Are You Looking in the Right Direction?
When my son was 5 years old, as I put him to bed, we talked about the business trip I was taking the next day to one of the Western states. I described the city and people I’d meet. I promised to bring a post card for the collection he kept in an album beside his bed.
Then I gently tucked him, and said “Sweet Dreams.”
As I went to the door, he said, “Mom, there are mountains in that state.”
I said, “Yes, you’re right. There sure are.”
I heard my little boy say, “Don’t look that way,” as he pointed left, “and walk that way,” as he pointed right.
He was telling me to be looking in the right direction to navigate the mountain.
I promised not to, gave him a kiss for his concern, all of the while wondering what exactly he had in mind. . . .
What’s looking in the right direction when we’re blogging?
Some folks look up. They are always looking at the blogger that they admire. They hardly take their eyes off the blogger they hope to be. Some try to that blogger’s walk and that blogger’s talk in any way that they can devise. That shows itself in the form of a design and a writing style that is almost the same as their hero’s, a good try . . . but why would I wamt to read another version of the hero’s blog when I can read the real thing – the one and only original?
Some bloggers kook left and right. They spend their time in the wayof the folks in the fifties “keeping up with Joneses.” They want the latest fad. Whatever widget, template, bell, or whistle, whatever idea, tool, or social network is the latest thing, they’ll be right there. These early adopters are so forward thinking that I have to run to keep up with them. Sometimes I’m just too tired to run while I’m reading. So I click on to something more my speed.
Some bloggers keep their heads down. They only look at what they write. Every word they type is perfect — is painfully and carefully crafted. They’re going for work that’s more than perfect. These bloggers want to decimate the competition. Their posts are true and tight. The words develop the ideas and even express the blogger’s thinking and insight. But these bloggers are wrapped in who wrote those perfect posts — themselves. When my turn comes, I find no room for me to get a thought in edgewise.
The bloggers who know where to look are looking at the folks who are in the comment box. They are looking at their readers the ones who quietly pick up their feeds. They do that by listening to the response. They listen to the words and the white spaces in the dialogue that comes after every post which they write. These bloggers hear the movement that occurs person by person as they look at their stats. They wonder about the readers behind the numbers? They wonder what would make a person like me do that? And often they come right down off the posting box to ask.
Those bloggers who know where to look, don’t spend a lot of time asking questions, such as these;
- Who else do you read?
- Who is my competition? Are they better than I am?
- What is your favorite article that I wrote?
Great bloggers know that these questions are looking in the wrong directions.
Bloggers, who know which direction to look, ask questions more like these:
- What do you like to read about?
- What interests you?
- What ways do you read my blog?
How can I make it easier for you?
They know that looking in the right direction isn’t up or down. It isn’t right or left. The right direction isn’t with our heads down. Bloggers looking in the right direction are looking right at you.
- You are the only ones that count. What do you want from what you read?
I never did find out whether my young son was worried about whether his mother was going to walk into the mountain or fall off of a cliff.
Liz Strauss writes at Successful-Blog, where she’s always looking to her readers to find out how she might know how to best serve them.
Liz writes, speaks and works with businesses on how to make relationships the center of their strategy. Head and heart together are the approach and philosophy she uses to show clients how to make room for a community that loves what they do. Liz writes at Successful-Blog
You know, I think if you’re writing a blog for purely business purposes then the statement:
“Bloggers, who know which direction to look, ask questions more like these: * What do you like to read about? * What interests you? * What ways do you read my blog?”
is perfectly valid. But if you are writing a blog for your own benefit (a personal blog, for instance) then the only place to look is inside yourself.
As bloggers we’re constantly told to find our own voices, but I don’t think you’ll do this by thinking about your readers. You’ll do that by writing how you want to write. Yes, this might alienate some readers but it might also attract just as many and at least it will be true to yourself.
Finding your own voice is important, I agree. It’s yours and you should use it no matter what kind of material you craft as a writer.
I also agree with you that if you’re writing a writing blog or a personal journal you should write from your personal experience and possibly not ask questions of your audience. That’s the decision of the writer and purpose that he or she has chosen for writing. If you are your audience, then you should write for yourself. I totally agree with that, even if you put your writing out for others to read along with you.
I’m sorry that I didn’t include that point of view. Thank you for adding that. :)