Monday, January 10, 2011

I Blog and I'm Still Nobody

Just finished reading a blog post at ProBlogger. It was entitled "Three Ways to Take Advantage of Being a Blogging “No One.” I finished, agreeing with the logic. But I almost disagreed with the point of view. As always, when something in writing-land nags at me, I turn to my own blog to air.

He talks about all of us being "no ones" as bloggers. So true. We start blogging, maybe blog for a year, and we feel all the other "no ones" out there aren't finding us. It's a sea of "no ones." The same could be said for book authors, columnists and feature writers.

The author's three solutions were these:

1. Be a new presence with fresh ideas. He used words like being "revolutionary." I loved his use of the word "fresh." Originality is everything online. Fast surfing readers have a knack for finding the newest and most innovative thoughts because those are the ones that become viral. And everyone wants to be the one to find the new ideas to make viral. It's vicious and exciting, but frustrating for those whose blogs are overlooked. Other writers face the same challenge. Every literary agency and publishing house online state they want "fresh, innovative" creative material. No brainer.

2. Experiment and don’t be afraid to mess up. You'll usually make your biggest mistakes at the beginning, because the learning curve is steep. However, that's also when we are least willing to experiment for fear of making a bad first impression. Other writers face the same challenge. Book authors publish before the book is ready, or publish the wrong book. Columnists submit first drafts. Feature writers fail to fact check. Experiment all day long. Mess up early on. But later on, when you have more audience to gain (and lose), when contracts hinge on your submission, make sure you left the half-baked material at home on your computer.

3. Build a relationship with the few readers you do manage to get, while you have time to do so. Here is where this author is dead on right, but what I don't like is the fact he speaks like downstream, you will be so heavy with readers that you struggle to maintain that connection. Here is also where I feel he failed to make a solid lesson. Other writers face the same challenge. Yes, welcome and embrace the loyalists who jump on board your train at the outset. These are your foundation. This logic applies to any writer in any media. It's better to have a hundred hard and fast followers rather than a thousand laissez-faire readers. That's been said a zillion different way by many gurus. But the lesson to be learned from this almost-there third lesson is this:

Write material that resonates with readers, taking their needs to heart. Respect, honor and cherish them.

Most of this post as well as the comments that followed, talked about the writer's needs. But the point was never hammered home that when you use your talents and write for the reader's sake instead of your own, readers eventually notice. Connection is key. Esteem for the readership is gold.

One of the commenters to this post said, "Sadly, site/blog readers have become disinterested in original content." Nope - don't believe it. While it takes time for your "original content" to make distribution in this frenzied, fast-paced, online environment, it will eventually make the rounds and increase in readership if you continue to:

1. Blog/write regularly - consistently - often.
2. Make appearances in places other than your own, leaving a trace of yourself behind (i.e., blog comments, chatrooms, forums, Facebook)
3. Reply when readers express feedback.

It's simple. Be original. Find your voice. Respect the reader. Follow that advice diligently (not for a few weeks or months) and you'll score .


Nancy said...

You made some good points in this post. I especially liked the part about posting on a blog consistently, and preferably often. Blog readers will desert faster than a cricket can jump if the content doesn't change frequently. Far too many people start a blog with great enthusiasm but they aren't willing to make a full commitment to it. If they don't do so, their readers certainly won't. I post five days a week. Only a major emergency interrupts that schedule. Why? Because I try to respect my readers, just as you pointed out.

Sylvia Hubbard said...

this was a great article Hope. sharing

widdershins said...

I'm curious, what did you 'almost disagree' with?

Hope Clark said...

The author put more onus on the writer caring about his desires than those of the reader.

JD said...

Thank you for this article. I'm a new blogger and think that once you find your voice, originality becomes easier to summon. (At least that's what I believe, but what do I know? I'm new here!) The trick is to be comfortable in your own shoes first, and I think I'm getting there. As for respecting the reader, I make it a point of responding to each and every comment posted on my blog, and each and every email sent to me in response to my blog. I take the constructive criticism as much to heart as the compliments. You've got to, in order to grow.

Have a lovely day.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a really useful post. Especially the part about messing up... I've found out a couple times already that I've been doing some things in the least efficient way. It's always good to know you're not the only one who makes mistakes!

Michelle Mach said...

Great post! I think that most new bloggers don't realize how long it may take to build up a following. You can't just post a couple of times and then give up. Hmm, come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the process of learning to do anything well!