It never failed. When I worked in publishing training editors, it didn’t matter what their background was. They could be college grads or ex-teachers. One thing nearly everyone had to learn was how to write for an audience of readers. So many people seem to write same email for a stranger their own age, the CEO of a major company, their boss, and their best friend from childhood.
What we write isn’t about who we are. It’s about who we want to communicate with. End of story.
As a blogger, we need to focus on our readers. That means knowing how they think, so we know how they are likely to interpret what we say. Here are 10 traits that are typical of bloggers that I’ve talked to, and you might know that I talk to at least one blogger a day.
10 Traits of Blog Readers
- Blog readers are always clicking. They will click in to see us and just as quickly click away if we don’t show that we know them.clarity.
- Blog readers are fiercely independent. Like most customers in any industry, we can’t force readers to behave as we might wish they would.
- Blog readers range in temperament from the shyly introspective to the wildly notorious. Our readers tend to reflect us in some traits, but not every one. We need to remember that every reader is an individual, not part of a group of identical “anythings”.
- Some blog “readers” are spammers in disguise. It’s sad to approve a comment only to find that another one comes in from the same “person” saying the same thing on another heavily spammed article.
- Blog readers have their addictions. Readers have favorite blogs. Find out your readers favorites and you’ll get significant insight into how they think.
- Blog readers have to be earned back every time we write. The Internet is hard on the eyes. Readers don’t relax with the screen. They have to want to read, or they’ll skim and click right past what you’re saying. Even my most loyal readers have on occasion gotten caught commenting in some way that showed they didn’t read the entire article.
- Blog readers don’t tolerate pretenders. On the Internet the only safeguard we have is that we have tacitly agreed to be forthright, authentic, and transparent with each other. Be a fake, and readers will figure you out. Then they will never trust what you say.
- Blog readers like lists, but not lists of unexplained or un-researched links. In the same way that we wouldn’t serve bad food to our guests or offer them a plateful of random raw food we hadn’t checked (or worse plastic fruit), readers want content that we pre-select. What we offer speaks to who we are. A list of links with no descriptions is like a tray of styrofoam popcorn — empty and most useful for taking up space.
- Blog readers have a voice worth listening to.
- Blog readers will be generous in proportion to the generosity we show, but we have to go first. If we show that we know what we’re blogging about and who we’re blogging for, our readers will appreciate us for appreciating them. Everyone likes to be cared about.
The fact that they read our blogs is a good sign that they read other blogs. That means they know tings about us in relation to other bloggers that we do not. If we listen, they will tell us what they know.
That’s a staring point — 10 Traits of Blog Readers. how long can we make the list? More than that, how will we use it to center our blogs around our readers?
Kenneth: One way is to ask for a response. Ask a question. People don’t always feel comfortable commenting unless the blog post asks a question. And people don’t always like to be first to comment, either.
What are some ways that you can recommend to get feedback from visitors that work? I know that the stats are helpful, but they don’t I feel tell the whole story… so any suggestions?
What a great attitude! It’s so refreshing to know that people are listening to each other. When I make my blogger a day phone calls that comes so strongly — folks are just glad that someone take the time to actually listen to their stories. Ha! Think of that . . . every story is important!
Sure we have our individual voices. We have those when we talk too, but we adjust them for the person we might be talking with and for the subject that we’re taling about. We often forget to do that when we’re writing. Remembering can make our writing so much richer and inviting to our readers.
What better way to find out than asking “how am I doing?”
Good on you!
Liz, back in the 1970s, Matt Howarth used to do an adult comic, the name of which I forget. It was similar to Robert Crumb. Anyway, Howarth had one character that always said “How’m I doing?” to everyone he met. That’s what I feel like asking, some days: How’m I blogging?
Your list is great because I have a starting checklist to see how I’m blogging, whether I might potentially be turning readers off. That said, your style is your style, and the right readers will eventually find you, but it can’t hurt you to regularly go through this list.
Boy Howdy, John, You are so right! Hearing an unabashed introduction or comment about us from reader to reader is like being the “proverbial fly on the wall.” It’s so golden. Even when they say about us what we say about us, the choice of whether to us our words from the blog bio, for example, or their own words and inflections, is in itself quite revealing.
When they just speak their thoughts, we can learn so much about what readers value and what value we offer them. How often what they take from us isn’t anything near what we think we are giving. Take you reading me, for example; I’m always surprised and delighted by what you see.
Readers often see us differently than we see ourselves. One great gift we can receive from a reader is to see how they introduce us to others. How does their description of what we offer differ from our own? In terms of refining our voice, this kind of feedback is gold.