After gathering 13 months of data, I have learned the following:
I am not a one-topic blogger and I am glad I made peace with that.
I have tried at times to come up with bike-related content because I liked the concept of a bike blog. There are some good ones out there and I am into bikes, so in the spirit of "me too" I sort of followed along. I still do a fair bit of bike content, but I have broadened out into other topic areas, and I have to say that's been very liberating. I may have lost some readers by meandering, but I might have picked up one or two as well, so it's probably a wash. Plus, it's not about the readers... mostly. More about that below.
There is a sense of duty to maintaining a blog, and that's a good thing.
I made a commitment to myself that if I was going to do this, I would actively do it - no half-assed attempts tolerated. For one thing, it's too public to do it halfway, and for another, I am pretty intolerant of "good enough". When I made the commitment to try a blog, I also made a commitment that if/when I lost interest in the pursuit, or concluded that this was just not my cup of tea, I would take the thing down lock, stock and barrel (I was actually pleased to see how easy Blogger makes it to nuke your blog). Having gone into blogging with that mindset,
I also have developed some sense of obligation to come up with content that hopefully does not suck. One unanticipated benefit of this is that I find that I look at things a little differently, and actively seek out topics that are relevant and that I have some opinion about. I also find that I tend to explore my opinions a little more than I probably would have as I work on a post or sift through ideas for a post. This introspection results, I am sure, from the act of writing rather than the medium used; if I were locked up in my bedroom journaling, or writing to my Mom, I would probably have arrived at the same destination. But the fact is that I don't journal and I can't remember the last time I wrote to my Mom, so getting there by this route is fine with me.
It's not about the readers, so you say...
When I started this page, my primary motivation was curiosity, not readership. It is apparent now that I did not fully appreciate the dynamic that comes from people reading any of the content (in fact, at some level, I seriously doubted anyone would look at the site at all). However, anybody who says they don't think or care about the audience when they blog is probably being a little less than truthful, present company included. After all, if that was the case, then why a blog in the first place? As I said before, you could get to the same end point via a journal just as easily.
As I have grown into blogging, I now find that the notion that there might be reader brings with it an increased accountability, and a motivation, that I suspect most journalers do not experience. Interestingly, for the most part I have no idea who the readers of this site are (other than a handful of friends and family), which makes you all pretty much anonymous. This both a little intimidating and liberating. So despite being somewhat uneasy about the public aspect of blogging, I have to say that it is satisfying to see that someone other than me visits this site occasionally.