The quality vs. quantity dilemma of blogging

In manufacturing, art, blogging…quality and quantity aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s true, you can have both (high output and high quality), but one often suffers at the expense of the other.

You take hours to craft a blog and so you only post a couple times a month…or, you post daily without putting much time into it, so it may not be your best work. (My tip: it will never be your best work, so don’t let that stop you.)

I’ve been following a guy for four years now, who posts every day. I don’t think he’s missed once, and he started about 10 years ago. He also had more than four million page views last year.

What hooked me was the fact he could post every day and manage to hold my interest, just about every day.

And isn’t that the goal, in writing, film, TV, theater…that no one leaves at intermission? They finish the book with relish…they wouldn’t dare miss the season debut…they won’t “delete” without reading.

I’ve read advice about blogging and traded thoughts here, on what’s the right frequency to post. For me, the goal in starting out was daily, to condition myself to the habit of writing and put a deadline-mentality pressure on myself, to get over the fear of it and figure out what the hell I was about.

It’s sweet to look back on the old posts because I had no readers then, it was just me and my recliner. But it’s like singing in the shower: it feels really good and sounds really good when it’s just you, but once everyone in the whole apartment complex is outside your door listening, it can change things.

My early posts are like some bands I like who started off Punk — they’re a minute or two in length, scrappy, unfinished, and leave me wanting something more substantial. But some of those bands who kept doing it worked through that, and got better. Maybe they found their voice, or their listeners found them…maybe both.

In blogging, you can go down the rabbit hole of analyzing the days of the week most people read your posts, the types of posts that get the most Likes…you can apply whatever analysis you have time to apply to do whatever it is you’re trying to do. Yes, I would like more readers but I’m terribly grateful for the ones I have, and I may not be ready for more because that might freak me out.

And of course, there’s a big difference between readers and followers. Some people Like or Follow just because they want that in return from you. But that doesn’t seem to have anything related to quality, to me.

If you’re a blogger, what do you do to hold the reader’s interest?

More on the topic from my blog inspiration here, and thanks for reading.

25 responses to “The quality vs. quantity dilemma of blogging

  1. I thought my blogging might be a stepping stone to writing a book, but life seems to keep getting in the way. I will say I blog probably more for me. I know I have a core group that do read my blog and I am extremely grateful. They are the ones that have encouraged me a long the way to keep writing also.
    My blog tends to hold someone’s interest because of the truth they find in my words. Or either folks just love to see people write about their suffering. Maybe they then can say, “Hey my life isn’t as bad as I thought.”

    • It probably needs to be for “me” / us first and foremost. And yeah, I don’t know that it can be done well without being true. Thanks Alesia — I sent you an email with a great WordPress article today on finding your blogger voice, if you haven’t read it already. – Bill

  2. Really the only difference between now and starting out is that I make sure to add at least one photo, which helps it stand out in the Reader and breaks up the page of grey text. I still write mostly to amuse myself, though, and hope the reader tags along.

    • Good point about the Readerdamn, hadn’t thought of that! Thanks for the tip. I’m gonna get me some photos now. Thank you for sharing Ross. I’m tagging (along).

  3. Blogs are odd things. They have this sort of public/private element that I’ve never encountered anywhere else, and the fact that people can immediately comment is a bit unnerving at times. Sometimes I’ve caught myself thinking, no I can’t write that because the people who I actually physically know won’t like it, and then I think, what the hell, this is my space, and when you are honest, people do read.

    • Darn right Elaine and perplexing — that personal/public/interactive thing is really weird. It’s our space to enter and create! I’m glad you’ve read some of my posts and appreciate you stopping by to share your thoughts from across the pond. Always nice to hear from you. Best, – Bill

  4. i might ask a different question than “what holds the reader’s interest?”

    cuz i don’t think you ever KNOW that and i’m not convinced it can be manufactured, despite what a web counter might indicate.

    another way to say this is that any really great art (writing, music, painting, etc.) is not created for the audience. it’s created for the pleasure, connection, expression of the artist.

    and it’s that internal resonance that other’s find attractive.

    because we are attracted to resonance.

    the question i am a fan of is “what turns me on to create today?” It’s nice when people like it/get it… but it’s really none of my concern either… after all, i did it for me.

    in my experience, analyzing (and letting that analyzation direct) your art is the only rabbit hole there is…

    deep, man :)

    fun to think about with you,

    D

    • I’d rather have this conversation with you around a campfire now. I’m at least having a whiskey and sitting in the dark as the sun sets with my dog, if you can picture that. Not much different from that time with you, me, your dogwell.I’ll leave that for another time, that timethank you Drew for reading and sharing your resonance. To sentimentality.

  5. See http://bradcolbow.com/archive/view/what_people_pay_attention_to_on_the_internet/

    I strive to write good stuff. The metrics tell me I’m not there yet.

    I think the “why hold a reader’s interest” might be another angle to consider. I think the “what to do” depends on the “why”.

    • Fuck the metrics. God, that felt good to type that: did you hear me crack the keys over there on Bainbridge? I’m looking forward to getting with you again and rapping.

      • :-)

        I did hear something.

        It sounded like a punk song in my head:

        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!
        Johnny can’t write!

        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!
        Susie can’t read!

        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!
        The teacher is high!

        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!
        So am I!

        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!
        Fuck the metrics!

        I think I understand and hear what you’re saying.

        I believe that metrics have their place to help guide towards or signal the attainment of goals that are beyond the pleasures of hobby craftsmanship.

        I further believe that when the metrics become the goals unto themselves, one is lost, the art dies, and it is replaced by a striving that can never be consummated.

        Great art will eventually get noticed (luck plays a huge part) because it can’t be ignored.

        That bloggers publish their words for over a billion people to possibly see begs the question of how many do they want be read by? And for what reasons? I think you wrote a post about that once.

        My life is crazy until the last week of the month; would that week work for you to get together again?

      • pinklightsabre

        The most animated comment I’ve gotten Ever! Thank you Chris–yes I’ll email about end of the month so we can continue this rant and fill out those punk lyrics some. Going to Portland today to look for hippies and club them like baby seals.

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

  6. i really am bad about having a plan as far as posting frequency. i tend to post when the mood strikes me, and like ross, i am happy for when anyone reads along. i know that won’t work for readers who look for an expected pattern, but it’s how i tend to write -

    • Yeah, it shouldn’t be toilsome I think. I actually thought about having a blog calendar, like an editorial calendar of sorts, but thought better of it. God? Who does that? I’m sure people do — like you, I like cracking them off as often as I can when it feels right. Thank you Beth for sharing. – Bill

  7. I’ve been at it for a while and I don’t have many good answers – except for this – write what interests you and don’t worry about the audience too much. If you love what you’re interested in or you find it funny, fascinating, whatever, that should come through in your writing. As far as frequency – well, life gets in the way! I have a full-time job and I’m a caregiver. I post when I can. I’m grateful for my loyal followers and always glad to have more, but I don’t look at the stats. You’re so talented, man – just keep doing it. I love your writing.

  8. I agree with SDS above, Bill. Post when you can, when you want to. Me, I find that either I spend a long time on a post (my stories) or I dash them off (political ones and silly stuff I need to share). It depends on lots of factors — whether something makes me want to share a particular story. Or what ticked me off in the news.

    I find that some folks come for the politics and others leave because of it! But it’s my party …

  9. I like your writing and I honestly don’t know how I found you. Just someone, somewhere said something, or you commented on something and I thought how interesting – or something. As far as posting and writing to attract readers…I can’t say I do that. I’m writing a bloody it-started-out-a-romance-now-what? novel on my blog and if you popped over there you totally wouldn’t get it unless you went alllllllll the way back to Nov 1st when I started it. No one wants to read a book in the middle, so I’m always a little amazed (amused) when people ‘like’ my blog when they obviously don’t know a thing about it. On the other hand, it’s so nice of them to be friendly, as it were. So maybe I’ve lost some readers-I think I have but I can’t be sure (fuck the metrics) but since I didn’t really start off with the intention to gather a horde of readers I can’t say it bothers me. One day though…one day I’m going to finish posting this book, it will be done and I will be back to thinking about what to post. Meanwhile? Every. Single. Day. Cuz I like writing. That’s all. It’s just about the writing. I want to swear more though.

    • It sounds like you are in a good space with it Laura — that’s cool. I love getting animated comments like this — doesn’t happen much, so thank you for taking the time. It’s funny how swearing feels good in some juvenile way. My friends and I get off on cussing while texting, too. Wonder if it’s a generational thing (1970). I’m going to have a look at your blog and go back to November 1. I like November 1. Have a magical week. – Bill

  10. I’m flailing a bit at the moment on blogging, but quality will always beat quantity for me both in reading and writing. I do confess though, if a post gives me scrolling cramps (in the 1500+ range), I will abandon it in favor of shorter fare.
    I’m doing some intense offline writing, since I’ve been blogging too much lately about blogging (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it’s jumping the shark a bit when my intent is to practice writing material that appeals to a wider audience beyond blogland.
    I’m in a bit of a dark place these days, writing and reading much more grim material than I’d like. Hope it’s out of my system soon.
    Keep on keepin’ on, my friend.

    • Good for you on the intense offline riff. If you’re enjoying grim, dark material check out The Woman Who Lost Her Soul perhaps. It is beautiful writing and story-telling. If you read it and like it perhaps I’ll send you a mug or something three dimensional you can remember me by. Not sure if that would be a gift or a curse. It’s about a year now since we’ve been following each other. Not that I’m terribly weird to remember things like that, but happy anniversary. And OK I am terribly weird. Have a fantastic week Michelle. Soon we’ll be blogging about gardening which is about as good as gardening. – Bill

      • Thanks, Bill. I will shortly be off in la-la land on a cold medicine carpet ride. I appreciate weird and that you remembered when we crossed paths. I put my library reservation in for the book you mentioned – I’m reading rather voraciously these days. Take care and I’ll catch you when all the snot has cleared and I don’t smell like Vicks and eucalyptus.

      • pinklightsabre

        This is course advice, but if you’re going to be sick at least enjoy the ride. I like eucalyptus and possibly the smell of Vicks, if it has a Tiger Balm tint to it. But being well is better. Best–

Please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s