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January 8, 2008

Who Is Your Blog For?

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It’s the inevitable question we must all ask ourselves. We sit and we think, we write and we slave over blog posts, but for whom? Who is your blog for? Why are you even writing? Should you be using all this blogging time to go get coffee and donuts instead?

It’s an excellent question, especially since coffee is so delicious, and one recently posed by Lyndon Antcliff over at Cornwall SEO. Lyndon asked, "Who is Your SEO Blog For?"

I think the "who" you’re writing for can only be answered once you have the "why". Why are you writing? What are you trying to accomplish?

I think most of us out there are writing to spread knowledge and education through our niche. We’re trying to participate in the conversation around us and share whatever insight we might have. We’re writing to give back and perhaps establish ourselves as thought leaders.

If you fall into that category of blogger, then I think the person you’re writing for is you, not the audience you have dreamed up in your head.

A lot of people probably disagree with this line of thought, I know Copyblogger does. And I’m sure I remember reading countless blog posts about how you should take the "I" out of blogging and focus on giving readers what they want. And I agree with that, but I think what your readers want is you. When you write for yourself, and as yourself, your posts come across as far more connected than if you’re talking at people. But part of that also means knowing who "you" are.

Are you a beginner at search engine optimization? Or you an advanced social media person? Or maybe you’re a dog trainer located in Ohio? Whoever you are, that’s who you’re writing for. It should be about providing information to the people who are just like you and the people who care about the same things you do. That’s how you’re going to connect with the readers who will stick around and become faithful friends. Those are the people who will feel at home the moment they land on your blog-the people who understand you.

I’m not saying you should ignore "outsiders" and people who are different from you, but I don’t think you should write your blog for them. You want to write your blog to reflect who you are, both as a person and as a blogger. If you’re able to touch different communities, then more power to you.

Whenever I hear people rumbling about this subject, I think back to Lorelle VanDeFossen’s amazing Don’t Fake It: The Secret to Creating Kickass Content presentation from this past summer’s WordCamp. Back in July, I paraphrased Lorelle’s remarks this way:

"A successful blog is one that you land on with an intention of looking for info and when you arrive it immediately feels familiar and safe. It looks like you. You know what you need, what you need to say and that you want your readers to feel the same way. In essence, you want your readers to be you. When you blog for you everything you say sounds more connected."

Attending WordCamp and being able to experience that session in person really changed my views on blogging.

The only time I think Lorelle’s rule doesn’t apply is when the goal of your blog is to make money through AdSense. If that’s the case, then yes, I think your best bet is to write for the lowest common denominator and target your blog to address "them". After all, that blog really has nothing to do with you. It’s about money and not leaving any of it on the table.
Before you can determine who you’re writing for you need to understand why you’re writing in the first place. Your answer to that question will change how you blog. It will determine whether your blog is still yours or whether you’re forced to adjust your behavior/tone/voice to appease the demands of your readership.

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3 responses to “Who Is Your Blog For?”

  1. J Baker writes:

    Hi Lisa,
    Do you know, you are right on the money. I initially started blogging for a site that I wanted to promote to the search engines. You know, fresh content. But while I was doing it I thought I might as well write for the vacationers to our area because that was what the whole site was about. But I’m kind of an opinioniated person, so that also came to the fore. So here I was, writing away…for me, because I really didn’t know who else to write for other than I was supposed to be trying to create new content for the search engines…and then I started getting emails, and phone calls. It was eerie. I didn’t even have a contact page on the site and these people were figuring out how to get hold of me based on what I wrote. Sort of a mystery story or puzzle that they worked through in order to reach me. Many didn’t even know my gender because I was very careful about that at first so that I didn’t turn off guys that might want to come fishing with their buddies by being female. (Surprisingly, most of the people that email me are men, even though they now know I’m female…and happily married in case you were thinking something else.) So to make it easier on everyone, I created a way to contact me and surprisingly, the emails really started coming. And they do every day, from fantastic people, some of whom I’ve met. Many that I’ve become friends with, some from as far away as Bavaria and many in the States. People have moved here or want to based on the blog, have bought property or are looking at the property for sale pages every day in case there’s a change. The results have been utterly amazing to me, and all because I write only about what I know and for the most part, only about my little corner of the world.

    So I guess all this letter is meant to be is confirmation of your article, but your article kind of put confirmation of what I suspected into words for me. So thanks!
    J Baker

  2. Daniel writes:

    You mean I have to have a reason to blog??? I most decidedly did NOT get that memo.
    I blog because I must blog. I write because I must write. It’s a welling up of communicative pressure that must be released in some form (though that same pressure could be the result of a Starbucks overdose).
    Seriously, though, I do blog just to relieve the pressure.

  3. Joshua Spickler writes:

    I couldn’t agree more. I definitely think you shouldn’t have to cater to anyone but yourself. If you start to compromise yourself for your readers, then you’re not really writing as you anymore. With my blog, I write whatever I want. If people like it, cool. If they don’t, then that’s their problem. But if I’m a firm believer in the, “if you build it, they will come,” philosophy. If I just keep writing for myself, the traffic and the links, and all that will come eventually.



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