I’m reading Neil Patrick Harris’s autobiography, which he wrote in the form of a Choose Your Own Adventure story. I went through a phase as a tween where I found CYOA books pretty entertaining, and NPH has been a bit of a through-line in my life (we’re of similar ages, so I was in high school when Doogie was on. One of my more vivid tragic high school memories has Doogie in the background), so when I saw the ebook available from the library, I checked it out. It’s been interesting, but (a) CYOA books are easier to hack as actual books, and (b) my amusement at the format for an autobiography wore off pretty quickly. Now I can’t tell what I haven’t read in the book and flipping through it is pretty frustrating.
On the other hand, I get why this appealed to him. He’s got so many facets to his personality. Should he tell the story of his life? His small-screen career? His large-screen career? His stage career? His personal journey relative to his sexuality? His passion projects like magic? Chances are that he knows his audience well enough to project that segments of the audience are going to be more interested in some things than others— people might be really interested in the Doogie/Barney story, but less interested in the magic stuff. Or really interested in his personal story and less interested in his stage career.
One of the things that stands out for me, in this format, is an analogue to how I’m handling this blog. I’m interested in so many things, I just write about whatever I’m interested in that day. Which works pretty well for the reasons that I’m writing it— to make me write more consistently. But it’s difficult to build a following that way, because if you’re coming here to hear about the dog, I might not be writing about the dog, and if you’re wanting me to talk about my dating life… well, I’m not really focused on that now…
I’m wrestling with myself a little about whether to narrow the scope of the blog, or to split it into discrete pages— all the book stuff here and all the recipe stuff over there. I’m not sure how much I care about the numbers of followers (I very much like the interactions I’ve had with the people who interact with me, and I’m honored by the people who read but don’t interact, and I’m grateful for my followers, don’t get me wrong), but I do have the sense that if I had better focus, I might make steadier progress in that area. But I’m not even sure about what progress in that area would mean to me. (Present company excluded) some of the people who have a lot more followers than I do run their blogs in ways I’m not that interested in— I can’t do click-bait start a fight with your readers or 75 different angles on listicles about how you know you’re a hat person, I just can’t. I’m on a journey, I don’t yet really know to where, but if that’s the destination, I’m not that interested. It’s a pretty crowded place, and I’m not all that much for crowds.
On the other hand, building connections with my readers? Hearing more from them and really entering into a dialogue in this space? I’d be significantly more interested in that. I’ve always been more of a quality than quantity person, anyway, and that’s what I’d define as quality, in this area.
I’m going to do Blogging 201 starting next week, and maybe that will help me to some clarity about this. If it does, I may make some changes. Or I may decide that slow growth is fine with me because I’m posting pretty frequently.
So here’s an opportunity for you to weigh in. What do you think? What brings you here? What would make you come back, if I did it more? What did you think this would be when you pressed “follow,” and is it delivering on that? What should I do more of/less of/exactly the same only louder!?!