This time, for bloggers!
Which comes first: being a good blogger, or having lots of readers?
(This post will probably only be of interest to people who blog, because I presume I’m not the only blogger to have these thoughts and questions.)
I do not believe that the world operates like a strict meritocracy. I believe we all like to think that we only choose what we read, who we listen to, etc., based on quality and our personal judgment, but this is wrong. We are influenced on subconscious levels by authority, popularity, and confirmation bias, among other things. There’s lots of scientific evidence from psychological studies to back this up.
I talk a lot about theatre, and politics, and life and Stuff, and I try to write about it with force and with defended opinion, because in my understanding that makes for better writing. But I don’t have a large number of readers, not even within the relatively limited theatre universe. I don’t say that as a complaint – just an observation.
I aim to be a better blogger and to constantly improve, so I have to ask myself – which of these factors contribute to me not having a lot of readers?
1) Are the subjects I’m tackling not interesting?
2) If they’re interesting, am I not offering anything new to the discussion?
3) If I have something new to offer, am I writing it in a compelling way that makes people want to come back/repost it?
4) If my writing is compelling, am I marketing myself enough or in the right way?
5) Do I have enough authority to get people to listen no matter how good my writing and marketing are?
To simplify that – do I not have a lot of readers a) because my blog doesn’t merit them yet, or b) because people don’t know about the merit of it?
A couple of my posts have gotten reposted and passed around, but only to a limited extent. There appears to be an invisible border out there in Internetland – and even in Theatreblogosphere, a tiny hamlet within Internetland – that my stuff doesn’t tend to cross.
If I want to get more readership (because I wouldn’t be writing this stuff if I didn’t hope it could mean something to people, and thus want more people to read it), I know what to do to improve my blog’s merit as with a) above.
I need to read blogs, and read lots of stuff in general.
I need to read about rhetoric and the art of writing.
I need to study and reread what I’ve written to see what has worked and what hasn’t.
I need to increase my knowledge of the subjects I write about.
Basically – I need to pay attention and try and suss out what I’ve done well and what I haven’t, and pull my writing skills up by their bootstraps. Theoretically, if I keep doing this, my writing will get better and better in the long run. (This also applies to creative writing.)
But it’s hard to know what to do as far as b) above goes.
Do I need to be mercenary and cheesy, and run around liking other people’s blogs and linking to them regardless of whether or not I like them, in hopes of reciprocity? (Thus far, I’ve only “liked back” people’s blogs if they’re relevant to me.)
Do I need to employ tricks to try to get people to read and re-post, like using controversial post titles that may not accurately represent the content? Or writing posts that reaffirm what I think people want to hear?
Do I need to act like I have authority, by injecting myself into the Theatreblogosphere, in order to generate authority?
Am I never going to get a wide spread of readers for my theatre blogging until I am a respectable and well-known practitioner of theatre?
Do people want to read a blog that has authority already, or do they give the blog its authority by reading it?
Is the measure of merit of a blog the quality of the writing (regardless of the readership) or the level of readership, reposts and discussion (regardless of the quality)?
Did you actually look at the links to “scientific evidence that people have biases” above, or did you take it on faith that they proved my point?
Was that a cheesy, not-that-insightful little game, or does it actually back up my point?
I don’t have any answers, I am just wondering aloud. No, honestly.
Whatever the case, I’m not going to stop trying to write better in general. I hope you enjoy.