Warning – Tangent Ahead…
As I’ve been Twittering lately, I’m currently on a search for a good local cafe to blog from.
While there are plenty of cafes in the area we’ve moved to – this morning’s ‘cafe crawl’ showed me that it could be more of a challenge than one might think to find one to call ‘home’. I visited 4 (I’m buzzing on coffee now) and none of them really hit the mark.
As I went from one cafe to another I started to compare my search for a new cafe to blogging (as I tend to do). In particular I began to think of how it might compare to a reader finding a blog to read.
Here’s a few random thoughts on what I want in a cafe and what blog readers might be looking for in a blog:
I want a Cafe (Blog) With a Friendly Welcome
At the first cafe I visited this morning I was greeted by the waitress with a grunt. Not a good start and something that I couldn’t really get over despite other nice things about the establishment. First impressions matter in most aspects of life and whether it be a cafe or a blog, it’s owner needs to consider how those entering it feel. While a cafe can be a more personal space than a blog where readers stay a little more anonymous – some bloggers write in a much more friendly and personal style.
I want a Cafe (Blog) with Good Coffee (Content)
the primary thing that I go to a cafe for is my drug of choice – caffeine. While I’m no coffee snob, I do like a good latte and if I don’t find one I tend to move on. If a cafe can’t get it’s core business on the mark it might as well give up in my mind. A blog’s core business is it’s content and if it can’t get that right – well what’s the point? You can work on your blog’s aesthetics, SEO or other aspects as much as you like – but unless you deliver on the content front – you’ll never get anywhere.
I want a Cafe (Blog) with Consistency
when I visit a cafe I don’t want to have a good experience of the food, coffee and service one day and a poor one the next. I want to know when I go through that door that I’ll get a certain standard every time. A blog needs to establish a certain level of consistency also. This doesn’t mean it becomes ‘bland’ – but rather readers like to know what they’ll get when they visit both in terms of topic and quality. While creativity, the odd off topic post and a few surprises can add a little spice to a blog – the majority of blog readers do like consistency and will become frustrated with a blog that goes all over the place.
I want a Cafe (Blog) that is Affordable and Accessible
I don’t mind paying for a coffee, good service and a good atmosphere – but a cafe doesn’t need to be a fine dining experience and if it costs me too much I’ll find a more affordable option. Some blogs ‘cost’ their readers too much – they ask their readers to jump through too many hoops to participate in them. For example, one pet peeve of mine are blogs that require me to register to comment. While I understand the pressure of comment spam, putting this barrier in front of your readers will cause many of them to refrain from participating.
I want a Cafe (Blog) where my Needs are Met
in one cafe I visited today the owner greeted me in a friendly manner, gave me some personal attention and showed me to a table (good start). Unfortunately it went down hill from there. I asked if I could use the power point under my table to charge my laptop and he frowned and muttered something about how he doesn’t run a net cafe. I asked for a glass of water with my coffee and he told me that they only serve bottled water (I think that that’s illegal here). Later on I asked if they had a bathroom for customers – they didn’t (he told me frostily). My needs were not met – I won’t return. A blog needs to meet the needs of it’s readers also. While you can’t meet every need that every person has – you can go a long way to give readers value for the time they spend with you.
I want a Cafe (Blog) where I Don’t Feel Out of Place
I’ve been spoilt. Until last week I was living in a fairly inner city suburb where there were a lot of cafes that I felt at home in. People like me (whatever that is) sat on the tables around me. The music was the kind of stuff I listened to. The whole vibe was a lot more on my level. Today’s cafes were…. different. It’s the suburb we’ve moved to and no fault of the cafes really. We’ve moved to a middle suburb (in the East of Melbourne) where lots of older people and families live. The result is that the cafes serve an older type of customer, the music is ‘golden oldies’, the staff are coming from a different place. Now I’ll emphasize again that this isn’t the cafe’s fault (and I do like ‘older people’ – but it illustrates that people do like to find places to hang out that they feel at home in and where they have a perception of ‘fitting in’. A blog can’t appeal to every person – but there are ways of appealing to readers, being inclusive and highlighting that they are not alone. Create spaces on a blog for readers to interact and they’ll feel a sense of community that can convert them to be loyal readers.