Samuel Johnson's famous assertion that "[n]o man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money," flashed through my mind recently in the midst of a conversation I was having with a lawyer who admired my professional blog, but wondered what kind of cost/benefit analysis I had done regarding client development payoff versus time spent blogging (multiplied by an assumed hourly rate), and blah, blah, blah.I told him that I wrote because I liked (no, loved) to write, and client development was not the primary motivator. He couldn't wrap his head around writing for "free."
When I first started blogging, a more experienced blogger pointed me to Right Wing Nation's advice concerning what it takes to be a "successful" blogger. It was a useful article, but there's something about it that amused me. The author assumed that those of us who blog either want to do it for a few friends, or want to build an audience. If we want to build an audience, then we are either "linkers," "thinkers" or "theme" bloggers. Each category has its rules about number and length of posts.
If you are, or are trying to become, a successful writer of an online, magazine-like blog containing articles or links of interest to a limited targeted audience that consists of those folks who all follow the same simple rules for blogging, then the advice appears to be sound. As with any group of human beings, however, it appears that what we have here are some early members of the group, in this case of the world-wide group of "bloggers," attempting to set rules for what other members and "wanna-be's" should and shouldn't do if they want to build an audience. My initial response was (and still is) to ask "who died and left this guy or gal in charge of the rules?" That's a gut reaction, and, as such, likely to be unreliable. Nevertheless, prior to the advent of the world wide web, we had not had such a vehicle for such open communication between such a diverse group of human beings, ever, in history, so how do you know with any certainty what will or will not appeal to whatever "audience" might exist for your writing? If your targeted audience has ADD and/or limited imagination, perhaps it's correct to state that if they can't quickly figure out which of the three types of blogger you're trying to be, you won't build an audience. Eight years later, I think the jury's still out.
Another problem I have with these suggestions is that they don't allow for individual creativity. Artists, including writers, often break the rules. They generally don't follow a mold. If, in fact, RWN is correct and you have to be one of the three types and you have to follow the subset of "rules" to be successful within each type, then blogging won't be much of a vehicle for those with "creative force," will it, or at least for those whose goal is to build an audience? I've read some pretty talented "stuff" in the time I've been blogging, and in many cases, I have no idea whether the writers I like have a huge or a small audience. Frankly, I don't abandon talent or become frustrated with it because the number and/or types of postings may not fit into a box.
A final note (at the risk of a "lengthy post," which apparently is also a "no-no" according to some rule givers): there are some of us who, being blockheads, write because we enjoy it. If there's an audience for it, or some of it, great! If not, we'll keep on writing, because we love to do it, or feel compelled to do it, or both, and you just never know who out there might also enjoy reading something one of us may write. Some of us actually have well-paying jobs (and even careers) and don't have to or want to post something every single day or, worse, a set number of times per day. We just like to blog. Vast audience or small. Rules or no rules. As hard as that may be to believe.