Admittedly, the title of this blog post is a bit of hyperbole. That’s probably not the best way to begin an article, but I know that far more people will read the first line of the article than the last one, so if I leave the punch line too long, most people will miss it. It’s just reality.
If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time you know that I truly do enjoy blogging; I don’t hate it at all. Blogging is one of the genuine pleasures of my life. Rarely does a day come along when I just do not want to sit down and write something. Yet blogging is not without its challenges and frustrations. Today I want to let you in on just a few of the aspects of blogging I struggle with the most, things that occurred to me recently as I pondered what I do here and why.
The point of this is not to complain about you. I implicate myself as much as anyone here. Instead, the purpose is simply to express some of the difficulties and frustrations of blogging. I want to give you a behind-the-scenes peek, I suppose, to see what I struggle with as I consider what to write here on the blog.
A Fickle Audience
Those of us who read blogs are a very fickle audience (and I include myself in this—I write 1 blog but read 100 or so). This is particularly true for those of us who rely on RSS readers or other means of organizing the content we read. These tools, necessary ones if we are to keep up with the content of more than just a few blogs, give us the ability to quickly filter out the good from the bad and the good from the average. They allow us to look very quickly at the articles generated by hundreds of blogs so we can focus in and actually engage with just the few articles that most appeal to us. So while I say that I read 100 blogs, I actually look briefly at the content of 100 blogs and on any given day read the content of only a few. I am fickle and will read only what stands out to me.
The fickle nature of we, the blog readers, have led to several adaptations by bloggers. In the first place, generating titles has become something of an art. When we look through the many articles in our RSS readers, we will be drawn primarily by a title. And for this reason there is a lot of skill in crafting just the right title (though this is a skill that has largely passed me by). This leads people to rely on this kind of a format: # adjective noun that [or from or with or by or…] noun (7 Awesome Books by John Piper, 5 Spectacular Sites for Web Designers, 144 Groovy Movies Starring Canadians, etc). This is also why many bloggers have a photo near the top of each blog post—the photos draw the eye and makes it more likely that a person will pause to read a little of the article.
The fickleness of blog readers is an ongoing frustration to me, even as I act just as fickle as everyone else. If a person really wants to succeed as a blogger, he will need to cater to some of these realities. Those of us who are stubborn and do not want to adapt, who do not want to stick an out-of-context photo at the top of each post and who don’t always want to rely on hyperbolic titles, will necessarily lose potential readers because of it. As you and I read blogs we want to be impressed, we want each article to wow us. Sadly no blogger can write a wow kind of post every time, any more than a pastor can preach a wow sermon every week or you can give your spouse a wow kiss every morning.
This puts a lot of pressure on the writer and especially so if he keeps his eye on site statistics. When he does, he can see immediately how the audience regarded his article—how they chose to read it or ignore it. Though the content may have been profound, biblical, wise, it will be missed because the audience did not make the effort to actually understand what it was.