Not long ago someone left this comment on a post I’d written:
“I guess you have to decide what you want. Money, hits, likes or trying to help others.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it cast in a somewhat negative light that people were trying to grow their blogs, so I thought it was worth talking about, because I think that in a lot of cases that judgment is unfair.
First, though, let’s be clear what I’m not talking about. I’m not talking about people who are only trying to make money and have no respect for the community. I’m also not talking about people who are obnoxious and spammy, like what I refer to as rapid-fire-likers, who like 15 posts within the space of 1.5 seconds.
What I am talking about is bloggers who respect and engage in the blogging community, and hope to grow their blogs and maybe make some money while they’re at it.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of that. I’ve worked hard at growing my blog, not because I get satisfaction out of the stats, but because I’m a blogger with a message. I want to raise awareness about mental health issues and challenge stigma, and the more people view my blog, the more I’m spreading that message.
Sometimes I see people talking about hits/views and likes as if they’re completely meaningless. I disagree. Sure, there’s a segment of people who are liking without reading or viewing without actually reading. But there are also genuine readers and genuine likers. The actual number of views and likes may not mean all that much, and in terms of ego or blog quality it’s just not an indicator of that kind of thing, but when you want to spread a message, increasing numbers means more people hearing your message. And why should that be a bad thing as a goal – not a goal in terms of the value of your blog, but a goal to support its purpose.
I also do some writing over at Medium.com, a site where authors can make some money, and I’ve seen a number of people writing about the expectation that seems to be out there that if you’re passionate about something and it’s important to you, you should do it for free.
Being alive costs money. Some people in the blogging community don’t or can’t work, for various reasons, and blogging can be a way to try to earn some income. In the last 3 months, I’ve been unable to work, and so my only income has been from book royalties and a little bit from Medium; I lump all of that in under the general umbrella of blogging.
And sure, if you prioritize monetization over all else, your site’s not going to be a very pleasant experience for your readers. But for a lot of bloggers, that’s not the case. Community-minded bloggers are more likely to be trying to make a bit of money on the side doing what they already enjoy.
So, to come back to that comment and whether there needs to be a choice between growth/monetization and helping others, I would say that the two can absolutely coexist. I don’t stop wanting to help others just because I want to spread my message more broadly and supplement my often non-existent income, and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.
And people are free not to like it; that’s what the unfollow button is for.