How Many Blogs Does One Man Need?

Create a New WeblogIn the grand scheme of things, relatively few people have weblogs, but among them, there is a minority for whom it’s not uncommon to have even more than one: web designers. If freedom of the press is most free to those who own presses, it’s not unreasonable to think of web designers as those kinds of owners. For us, it’s possible to dream up and professionally construct a weblog (or most any kind of site, but especially weblogs) over a fast food-fueled weekend. I know at least one or two who each seem to be operating a Hearst-style empire of regularly updated sites.

I’ve always resisted the urge to create more than one weblog for myself because I know that, given my very small amount of free time, there’s enough labor involved in the upkeep of just this one without compounding the labor with another. Moreover, I’ve been nursing an idea for many years (to which I’ve hinted here a few times) that this weblog is just one early form of what will eventually be a massive database that contains most everything about my life. If it happens between the day I was born and the day that I die, the idea is that it would be recorded here.

Get Yer Design, Technology, Macs Right Here

Or at least I’ve been nursing the dream of such a database, anyway. Making explicit the relationships between all things in my life is a kind of madman’s fancy that no weblog could ever hope to fulfill. The reality of this site, though, has been that it has increasingly become focused on an important but hardly comprehensive subset of all that life stuff: design, technology and the Macintosh (lots of Macintosh).

It’s those topics that readers seem to return for regularly, or at least those are the posts that readers like to comment on the most. I’m happy with that — I’m grateful for any readership I have, frankly — but I’ve really been considering whether or not running one Web site really does it in terms of letting me do all the writing that I’d like. Some days, I don’t want to write about any of those core topics at all, and instead focus on other matters. But doing so feels like a dilution of what this site is known for, and so I’m inclined to refrain.

Pity My Movie Posts

Specifically, I’ve been thinking for some time now about the abysmal under-performance of any of the posts I’ve written on movies. To put it bluntly: people don’t seem to really care for them, which could just mean that they’re generally not very impressive. On the other hand, I enjoy writing them quite a bit, just as much as I enjoy watching the movies. Admittedly, my passion for film has lost out repeatedly to design and work over the past few years, but I still cherish the movies I’ve seen, and I make it a habit of drafting provocative, decisive reviews of each in my head as I leave a movie theater or unload the DVD player.

Over the weekend, I spent some time comping up a home page and an article page for a new site that will allow me to focus entirely on writing about movies and television. The idea is that, with a clear focus on only that kind of content, those posts will start slowly receiving a bit more attention. It was a lot of fun to do, but all the while I was working on it, I remained unconvinced that I could really devote the necessary energy to it. Even if I put it on a less rigorous posting schedule than the one that I maintain for, I’m not sure it would gain enough momentum to develop the kind of audience I would like for it.

To Blog or Not to Blog

I’m still tinkering with the comps, but I’m really stumped over whether to go through the trouble of building and launching it at all. Would anybody read it? I doubt I would be able to bring over very many of the design- or technology-focused readers from this site, but there should be at least a few who like my writings on movies and TV enough to visit regularly. To build an audience requires, among other things, regular posting of attention-getting content, which requires, basically, lots more time than I have. The worst would be to invest all the time and energy that I pour into building weblogs (I’m relatively slow, I guess), only to let it languish after the initial enthusiasm peters out or my schedule gets increasingly crazy. Basically, I have the power of a press but not the energy to maximize its full potential.

  1. I’m the sort of sucker who will read just about anything, provided it’s interesting and/or well-written.

    I also happen to have… at least 3 blogs; I deleted my LiveJournal since I’d only ever made one post.

    One thing that a lot of bloggers (or people in any industry/medium) forget is that one should write for one’s own enjoyment, not to satisfy others – if other people enjoy it, congratulations. That’s not to say all blogs should be whiny rants about nothing, but *you’re the one writing it, not others.

    In summary – yeah, I’d read it if you made it.

  2. Khoi,

    I’m mostly with jordan: honestly, I don’t come here for anything other than the consistently smooth turn of a phrase. It’s like dooce: if I read, I don’t read because I want to get the skinny on what it’s like to have a dog that licks its netherparts. I read for the energy.

    You have a different energy, a different kind of intrinsic quality to that space between your words (as well as in the words you choose), and that means you’re a writer. Readers read writers’ stuff because writers write what’s worth reading. If we happen to get some kind of peek into a design issue or we get a pointer to the next good movie to see that we otherwise wouldn’t have heard of, so much the better.

    For what it’s worth, I generally read a good 90% or better of whatever it is you post–I’d read more, but some days I have to be picky due to time constraints [read: “work”].

  3. I, like these two, would read just about anything. But, if you’re looking to get a bigger audience but aren’t willing to commit to posting on a regular basis on two blogs, grab a couple people and make your movie/tv blog a group blog. Maybe have a designer’s look at movies, or something.

    I’m sure there’s at least a few designer folks out there that consume multitudes of media. It could be fun.

  4. Without a doubt: you should start your new weblog. Even if you do, as you say, “let it languish after the initial enthusiasm peters out,” who’s to say that kept it from being a worthwhile enterprise? If you are excited about it now, do it for now. It can only make you a better writer.

  5. I agree with Jordan. It’s about the desire to write, not necessarily be heard. I’ve debated the same thing in what I post on my blog and finally reached the conclusion that it’s what I want to write about, not what my readers (of which there are probably two anyways) are interested in reading. If, however, I write well/witty/provocative, that alone may keep (or drive away) readers. I just don’t worry about it much any more. Just do what you want… besides… variety only makes you more human and real.

  6. While I enjoy your writing about design, technology, etc I especially like your reviews of movies and music (alas, I am not a designer). If you start a new blog, please include music with movies and television as your topics and I’ll be sure to be a regular reader (which I already am).

  7. I’ll join the others in saying that I come here to read your quirky and well-executed commentary. As with any serial writing feature, it’s the writer’s style that keeps people coming back.

  8. “Readers read writers’ stuff because writers write what’s worth reading.”

    ha, daniel.. well put. i also keep two blogs and have often wondered why i started the second one. i just felt the need to write more and have a place to document how much i read. i never did it to gain more readers; they came of their own accord. i’m now thinking about starting a third blog for my husband that i will also contribute to. just be warned that once you have two, the sky’s the limit! you’ll want three then four then..

  9. Wow, I’m extremely flattered by all the kind comments about the quality of my writing. Those are deeply gratifying to me, because I enjoy the act of writing (maybe too obviously) as much as I do the act of designing, especially with regard to this weblog. In some ways, I designed my weblog so that I could write, and I write here so that I can design.

    Anyway, I’m sufficiently encouraged by everyone’s comments to have decided to go ahead and start working on this new weblog idea. Knowing how slow I work, it won’t be incredibly soon before I have something to share, but I’ll keep everyone posted.

    Matt: you have a great idea about recruiting other writers and making it a group affair. I’d be more than happy to work with the right folks — if anyone knows of an articulate movie fan, send ’em my way.

  10. Khoi, I’d thought of suggesting the group site; but then it seemed that that might encroach upon what you wanted out of that second weblog.

    As to designing this site so you can write, I think what has always struck me about this particular design (as it was the first version of Subtraction I’ve seen) was the incredible clarity it affords the writing, spatially. There are other bits; but for those like myself who are easily distracted, you’ve successfully made those other bits unobtrusive so that it’s your writing that’s featured. It also follows–and this may be evidenced by how much commenting you get–that the comments are similarly featured, similarly included as a critical element of the place, if still logically subordinate to your piece.

    It’s good stuff. I can’t wait to see the new toy.

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