I have been blogging for about four years now, and I've learned a lot.
Most of the lessons have been humbling to my ego, while others have been illuminating.
When I first stated blogging, I was pretty proud of the fact that my writing was being published to a small audience and that they were actually reading it. It felt good to be acknowledged.
Really what I was, though, was an insecure writer clinging to every pitiful page view.
As my traffic increased, I started getting a big head. I thought that what I had to say was really important and that my writing was so good that it would change the world.
Months later, I found myself frustrated when my blog had hit a wall and stopped growing. I was following all the advice I had read from the experts. I was doing all the “right things” to make it as a blogger. Well, all the advice except one major piece:
Serve your readers. (Oh yeah…)
I forgot the harsh reality of blogging
What's that? It's not about me.
Of course, blogging can be about you. It's just better when it's not. And usually, in order for that model to work, you either have to be interesting or famous.
Even then, your blog’s influence will be limited, and your readership might not be large. Your blog won't ever be able to grow beyond your personality.
So why not make other people the point? Why not serve your audience?
(Good) blogging is about serving people
This can be a tricky place to find yourself.
You have a unique perspective, but you have to share it in a way that will serve those who are reading your blog. You have to be willing to be vulnerable and often “go there” first, before expecting your readers to do the same.
But this is the best way to build rapport — humble yourself and become a servant. This is what delivering great content is all about — meeting needs.
If it doesn't serve, then it doesn't resonate. Remember that.
How do you do this?
How do you actually serve your audience? (And not just say you're serving them?) Here are three ways:
1. Ask yourself: Why someone would care about what I am writing?
This question challenges you to think beyond yourself. The people reading your blog deserve your thoughtful composition. Their attention requires your commitment.
Consider why someone would want to read what you've written, and if you can't come up with a good answer, write something else.
What this question should not do is cause you to second-guess yourself. You have something important to say. What unique perspective do you bring, and how can that be an asset to your blog? Consider this before composing your next post.
2. Ask yourself: How will my topic benefit those who read it?
I hope you tell yourself something like this: “This content will make my reader a better ____________.”
Or: “This content will cause my reader to do ____________.”
Your smartest readers understand that there is room for them to grow. They want help in the process. Help them.
3. Don’t forget why you started. Lets hope it was for a good reason. Let's hope it was to serve people and make their lives better. Or because you just genuinely loved communicating.
If you don't stay focused on this purpose, you'll burn out. (Just to refresh your reasons for writing, you may need to reread The Writer’s Manifesto.)
While writing for others is a great way to build an audience, if you only do this, you won't last.
For every blogger, there is a balancing act between passion and purpose.
If you are blogging because you love to write, don’t forget why you started. It will help you focus on others without losing touch with what originally inspired you.
What humbling lessons have you learned about blogging since you have started? Share your harsh blogging reality in the comments.
*Photo credit: Hans van der Berg (Creative Commons)