A Guest Post by David Risley
Except yours, of course. ;) However, there are a lot of bloggers who feel this way.
You write. You write some more. You don’t feel as if you’re getting the traction that you want. What’s going on?
There is plenty to be said about issues like proper market selection, search engine optimization and other tactical things, but let’s go deeper. In fact, let’s go deeper than most bloggers really think about when it comes to their blogging.
Are You Talking At Or Talking To Your Readers?
If I walked into a crowded mall, went into the food court, stood there in the middle of it and just started talking, what do you think would happen?
Most people wouldn’t see me. Then, a few would and they would probably think I was crazy. At the end of the day, I’ll just be that crazy guy they saw at the mall.
Now, imagine if 90% of the people in the food court did that. They just got up and started talking into space. It would be one big din of noise. Now, all of those people want to feel as if they are famous, so they start competing and trying to out-talk the other people. The volume increases, but few are being listened to. The ones who are listened to are the ones at least saying something useful.
And that is the blogosphere.
Most new bloggers go out there and start talking, then hope somebody notices and listens. Chances are, it won’t happen that way.
What is True Communication?
I’m married and that leads to some minor adventure from time to time. ;) One of them is being accused of not listening to her. She will tell me something I need to do and I have literally no memory of her saying it. Well, that was because I was doing something when she said it. When she told me what I needed to do, she spoke AT me and not TO me.
In other words, she just threw out the words with no intention of them really GETTING to me. It put the responsibility on me to be paying close attention first. She was right, I wasn’t listening. She was just talking at me.
Now, I love my wife to death, but she was doing what a lot of bloggers do.
What is TRUE communication?
Well, it isn’t communication unless the idea being said fully ARRIVES on the other end and is understood. To complete this process, an acknowledgement of some kind would need to take place to show that the information was indeed received and understood.
Underlying all of this is, of course, the importance of saying something that people want and doing it in a likable way. When you combine being likable, speaking within a reality that your audience will click with, along with actual communication where your thought actually gets to your reader, that’s when people will most definitely care about your blog.
Then you have readers, fans and more traffic that you’ll know what to do with. If you want to make money with your blog, that becomes really easy.
Applying This To Blogging
Blogging is a communications platform. Personal human relations still apply. If you just talk to yourself on your blog and hope people listen, it won’t work very well. That’s not communication.
In other words, talk TO your audience. Your job is to have something worth saying, then communicate that in a fashion which works for THEM. Do it in a reality which works for them. Make sure the idea arrives in their head by getting them to talk back to you. Without some acknowledgement from the audience, you don’t have true communication taking place. The cycle will be incomplete.
Your job with your blog is to create a relationship with your audience. You want them to know, like and trust you. That is done by forming true understanding between yourself and each of your readers. You want them to see you as an authority in your market, but also a trusted friend. The key to do that will be what I said above.
Blogging isn’t all about yourself. It isn’t about just blurting words into WordPress and hoping people listen. It is about talking TO them and having them talk back.
If you are new to blogging and hardly have any audience yet, the same principles apply. You want to have these interactions with other people. So, you go out onto social media and you do exactly the same thing. In other words, go where the people are and strike up a conversation. Then, with some form of understanding formed, you direct them to your blog.
Build a tribe of people who know, like and trust you… who you routinely talk to (in both directions), then you’ve made it. The rest of your goals as a blogger become a piece of cake.
So, in a spirit of communication, let me know what you think. Post a comment. Let’s talk!
By David Risley, a 6-figure professional blogger who got his start as a tech blogger. His blog David Risley dot com is a pull-no-punches account of the business of pro blogging and what it takes to earn a living as a blogger.
I understand where you are coming from David, but I do all of those things, and I haven’t gotten a comment since October! And guess what I’m blogging about and who I am?
I’m a gadget blogger. And I founded the blog when I was 12, and now I’m 13. LG and HTC have sent gadgets for me to review, but I really need to know how to get traffic up, ads that actually pay me, and those comments?
Could anyone at ProBlogger be of any help?
Thanks for this post. I understand what you’re saying here and agree completely. However, I was hoping you could provide some information on how, exactly, to engage the audience.
I started my blog in June with great trepidation. I addressed my concerns about entering the “Land of Blog” in my first post. I didn’t want to be just another voice shouting in the food court to use your analogy.
I started writing my blog much like I’ve written feature stories for newspapers and magazines over the years. My initial thought was to provide quality and the readers would come. I still do that but, lately, have been trying to write in a more conversational style. Is this what you mean?
Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
This is why it is important to blog about something you enjoy. Even if no one is reading your motivation is your own enjoyment.
I think that it’s also important to not let the desire ‘to be liked’, (which was mentioned by the author of this article) distort the essence of what you are attempting to convey to others, due to your fear that, if you dare to express your truth, it won’t be accepted by others, or even worse, that it might be publicly ridiculed. Otherwise, IMHO, if you let fear distort the essence of what you are attempting to communicate, you will have defeated the very motive for setting down your perceptions, thoughts, feelings & realizations for others to see, feel, comment upon & resonate with… (or disagree with if they don’t resonate with them).
Design sometimes gets in the way of writing. Less is often more. And yes, the more optimized a template design is, the more difficult you will find to change it to your needs. With this realization I wrote a super simple template with easy-to-customize features. Would be interested to know what you think. Greetings and congrats to your own very stylish site.
Just the message I needed to hear this week. After a year of blogging and feeling like I’m spinning my wheels, I’m just getting to the point that I realize that I’m talking AT my audience rather than talking TO my audience. Now, to work on HOW to accomplish that approach to my blog… that’s the next step!
Thanks, good post. It’s hard to define “talk at” and “talk to.” No one has really managed to make it compeltely clear to me but your story about your wife comes close. What’s interesting about that story is your take that even as she was talking AT you, you also WEREN’T listening. She’s your wife. Why didn’t you stop to listen? Not knocking you. Just thinking. So it’s also about engagement on the part of the reader of the blog. Otherwise it feels like we are the great elitest public, having to be wooed in some mythical sequence to get engaged. Yuck. : -) The reason I am responding to you today is not so much that you talked TO me. Rather, I am trying harder to LISTEN. Go figure. ; -) Keep blogging.
I agree wholeheartedly with this post. Problem is – this article is the type that makes you inspired to go out and conquer the world but doesn’t give you practical advice and samples on how you would hope other bloggers would do that. You do a wonderful job of giving people basic tips, let’s get more indepth.
It’s easier if you are talking to an individual person one at a time for you to know what he or she really wants. But in blogging, how will you do that? What if your visitors coming form search engine doesn’t really want your article even though you made a very nice and almost perfect article with very good information?
That was a cool, cool article David. My website seems to draw some people but I think it must be that which is holding me back from the next level – really engaging with my readers. I think I have a small fear of hearing what people really think about my writing preventing me from really opening up. Hm…
Okay, you just revealed my first mistake, which is taking about ourself, not to readers. I should visit their blog and start giving a comment so I will get more comments in return. Thanks Darren and David!
When i reading to end of this post i was knew something i never know before. All of way I try to write to people is not good idea then people was not hear me . So, i discover new thing from now and i will fix it. To be the best
Okay, so let’s talk! David, you are one of the original bloggers who was willing to talk to me and other bloggers right away when we needed to figure some of these blogging “things” out. You’re awesome! You walk the talk, not just talk the talk, so I think you’re cool! Thanks for being there, and thanks for this post, it further explains things. :)
krissy knox :)
connect w me on twitter:
Actually I write primarily for myself. It doesnt much matter whether people care about my blog or not. As long as I can find the information whenever I need it, that serves the purpose of blogging.
Great points. Sadly, lots of bloggers are such terrible writers I’m convinced that no matter what they do, they won’t be able to really attract a following.
However, even the decent ones fail in making a connection. They don’t realize the promotion aspect of getting a blog off the ground. And once they do, there’s a high attrition rate since they talk down to their visitors.
great post. Love the food court example how true! I have been blogging for over two years grown a deccent but small following. I have always tried to talk to my audience. What frustrates me is that often they just don’t talk back.
Love the food court analogy and completely relate.
I notice the way I write has changed from teh first days of blogging, when I felt it was all about me (fool). As a genuine interest developed in my readers I found a much better response to my posts.
@The 13-year-old Gadget Blogger,
HTC and LG send gadgets to you for reviewing and than you are 13 year old. Have not you already arrived ? ..Just wondering..
I stopped to read this post because it was from Davie Risley, I enjoy his writings and most often take away great info from his blog daily. In true form this post delivered more information of value.
I blog in a conversational fashion and thus far it is working well for me. I need to participate in more social media markets more often and more consistently.
I’m glad that you wrote personal human relations still apply. Some people get caught up in increasing their blog exposure so much that they forget that the basics of communication still apply. Listening is as an important component of communication as it talking, or in this case writing.
I am in the beginning stages of my blogging life. I love blogging about health care topics and encourage my readers to ask the hard questions. My blog is set up to answer the hard questions in a way my readers can understand and ultimately use.
Getting traction has been difficult and something that continues to elude me. I work on the social networking sites and try to incorporate optimization in my site. I probably need to comment more on other sites, but find it difficult as we are so much different than other blogs in my interest. I will work harder at that.
As for talking “To” or “At” my readers… That is something I’m always trying to better myself at. I try to use analogies to help my readers get the concepts but feel I’m missing something in the way of connecting with them.
Let me know what you think…
Thanks for everything
Wow, I just realized that alot of copywriters “talk at” their customers as well. When I look at the best writing on the web, I see that the sites that make it are the ones that spend extra time getting into their readers “personal space’ –
Thanks for the reminder.
Some luck is always involved in blogging also. Once a blog gets popular in a topic, it seems people go to that blog often, even though other blogs on the same topic are just as good and well written. Whoever hits it first big on a topic will always have the most readers, regardless of who comes after them.
Great post and very helpful. I’m finding that as I pick up “followers” (though I hate that term and refer to mine instead as trail buddies) it is easier to “converse” through my blog. When I first started out I felt very much like I was just standing in the food court and talking to no one. But having even just a hand full of people who at least claim to be reading your blog occasionally helps me feel more like I’m speaking to someone who is listening. And we all talk differently when we feel like someone is listening. I know this because I’ve been listening to my mom talk to herself all morning while she putters around my house!
Hahahaha… “She will tell me something I need to do and I have literally no memory of her saying it.”
Hey! Like so many other similar articles I’ve read… it’s great, it’s inspiring… but I’ve walked the walk and it doesn’t always pay! Case in point: recently, for no apparent reason, my blog traffic dropped by more than half. I’m still indexed on Google, I still do my proper pinging. I write great stuff. I tweet. But nothing’s registering.
Circa 2005-6 I used to get hundreds of hits a day from Technorati tags. That stopped the very day T’rati began accepting MySpace pages as blogs. I haven’t ONE visitor via Technorati at all since September!
Around 2007-8 if someone liked a post I wrote and put it up on digg, I’d get 99-120 hits. If they do it now, I’m lucky if I get one! SOMETHING has obviously changed, and I’m puzzled. Just as an experiment, I’ve been on a “post blitz” the last 36 hours. Usually, combined with some “hello’s” via C-Box and a trackback or two to another blog, such a blitz would bring in 900-1000 hits. What happened is: I have LESS traffic now than before the blitz. (Scratches head!)
A few years ago this would have freaked me out, much the same way a harddrive crash would kill any netizen. But NOW I have endured THREE harddrive crashes. I am IMMUNE! I have endured having an entire blog deleted by hackers. I am now IMMUNE, but I’d still like to know hat the heck is going on with my blog!
I got an email the other day saying Google was revamping the search engine.. it’s revamped all right I went from thousands of visitors to hundreds overnight. I’m wondering if it’s pay as you go now. The one’s that pay are on the highend of the list?
I don’t know what’s going on but EVERYONE’s saying the same things… we all got lesser traffic, and maybe the search engine stalled and only loaded so much, or maybe those little spider bots, were busy making webs and going in circles….
was there a virus attack? That could have slowed the whole network down.
Things picked up since this past wednesday?
Not sure if it’s my blog about New Moon Mania or things are getting back to normal? any words?
Nice post, I always thinks is not about people thinks my Blog is bad or no one cares, some times is the fact that it don’t have the exposure it need or I gave it to It in the blog world.
I wonder if the amount of comments you get is a good indication of talking ‘at’ or ‘to’ someone.
@ Dr Jason, Like David says, I think treating your readers the same is really important. Whether there are 2 sets on eyeballs on your site or 200,000 people should feel like you are talking to them! Good luck, great subject you chose!
@Kay, That’s a good point, we do talk differently when we know others are listening! I literally imagine I am talking to my mother-in-law when I write. Don’t ask me why I chose her, but her face is always in my head! Maybe I’m better off picking someone like Darren Rowse!
I have been trying for for 3 years to be a blogger, and still got nothing.
I have to say that I really like what this guy has to say every time and it is very true.
It is all about communications!
I believe, the best way to get heard is to be friends with talented speakers. I think being a top commenter on digg or propeller would help a lot .
Thank you for this. It sounds ok and it should work, but it’s a little mor difficult in a country with fewer internet users than USA or other big country. It takes time and a lot of patience to succeed with a non/English blog (well, only a little English section) in a small country… but hope never dies, right ?
Communication is what the listener does.
Too often we extol the virtues of people that “appear” to be great public speakers. But is their audience taking away from the speech what they want them to hear? Many times yes, but, as you point out in your post, if you do not ensure your listener hears what you want them to hear you may be fundamentally failing.
Thanks for reminding us all that this principle applies to the written form as well.
Great Article. Like the part about the message having to actually ARRIVE!
Rather than been a wake up call, this post was definitely more like a PUNCH IN THE FACE for me!
My blog has been running for 11 months now, and I do have some die hard followers…but they are definitely few in number. Can’t seem to get above the 30 subscribers mark.
I have been talking AT my audience in the ‘you listen to me’ style. The better style you have suggested above will be effected immediately.
Many many thanks for this post – it was so good. Damn, I feel like break dancing! I think I will right after this next post!
Another things to do would be to add plugin to your blog that allows people who comment to be notified of replies. This way you are sure to start building some two way communication.
My Mom cares about my blog…
I think it depends on what you wish to do with your blog. There’s blogging, and there’s making money with blogs. I suspect if you wish to continue blogging, you’re keeping up conversation with many readers. You definitely need to maintain fresh and engaging content.
But If you’re using blogs as a content platform to pull traffic from the search engines, it may not matter to you if people wish to continue to conversation. As long as your content provides value, an interested reader will listen longer.
I think at least once per year I read somewhere that blooging is dead…
I think this time might be true…that is just my luck. I finally decide to start a blog…and BANG, blogging is dead. I can prove it. I wrote 3 tags to my first post, which should in principle attract a wider array or readers: 1) Jonas Brothers; 2)How to lose weight in a week and 3) I think my husband is cheating on me.
Not even one click. So for my second post I have changed to 1) Hanna Montana (I realised I might not be up to date with teenagers taste..) and point 3) has been now translated into Spanish and French, just in case English speaking husbands are so loyal to their wives.
Have a nice and funny day.
I would like to believe that I talk to my readers and not at them. I believe that I am communicating with my readers so far. Hopefully, after reading this post, I’ll make some improvements.
Thanks for the tips. I’m trying to learn how to make money with my blogs while promoting my photography with the blogs and on social media sites. I have been posting photos and articles, but not really chatting with my followers. I’m getting some good comments on my photography, but not getting blog followers. I think my blogs look good, and I try to be informative and entertaining. I will be running an ad campaign soon. Dollars are scarce right now, which may be why I should go ahead and run the ads.
Gotta get back to ready this stuff.
Keith Birmingham – HKB PhotoBlog
These are some great things to remember and apply to my blog, thanks for sharing. Being able to effectively communicate to your readers is the most important aspect a blogger can hope for. The examples that you provide throughout are great, especially your food court analogy.
Great post. Obviously, having an audience is a nice thing and reaffirms that you have something important–or at least interesting–to write.
I’m still a relatively new blogger but I’ve already given up trying to explain why certain posts resonate with readers more than others. It seems to be more art than science. I suppose that the general trend is more important than any individual post. Are you getting more readers/views now than six months ago? If not, then maybe you’re not writing about the “right” things.
I think having a sense of humour in your writing style encourages community interaction. It breaks down some of the fear that new commenter’s have and helps the conversational aspect of the blog.
Also little personal things (like the analogy of yourself and your wife to blogging) helps to put the commenter on a level playing field with the blogger – it helps them get to know the person who’s blog they are reading and feel more at ease interacting with them.
This is really useful for me. I just started my blog and I have been trying to find good tips to help make it better. At first, I didn’t think you had to have a plan when starting your blog, but I’m seeing that you do.
See, this is why I read your blog!
OK, now HOW do we do these things. I’ve posted surveys, asked for comments, started focusing my content. I’m looking around and commenting and starting conversations, joined online communities. And my feedback has been very positive.
But still the conversation is not coming to my blog.
Great article. Especially like the food court example, really brings it into light how tough it is to be blogging.
This is an EXCELLENT post and a wonderful reminder. (OK I have to admit, as a WIFE it is a good reminder too!)
You know what I ponder? I am familiar with several blogs by “moms” who simply write about their lives. There will be a question here or there, but it is truly a “diary” of their lives – although written very well. Some of these blogs have very significant followings – mostly strangers, simply reading about another person’s life. If you think about it, it is almost a form of (innocent) voyeurism. So how do these people get such a following, when they are often talking TO people. Some blogs are older, and perhaps they found a following as a great blogger when blogging was new… your thoughts?
That is a good post. You make many good points. Too many people use the shotgun approach when communicating thinking that if they riddle their listeners with a barrage of messages, that eventually something will land on target. It is a better tactic to have their attention and then deliver a smart bullet.
i have been working on this blog for a school project and i find it funny because i really got into what was said here and i started reading the storys and getting really interested. its cool what is said here and how it is said.