The 3 Needs of Bloggers

As part of a leadership course I’m teaching, I was recently prepping to teach a section on motivation theory. One modern theory was developed in the early 1960’s by David McClelland.

Entitled the “Three Needs Theory,” this is built on the assumption that we all have three motivating drivers, and one of these will be more dominant than the others.

These three motivators as described by McClelland are:

  • Achievement
  • Affiliation
  • Power

Always on the lookout for a new twist for articles on blogging, it struck me how well this theory describes why we get involved with, and continue suffering for, out blog.

Below, I’ve described the characteristics of each of the motivators, and how they relate to blogging.

My thoughts in each area are provided, how about yours?


High Achievers differentiate themselves from others by their desires to do things better.

These individuals are strongly motivated by job situations with personal responsibility, feedback, and an intermediate degree of risk.

In addition, high Achievers often exhibit the following behaviors:



  • Seek personal responsibility for finding solutions to problems
  • Want rapid feedback on their performance so that they can tell easily whether they are improving or not
  • Set moderately challenging goals and perform best when they perceive their probability of success as 50-50

How those motivated by Achievement approach blogging:

From a design standpoint, blogging is all about solving problems. As a blog is never truly ‘finished,’ we’re constantly tweaking the blog to improve aesthetics, usability, marketing, etc.

Blogging provides nearly instantaneous feedback through services like Google Analytics; watching the numbers grow and countries light up on the map (as we hit reload over, and over, and over) gives us a happy glow inside.

Money is definitely a motivator! Yes, it’s okay to say that making money is one of the reasons we got into this business. For ‘High Achievers,’ money is often used as a measure of how well we’re doing. Again, how we’re doing is right at our fingertips day and night.

One of the great (and not so great) things about blogging is there is plenty of opportunity, but no guarantees. We’ll take days researching and writing an article expecting a lot of traffic only to be disappointed, then an article we whipped out in 15 minutes goes viral.



People with the need for Affiliation seek companionship, social approval, and satisfying interpersonal relationships.

People needing Affiliation display the following behaviours:


  • Take a special interest in work that provides companionship and social approval
  • Strive for friendship
  • Desire relationships involving a high degree of mutual understanding

How those motivated by Affiliation approach blogging:

Many bloggers get into the business strictly because they like working with others. Meeting people on-line with similar interests, solving each others’ problems, etc, is a primary motivator.

Blogging, especially blogging to a specific niche, can be viewed as a virtual clubhouse, or even support group, providing a common location to read articles and discuss favorite topics with friends.

For those seeking social approval, blogging is a veritable cornucopia of positive reinforcement. The use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, not to mention Likes, +1, and Shares, and comments provides bloggers with real-time affirmation 24/7.



An individual with a need for Power is likely to follow a path of continued promotion over time.

Individuals with a high need for Power often demonstrate the following behaviors:



  • Enjoy being in charge
  • Want to influence others
  • Enjoy status and recognition

How those motivated by Power approach blogging:

Blogging allows us to be our own boss. While most of us don’t have the option to blog as a full time job, at least our blog is one thing in our lives that we have complete control over in terms of design, content, marketing, etc.

For many of us, our blog allows us to be the authority on the topic we’re writing about. It’s a definite motivation knowing our readers are coming to us for our views on a subject, and even subscribing to our blog to read our next offering.

Finally, seeing our articles rise to the top of Google searches, watching comments grow, and basically watching our numbers increase is a definite boost to our ego. Watching even small spikes increases our status in the blogosphere.


Keep in mind that none of this is a bad thing, and we’re all motivated by Achievement, Affiliation, and Power as part of our passion to be part of this craziness.

Hopefully, this has given you some perspective; please let me know how this relates to you.

Rick is the owner/author of ‘More Better Smarts,’ supplying practical wisdom to help improve your life at work, home, and play. Visit Rick at