of twitter Danah Boyd passed on a question from alicetiara:

When you tweet, who do u think of reading it? Followers, followed, public, best friends, etc? Who do you tweet *to*?

I am very curious about the responses.

It made me wonder, too, about blogging. Recently there was a slight and fairly dumb article in the New York Times about the astounding fact that most people who start blogging don’t continue. Scalzi excoriated it most entertaingly. Cause the interesting question isn’t why do people abandon blogs but why do people continue to blog?

I could tell you that I keep on blogging day after day after day because my publisher likes me to have an online presence. Problem is that’s not true. Blogging has very little impact on book sales. You have to have considerably more than 1,500 hits a day for it to translate into book sales.

I can point you to many writers blogs that are way more popular than mine whose authors’ books don’t sell any better than mine and sometimes much worse. I can also show you very unpopular blogs whose authors are huge bestsellers. There really is no correlation.

People point to John Scalzi’s Whatever as an example of a popular blog that translates into great book sales. He will tell you himself that he is the exception that proves the rule. He will also tell you that he does not blog in order to sell books—that’s just a cool side effect for him. He blogs cause he’s full of opinions and loves to share them.

Me too.

I also blog because I love your comments. Take yesterday’s post some of the library stories you shared made me cry. I think that thread may be one of my favourites.

But that doesn’t answer the question above. Who do I blog for? Who do I think is my audience?

I don’t blog for my family and friends, which is why there is no personal news here, and very little about my health or mood. I primarily blog about the business side of my life, i.e. my writing career as well as my interests. So I imagine my audience to be people who find my rantings and opinings interesting as well as some people who are fans of my books. But I don’t really write for them—I write for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled when what I write interests other people too. But I don’t post stuff I know to be popular which I happen not to be interested in. Hence no photos of cats.

In other words, if I had no audience I would still blog. Indeed for the first two years of this blog I pretty much had no audience. Didn’t stop me.

Who do you blog for? Who’s your audience?


  1. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    I’m schizophrenic on my blog. A lot of my posts are to avoid repetition. They are for anybody who cares to read them (usually a software engineering audience, but sometimes other interests) so that I can point people to them later instead of typing out the answer again on a mailing list. I like teaching. That side of my blog writing are instructional posts.

    The other side if the “for me” bit. Sometimes I want to write down what I’m thinking about. It’s therapeutic or a nice reference for a year from now. Or I just want to lay out my favourite photos from the year or something random like that. Apparently it amuses others as well and they read it. Those people are nice, but I don’t really know who they are, so I’m not targeting them.

  2. Ted Lemon on #

    My audience is future data archaeologists wondering what it was like to live in the last days of the oil age – what the sky looked like, what we obsessed about, etc. Hi guys! Keep up the good work!

  3. Ellen on #

    I started off trying to give my whole blog a “theme” and to only write things pertaining to that theme (which was reading/writing/publishing). But then other personal interests began to leak into my posts (for example, I couldn’t resist a few hockey-related posts, because I was so excited about my team getting so far in the playoffs). So I guess, I started off writing for other people, then realized that if I wanted to keep the blog going, and have it be interesting, I would have to write about what I was interested in, and to write it for myself.

  4. Icy Roses on #

    I blog for myself too, mainly because keeping a writing blog helps me stay on task. It records my discoveries, observations, and daily progression. This way, it’s more obvious when I’ve been slacking off, and guilt-trips me into working harder. At the same time, I try to keep things mildly interesting for the few people who drop by once in a while too. Otherwise, I’d just keep a private diary. Something about writing in public is just more entertaining.

  5. Jennila on #

    This might be a silly reason, but I write to people who I secretly wish would read my blog, but I don’t actually have the courage to send the link to or talk to in person. I guess putting the “messages” in the public internets gives me the option of eventually them either finding it. I was thinking about this last night, when I wanted to show my blog to someone. But I chickened out.

  6. Jennila on #

    I meant, the option of eventually them finding it. I obviously can’t revise.

  7. Summer on #

    I blog for myself and my imaginary audience. Sometimes it happens someone real is reading the blog and that’s cool too.

  8. Jonathan S on #

    I must blog for myself because after six years I average about 12 visitors a day. But I have also made two good friends on teh way, re-establishd contact — of a sort – with at least one other, and been threatened with one defamation suit, so it’s not completely lonely.

  9. Lizabelle on #

    Just so you know, I bought your Magic or Madness trilogy after discovering your blog. 🙂

    My public blog is very new and it has two purposes: 1) so I can gab about books and 2) to give my family and friends (most of whom are on the other side of the world) an idea of what I get up to in Australia. I’m not sure how compatible those purposes are yet, but I’m having fun in the meantime.

  10. Q on #

    I blog for myself, I suppose, because I have things to say and nowhere else to say them, but I love my readers and I love getting comments. I have 54 subscribers and no idea who half of them are, but I don’t mind. It’s incredibly gratifying to have people who like to read my words.

  11. Amanda Coppedge on #

    Ditto. I blog for myself and I’m happy when others want to read it to, and yes, comments are happymaking. Writing’s kind of the same way–I write for the same reason I read, because I love stories. Blogging is mostly good old-fashioned diary-keeping for me, except with an audience.

  12. Herenya on #

    I blog for myself – I went from keeping a personal diary to keeping a blog. I have always found that it really helps me to write about my day and get my thoughts out of my head and into words. Even if no one was reading at all, I’d still keep writing. Currently my blog is only read by a few friends and online acquaintances but as it helps me to keep in touch with people and I get an organised way to record my thoughts, I’m happy with this.

  13. Sarah on #

    I’ve had a blog nearly four years now (really? four years? – I had to check, and was surprised it was that long). For me, getting a blog was a side effect of fandom. Everyone had one, so I signed up to LiveJournal.

    I post really sporadically, going months and months without posting things, then posting for a solid few weeks. My blog is a sightly crazy mix of fanfic, original fiction, book reviews and general ranting.

    I recently friends-locked my journal because I got hit by serial adders with inappropriate material on their blogs, and I didn’t want that sort of thing being linked to my blog. But even before that, I never had more than maybe half a dozen people read anything I posted, and only about two or three comments on my entries.

    But I’m happy with my tiny audience. There’s a certain freedom in knowing that none of the insane ramblings are likely to be read by anyone but me. I don’t write to be famous, I write because it’s fun.

    I love reading blogs too, both those written by my friends, and a huge number of author blogs. A lot of authors (present company included) are pretty awesome people, and blogs like this one make you all seem a bit more real, which is a fabulous and wonderful thing for a book geek from the Sydney suburbs to experience.

  14. Julia Rios on #

    I’ve been blogging since 1999, and have a few different active blogs. They’re generally aimed at different groups of people, even if they’re all public. I consider my LiveJournal the most obviously accessible to strangers, though, so that’s where my personal site points. I’ve gone through different stages of openness in posting, but I tend to be pretty reserved about personal stuff (friends and family do read my blog, but if something big comes up, they’ll most likely hear about it another way).

    I try to post things that will interest at least a few people who aren’t me, but really, it’s sort of like a digital scrapbook for me in a lot of ways. I like taking pictures and doing random art projects, and I like having records of them. I’ve also used my blogs to explore specific things in essay format, and to keep tabs on my progress on particular projects. I do post a lot of pictures of my cat, but that’s just because I adore my cat. I don’t think those posts tend to be terribly popular with the masses, in spite of your apparent thoughts to the contrary.

    I read your blog because I consistently find content that interests me (though I tend to skim the sports posts), and because the comments are usually quite good as well. I did find your blog before I read any of your books, and I have bought your books since then, but if I hadn’t liked your books, I’d still read your blog. There are definitely authors whose books I like, but whose blogs don’t interest me, and authors whose blogs I like, but whose books don’t interest me. I should say, though, that if I like an author’s blog, I am more likely to give their books a try, so it does seem like blogging does potentially help sales.

  15. Megan on #

    I blog for myself to, and my somewhat vain hope that people have some interest in what i have to say!

  16. Megan on #

    For anyone who’s interested I expand and discuss Justine’s points on my blog today too!

    Click here to read it!

  17. Becca on #

    At a meeting I attended (SCBWI), some publishing professional said, “If you want to sell your published books, you must have a blog. You must have a mySpace. You must be on Facebook.” (Strangely, very little was said about writing good books in the first place, go fig.)

    I do not keep my blog to sell books. Nobody who doesn’t already have my books even knows about it. (Speaking of writing well – have you ever seen a clunkier sentence?)

    It’s a community thing, for me. In my physical community, there are lots of readers, but not many writers. I like to talk to/ listen to writers – and I do it through blogs. I don’t count my hits, and there are days when I get no comments, and that’s okay. I’m journaling, and celebrating, and moaning about writing, and that’s enough, whether anyone reads it or not.

  18. Patrick on #

    I blog because my I can’t pick which picture of my cat to use as a final post. It might be because I hate my cat, too.

  19. Tim on #

    Interestingly I just started a blog recently and asked myself this very question. Although I haven’t updated my blog with everything I’ve written yet, I find that the whole process is very cathartic. It also helps me to order my thoughts better and know my own ideas. Although I would like to be able to say I’m happy enough even if nobody reads it, in all honesty there’s that little vain egotistical voice in my head that would like to think that other people care about my opinion.

    Still, what can you do? I’m enjoying what I’ve written so far, and even if nobody else reads it I’m having fun!

  20. Tracy on #

    I started blogging to sort of keep me on track and motivated with my writing. It works very well. Also because I wanted to just get my feelings out there about the whole submission process and the like. I really enjoy (and learn a lot from) other people’s experience, and I thought I might be able to contribute something in that respect. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to connect with others of like mind.

    As an added bonus, my extended family also gets a glimpse of what I’m going through (because, although I have a rather constant inner dialogue going on, I’m not so talkative in real life*).

    *My kids may disagree on that point entirely.

  21. Lauren McLaughlin on #

    I blog primarily to instruct people on the proper way to wear shorts. But also to avoid cramming such things into my novels where they (mostly) just get in the way of the story.

  22. Amber on #

    I blog, but mostly on xanga and not on livejournal or anything else. Some I don’t have many, if any, readers, and I am mostly fine with that (sometimes I even prefer that). I have also abandoned many blogs when I found another that suited me more.

    I like your blogs, because they are real. About real things, even if fun, non serious things, and you’re not trying to be somebody you’re not. I also think it is wise not to post too much personal information, and really it’s none of our business about your personal side of life (unless you want to share it).

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