EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul offers three easy tips on how to build a special, loyal audience for those of us who are into blogging for one or another reason other than primarily to build up as large of an audience as possible.
THE CRITICS GO CRAZY! “The Grand Fraud American of Blogging, Paul Sunstone, now inflicts his madness upon the impressionable minds of incipient bloggers! He seeks to corrupt, to ruin the virgins before they have even begun the blogging of their stories, their insights, their poetry! He is a monster! Only the guillotine properly answers his aggression. The guillotine must be returned to the public service!” — Aloyse Leblanc, Le Critique Passionné de Blog, “La Tribune Linville”, Linville, France.
(About a 7 minute read)
I have noticed there is a whole lot of excellent advice out there that is geared towards bloggers who are just starting out and who dream of someday becoming 800 pound gorilla blogs.
Gorilla blogs — those rare and few blogs that on a monthly basis command audiences in the millions of visitors. Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True is just such a blog, if you want to check one out. There are at least a few dozen of them on the internet.
But you don’t need to aim quite so high to still aim for a mass market. Maybe you’d be happy with just a few hundred or a few thousand daily visitors. If that’s your game, you’re in luck. Most of the advice for new bloggers is almost totally geared to maximizing your chances of building a sizable audience of many hundreds or even thousands.
In essence, that advice will tell you how to tailor everything you do towards two over-riding goals. Attracting readers. Keeping readers. Sometimes, it will even tell you to tailor such things as your creativity, your sense of humor, or your other character traits and personal values towards maximizing your attractiveness to people. And it is often quite good advice — if you are into blogging first and foremost for the maximum number of readers you can get.
But what if that’s not your primary goal?
Let’s say you are mostly into blogging as a way of meeting people from around the world. Or perhaps you want to learn how to better communicate your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you’re passionate about some niche religious, social, medical, or political issue that you realize will never appeal to a million people, but still might interest a few folks. Or perhaps you are like me, and you just want
to brag about your three fulsome inches of pussy-pleasing love rocket to whoever will listen to explore as many ideas as possible with other people before the thought police arrest you for jaywalking between love and particle physics.
If you want an audience, but you aren’t out simply to get the biggest audience, then here are three easy tips for finding and keeping those special people who will appreciate your posts.
I. How Should I Pick the Name of My Blog?
First, figure out — as near as you can — what you want to blog about, how you want to blog about it, perhaps even how often you want to blog, then name your blog something compatible with your vision for it.
In the same sense that you would take care to pick a spouse, take care picking a name. Maybe not as much care as with a spouse, but give as much care to it as you can. You want your blog’s name to match up with your vision for it as best as possible.
According to most marketing people, matching your blog’s name to your blog’s “product” is more important than merely a striking name, merely a witty name, merely a pretty name, etc.
For instance, Café Philos was a compromise of sorts. I only vaguely knew what I wanted to blog about, so I focused on a name that suggested how I wanted to blog rather than what I wanted to blog. That is, I wanted to write to my readers as if I was having a conversation with them in a coffee shop or café.
The “Philos” refers to the ancient Greek word for sibling love, the love of a craftsman for his or her craft, the love of someone for, say, horses, lions, oak trees, tiger lilies, etc., and the most common kind of love that spouses have for each other.
In all, Café Philos is not the subject of the blog, but the approach of the blog to its audience.
II. Should I have an About page and a Contact page?
I believe the answer is “yes”, you will find it beneficial to have both an About page and a Contact page on your blog. Beneficial to building an audience, that is.
Your About page need not be too long, but please do yourself a favor and make it both honest and distinctive. It’s a curious thing about us humans that — while there are plenty of ways to fool us — we are pretty good at detecting when someone is lying about themselves. People are put off by phoniness, so whatever you include on your About page should be true.
Of course, leave out whatever you don’t want the world to know. But also leave out nearly everything about you. Sound counter-intuitive? It’s not. The real purpose of an About page is not to tell the world who you are, but to make yourself distinctive, memorable.
You don’t want readers confusing you with some other blogger, then forgetting about you tomorrow.
Keeping it short will be more memorable than making it long. Stay away from common interests (“I’m a sports fan. I like music and I am owned by two cats.”). Pick a your facts from the ways you stand out from the crowd (“I like Paul Sunstone. He’s cool! Yeah, I know, I’m in therapy for it.”).
If you get stuck — totally stuck — writing your About page (and many people do get stuck), simply contact me. I’ll write it for you. Just another free of all charges Café Philos public service. It comes with no obligation on your part. I love doing good deeds that come easy to me.
As for a Contact page, I urge you to use the contact form provided by WordPress. You are much less likely to have your email collected by a robot and sold to a spammer.
III. How Often Should I Post?
As often as you can. The more often, the faster you will build up an audience. It you cannot post at least once a day on average, think of adopting a schedule. Such as one post every Monday and Friday. Or even one post on the second Tuesday of each month. Be predictable if you cannot be prolific.
Don’t forget to prominently announce your schedule. “Horny Henry’s Wanking Blog. Fresh Posts Every Wednesday”.
IV. Reach Out to Gain an Audience.
Don’t wait for people to reach out to you. Reach out to them instead. Even if you only have time to do it once a week on Saturdays, surf the blogosphere, reading posts, and leaving comments on the posts you read. If you haven’t time to leave comments, leave “likes” on the posts you genuinely like (make sure your Gravatar has a link to your blog).
Especially look for bloggers with interests similar to yours. There are not one, but two reasons for that.
First, by leaving comments on their posts, you will attract a goodly number of them to check out your blog. The odds they will become loyal readers increase if your interests are similar to theirs.
Second, you will often enough find inspiration for posts of your own by reading their posts. Bloggers sometimes complain they can’t think of anything to blog about. Usually, those are the bloggers who do not read many other blogs.
You can finesse this advice by reading other people’s comments on the posts you read, and then following home the best commentators to their own blogs. This has the advantage that it will attract good commentators to yours.
V. Have You Told Me Everything I Need to Know, Paul?
Are you kidding? I myself don’t know everything. I’ve been blogging on and off for twelve years, and I am still learning. But I think you now have enough to get started. That’s all I’m claiming as my aim.