Unpopular opinions about blogging for yourself vs. beyond yourself

Photo of four chickens pecking around outside; one is off on its own about a yard away, while the rest are together

“Blog for yourself” is the first piece of advice I used to give people. And everyone said it to me. Just do things for yourself; don’t care about what others think!

Now I regret it, because it’s led to bloggers who harm other bloggers just because they don’t think about anyone else. They took it seriously and didn’t understand where to draw the line. They defamed bloggers and copied blog posts. It was really bad. It still happens. People still think that’s okay.

A less radical version of a blogger who is still a bit radical claims to blog for herself, but wants things out of it.

The point we’re discussing today is that you can’t have both if you want to blog for yourself. If you want what bloggers who blog beyond themselves have, you have to consider your audience, too.

In other words:

You can have your cake and eat it, too, but unless you divide it evenly among the rest of the people in the room, it’s just yours—and is it even your party?

Blogging for yourself with an audience in mind

It’s like getting dressed: We can wear what we want, but we put on pants for other people to avoid traumatizing them.

In blogging, if we want what we expect out of it, we have to consistently look at things with a stranger’s eye. Maybe there are still posts we write and publish and share for ourselves first, but at the end of the day, we still have to consider that other people exist in the world.

No one wants to read a blog wherein the author only talks themselves, because we’re all boring—unless maybe we’re in the talent industry. But even people in the talent industry have to put in the work to earn those fans (not unlike bloggers + readers). In newer series, actors must live tweet during the show. Shadowhunters actors without Twitter accounts had to make one.

Telltale signs you DO want to blog for more than just yourself:

  • you have an about page
  • you allow comments
  • people can follow you on social media
  • you promote your blog/blog posts
  • you want comments
  • you review products (includes book reviews) — reviews are for consumers; don’t tell me you’re telling yourself what you think about things
  • you keep track of your stats (e.g. Google Analytics)
  • you publish how-to posts, tips, etc.

If you’re guilty of any of these—congrats. The second step is acceptance.

Blogging for just yourself

This is the very literal sense of blogging for oneself, but I think it’s something we all need to talk about so we can get off our high horses and stop saying, “I don’t care what you think! I don’t blog for you!” because there are much, much kinder ways to say that.

Also, people who blog for themselves only these days don’t stick around for long—the disappear, because in truth they wanted to be blogging for more than themselves because they wanted comments and interaction with their readers, but their readers didn’t like their blogs too much because remember that list up there? Yeah, well, those are telltale signs for a reason.

For example, you don’t need to tell yourself about yourself/your blog/etc. If you’re Wikipedia-ing up your about page with a complete history because YOU think people care about it, it’s not as much an ~about page~ as it is a prologue for your online diary. At its core, the about page is for the visitors (potential readers) and readers. Because you don’t need to tell yourself who you are and all that jazz in front of the whole world. You should consult with yourself in private instead.

Likewise, areas for discussion and interaction—on or off your blog—are calls to action. You’re literally saying, “Hey! Come here and interact with me!” And wanting people to want to do things on or to your blog? Well…I surmise people don’t enter romantic relationships for themselves.

It took me a bit to feel confident saying this, but I blog for more than just myself. And I like it. Before, I thought I had to blog for myself and that it was wrong to feel any sort of wanting for this or that—the benefits of blogging—but I like it. I like the give-and-take camaraderie that goes along with blogging. I like getting comments and “fan mail” and reaping the benefits of having a blog people read.

Overall, I’m not saying no one can blog for themselves…I just think, if we’re claiming to blog for ourselves but are demonstrating the opposite of that, we need a reality check. If you’re happy with your blog, you probably don’t have a problem. But 99 of my blogging-related problems? They all led me here.[1. I’ll explain more about this over time. Eeee, so excited!]

Y tú? Do you blog for yourself or beyond yourself? Do you disagree? Let’s party like it’s 1999 and friendly debates still exist!

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Comments on this post

I blog for the interaction. I love to read, and don’t know enough IRL readers, who like the books I like. Online has been a great way to find those readers. I also use it to finance my reading habit. I have already read over 200 books, and it’s a huge perk getting some of them for free. I always try to be friendly and not alienating, and I don’t lash out and hide behind my keyboard. I do think the internet in general has given some people that license, or at least they think they can do that.

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Ooh I definitely agree! There needs to be a balance between blogging for yourself and blogging for others and being aware of your audience. Such a thought-out and clear post. Loved it.

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Holy crap, this is SO true! I haven’t ever thought of this but WOW you are so right. I mean- just like being in the world and interacting with humans, we want to be decent, right? That is how blogging should be. It’s like, you need a balance. I liked your examples with the clothes because it’s true. Sure we want to blog about stuff that we enjoy, but we also need to kind of *always* keep other people in mind.

I used to basically ONLY blog for others though, and that got exhausting really quickly. Actually- I used to get really freaked out because my posts about The 100 got so few comments/views, that I considered stopping them… but then I realized that they were the thing on my blog that I had the most fun doing! So I have started doing more of what makes me happy, but still with an audience in mind and it’s been a really great combo for me (and my mental health, tbh!) GREAT post, so thought provoking!!

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This is actually the first time I am seeing a discussion on this angle of “blogging for yourself”. The way we normally talk about it, is through a different lens: “blogging for oneself” versus “blogging for numbers, views and affiliate revenue”. So the way I always understand “blogging for oneself” when I hear it is that you blog because you love it, as opposed to because you want to be popular.

I guess I never even encountered mean bloggers who just blog for themselves in the sense that they want a space where they’ll gossip about or trash others. I guess I’m lucky that I manage to keep myself out of those circles! I would agree that when you blog, you must consider the people around you. It’s just like regular life and treating others kindly.

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Ah, no. I mean that you blog for yourself obly. I call blogging for more than just yourself “beyond just yourself”, which doesn’t always mean blogging because you want to be popular or anything like that. It just means that, to an extent, you do care what your audience thinks.

Because blogging for oneself is more like having an online journal versus having a blog.

I think maybe the title is throwing people off, but it was the best I could think of.

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I’m actually a little confused here. I think it’s because I blog for myself BUT I also blog for others. I have been blogging on and off for over 11 years now and I was a teen when blogging first started so… yeah, I actually had a personal journal-type blog in the late 90s. Anyway, what I mean by blogging for myself AND others is that I treat blogging as my hobby. I love to read and I love to review the books I read and of course, share them on my blog. THAT is purely for me – because it’s fun! I DO reap the benefits of this, which is why I get ARCs for review and I also get to interact with other readers. I don’t get any income from blogging at all. But I’ve made friends through blogging, with some becoming my IRL friends!

I think what you mean by blogging for yourself is the personal type of blogging – which was really what started the blogging craze years ago. I do blog for myself but I’m also careful with what I post in either my reviews or discussion posts. I’m respectful of others and I hope they are respectful to me too. While I sprinkle my personal life in my reviews and other posts, I don’t actually write a journal-type post anymore. I think this is just how the internet is now and we do have to be careful with our privacy! This used to be the norm, but maybe is not less popular? Not 100% sure anymore since I mostly surround myself in the blogging community.

I do hope you blog for yourself first. This actually helps keep your blog going year after year.

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Ah! I’m sorry, heh. What I mean by blogging for oneself is the attitude of “I blog by myself; I don’t care what other people think”. Personal blogging can be for oneself and others, but solely blogging for oneself is more along the lines of having an online diary. I’m talking about the broader way of it.

The reason I wanted to address the difference within the community is because I’ve seen countless bloggers blogging for themselves, but wanting something out of it—all the while getting upset when their readers expect to be treated with respect instead of, like, Facebook friends who are just interested in what they have to say for the drama.

This is something I want to add onto in the future, I just needed to start with this blogging for yourself vs. for others discussion out of the way to be able to distinguish my blogging tips moving forward. 🙂 I think it’s important not necessarily to focus on a party (you vs. your audience) first, but rather to find a balance. If your blog aligns with your passions, there shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re putting stuff out there with the intention that you want it to interacted with, while giving off the impression that you only blog for yourself, there’s no wonder if you wind up unhappy over it. People don’t respond well to mixed signals.

Considering how you responded to it, I’d say you’ve found that healthy balance needed for a stable blog that goes beyond yourself. 😉

Side note: Hobby or not, it’s worth mentioning that any product received free, regardless of what for, counts as income (at least in the US). Thus, if you get ARCs for free, that is considered your compensation (income).

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I go back and forth between “I don’t care I’ll just blog for myself” and “It would be nice to have comments from other people and get to know other people.” I recently got back into journalling and it’s really nice being able to just write whatever I want without censoring myself or thinking about who would read it. I haven’t been blogging a lot exactly for that reason. I always go through this endless cycle. Why do I have a blog? What do I want my blog to be? For me, I enjoy the posterity a blog offers but I do like being part of a blogging community, if that makes any sense at all.

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I’ve never pretended to blog for myself. I’m very aware that there is a difference between my handwritten journal hidden beneath my bed and my blog posted to the public. (Although I definitely miss the grey area between of private LJs.) I think now the new difference to come to terms with is whether you want fame and fortune from the blog or just some mild attention…

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