Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Blogosphere is Lately Like That Children's Book: Too Much Noise

Blogging is starting to feel too much like work lately. Nevertheless, I direct you to this article, "9 Ways People Respond to Your Content" at Lateral Action. It offers practical information, the same thing taught in nonfiction and technical writing courses about knowing your audience and holding the reader's attention.

If you're in a mood to be motivated and for building web traffic, it's a great article. If you're getting kind of burned out from all the voices telling you how to be an Internet, social media megastar, this piece will pressure load you. It's the kind of information that makes me want to shut off my Internet connection, find a cave, and scribble away the days in an old-fashioned journal that nobody sees because it reminds me that the Net has become one big competition movie, "Rise of the Professional Blogger." This is because I'm not in the mood to be motivated to build traffic.

However, the "9 Ways" article is not about blogs specifically as you can see by the advice below.

1. Understand Your Audience

Unless you are writing something for your private consumption, your audience should be the center of the focus and not you. The more you know about your audience, the better you can connect with them. Think about:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Why are they reading what you are writing?
  • What are their concerns in general and what are their concerns NOW?
Many blogs are still about the blogger and not about what the audience wants to know. If they give information that others want to know it's because they stumble upon it the way many mommy bloggers realized the tips they gave talking about raisin their children happened to be information other mothers wanted to hear. But a conscious focus on what others want to hear and read rather than what the blogger wants to write may only result in frustration for most personal experience bloggers. If you write about your life and nobody reads you, are you boring? And what happens to your authentic voice if your goal is to write for others and not yourself?

I don't mean that personal experience bloggers must be insular and write posts that only they understand. If you don't want to communicate with others in any way, why have an online blog? What I'm saying is that a conscious effort to please others is probably not the way to go for the personal blogger.

The audience for the "9 Ways" article is probably large, income-generating websites. The thing is blogs are being treated more like income-earning websites every day. Bloggers are being compared to other bloggers in terms of followers and number of comments and being courted by advertisers to promote products.

My problem here is probably not the article, but myself. Its information appeals to my own competitive instinct and the need to see a pay-off, something I try to ignore. But in these days, can a writer who hopes to publish a book ignore information about building an online audience even if her online writing has nothing to do directly with her book?

I'm working hard to tune out this stuff so I can keep my passion and not feel like I'm back in the rat race that made me hate corporate life. A rat race mentality could paralyze me if I'm not careful and I'm watchful for it because while writing tends to free me, lately I get up, turn on the computer and feel like I'm going to work. I used to get up and write like I was going to a party.

Lately, I'm looking out for ROI and project progression indicators. Perhaps it's only where my mind's focused, but it sucks. Yet, writers have got to earn a living, so we can't afford to ignore practical advice, right?

I think I'm at that point in my writing that's similar to the hump point in physical exercise and resistance training. It feels bad, you want to quit, but you've got to work through it if you want to get in shape. I'm stubborn and I don't wanna do it, even though I know how to do it.

Actually, I think I'm going through that change MsLadyDeborah suggested on another of my blog posts. Perhaps I'm making a decision to focus only on the writing and nothing else. Maybe I'm kissing the other voices good-bye and am ready to court only words.

No comments: