Did you know that this website got 50,438,767 unique visitors last month? Of course you don't, because this website didn't get 50,438,767 unique visitors last month . . . or ever, of course, but certainly not all just in the last month. The question isn't really whether you know something that is factually false about this blog, but whether I would do something different if the facts of this blog and how many people are reading it were different than they are.
If the monthly visitors around here were in the 8-digits instead of the 4-digits, would I write differently? Would I write more? Less? Would I sell ads?
I don't think I would do a single thing different.
I acknowledge this is a counterfactual question, but I think this is a counterfactual that matters quite a lot. If I would change what I am doing here if a lot of people were watching me and reading my work, why in the world am I blogging and writing like I am now?
I carve out time to blog and write fiction because I want to. I don't need popularity or commercial success to throw caution to the wind; caution has already been chucked into the whirlwind.
If doing what I want to proves popular, well, that's just peachy (and I'm really glad you're reading it!), but I'm not trying to be elected prom king or anything. If you enjoy this blog, that's because you are genuinely a little weird in a way that allows you to enjoy my own peculiar strain of weirdness. Good for you. Good for me. Good for us! The internet is really awesome to bring us together.
I can imagine that what I blog about and the stories I write will evolve with time and experience, but I can't imagine changing what I do for any reason other than wanting to try something different. I'm certainly not going to change to try to gain popularity, and I'm even less so likely to change to try to retain popularity.
I have a job that pays my bills. As is so often the case for jobs that pay the bills, sometimes it involves doing things I don't particularly want to do. I don't have to do terrible things that give me nightmares or anything, mind you--my day job just isn't that interesting-- but my work does require me to do boring things that I wouldn't do if I wasn't getting paid for my efforts.
I don't need another job where I have to do lots of things I don't want to do--I already have one of those. If writing ever feels like a job, then I'll only have that job for a brief time, because I'm going to quit. That applies whether I'm writing for only myself or a couple of people or a few thousand people or a few million people.
It's wonderful to be read. To be read may not be every writer's dream, but it is mine. The catch is, I want my work to be read, work that I can stand behind, work that I mean. A thousand, or a hundred, or even a single reader of my authentic self is more valuable to me that 50,438,767 pairs of disinterested eyeballs who are just dropping by to see something that's popular because it's popular.
No, this blog didn't have 50,438,767 unique visitors last month, but I value the readers I had last month far more than some crazy number. I'll take sincerity over popularity any day.