Since we both started working from home, my wife and I developed a habit of watching movies on TV or DVD during evenings when we didn’t have much workload. Lately, every Thursday evening, we enjoy catching the latest episode of Harper’s Island, which is a grisly suspense series not for the squeamish. The premise is that at least one character is violently killed in every episode. And the killer is only revealed at or near the end of the series.
What a fun way to spend an evening–waiting and wondering who will die. Actually, part of the fun is that the actors are supposedly unaware of when their character will be killed off until the day the episode is taped. It only runs for one season, though–13 episodes. Sadly, the series itself has been killed off (what an appropriate use of words) because of plummeting ratings. The only consolation is that networks are not cutting it off without closure. Most networks will continue to air the series until the last episode.
The show seemed to have been overhyped. But as hype goes, it dies down pretty quickly, too. Or murdered violently, perhaps, as in the case of Harper’s Island. My take is that this kind of TV show has a very limited niche audience–probably made up of people with really twisted minds. After all, who’d want to watch people die?
This has made me think of blogs and blogging. Will a blog survive without an audience? Will a blogger remain passionate about writing even without a readership?
When I first started blogging back in 2003-2004, it was for personal satisfaction. I wrote with myself as my own audience. I kind of marveled at how I could easily publish content online. Of course, I’d been able to author websites since the late 1990s, but blogging made it all easier. Then I began to be the blogging equivalent of a stat whore, meaning I was growing obsessed with gaining visitors and page views and comment counts. And while my viewership did, indeed, grow, so did my thirst for more. I wanted to gain traction. I wanted online popularity. I wanted to be someone.
The problem with this kind of mindset is that one’s writing tends to favor only what the audience wants. You tend to turn back on your artistic goals in favor of the commercial ones. It’s like comparing a passionately-produced, masterfully-created indie film to a no-holds-barred, swashbuckling, multimillion-dollar, CGI-infested summer blockbuster. Sure, blockbusters can be artfully-created, too. But most of the time, art takes a backseat to box-office draw.
And at this point, I could perhaps say I’ve reached the pinnacle, and I’m now going back to my roots.
Unlike broadcast media, which relies on ratings, eyeballs and sponsors, a blog will survive with simply a niche audience. Blogs are inexpensive to maintain. The only important resource you have to invest in writing a good blog would be your time and effort. Unless you want to earn big bucks from CPC ads, affiliate products and text links, that is. But if your reason for blogging is writing in itself, and to achieve that self-assurance that you can write and you can self-publish, then you can get a total audience of just one reader, and you would still be happy.
And in some cases, that one reader would even have to be you.