I used to try to run a popular blog. I cared about timing posts for the weekday-morning rush and getting on Digg and getting meaningful comments and increasing my traffic and focusing my subject matter and becoming an authority and developing an audience and making enough money from ads to reach AdSense’s check-issuing minimum every few months and maybe actually breaking even after my hosting bill. For all of the trouble, it rarely worked, and the success definitely wasn’t proportional to the effort it took.

Then I stopped trying.

Now, I’ll post a major article on a Saturday at midnight. I’ll write posts without titles even though the aggregators can’t link to them. I don’t care about getting on the front page of anything. I’ll use as many words as I think are necessary even though most people will skim over it.

And, somehow, this works.

I now have a decently successful blog with a non-zero audience of mostly cool people that earns a small profit with tasteful ads that don’t rely on distracting people. My posts sometimes end up on aggregators even though I never try to promote them. And this all takes far less time and hassle than it used to.

Some of this is the technology: since I started writing online, web publishing has become much easier, and the quality of tools and hosting available for free has skyrocketed. But I can’t help but blame most of the turnaround on my change of priorities: I started writing for myself and for the sake of it, and I stopped trying to be successful or be my own boss or make money with AdSense. And it worked.

I can’t even write endings or intros or titles.

A blog shouldn’t be written for others. It should be written for the satisfaction of publishing your thoughts. Because you can. If your thoughts are interesting or thought provoking, they will gradually rise out of obscurity with a persistent, consistent effort. And most of the time, your blog is a loss leader for bringing you the important opportunities that truly matter to your personal success.

Someone once criticized me for straying from the topic of medicine on my blog. I told them to go read someone else. Your blog shouldn’t be a topic. It should be an accurate reflection of the proportion of ideas and thoughts floating around in that head of yours.