Keeva wrote an interesting post over at Tree Bark Jacket that got me thinking: ”Why do you blog? Why do you subscribe to blogs?”
It’s certainly not a new topic (like most topics in the blogosphere), but it’s one that always generates great discussion and I think it’s worth coming back to. I was just going to leave a comment over there, but decided not to subject her to a wall of text (which is one of the reasons I started blogging).
Why Do I Blog?
I’m not out for internet fame, money, or a job as a writer. This is a hobby, and one that I have no problem stopping if I no longer enjoy it.
I blog because:
- I like writing — and having an outlet to do so only improves my skills and helps me develop my voice
- It enhances my WOW experience — it forces me to think about how I play and why
- It allows me to share things I’ve learned with others
- It gets me involved in an amazing community of supportive, interesting people
- I have my own space to speak about things I’m passionate about, instead of only commenting on other’s blogs
- I like playing with my website — I’m a huge tech geek and really enjoy toying with web design and programming
I’m not going to say that I don’t pay attention to my hit count, or get excited when someone leaves a nice comment saying that they liked what I wrote. Blogging for me is mostly self-motivated, but I am certainly still affected by external influences.
My blog has never tilted strongly towards the informational end of things. I write guides now and again, or discuss UI and addons, but for the most part I tend to write about whatever is currently on my mind. In general, I hope that my readers hang around because they like hearing what I have to say — those are the people who are likely to actually interact and contribute to discussion. Those of you that come for the guides, welcome — I hope you find them helpful, and that you will come back from time to time when something else useful comes along.
I do try to mix things up and keep some semblance of balance between informational and entertaining/opinion posts, because doing so helps me feel better about the content I am putting out. It also helps keeps me engaged in blogging — because sticking to one thing gets boring.
Why Do I Read Blogs?
I have lost count of how many blogs are in my feed reader. I am constantly adding new ones — from retweets on Twitter, comments on other blogs I read, or bloggers linking to other interesting topics. My criteria for whether I will or will not add a WOW blog is rather vague. I would probably classify the WOW blogs I read in three categories
- The blog focuses on a class I currently play
- The blog focuses on general WOW topics
- The blog focuses on a class I don’t play, but the writer has a great personality and dabbles with entertaining posts or other general topics
When I visit a new blog, I usually scan it quickly for the past several posts and check out the About page if there is one. I won’t subscribe, or may unsubscribe if:
- The posts are full of spelling/grammatical errors in a way that makes the writing seem disorganized, or hard to read (oh, I know I am guilty of abusing all kinds of spelling and grammar rules, but I think I at least make an attempt to write beyond the level of an elementary school student)
- I find the personality of the writer boring, abrasive, or simply rude
- The posts seem to only regurgitate news/patch notes, or are only about “look what achievement I got”, without any opinions or additional thoughts added
- The posts are purely informational about a class I don’t play
- There is no RSS feed or it is truncated
If the author hasn’t posted in months when I first visit the blog, I’m unlikely to add them to my feed reader. I will also unsubscribe from a blog if the author says they are quitting for good. I generally let most inactive blogs hang out in my feed reader for at least a few months though, if I enjoyed reading them before things went dark.
I may not read every post of every blog I’ve subscribed to, or may skim through a lot of things I don’t find personally relevent. I don’t cut back on my feed list, however, because I’ve found that everyone has something interesting to say sometime, and I’d hate to miss it. Yes, this does require wading through a lot of fluff, but it gives me something to do while my code is compiling at work.
I don’t typically unsubscribe from blogs if the focus shifts a bit as time goes on. It’s usually the personality that keeps me reading. I may be a little disappointed if my favorite shaman blogger starts playing a paladin as their main, but I don’t feel personally betrayed. I do understand though, that when something doesn’t live up to expectations it’s natural to get annoyed. I know I’m guilty of shifting directions myself — I originally wrote a lot about rogues, and at the moment my rogue is nothing more than a glorified alchemy/herb mule. I never said that this was a rogue blog however, and even made a change from wordpress.com to self-hosted, with a new name, to try to give myself a bit of a fresh start.
I think the important thing is that the blog author writes about what they enjoy – and not try to stick to a small pigeonhole or niche just because it’s what they think people expect. As my boss always says, “you will always be more successful at something you are passionate about“. Granted, this is completely contrary to all advice on how to gain readers. A targeted, focused approach is more likely to give you a defined identity and popularity on the interwebs, but it only works if you have a lot to say about that topic.
I know there are a lot of people who won’t read blogs that don’t stick to a particular topic, and I completely understand where they are coming from. Not everyone enjoys reading blogs in the way that I do, and most people have limited time to try to find the information that is relevent to them. I find value in subscribing to a ton of blogs and getting little golden nuggets in unexpected places, but I understand that most people prefer a solid, reliable source. That’s OK with me — I’m not going to change what I write to reel in that audience. The most I can hope for is that when I do write something useful, that one of those reliable sources links to me and shares the information.
I get most excited by posts from authors that are entertaining, or I can feel the passion and personality behind their writing. I love getting to know people through their blogs, and reading unique viewpoints. I feel like being involved in the WOW blogging community enriches my life, in a way that the people physically present around me every day just can’t. We all come from such diverse backgrounds and lifestyles, and yet discuss shared experiences — in my mind that is a truly beautiful thing.
Please feel free to share your own respectful opinions here or over at Tree Bark Jacket.