It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a while. My traffic has been steadily increasing for a while but it’s really ballooned over the past month, to the point that my viewcount this month is already more than ten times what it was in January. I’m happy that more people are reading my work, but it’s forcing me to ask some questions about why I write and who I write for.
I started this blog purely because I wanted a space where I could write freely and talk about anime. I’ve been reading blogs and watching youtube videos for the fandoms I’m a part of since before I got into anime, and that didn’t change once anime became my primary hobby. Eventually, I realized that I wanted to do the same thing as the many writers I looked up to, simultaneously realizing that I wasn’t gonna get much better if I only did writing for my English classes. I wanted people to read my works of course; I wouldn’t have posted them online if I didn’t want that to happen. But getting viewers wasn’t the reason I did it. I simply wanted a place to talk about the anime I cared about.
As time went on I started gaining a few followers, and this is where I started to question things. I suddenly felt a sense of obligation, a feeling that I had a duty to put out content that appealed to the few people who followed me. I did want people to read my content, and now that I finally had that I couldn’t afford to lose it.
Eventually, I was able to make peace with that. People followed me because they like my content after all, so as long as I kept making posts in the same way, I’d be fine. Sure, output rate could be an issue, but that was really the only thing to worry about. As long as I just kept being me everything would be fine, my followers would keep liking my content, and I’d have absolutely no issues.
And that mindset was fine until recently. I only had a few followers, and with the small number I had, I didn’t feel all that much pressure in regards to my writing. Sure, I’d occasionally twist my concepts a bit to fit what my followers expected, but that’s hardly significant.
Although I had developed a small group of followers, my actual viewcounts were still incredibly low. At this point, almost all of my views came from one or two posts that happened to get Google clicks. There’s a number of reasons for that, and some of it was my fault, but the point is that I wasn’t exactly rolling in the views. I was still getting low viewcounts through April, and though my posting habits changed during that time, it was entirely unrelated to my traffic.
This all changed once I started growing rapidly in late May. Suddenly my follower count had tripled and my viewcount had more than quintupled. I was suddenly a name — if a small one — in the anime blogging sphere, and even if I wasn’t yet a huge blogger, I had people who I greatly respected promoting my work. And I was incredibly happy with this. I had wanted my work to be seen all along, so even some increased viewership made me happy, but this ridiculous growth had me ecstatic. I was so excited to finally be getting the viewers that I had always wanted, to finally have people reading the posts I put so much effort into.
But it came with downsides. On some days I’ll get great viewcounts, many times more than I could have gotten even a month ago. My two biggest posts come from this one month period, and every post I make now gets more views than my old ones ever used to. And yet, it’s not perfect. Increased viewership changed my standards, and where a 10-view day was once good, I now see it as a disappointment. In the past, I had so few viewers that I wasn’t disappointed when I got 0 views in a day or something along those lines. If I were to get 0 views in a given day now I would see it as a failure on my part.
And to avoid that failure, I’ve made some changes to my posting. I’ve tried to make catchier titles, I’ve been working on topics that I know are more popular, and I’ve started spamming links to every post I make on twitter.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy writing for this blog. I like almost every post I put out and I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t enjoying it. On the contrary, I think my blog is in a better place now than it’s ever been, and I think my current content is miles better than what I was making in the past. All of my posts are still for and about me first-and-foremost and that isn’t something that’s gonna change. I’m gonna keep putting out content that I like, even if it won’t get me massive viewcounts. But again, I have to ask the question in the title: how much should I care about views?
The rational answer is probably not at all. As I said, changing my content would only alienate people, so if I keep working as I am now I should still keep growing. But I’m a human, just as vulnerable and desperate for validation as any other, and the simple fact is that I have to care to some extent. I don’t want to, but there’s no way for me to avoid obsessively checking my views multiple times per day. There’s no way for me to avoid tweeting about a new post three times a day, attempting to get just a few more viewers. And I honestly don’t know if I should even try to avoid those things. At a certain point caring about views leads to a decline in quality, but where is that point? Have I reached it? Is it still far off in the distance? I like to think that my content is still genuine, but how true is that? For all I know, it is genuine, but I’ve changed enough that my content will shift anyways. How am I supposed to tell with this kind of thing? What am I supposed to do? I suppose that all I can do for now is sit back and hope my viewcounts keep ticking up. I’ve just gotta keep writing and hope it all works out, praying that I don’t drown myself in this anxiety.