Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why won't you read my blog?

Why won't anyone read my blog?

Ever been struck by this thought? The simple answer is there's no simple answer.
Online writing is tough work, so here are a few thoughts to mull over.
Everyone is clamouring to be heard online. Historically, most people never had access to a local platform, let alone a global one. Now, you can find contributors on the most esoteric topics at the click of a mouse button.
I spent 18 months as the editor of NZ News UK, a niche website providing news of interest to New Zealanders living in Britain. I had my successes and failures during that time. Here's what I learnt, both then and subsequently.

How do you get read?

Here are five factors to consider.
Skill, output, networks... and luck.

  1. Skill: yes, this includes a decent grasp of the language you're using. Spelling and grammar do count.  It's not just writing, either. A rudimentary understanding of SEO is practically a prerequisite to being read online. But being a great story teller also helps and this can only get better if you practice.
  2. Output: Keep the output regular - and I don't mean once every March - and you'll develop fans. You will also develop a style of writing unique to you. Readers pay attention to how you write as well as your subject matter. And don't forget to acknowledge your readers. If a post gains a lot of comment, that's because people want an ongoing conversation.. and that's another post for you to write.
  3. Network: if people like your work, they'll spread the news. And you can help the process by tapping into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest... 
  4. Luck: what would happen if someone from the Top Gear team made a positive comment about your car blog on a public forum? What if your recipe of the week was coincidentally similar to Rachael Ray's newest recipe? Coincidence happens all the time in the offline world. It's no different for the internet. It's a tough lesson to learn - that sometimes success is out of your hands. In 2011, one of New Zealand's biggest cities was badly damaged in a series of earthquakes. 185 people lost their lives in Christchurch. New Zealanders were stunned - including the ones living in Britain. The expatriate community wanted to reconnect and NZ News UK went through a rejuvenation, becoming a leading portal for that reconnection.

So that's four quick tips to ponder: skill, output, networks and luck.
And the fifth tip?
I'll go back to my earlier words.
Online writing is tough work - keep at it.

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