I've been doing this for well over a year now. In fact, in word vomit numbers, you might say that 3.5% finished my goal of 1000. 35000 words in. In that time, I've had a few different suggestions for changes or features I could make to this blog and to this website.
Now, admittedly the whole thing has been pretty static since it started. One page for the main posts, another added later to host the word vomits, maybe a few bells and whistles around the edges. That's it. However I've heard all kinds of ideas for ways that I could change things. A comments section. Saving and favoriting posts. An email subscriber list. Short form video content? Scribble stories? In fact why not go all out and add user accounts and start my own little social media empire!
Joking aside, I have seriously considered adding some of this stuff. There are a lot of other blogs out there on the internet, and when I read some of them I am sometimes the tinest bit envious of their cool unique features. However I think being serious about new additions and deciding what to add forces you to contend with what your goals are with a project.
There are a lot of different reasons to become content creators. I hesitate to use that word to describe myself, but in the strictest sense I too create content that goes out on the internet. For a lot of people the goal is simply fame or money. To grow as big as possible or to make as much money as possible. Such a goal implies a particular relationship between them and their audience. Either as doting fans or as consumers to extract value from.
There are content creators who simply want to form a relationship with their fans. To give back to them in the form of entertaining streams or other media, for their support and loyalty. Perhaps this is healthier, but there is often still some kind of parasocial relationship happening there. It's not a situation that I think I'd do very well in, emotionally.
What about me? I do technically have an audience too. Look around everyone, say hello. I'm talking to you. But I don't know if I necessarily want one. A lot of famous people (who of course operate on entirely different scales than me so I don't know if the lessons should transfer) aren't entirely positive about their audiences.
Living your life in the spotlight changes you. Outside pressures distort your work. Success can be good but the scariest thing about success is that you can't hit undo. If you start doing something for money you can never stop chasing the dollars. If you get into it for fame then you'll obsess over every last click.
It's not that you're physically unable to stop, but it'll be extremely difficult to turn yourself away from something you've built over months and years. There's this idea that money warps a person. If you're the type of person to work hard enough to get a million or ten million dollars, there's no way you're walking away even after making more than you could ever dream of. It becomes a part of who you are, and it's why it can be hard to understand the motivations of billionaires sometimes.
I feel the same happens with any kind of success. Power corrupts. And that's why I'm trying to be intentional about the direction I take this in. If there were upvotes and downvotes associated with these posts, I know that I wouldn't be able to stop obsessing about optimizing those metrics. The solution for me is to ensure there are no metrics whatsoever.
As Bo Burnham said, "if you can live your life without an audience, you should do it". I suppose I watched that long ago enough that I've taken the sentiment to heart. Of course I'm putting these in public for a few different and valuable reasons. In some sense I am my own audience, both the me of the future and the me of the past. However there are clear information barriers here.
I'm not trying to make a lifelong relationship with audience members. I do my best writing when I'm alone, and so in my opinion I'll pretend not to know you guys. I'll act as though I am the universe and there is nothing but me.
That's why I'm not especially keen for the idea of a comments section, certainly not an anonymous one. That's not to say I'm against feedback, in fact I highly encourage it. But it can be delivered directly to me, spoken in person or sent to my email. I'm not cultivating a community like I would a strain of fungus. I'm happy to have individual conversations with people who enjoy my work, and to get to know them as people instead of rectangular avatars in a box.
Similarly I haven't made it overly accessible to subscribe to my posts. I feel like there's an effect where if you put in the slight amount of sleuthing to figure out how to contact me then your insights will be much more valuable. It shows that you care. I'd be skeptical about whether anyone would take the time, but I know I've done the same for things I've enjoyed so it's possible. That's essentially how I feel about subscribing - if you really care then I'm sure you'll find a way.
Oh, and most of all there's monetization. Substack has gifted all kinds of creators with the ability to churn out a newsletter a week to get the money rolling in. Then, once it starts rolling it means that have to keep pumping out those newsletters. No matter what I tell myself, I feel like doing anything along those lines could compromise my creative freedom and so I shy away from any hint of connecting creative output to an income stream.
So those are all my justifications. Feel free to disagree on any of them, or let me know how you feel. If you do, you can contact me directly. Maybe I'll appreciate the chance to get to know you too.