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Are You Listening or Talking to Yourself?

Are You Listening or Talking to Yourself?

Talking to myself

Do you write for yourself or are you writing for readers?

Many people think of blogs as being a place where you can write your thoughts without any reference of the other side of the screen, our readers.

You don’t have to have an audience. Writing for yourself can be fun, therapeutic, even. You might have comments and contact form enabled, but are you listening? It’s worth asking yourself.

For a long time my various blog incarnations were in the form of a personal diary. While the content is embarrassing in some ways, it’s interesting for my wife and I to look back into our 10 years ago lives through the magic of the wayback machine. It’s amazing the things that were on our minds and what we got up to could change so much in this time. In some ways being able to write that kind of content without any audience is a benefit, you don’t have to censor anything for a start.

That said, I love to write with people in mind. I need to know that I am talking to someone, and that they can reply.

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Other than my personal blog and my “hello world” personal website when I first discovered Mosaic web browser on my 9200 baud modem, the sites I built right from the start always had an audience. The site I often think of as my first actual blog, but maybe not, was my Science Fiction “online magazine” hosted at the college where I worked. That site is where I would write about geeky topics like Red Dwarf and Dr Who, with a lot of mentions of the goings on in my favorite Usenet newsgroups. I had a firm idea of who I was talking to, and they did respond. In fact I made some great friends.

To me that is the real joy of blogging. Not the publishing, but the interaction. With comments and trackbacks, blogs are more than the sum of their parts and we all grow and benefit.

Are you just writing or are you listening too?

View Comments (10)
  • I think I write for myself and for my readers. The community that I have established is absolutely integral to my desire to continue blogging, as is the joy that I get from expressing myself and my thoughts. I do believe that it is possible to write for yourself whilst still maintaining an interest in those who take the time to visit and comment. Blogs should be, in my opinion, a conversation, not a soapbox.

  • I would say that I write for me and my people. Thats because I only write those articles which I like and about which I am convinced that it will make a mark on reader’s mind. And I agree with you Chris when you say interaction is the key. Its all about interaction in the blogosphere.

  • I think that normally when I comment on a blog, it oftens feels like I am writing it for myself.

    However, some blog owners are particularly active and will send follow up comments, in which case I quite enjoy having an on-line blog discussion with the blog owner.

  • @Amy – Reader feedback is the biggest motivator for me too. I think some blogs are good soap boxes, like Seths, but I don’t think mine would work that way

    @Abhijeet – Yes, you can write for yourself but in a way that an audience will appreciate

    @Alec – It is hard to keep up with your comments but I think there is some fun to have in there too :)

  • My intent is always to share things my interests with others, but I’ve caught myself “telling” my readers about things sometimes rather than “conversing” with them about those things, which is something I try to be mindful of and avoid.

    It’s far more rewarding when readers comment & contribute on my posts. That’s probably the single best indicator that I’m actually connecting with my site visitors. A few times, I’ve actually had readers post comments that I could spin off into whole new posts and those instances are really a kick because I know I’m really serving someone else’s interests.

  • Thinking about this question is one of the most important exercises every blogger should do. For me, the answer depends on why you’re blogging and what the objective of the blog is.

    I say that because many people blog to support their business (including myself), and that means you have prospective clients or customers to write for. It is a constant struggle to keep things on target for your audience and write in a way that gets you business. You want to keep writing as if you were writing for people just like yourself.

    The problem is that your audience is almost never anything like you. Most people who believe that are fooling themselves.

  • @Rob – You can still “tell” so long as you stay relevant and are open to replies. Sometimes your readers just want your tips but doesn’t mean you can’t be open for more? Also telling can lead to questions which is another way of listening. Sometimes we are the teacher, sometimes the student, but that’s ok so long as we don’t talk down :)

    @Remarkablogger – I tend to fix someone in my mind who I am writing for and write for them. It might be yourself, just yourself without this specific knowledge. Not better or worse, just missing that one piece of the puzzle?

  • I tend to write for an audience, readers that may be reading my blog, but they just don’t comment. Sometimes I’m just listening, but on the other hand, I am talking to myself, but making sure it is on a broader scale. Getting too personal, in my aspect, may not give my blog that ideal daily reading as I have in mind.

  • I normally write to myself, but I do like to end the comment with a question, to see if I can drum up some participation by others.

    What do you think ???

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