One of my New Year's resolutions for 2014 was to blog at a rate of at least one post/week. This is hard, particularly if I'm aiming for meaty, content-rich posts about my research findings. I have not, in fact, published many posts that would fit that description so far this year (the ongoing series of posts about my great-grandfathers' WWI service records being a possible exception, but those are not really the most meaty, research-y posts I've ever written). There were a few good posts about my research in the last half of 2013, when I was also aiming to keep up that posting schedule. (Examples include Finding Louisa and I think I just hit my first brick wall.)
However, in the past few months, I've also posted several of my most visited and most commented-upon posts of all time. These were a varied group, but most-visited included both Top 10 Halloween Costumes for Genealogists and Tutorial: Searching Fulton History, while most commented upon included John Joseph O'Hara's WWI Service Record and a Plea for Help and Mother Malone: Family History through Song. (That last one surprised me; I didn't expect it to strike such a chord.*)
There's not a lot of overlap there, between the posts that are about my research and the posts people most enjoy reading. The posts that attract the most readers are the most universal; they're not all about me, my ancestors, or my research. They are, at times, utterly absurd. (Top 10 Pick-up Lines for Genealogists? I did not exactly advance the scholarly conversation with that one!)
I've always conceived of blogging primarily as a way to organize and share my research, but that doesn't seem to be the type of blogging that is actually most successful with readers. When I first started looking at this pattern, I worried that I was writing more for other people than for myself. And yet, some of those more popular, less-research-based posts are the ones that I enjoy the most. Because, in fact, Top 10 Pick-up Lines for Genealogists was really fun to write!
Which means I'm left trying to figure out what exactly motivates me to write. Am I writing to improve and organize my research? Am I writing for fun? Am I writing for me? Am I writing for an audience? Am I just pointlessly rambling? I may have limited blogging time over the next couple of months, and trying to figure out what to do about it has me analyzing what I write, and what I should be writing. Do I stop updating, or do I make an effort now to schedule posts for the future? I've been aiming for the latter, but it involved producing content in a much more concentrated way than I ever have before, causing at least some of my soul-searching about what to write and why.
Why do you blog? How do you focus your content? Or do you just let the spirit move you?
*See what I did there?