Are you even writing anymore if you aren’t writing to an algorithm?
I recently started a blog. Partly because I moved to a foreign country and desperately needed a hobby that didn’t require me to leave my house and face the fact that I can’t speak the incredibly difficult local dialect. But also, because I’d always wanted to start a blog. I love the idea of having my own little pastel-colored corner of the internet where I can share my ideas and maybe find a little sense of community.
But, in establishing the blog, I came across the concept of SEO. And search rankings. And analytics. And the cutthroat nature (and brutal importance) of The Algorithm.
Essentially, all of this means that nobody is really blogging for passion anymore. Nobody sitting around and digesting a 3,000 word essay on why a bottle of Arizona Peach Iced Tea made you awash with homesickness in your new country (not that I would ever write something so trite and meandering 👀 ). If you don't write to what Ahrefs and SEMrush are telling you the people want to know (by volume and country), then you can absolutely get fucked. Algorithmically.
This has become, as you can imagine, quite a bummer. I feel like for anybody to see my writings, I have to write like a keyword-stuffing AI robot. Sure, I could simply write to my passion, and just accept the fact that nobody will see it and I will leave this world the same way I came into it: practically a nobody. Or I could play the SEO game, get a few page views, make .14 cents in Adsense revenue, and die practically a nobody… with .14 extra cents.
I guess that just boils down to the ultimate question of hobbies in the modern world: should you monetize your passions and turn them into just another corporate slog, an obligation you begin to resent until it eats you up from the inside? Or do you practice your hobby in private with the understanding that it benefits you alone and is, thus, rendered effectively pointless?
I’m curious to know what others think on this topic. How do you balance passion and function in your writing? And how the hell do you even find a community of writers? I’d love to hear what other people think. Hopefully I get the Medium algorithm right.