The assignment for day six is all about writing to attract the kinds of readers you want to visit your blog. Michelle W. asks us to “publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it”. By “new-to-you element”, she means to include an aspect into your post that you haven’t used before, whether that be adding a photo, embedding a video, incorporating a quote, or any number of possible little tricks that you can use to enhance your post. In her original day six post, Michelle gives links to information on how to do all these little extras, so check it out if you’re interested.
Myself, I think that the important part of this assignment is the “publish a post for your dream reader” part. It seems obvious, but is actually something that lots of bloggers mess up. Kristen Lamb often talks about how writers have a tendency to blog about writing – their writing process, what they’re currently working on, the issues they come across as a writer, and so on and so on. In small amounts, this isn’t a particularly bad thing, but when that’s all a writer blogs about it becomes a problem because the only people who are really interested in the writing process are other writers…and for the most part writers aren’t looking for other writers to visit their blog. Writers want readers to visit their blog, to become part of their audience and (hopefully) their fan base.
There are plenty of bloggers out there who blog primarily for their own pleasure, for cathartic reasons, or for other personal uses, but the overwhelming majority of us blog because we have things to say and we really, really want other people to hear those things. And the best way to attract the kind of readers you want is to write your posts specifically for those people. For instance, I’m a huge nerd, and it makes me happy when other huge nerds drop by the blog to chat, so often I’ll talk about nerdy things that I’m into, or use pictures or memes of nerdy stuff to illustrate an unrelated point – just to nerd it up a bit. I also love talking to fellow parents, so I’ll often write posts about my daughter, or parenting in general, usually with a cute or funny story involved, because I want the fun-loving parents, not the cranky buggers (j/k…cranky buggers welcome here as well ^_~).
It took me a while to catch on to this (retrospectively) obvious concept. For the first few months of my blog’s life all I wrote about was writing, and it wasn’t long before I started to burn out. I wondered how I could possibly keep up a blog if this was all I was ever going to talk about. I also wondered why it seemed like no one was reading my blog. In my first six months I think I totaled about ten regular followers, and two of those were my parents. But finally, after discovering Kristen Lamb’s blog and hearing her talk about this exact issue with “writers who blog”, I began to talk more about myself and less about my writing. I began talking about every day things that I thought people might find funny or relatable. I began to give advice to the kinds of people I thought might stumble across my blog. I wrote my thoughts and opinions on lots of different topics, and worded my posts carefully in hopes of attracting a certain caliber of people. When the “A to Z Challenge” came about I decided to write my posts about fictional characters because I thought it would be great to attract some more movie/TV/video-game/comic book-loving people to the blog. All in all, it has been a successful venture.
Instead of writing a new post for this assignment (since I’ve been doing exactly this for well over a year now), I thought that I’d link back to a couple of my most popular posts of all time. All of these were written with a certain group of people in mind, and since they were fairly successful posts, I think that really drives home the point of writing “for your dream reader”. Write for certain types of people, and they will come.
A Day at Kearl Lake is a post I wrote quite a while back, when I first began working out West. It is currently at the top of my “most viewed” pages because tons of people who are just starting a job out West stumble across it in search of information. I wrote the post just to let people back home know what a regular day out on a work camp is like, and I wound up attracting a lot of other random people who were curious about the same.
Aside from my “About Me” page, the next page on my list that has had the most views is Goodbye, Poppy…Love You Forever. I wrote this particular post for the dual purposes of expressing my feelings about my grandfather’s death, and helping to comfort all the family members and friends who were also affected by his passing. It certainly served it’s purpose. Writing the post was extremely cathartic, and so many of my friends and family members dropped by to read it that it has remained in the top five “most viewed” pages for over a year.
I’m Not a Therapist…but I Play One On the Internet was a follow-up to the Kearl Lake post. Several of the people who stumbled across the original Kearl Lake post were women who contacted me because they were concerned about the possibility of their husband/boyfriend cheating on them while on the work camp. After trying to be both honest and comforting to several different women, I decided to write this particular post, whose main point is “you have to have trust to have a happy, healthy relationship”. While I only ever got two people who contacted me as a result of this particular post, it is very near the top of my “most viewed” list, so people are still taking a look at it to this day, and I genuinely hope that it’s helped a few people.
And because I wanted to include something a little more fun in this list, I skipped a couple of posts in the “most viewed” list and picked on that, none-the-less has been pretty well viewed: Tickle Trunk for a New Generation is a step-by-step post about how I “built” a dress-up trunk for my daughter, based on the design of Mr Dress-Up’s Tickle Trunk. Hello, crafty people who stopped by because of this post! Yes, you’re welcome here too!
So, again, the moral is to write for the kind of people you want to visit your blog. And if you’re like me, and you want everyone to visit your blog, just write a little bit about every possible thing. ^_~