Who do you blog for?

July 17th, 2009 in Weblogs

As most writers can tell you, you write for somebody else. You write because you want someone else to read your opinion, your knowledge or your funny stories. The problem is that many of us bloggers don't know exactly who we are writing for. A couple thousand people a day may land on your blog and despite the best analytics you may not know who they are. And who you write for may change. I originally started writing for my friends but over time I've picked up a large readership, many of whom I don't know personally. A very small percentage of readers actually leave comments so I don't really get a chance to know them.

I ask who you blog for because lately I've gotten a lot of comments about what I'm writing about, and I have to say, I've found some of them flattering, some of them funny and some insulting. I write about what I find interesting or important and I hope others find it interesting or educational, that's why I share it. I don't believe I actually write for any one audience. (Although occasionally I have an audience in mind when I write a particular post.)

So here are some comments I've gotten (I find many of them funny) and my response:

  • "You don't do much work, you're always talking about surveys or hunting or kids." Hmm, this is Stormy's Corner, not Stormy's job log. While I tend to work a lot, I do lots of other things too and I write about whatever I want to share at the moment with no thought on how much I've blogged about "work" versus "family" versus "hobbies". (You can read about my work in the Foundation blog. And see the next point.) So if you think I have too much time to write about other things, I think perhaps you should get a few hobbies of your own too. Also note that most posts take me 20-30 minutes so it's not like I'm spending hours and hours writing …
  • "You write too much about work." I actually feel kind of bad for my readers that started reading this blog before I was allowed to blog about work and now are learning much more about open source software and GNOME than they ever wanted to know. Well, guys, it is an important part of my life, and I do think it's really important you understand how important open source software is for our world. Hopefully you can tell from the title whether or not you want to read the post and skip the rest.
  • "Your posts are really different than the other posts on Planet GNOME
    and I appreciate reading about topics I wouldn't otherwise think
    about."
    Thanks!
  • "You blog about hunting." Actually, I think I've only blogged about hunting once or twice. I understand many of my readers are vegetarians. Many of my friends and some of my family are vegetarian. My hunting posts are mostly about the people I hunt with not the nuts and bolts. Hunting is actually a highly controlled sport that is used for population control and revenue generation in the states, and I don't think it's evil but I'm not going to talk lots about it one way or the other. I don't push hunting here and I'd appreciate if you wouldn't insult my kids because you don't like the fact I hunt.
  • "Where do you find time to blog?" I usually blog about things I've been thinking about. You could say I blog when I'm walking the dog or driving the car. By the time I sit down "to blog", I can usually type up the blog post in 20 minutes or so. (And sometimes I don't have enough time to think about any one thing long enough to construct a blog post – see the last few weeks …)
  •  "Where do you get your ideas?" From everywhere, all day long. I have a list a mile long on things I could blog about. Hopefully I screen enough of them that my blog is interesting. It seems to be working for my current readers.

So who do I write for? I don't really know. I know my readers contain:

  • friends
  • family – A couple of years ago I discovered that a great-aunt I hadn't seen since I was 3 years old was reading my blog! How awesome is that? I've also gotten to know a few of my cousins better though blogging.
  • Planet GNOME readers
  • Some press folks
  • GNOME people
  • People interested in open source software
  • People whose blog I read
  • People who think my kid stories are cute (who doesn't ;)
  • People who found one or two of my posts really useful and so subscribed to the rest
  • People I've met at conferences, …

Who are you and why are you reading Stormy's Corner?

Who do you blog for?

5 Responses to “Who do you blog for?”

  1. Maybe blogging is a bit different from publishing a book. You blog to create or build a community, not just to stumble upon it. I initially had a professional connection to you, Stormy, but have discovered a number of common interests (some professional, some not). To some degree, I’m not the same person who first read your blog: like any friendship, I’ve changed in little ways: I’ve read at you, just as much as you’ve written at me.
    Which, I think, means that diversity and eclecticism are especially important in blogging: you’re not crafting the work to a fixed audience-concept, you’re evolving a communal understanding of who “we,” together, are.
    Jono Bacon says (http://www.artofcommunityonline.org/) people join communities in order to *belong*, to feel like they belong, to find somewhere to belong. Blogging (and most “social” media, perhaps) is offering potential community members a connection.

  2. Richard says:

    I read this because I’m interested in the health and future of GNOME.
    I blog for the future and posterity.

  3. Possibly the best way to tell who I am is to define myself by telling about the work I do. I’m from the Netherlands and 22 years old. I study a History bachelor’s programme, which is not really a true interest and more a way for me to get access to a master’s programme in the field of Public Administration. Besides that I’ve also considered studying Computer Science, and I’ve worked as an assistant Unix system administrator because of my interests in computer hardware and software (FLOSS specifically).
    I’m reading this because, just like Richard, I’m interested in the development of GNOME, but also in the people participating in the project. I probably wouldn’t have read your posts though if they didn’t appear on Planet GNOME, not because they don’t interest me, but because I don’t read the foundation blog. A large weblog aggregator like Planet GNOME makes it more convenient. What makes you interesting is that you are one of the persons who’s transforming GNOME to a more professional/formal organisation, after it started as an informal organisation of a few idealists not much longer than 10 years ago. Your blog posts about your work demonstrate your skill in executing your work, which I admire and give me another reason to read your weblog. Your posts not related to work covered interesting subjects, and I think you’re relatively good blogger.
    But I have to confess that I also read it because I’m used to reading Planet GNOME, just reading for the sake of reading. Sometimes to my own disappointment, reading Planet GNOME and other weblogs/news websites is part of my daily routine, and I don’t break with that routine, even though I probably spent too much time on it. I’m not an Internet addict however.
    The question for who you’re blogging is an interesting one. On my weblog (see my URL) the first one of the reasons coming to mind was that I do it for myself. I know that reactions to my weblog are very scarce, but I blog anyway because I like to write, and because it eases my mind if I commit my thoughts to blog posts. Actually I was a bit surprised that you didn’t mention that you blog for yourself? I expected that it would be one of the reasons for every blogger to write a blog.
    Besides blogging for myself, I think I have a very generic audience. Most of the time I’m writing about software related technical subjects for FLOSS enthusiasts like me, but I also write about travels and literature. Most of the time I write posts to give advice/recommend, share experiences, convince or in the hope that anyone will comment and give their opinion.
    It’s unfortunate that you’ve received insulting comments. What must be especially tiresome for bloggers on Planet GNOME is to hear continually from commenters that their posts don’t belong on Planet GNOME because the subject of their post isn’t related to GNOME. Maybe it should be communicated more clearly on the Planet GNOME website that it’s aggregated blogs cover the work and lives of the bloggers.
    But what’s most disappointing is that commenters are so hostile. You mention your kids were insulted, and the commenters have recently reached a new low in the discussion concerning the Richard Stallman controversy. It’s a shame people lack empathy, and possibly it’s caused by impersonality of communicating through the Internet.

  4. stormy says:

    Jack,
    That’s a really good point. I think the communities are obvious around blogs around a topic (digital photography, for example) but no less real around personal blogs.
    We’re defining a community.
    Stormy

  5. stormy says:

    Alexander,
    You are right – I probably blog for myself too. Before blogging and all the email I send, I used to keep a journal. It was very different than my blog but I bet my blog does fulfill some of the same need my journaling did.