>Art for art’s sake or blog for blogging’s sake?

>How important is the audience for an artist?

Or for that matter, the reader for a writer? I’ve always debated in my mind about whether art for art’s sake and not commercial success can exist and whether an artist for his sake alone can flourish.

We do measure the success of any creative work by the response it elicits from an audience/readership. But are all successful works produced to win applause from the public? Is it possible for a creative artist to immerse himself in his work without worrying about the reaction of an audience?

Imagine what it would be like for a trained dancer to perform to an empty auditorium. Would you care to perform or paint if no one was ever there to appreciate what you were doing? Can there be any satisfaction in that at all?

On the other hand, can an artist compromise his art to find favour with an audience? Can an artist, if he were not worrying about his survival, be happy to take his audience as his master, pander to its taste and alter his own accordingly?

————–x————

Let’s make this more topical. Who do you blog for – yourself or your readers? Even if you try to strike a balance between the two, you are still thinking about what your readers enjoy. I do. I think what I’d like to write about that my readers would like to read. Sometimes my guess is totally off the mark; sometimes it hits bull’s eye.

Admittedly, I love to keep a count of comments on blog posts. I write for the reader even while I write for myself. While I never, with a capital N, write what I don’t want to, I do often write what I think others might like to read. And since I’m easily bored, I like variety to spice up my blog. Which is why:

#I do photo posts and since I love photography, those posts are after my heart.
#I try to keep posts a readable length because I’m not too good at reading unwieldy word counts and because I’m used to writing within given word limits as a journo.
#I do tags – because they break the monotony of things.
#I try to intersperse the posts on feminist issues with posts on non-feminist issues so that there isn’t too much of the same thing on my blog.

These things come naturally to me and I never feel like I’m trying to please an audience. And I can never be sure whether any of those things does please my audience. I’m also aware that a lot of bloggers who do not take into consideration any of this have huge readerships as well. So, at the end of the day, it may really be about me and not about my readers at all!

I know of a blogger who uses Google Trends to choose the topic for his posts so that he can attract as many readers as Google will send to his blog. And while I think it’s a great idea to shoot up the BRPs (if TRPs = Television Rating Points, BRPs = Blogger Rating Points!), I could never bring myself to do the something like that.

Coming to BRPs, is that something you care for? Does it matter where your blog stands vis-à-vis others’? If I know anything about blogging, I know for sure that almost all bloggers subscribe to some or the other service to keep a track of visitors on their blog – the number and the names. So I presume BRPs do matter to almost all of us. But how far are you willing to go to shoot up your blog’s viewership? And where will you stop?

There’s the extreme example of this blogger who had a very popular blog going for her by just cooking up a really dramatic story about her fake pregnancy. And of course, we all know of bloggers who exaggerate things on their blogs to make things sound interesting. The latter may be overlooked, but I’ll still use that to make my point about how the reader is oh-so-important that the blogger manipulates facts to keep the reader interested.

And I ask again, who do you blog for – the reader or yourself? How do you choose the topic for a blog post? When you try to strike a balance between the reader and you, which side is the balance more likely to tilt?

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45 responses »

  1. >Hmm..Interesting point to ponder.I blog about what I like, and I like the fact that others like it. Appreciation from others is important,but doing what I like is a higher priority. I can write (and I paint)even if no audience was around. Narcissist, yes.But that helps me keep my head on my shoulders 😀

  2. >Blogging loses its charm the moment you start writing for others, the moment you start feeling itchy and start wondering if you'd lose your readers if you don't update today, tomorrow and so on

  3. >This is a very difficult question to answer… I dont know… I started reluctantly not sure what to do and who would read… Yes to have readers is most important for me… in the very beginning I was obsessed by that… once I reached a certain level and started getting comments and once the interaction with the bloggers started… I dont know.,, why i blog anymore… I have the readers in my mind for sure… sometimes I do have a few questions or quandaries in my mind which do come here… over a period of time the blog has become a place to relax… almost a chat room… interacting with bloggers who have become friends and pulling legs… I m sure it wil change… things keep changing and evolving all the time… phew… now that was a long comment… lol… coz i m not sure what to say and i just kept typing….

  4. >Honestly, I think honesty is as important in art/blogging as it is in any other aspect of life. But yes, we do need an audience, and it feels great when we get one, but one should not get carried away, for the want of that audience. If applied to blogs though, it depends, someone may blog, just for popularity and then they simply cater to the readers. I blog about what i feel like, and often I realise, when I narrate incidents in writing, they sound more grand than they feel in life. I enjoy having readers, and while it restricts me from writing something that may offend them, I continue to write about things I like. And Google trends to boost BRPs? wow!

  5. >anything i say on this subject will have the tendency of being longer than the blogpost itself ;)i so ill just say 'NO i dont write for the readers. i wouldnt be writing poetry then and that too of the style i love to use…cryptic, mysterious, 'this girl is chasing coke' are used frequesntly by my readers so… ;)im sure a lot of them do though, absolute disgust at the april rose story. – a chance visitor

  6. >well….I think I do it for myself mostly. I love having people come over and interact, but its happened to me recently, the moment I started feeling over exposed and cornered, it started losing its charm. In fact I turned the other way and had to put things back in perspective, for myself and my readers.In a battle of balance between me and the readers, I'll always win.

  7. >the answer to how I choose topics for a blog post… that is easy… what ever has touched me so much that I need to write/type it down or else I cannot relax….appreciation is always welcome…and Google trends to boost BRP? Ridiculous!!!

  8. >@Meira: Hmmm… never heard of narcissism that helps to keep someone’s head on their shoulders!  But if it works for you, great!@Blogeswari: You would know, being the goddess of blogs 😉 (blogeswari!) For me, if there’s no itch, there’s no interest. I either plunge into things or don’t touch them at all!@hitchwriter: It is one of those questions that can’t be answered in yes or no, so the long comment is totally justified. I think we all are in an in-between state – we enjoy blogging for our sake, but we want our blogs to be enjoyable for others as well. Right?@Goofy: That’s a well-rounded answer. I mean, you’ve said it so well about honesty being so essential to art/blogging. @Meghana Naidu: Ok, first of all – you’re not Meghna Naidu, the actor, are you?And I guess poetry is one of those things that either gets rave reviews from readers or none at all. So I know what you’re saying when you say you blog for yourself.@Sraboney: You should have read her blog – she deleted it later. She did put in an apology there but that was too little, too late.@Chandni: That state of mind you were in vis-a-vis your readers, is something I'm really scared of. I blog for myself, in that sense, and wouldn't want anyone's expecations of me to dictate my stand as a blogger. And what you did was just great to handle the pressure.

  9. >Interesting question, D. And I dont think I have a simple yes or no response. Hahn..my blog is essentially, truly me. I am aware that most visitors want to read about travelling in dehradun, and so my recent house obsession has probably cost me some readers. But hey, that was the big thing in my life, and I gotta share it!That said, I do try to keep things interesting, try and make the posts helpful and interesting, and I just love receiving comments. Also, I check my stats several times a day!

  10. >first of all, erm… NO!i spell my name with an a and i bet i could come up with a zillion differences one being i have a blog, with poetry. (!)and no poetry is not something that is as obscure as you think ;)its just that with poetry the entirety of understanding is of the poet's alone, its almost always layered and ambiguous, as opposed to prose..:)

  11. >I started off writing for myself, as I think most bloggers do. Somehow as more and more readers came I DID start thinking what people would like to read. I hated that – had a hiatus for a while and came back when I knew I couldn't stay away anymore. These days, my posts are like chatting to a friend, letting them know what I've been up to, my opinions and thoughts on things rather than the musings and observations I started out with.I miss that. I've never really bothered too much about stats and readership – that's why I've never ridden the trends of blogging. But I like to know there are people out there who read…and who come back..Even right now I'm struggling to find inspiration to write, even though I know I have it in me. I want to start over – be anonymous again – write in a different style. Who know it might happen? 🙂

  12. >I blogged for a year without readers but kept going coz I was just preserving memories. When I did get readers, the way I wrote changed a little, but that's about it. I enjoy the comments that come tremendously, but I think I blog for myself.

  13. >I think readership is important, otherwise we all wont be writing a public blog!I write when I feel like writing, but love the fact that my readers(the few that read my regularly) love my posts and I love the comment exchange with them. Coming to topics, there are times I have taken suggestions from my readers to write about a particular topic, purely for entertainment purposes!

  14. >Interesting. Reminds me of a recent piece of fiction 'Fake It' I read.I blog because I enjoy writing what I write and also because there are readers who appreciate it. I'm not much of a fan of one-way streets. Aside, I've observed that in spite of the implicit constraints you have for your writings, they seem totally uninhibited. And that is one thing I appreciate and like about this space. Candid is the word!

  15. >You seem to be asking question at the end of every post these days.. 😉 is it just me who noticed this… what kind of a traveller, then relationship with money and now this one- whom do we blog for…. heheanyhow, I blog for myself.. I did put up the blogometer or whatever it is.. People are most welcome to come, read,leave comments, interact, but at the end of the day, I blog for myself. Its like a diary for me..

  16. >First of all – I love your header! It is so cool!I blog mainly for myself.. I do a post when I have something to say.. or if something I read got to me.. that kind of stuff and I think it might not be very interesting to my readers, every time. To be honest, I don't really think of how much about readers while I do a post – because I am quite a spontaneous blogger, in that sense. I am at that point more interested in penning down my thoughts.Having said that – I love comments and often find discussion in comments so enlightening..and so much fun. I think I enjoy the comment section far more than my posts :)Use Google trends to find a topic? That's something I am sure I would not be able to do.. it would become more of a job, than a pleasure, don't you think?As for that fake pregnancy story – I think it was despicable!

  17. >I dont blog 😀 But I read quite a few and if I were to ever start blogging, the ideal situation would be catering to an audience of select few, hopefully the bloggers I read and admire, and hope for them to comment and let me know their thoughts of the topic I bring up. Unfortunately to get there I need to be either a kickass writer or do shameless soliciting for readership. Not happening :)All my writing currently is mine alone. A blog is public space and if I ever start one, I would like to have good quality readership. Quality, not quantity. Makes sense?

  18. >@chicu: “My blog is essentially, truly me.” I think that’s what matters at the end.@Meghana: That was a joke :)And I didn’t say poetry is obscure. I write poetry myself, so I know. It is subject to the reader’s understanding which is why it may either get great feedback or none at all on a blog. But I don’t agree that with poetry, “the entirety of understanding is of the poet's alone.” I believe that any text, prose or poetry, gets its meaning from the reader’s understanding of it (Stanley Fish’s reader-response theory). Just a view I subscribe to as a student of literature.@Silvara: I’ve said this to a few other bloggers as well – I avoid being overtly public about my identity because I do believe that anonymity gives us a great deal of freedom to be who we are. Not everyone understands or agrees with it. Have a half-finished post on this lying somewhere with me.@Monika, Ansh: Like that clarity of thought! Most of us bloggers don’t have it :)@Shilpa: I agree with you – if you’re blogging publicly, you’re doing it for a readership. @Sangfroid: I have no constraints. As a professional writer, I’m used to saying what I have to say within any self-imposed constraints.@Soulmate: 🙂 You’re right. I like to engage my readers in a conversation. And I want to know what my readers’ thoughts are. @Smitha: Thanks 🙂 A blogger friend made that for me!Apart from Google Trends, some bloggers also use song lyrics for their post titles because that gets their blog more hits. Nothing wrong with it, I say, because you still are writing about what you want to. @Anamika: How do you know a reader is “quality” stuff and not just adding to quantity? A lot of readers don’t leave a comment!

  19. >about the (!) you never know on blogger do you ;)as for the reader-response i strongly disagree actually. poetry,any form of art for that matter I belive is independant of its 'audience' if my poetry had to derive its meaning from the its reader then it wouldnt the meaning i intended to give it, it would always be 'their interpretation' and while they are very much entitled to it(it being present on a public forum et al)the exactness of its meaning would be what i had in mind when i wrote it.i think a similar school of thought is that of 'owernership' of the art by its 'perceiver'ofcourse i strongly refute this as well.these're just my thoughts ofcourse…

  20. >I started it for me. Then somewhere down the line, some of my posts were for some friends (as in I would write funny stuff because they requested it, or take photographs of things my friends like and put it up on the blog for them). Now, its back to mostly for me.That said…having readers certainly does provide some motivation

  21. >haha..thats when you be confident that you are a great writer and only smart people read you. As a non-blogger, I really should not be commenting on this post of yours 🙂

  22. >I go with the 'to each his own' rule. Doesn't matter as long as I find the content interesting. Art is art, as long as it's good/interesting without the shift of balance.We approach 'blogs' in our own way, some take it too seriously, some commercialise it with ads and stuff and the list goes on.And the questions.I blog for my own amusement.choosing a topic, whatever comes to my mind or where ever I can draw inspiration from as long as it's appropriate. And the balance, obviously is more inclined to me than the reader.

  23. >u know i blog for myself. in the bargain i get to interact with people. i have made friends too in the process.but when i write i do so coz i want to. i dont ever write thinking what the readers want to read..am i selfish? i dont know that, but this is how i like it.

  24. >Well, my space started of as a journal. Hence my name in the url(which one cant change in blogspot!)But then when I started commenting on some blogs and having comments returned, it gave me a huge kick! I almost always write about personal stuff and some things which are important in my life. Never about current issues. But I always,always wonder if the readers will like it or not.Because I do love the instant gratification this brings. Who doesnt??

  25. >@Meghana Naidu: 🙂 Well, Shakespeare never did leave us an explanation of anything he wrote, did he? We still understand him and like, we like him. Love him, actually. Think Gulzar – those words could mean one thing to you, another to me. But they still are beautiful. The richness of a text also comes from multiple interprations of it. I don't know if you read the theory before disagreeing with it. If you didn't, I'd say, do. If you did and you still agree, I totally get why you disagree! And this is a literary discussion so not fit for this post 🙂 Another time, another place!@Aneri: I'm sure it does.@Anamika: Like how you read my blog? ;)@J: Nobody's questioning anyone's way here – to each his own. But we can have a discussion for discussion's sake on this, nay?@Iya: You aren't selfish. You're just you!@Piper: I also rarely write about current issues, not unless they affect me personally.

  26. >wow….on the fake pregnant lady….really? people get so carried away?i think it's important to know why a person blogs and what he/she expects from it. the answer will determine what and how one writes. I think that is true for any art form. sometimes artist change their style to cater to an audience when it involves stardom and money and a fan following. An artist exist for his/her art form and when one compromises the art form, then one becomes an entertainer or a business generator. me thinki think everyone loves some form of appreciation or the other for one's art/work….but at what cost?

  27. >Well you for one know how to keep it interesting. A very original post and raises some honest questions. Like Piper I too started as a Diary (name in the URL :)) Then responses were eagerly looked forward to. The number of readers is something which interests me on(Hence the eventual giving in to Follow Me Link) and off ( this is primarily going to be my legacy for my children)I do not think I can write to entertain (not that good a writer). I can write about things I feel passionately for. Any forced to or attempt at something popular and not me,feels dishonest and falls flat.

  28. >After reading your post, I'm glad that I'm not capable on writing on anything other than what appeals to me (i.e. my life and my views)… Okay, not so glad…But anyway, it's not very nice to write just for others. Pleasing the self is most important.I write mainly to keep an account of incidents in my life, so that I can come back and read them since I tend to forget a lot.

  29. >In my case I'm in between somewhere. Sometimes I write only on what I want to write, even if its some meandering nonsensical stuff while thr are times when I write on wha I think ppl might want to read. Depends on my mood. Like these days I find it hard to write, so my posts are rather infrequent and short and not very well thought-out I think, but its nice to know tht ppl still come back and read it and comment on it.Besides I'v also made some wonderful frnds through blogging, so I also blog to stay in touch with them.

  30. >@Anamika, just curious, are the same who used to visit me a long long time ago? I used to have a visitor with the same name, who didn't blog, but left nice comments for me, haven't seen her in a long time, so just wondering.

  31. >There you come with another good one, D!hmmmm.. this one is difficult.I blog about my life, my feelings, my irritations, my happinesses, for sure. So it is all about me, of course. But then, comments are a super high, and you start analysing what readers like in your posts and try to keep coming up with similar stuff. And then every once in a while, something happens that gets you all charged up and you feel you MUST blog about it… sometimes its about not feeling very sure about a particular stand and you blog about it to find out other opinions…;-) and when the husband also reads the comments, it helps him understand his wife's stand and sometimes blogging can be pretty cathartic. In perspective, I blog for me, but having comments is the icing on the cake. 🙂

  32. >Myself. Which is why my posts are few and far between. This blog is almost like a social experiment for me-10 yrs later, it would be good fun to laugh/cringe at the stuff I was thinking about in my 20's.Of course, in putting up your raves and rants on a public forum, you can't pretend to be unaware of others reading you-but with a loyal readership of 5-even those considerations pretty much evaporate 🙂

  33. >interesting… i used to blog for myself. even now, every once a while… i post stuff JUST for me. but i DO post for those who are regulars at my space. update posts, usually.. when i can't think of anything to write. or if i'm going to be away for a while, i let them know. but no, i wouldn't write for BRPs. i don't really care, actually. tho i do have feedjit to stalk ppl who stalk my space… it was more out of curiosity than anything else! and no, i would definitely not write false stuff or exaggerate for the sake of readership. i'm happy with the select few who take the efforts to read and comment regularly. 🙂

  34. >Interesting! It made me delurk. The topic itself starts with an assumption, that a person’s personality away from the blog or art is indifferent to the world around(at least that was what I concluded) All our habits, manners, attitudes and prejudices, which give us our identity are in fact add-ons from the people around us and our emotions in relation to it. As we move don’t we not learn and grow from our experiences. Wouldn’t bloging or art be considered the same? We as humans would find it unfulfilling if we did not have interactions with others, because it gives us a location like a mental geography, it gives us an identity of ourselves through others eyes and helps us grow to be who we want to be. When a person blogs or creates an art he or she stretches these connections beyond the security of familiar identities, sometimes to seek similarity in thought or ideology, but mostly for the same need. When this becomes an addiction, and compensates for the lack of such a resources within a familiar circle, we can see created personalities that are begging for attention. But such cases should not take us away from the fact , or make us ashamed that as a social animal we seek company in thought. As Jonny 5 said in Short circuit ” need more input!”

  35. >I started the blog for me..and now? yes for the friends I have made here too:)dont really know…I think cant say either way..but yes I would blog even if a handful of close friends commented and noone else:)))those are the comments I look forward to the most..its like having a chat with them:))sometimes though I do miss the relative anonymity of being a new blogger..you know I could write nonsense and get away with it..does that make sense?:(Thats why I want to have a new blog only for me……to jot down with no readers …no audience …noone…this one is for friends and for the other me who craves attention once in a while..the other one will be for the me that wants to be alone at certain moments this extrovert me loves the friendships and cherishes them..all of them made here…such beautiful , awesome, unique friends…the introvert me loathes it at times…when each sentence is questioned as if I am writing for others… and maybe I do?do I? 😕 god knows..maybe they are right?who knows?*sigh*its a muddle…:/please ignore the ramble if it doesnt make sense:))it doesnt to me..

  36. >@A: You can't answer a question with another question! But that's a very valid question, I must add: at what cost?@Chrysalis: Dishonesty always falls flat and even writers who write for a readership can write honestly – the two don't have to be separate things.@unsung: It comes across on your blog how you like to write about your life and little incidents that shape it. @SMM: I think most of us are somewhere in between :)@JLT: Oh, that's a smart reason to blog – to convey things to hubby!@Quirky Quill: I didn't know blogging as a concept so well when I started out. Wish I could say I was doing it as a social experiment myself!@rayshma: Very honestly, I don't know what to do with all the info I get from sites and services like feedjit! Except for satiating curiosity, of course.@meenakshi: 🙂 Interesting enough to make you delurk? Wow!There is no assumption here of art (or blogging) being an asocial activity. On the contrary, any form of creativity is a result of the experiences (for want of a better word) that we gather from the world around us. Which may be different from it being there for social consumption. The assumption that you're making is that art has a purpose and that that purpose is the growth of the artist. If yes, then there can be an inward journey for the artist as well and he/she may learn from the activity of creating art itself, rather than from interactions with the audience. Also, what you say about learning from our interactions from others may be true, though not deliberate. However, to learn from the interactions and to have an identity given to us through their eyes are two separate things. Where I am in life, I do not seek to have an identity defined by others. Not at all! On the contrary, if I were to create anything, it would be to defy those definitions.@Indyeah: From what I understand, there's a part of you that revels in the attention and there's a part of you that seeks solitude. And currently, it's the former that you're able to cater to.

  37. >A great post, D. I guess every blogger would love to see a certain readership but not to the extent that he or she has to cook up facts or resort to Google Trends. I guess, at the end of the day, if you write well even mundane matters of life may sound interesting. Also this post raises another valid question does a bloogger have to stick to his or her perception created in the blogosphere ( a fellow blogger had written a post on this sometime back). At times, I guess we all succumb to it, in the sense we may not want to expose a part of us which has still not been revealed. If that's the case I guess we end up writing for the reader.

  38. >Loved this post, D. I nod in agreement to many things you mentioned here.I blog only when I want to and that's a reason I say that I never get writer's block. Same way I blog because I want to but then do I keep readers in mind. Yes! I do. I do not for the subject but I make the post interactive sometimes so that they take part in it too with their views like here how you asked our opinion. But faking on blogs and trying to be someone else is a pathetic attempt. Also, the farce falls flat after few instances. You can't fake for long. Sad!Congratulations on blogadda pick. This post is deserving.

  39. >i had written something similar sometime back. guess its a situational thing. sometime people write for themselves. other time for others. but google trends?really? i dont even know how to access that.

  40. >@sscribbles: I know what you're saying about having to live up to our constructed identities. Which is why I try to keep just that much of a distance between me and my readers that I do not feel obliged to write ONLY for their sake.@Anonymous: I disagree. Creative people like Gulzar write very interesting, poetic stuff for commercial purposes. And then, they don't write for themselves alone.@Solilo: Thank you! It's amazing how it doesn't take too long to look through a farce, even if it's a blog!@cynic in wonderland: I didn't even know something like that existed. But to be fair to that blogger, he admitted as much in one of his posts and I think he started using it as a blogging experiment more than anything else.

  41. >Interesting article. Well, I think it should be a mixture of the two, your soul with spice for others to take interest in your writing. They would read only if they find the article of something they too share thoughts with or catch their interest. But the bottom line remains – you should be happy with your blogging at the end of the day.

  42. >ah well! i dunno! i mean i write for myself! maybe its aesier for me because my blogging is centered around Cubby! my intention is to capture as many memories as i can with this blog!but its the interation with fellow bloggers that makes it so much fun! :)yet, i dont think i can write based on readership demand! i might write about Cubby in one post and a restruant rebiew in another and random ramblings in yet another!cheers!abha

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