Facing Irrelevance

How many readers does it take to make a blog worthwhile? What constitutes a sufficient number of pageviews for a given post? The most obvious answer is that there is no line of demarcation; the act of writing is an end in itself. If I were to have a meaningful conversation with a single person, or even just have something good and substantive to say to an audience of one, would that not be enough?

And yet when it comes to writing for the Internet, those numbers feel like they matter. Outside the context of the Web, it would be unlikely that anything I wrote, for any reason, would ever be read by more than a handful of people. Today, even my least-read postings still garner 20 to 30 views or so. I don’t know how many of those folks are actually reading the content, of course. But often, I have posts that take in 100 views or more. But that doesn’t feel like enough. (Once, I was fortunate enough to compose a piece for Examiner that won over 70,000 views. I’ve never come anywhere close to that since, either in raw numbers or even in the amount of zeroes.)

I think it’s because the standard in my mind is that of the well-known blogger, the Web-based influencer who is asked to join panels at conferences, who is cited by the likes of Andrew Sullivan or John Gruber, whose posts seem to matter to the wider Internet culture at least to some degree.

But I know this is not the usual way of things. Most blogs — as with he vast majority of all other online content — are read by staggeringly few souls. In which case, the notion that even a smattering of people would take the time to consider one’s writings should be humbling, should be sufficient for all but the most insatiable of egos.

Well, I have to do some careful reading of my own ego-meter. I am trying to find value primarily in the creation of the work. But its lack of larger relevance is proving to be something of a weight on my will to produce it. Looking back, I think I may have put too much energy, too much thought, into my online identity, on creating a brand that might one day grow into something that had resonance beyond immediate friends and the occasional passerby. Perhaps that energy would have been better spent on producing more meaningful — and better — material.

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