When Serving Your Readers Can Sabotage Your Blog

Serve your readers.

Or so goes the popular blogging mantra. In theory, you should always keep the reader first in your mind, because just like the consumer is always right, your blog is nothing if it doesn’t serve the desires of your much-valued readers.

In practice, there’s such a thing as bending over backwards too far to accommodate your readers at the expense of compromising the objectives of your blog – which, in case you haven’t taking Blogging 101, is a big NO-NO.

For example, let’s take the case of Hugh Macleod’s excellent blog, Gaping Void. I, like many others, hit that blog up only for his artwork. Not to be rude, but I’m not interested in the projects Hugh is working on, or what’s going on in his personal life (I would if we were friends, but that hasn’t happened yet).

Now if a lot of readers were to ask Hugh to setup a category / tag / special feed for just his comic posts, would that be a bad idea from a “be user-friendly” perspective? I mean, if there is a significant portion of your readers who are coming only for the comics and emailing you (like I’ve emailed Hugh 3-4 times before I realised why it would be bad for his blog) to setup something separate, wouldn’t it make sense to serve their needs better?

The thing is, Gaping Void is not just about comics drawn on the back of business cards, despite the tag-line. Over the years it has morphed into something more – if I were to venture an uninformed guess, it’s a public forum for Hugh to discuss his views on a variety of issues, most of them tied together with the common thread of marketing / the Internet. You might not care about what Hugh thinks, but that’s what his blog is for.

Who should compromise here? In my view it’s the readers who should bite the bullet and learn to skim the blog for cartoons (it’s surprisingly easy to skim over text and look just for the pictures 🙂 ) – for Hugh, a lot of these readers will also end up reading what he writes, and this way his views and his projects get more eyeballs than they would if he siphoned the comic-only readers off to a special feed / section of the site.

Serve your readers, but not at the expense of sabotaging the reason why you blog in the first place.