The first question I chose to tackle in my 5 Ws of blogging series is who. It’s a weird question to apply to blogging. Who is obviously: you. Alrighty then. Post accomplished! Good job everyone, let’s go celebrate.
Fine let’s try to make an actual post out of it. The way I chose to approach this question is “who do you blog for?”. It’s a pretty good question and the answer is bound to impact your content. In fact, I think understanding the answer may help you build a *better* blog. Better being subjective here.
This is also a layered question, with each answer guiding you to greater precision. On the most superficial level, there are basically two answers. You either blog for your readers or for yourself. No matter what you are trying to gain or accomplish through your blog, you will approach posts with a specific mindset. Either to write about something *you* want to write about, or something your *readers* want to read about.
It’s possible, and in fact likely, that this will change from post to post but most of us have a preferred approach. Bloggers who lean towards personal posts and relay life experiences for instance or poets, I would say often write for themselves. It’s self expression and views are secondary. That one was pretty obvious.
But I think you can add to that category niche reviewers and specialty blogs. Anyone who has a very definite passion and sticks to it because that’s what interests them. I would say these are the type of bloggers that are more likely to move on from their blogs. If they outgrow their specific area of interest, they will no longer need the blog as an outlet. Same thing if they find an alternative venue of expression and interaction. This said, they’re also passionate and driven so they tend to put a lot into their blogs.
The catch 22 is that hey may start out as writing for themselves and their particular passion, but they feel obliged to stick to their lane because they believe readers come to them for that very specific content and therefore start writing for others. That shift can be rough. Just as the opposite shift, writing for views and likes, and switching to posts with a less broad appeal that might not get as much recognition but are personally important, can be rough.
The second type are bloggers who post for their readers. This could be expanded to those that post to expand their readership (i.e. grow their blogs). Writers who try to figure out what their audience would enjoy or even what they would find interesting.
The posts may occasionally seem a bit more neutral in tone or plainly informative but that doesn’t mean that the joy of writing isn’t there. It’s just brought about in a different way.
The approach taken by the writer may not be that obvious to the reader but I think most bloggers can tell when they’re writing a post for themselves and when it’s one for the people on the other side of the screen. And does it matter? Well, the way I’ve seen it, writing for yourself can take it out of you. Moreover you tend to take performance and comments more personally. It’s important to keep your perspective with that approach and pace yourself. On the other hand, writing for your audience requires a bit more prep. You have to commit, which means actually finding out what your readers are interested in. Listening to them, if possible reading their posts so you can tailor your articles appropriately. And when the numbers don’t follow it can be very demoralizing.
What’s more, both whos have subwhos. I’m making up words again….at this point, I’m essentially inventing my own classification system. It’s purely anecdotal at that. Whether the answer of who do you blog for is “you” or “them”, there are a lot of ways to define it further.
For instance, there are several types of readers. There are those who already follow your blog and we assume like your stuff, and there are potential new readers who haven’t found out how awesome you are yet. Do you concentrate on subjects your current audience seems to care about or branch out into issues that are of interest to the whole community to see if you can get some new readers? Your readers are probably not a homogeneous mass either. They have their own tastes and values. Do you cater to those that mostly resemble you or switch it around so there’s something for everyone?
Basically the core question is, are you trying to get a wider audience or solidify a loyal one? To put it another way, do you want to try to please as many people as possible or really concentrate on a few.
It’s actually fairly similar if the first answer was that you are blogging for yourself. What internal goal are you striving for? It’s not just self expression since you wouldn’t need to publish it if that was the case. There must be an added aspect of either validation or connection. If you’re trying to prove your skills to yourself for instance. In that case very unusual and unique posts may be a good way to go. People won’t have any premade associations to your subject matter and you are more likely to be seen for the work itself. and changing things up frequently will get you a wider range of readers.
However, if you’re trying to improve and want lots of feedback then you may want to go the opposite way. Accessible topics or very popular shows are the best way to ensure that the largest portion of your readership will have something to say on your post. (Of course you have to tailor it to their interests).
Finally, if you’re striving for that ever elusive community then you should once again strive for posts on subjects that are currently be actively preoccupying your readers. It’s the same communication and research approach but instead of aiming for blog growth, you’re aiming for conversation. Like you would approach a friend in real life. After all, you can’t just talk about yourself all the time….Or do they constantly tell me!!!
I’m sure there are plenty of ways to define this down even further but this is a decent start.
Basically what I’m saying is that figuring out exactly who you’re writing for can come in handy when you’re out of inspiration for your next posts. It’s also just one more tool to get what you want out of your blog. Besides, it’s a good exercise to gain a bit of perspective. There’s no right answer. In fact mine changes all the time, but I still try to figure it out whenever I write.
So your turn. Who do you write for????