What do we owe our readers?

How about our Blog?

Do we owe them anything at all???

I should mention I’m not talking about people who have patrons. That’s a different relationship and if you have patrons, you probably owe them whatever you promised on your Patreon page.

But I have often talked about the general “bloggers guilt” many people experience. After numerous conversations with my fellow bloggers, I have come to realize that a lot of us have a slight sense of unease when it comes to our blog. We feel like we’re not doing “enough” or that we should do “better”, in a sort of loosely defined way. Maybe we don’t post often enough. We don’t watch enough anime or don’t keep up with the news….

Run With The Wind Episode 3

It’s a sentiment echoed by a lot of bloggers and although it can bring on some stress, it’s also not entirely a bad thing. We feel this way because we care, and we are doing something that matters to us on some level. And usually, when we do manage to feel like we’ve lived up to our expectations, we feel proud. The flip side of the guilt is the sense of accomplishment we get from our blogs. I think the secret to not letting yourself get bogged down and demotivated is figuring out exactly what we owe our blog and/or readers. Not that I have an actual answer.

For bloggers such as myself that have no monetization at all, the easy answer would be that I don’t owe anything. I mean it’s free! That makes sense. And I fully support bloggers that feel that way. I have grown up with video games. I wired my brain to collect gold stars and pass check points. It’s silly but if I don’t set up some expectations for myself I tend to lose interest. This has been a bit of a challenge though.

Generally I like to think of readers as guests. Like when I invite people over for an evening. I don’t actually owe them anything and I would be very off-put if they demanded better food or something (make no mistake, my friends definitely would…) But at the same time, I really want them to have a good time. I clean my place, carefully pick out a menu, plan out entertainment and refill the bar. Sometimes I run out of time so we order a pizza. Sometimes I’m super tired so the entertainment isn’t as great as it could be. But I try! And it’s the same idea with my blog.

I owe you guys something. Not because you demand it but because I want to be a good host. Now the secret is what that something is. We all have a limited amount of hours in a day, we’re not going to be able to do *everything*. A perfect, meaningful, impeccably researched and typo free post on a topic that actually interests everyone and that comes out on a regular schedule every time is impossible. Heck most of those things are beyond my reach and if I tortured myself by trying to stick to such expectations I would burn out in no time. And probably make myself miserable in the process.

On the other hand I am not going to get much satisfaction out of just throwing whatever on a page because I need to post something. It’s about figuring out what I want to prioritize and why.

My first priority was my schedule. Not because I actually think schedules are that important to blogs but it’s because it’s important to me. First I simply work better on a schedule. Doing something regularly is the best way for me to stick to it and improve. Secondly, I have some ocd tendencies and as such I find rituals calming and comforting. I adapt very well to new and unpredictable situations and work great with pressure as long as there is something in my life that’s routine and predictable. That something is blogging. It’s why I created the blog in the first place, as therapy. I found my previous little rituals weren’t challenging or satisfying enough so I tried something completely out of my comfort zone and it has worked really well. However, I lose that if I don’t stick to a schedule. And therefore, I figured that would be my first deliverable. I owe you guys regular posts, and when I manage to stick to my publishing schedule I get a little thrill!

The second thing I arbitrarily decided to owe you was candour and open mindedness. I’m not saying I always succeed but I really want to try to offer those things. Because of my lifestyle and schedule, I write on the bus. By pure practicality, this makes stream of consciousness the easiest form of writing for me. And the best part of such a structure is the feeling that you get to glimpse inside the author’s mind. I don’t mean to insinuate that there’s anything great inside there but I’m working on it.

Without candour, the best part of stream of consciousness go down the drain. I’m not yet good enough a writer to get you on pure style or the beauty of the written word so some level of sincerity is all we got to go by. And with that, are going to come differences of opinion. Unless I keep all my writing very neutral and never let my full feelings about things out, eventually someone is going to disagree. Potentially passionately. I need to be able to take things with a grain of salt. I’m still working on that one. I’m a bit of a rebel it seems. The things you learn about yourself when you start a blog…

Book of Atlantic - Undertaker

I know I am not the best writer. Some readers have pointed out typos and faulty sentence structure. And I have corrected published posts often enough to scold myself about more diligent proofreading. It’s not my forte. So instead I’ll do my best to share what I truly think even when it’s not that interesting or popular an opinion and listen to what you have to say, if you’re kind enough to say it.

For now, those are the owables I’ve chosen to concentrate on. Sure I would love to publish perfect posts. I want to pick out the best images, point out the most intriguing details. If I can I will. However, as long as I can write an sincere post on time and take in whatever comes after with good humour, I consider it a small victory. I’m probably going to add in proper post layout to the list soon. I’ll keep adding and taking out things until I get to a place where I’m proud of the posts I publish but not burned out by the effort. That’s the ultimate dream.

Do you have anything you feel you owe your blog or readers? Are there elements you prioritize?

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

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13 thoughts on “What do we owe our readers?

  1. I tend to think about it less as owing my readers something and more owing *myself* something. I’ve always looked at writing as something I do for enjoyment, and whether that’s been on my defunct personal blog (which subsequently got resurrected for Patrons) or on MoeGamer, I’ve always made a commitment to myself to product something that I’m happy with as often as I feel able to. In turn, that provides something for the readers to enjoy.

    The danger with feeling like you owe the readers something is that you potentially run the risk of taking control of your own work out of your own hands. It’s important to pay attention to feedback, of course, but you have to strike a bit of a balance between that and feeling like every vaguely negative comment represents something that you HAVE TO IMMEDIATELY CHANGE RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL DIE. (Just me? No?)

    Ultimately as an individual creator, you set your own rules, and most people will show up for *you* rather than your content. It’s easy to get into a position where you start to dehumanise yourself and think of nothing but “the content”, but, in my experience, keeping things honest and true to yourself always seems to work out the best in the long run!

    To put it in a shorter way: I think you’re doing great as you are 🙂

    1. Aww awesome! You tackle occasionally more risky material so you have to deal with a lot more …passionate comments. That’s gotta wear a person down

      1. I actually don’t receive nearly as many nasty comments as you might expect! Most comments I get are extremely supportive and grateful for the things I cover; while I have had a couple of trolls in my time (including one who is a former colleague from my time in the professional games press… ugh), most seem to have accepted at this point that I’m sticking around, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

        I had a comment from a guy the other day who said that, as someone with a strict Catholic upbringing and thus some pretty fucked-up attitudes towards modern sexuality, my piece on talking about sex made him cry because he finally felt like the feelings he had (and had been taught to be ashamed of) were normal. That was pretty cool.

  2. Honestly, I just have an issue of trying to stay up to date with news and other events in the Comic Community, then it’s trying to stay up to date with news from the Anime or Manga community. But, then after getting frustrated, people tell me to just go with the flow. Monetizing I am not sure, so far getting nothing in Ko-Fi or Patreon, same with the affiliate thing ._.

  3. At the very least you hope to give them something, right? I like to hope I can hedge my bets and make stuff that has multiple appeals that you can maybe walk away with it considering it a net positive interaction. Whether it’s: learn a neat fact, hear a different opinion, gain an appreciation for something discussed, smirk at a dumb quip or reference, or feel better about the quality of your own content because you may feel like your not the best writer in the world but you are compared to my junk.

    I think originality and voice go a long way in allowing yourself to get something out of what you write and allow readers to better connect with you and the content. I think your blog and this blog we are currently on have well expressed originality and voices and I’ve walked away definitely thinking I’ve gotten something out of it many times so, kudos for that.

  4. yeah, i dont monetize in any way either, so ive always had an “i make the rules” mentality with my own blog. it’s a place where i experiment and hope people like it. the best i can do is just say what i feel, and i make sure never to overstep my level of expertise (because i get frustrated when i see others do that)

  5. The only thing I owe my readers (all five of you) is that I keep being myself, and delivering the posts I want to write and that they also enjoy.

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