One from the archives, here’s Marco Arment on the pitfalls of becoming a well-known blogger & his determination to avoid gaming the system:
I don’t need to be an authority on anything. I don’t need you to agree with my arguments. I know this is probably too long, too broad, and too egotistical for the mass market to read, and you most likely skimmed over it. I wrote this just now, and I’m going to publish it now, even though it’s Sunday and it won’t see peak traffic. I don’t want to write top-list posts 10 times a day. I don’t want to be restricted to my blog’s subject or any advertisers’ target demographic. This site represents me, and I’m random and eccentric and interested in a wide variety of subjects.
I couldn’t agree more.
Check the publish date on that post – 2009. The more I put my mind to writing, to collecting and sharing things here with you, the more I become aware of two competing desires. The first is the almost unspeakable, yet omnipresent desire for people to discover & enjoy the things I write. The second is the desire to produce something authentic, genuine and ultimately a close representation of my thoughts, even as they change.
These two desires work against one another. Let’s simplify the matter by calling it a battle between pleasures immediate and long-term.
I would be lying if I denied enjoying the little thrill surges that come with views, likes and that sort of social feedback. Yet the desire to produce something of substance, something that doesn’t simply pander to the click-bait culture we see in Facebook & Twitter, a piece of written work that would stand up to scrutiny in the years to come – is by far the stronger desire. I’ll admit, it can be tempting to look at the stats, to see who’s on my site in real time, to become addicted to the dopamine rush of immediate gratification. But that pleasure is short lived & in the cold light of morning, it’s not hard to see which of the two is more fulfilling.
I fully expect to be embarrassed by my writing here in the years to come. In fact I’m already embarrassed, by what I wrote just months ago. But that’s not a problem, rather I consider this a source of pride. It means I’m growing, that my tastes are improving, my standards are being raised. If you don’t look back on your old work and cringe, it usually means one of two things: either i) that your previous work was genuinely inspired & you should be proud of it, or ii) that you’ve slowed growing, maturing and learning.
In short, you’re stagnating.
Only a handful of my projects fit the first description — projects I’ll be proud of for many years, perhaps even until I die. The rest of it, though? Yeesh. If I ever reach the point where I can look back at my writing, my design, my creative work without embarrassment, I’ll be gravely concerned.