Audience? What audience? I thought blogging was self-indulgent – or. Right. That was livejournal in the late nineties.
Now, blogging has almost risen simultaneously to both science and artform – and, of course, the question always comes up when you confront either of these methodologies: who are you serving, by doing this work? Yourself? Or someone else?
Tonight on #blogchat, we talked about how we can define our audiences, and what impact that has on our blogging skills, technique, and the reception our blogs have by our visitors. (Hello there, visitor!)
Some good leading sentiments:
@ahockley – everyone blogs for themselves first – smart bloggers write based on reader reaction second.
@MarkDykeman – use the word You more often
@MackCollier – reader interaction helps improve writing
@NotAProBlog asserted assuming a high intelligence level was a mistake. I agree, with a corollary: It’s always a mistake to assume any level of intelligence – high or low – in an audience.
So – do we write for ourselves first? Yes – a lot of people asserted that the writing comes before the audience. I’d have to agree.
But which comes first, the topic or the style? @SbuxMel says blogging for readers means more selected topics than selected style. What do you think?
Information without style is Wikipedia. Style without information is entertainment.
So, aside from who we’re blogging for, we also need to ask what we’re blogging for. Not all audience-focused blogs are business-focused as well.
Killer quote time:
@davidspinks Write for who you want to read your blog…not necessarily who’s reading now.
Brilliant, David. Absolutely brilliant. I can’t help but think focusing on the end-result will be better than focusing on the present. We can’t walk into the future looking backwards – or sideways. (Wow, sorry for the metaphorical bent tonight – apparently listening to classical music during #blogchat makes one a bit quixotic.)
Working toward an audience, or a specialty, is an onerous task. The general consensus seemed to be that no matter your aim, if you have a purpose behind your blog, you’re writing both for your audience and for yourself. However, as @davidspinks said later on – confidence trumps everything else, for writing style. Security in the knowledge of your knowledge is important.
Another awesome quote:
@antwizzel Blogging is about conversation. Your thoughts should trigger criticism, agreement, joy or any other emotion. #blogchat
It’s a good night, apparently.
8:32pm, Consensus confirmed – sincerity is a good idea. 🙂
@prosperitygal proposed we need more criticism – I agree. tell me my posts suck. We’re all sick of seeing all variety of “Great post!” comments. Sheesh.
And then @JustinKownacki jumped in with “Before you decide who you’re writing for, decide why you want to write in the first place. Your audience is a bonus, not a reason.” – too right, Justin.
Think about it. Your audience is a bonus – it’s earned, not deserved. No matter how good your content – the why is paramount. Breeds confidence that your work is worth doing.
Had a little back-and-forth with Nic Wirtz about changing audiences within a blog, versus beginning a new blog. What do you think? Where does the line get drawn – especially for ego-blogs, like ones run under your own name? (Mine, as an example? Or Chris Brogan‘s, or John Chow‘s?) When you are the blog, how do you approach changing the topic without alienating the audience? Worth further discussion.
Part of the question for the night was who should you write for – yourself or an audience.
I hate the word should in this kind of context. There aren’t any stringent requirements for blogging – even with a business-centric blog, perhaps it’s useful for some to blog only to develop their own thoughts about a topic, rather than expanding their own business. Growing your knowledge base – and firming it up as a record of trajectory – can be just as personally valuable as growing your business through communal interaction.
So what’s the result? You tell me – there was a lot of talk about why you should blog for yourself, and why you should be blogging for an audience. Still comes across as a personal choice. What do you think?
Participants’ List for #blogchat September 12, 2010
Transcript for #blogchat September 12, 2010
Image by CarbonNYC.