Who Do You Write For – Update 2

We got a little distracted by the latest edition of the Gatekeeper Debates, but now I want to get back to the original challenge of asking ourselves who we actually write our blogs for.

If I missed you, let me know. If you want to join in, I’ll do another update in a few days.

Here’s the current list so far:

Rick Anderson (via comment)
Seth Finkelstein (via comment)
Richard Querin
Earl Moore
Chip Camden

and some new ones:

The Idea Dude (via comment)
Joshua Jeffryes (via comment)
Dennis Howlett (via comment)
Jay Stevens (via comment)
James Robertson
Mike Souders
Oon Yeoh

Tags: blogging, blog building, my audience

Blogger's Challenge: Who Do You Write For?

Who are we, as bloggers, really writing for? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

The knee-jerk answer, of course, is that different people write for different reasons. Some write for their real world customers. Some write to attract eyeballs attached to fingers that might click on an ad. Some write as a way to market their online products. Some write for themselves. Etc. Etc.

But I am asking the question at a more fundamental level.

Who are the readers of our blogs? Not the intended audience. The actual audience.

Who do we really write for?

My answer: mostly for each other.

I’m just not convinced that blogs have much penetration into the general reading population. Stated another way, I suspect that the large, large majority of readers of any blog, save and except the TechCrunches and Techdirts of the world, are other bloggers and maybe the occasional relative or curious friend.

Even the mega-blogs, whose traffic the rest of us stare at in jealous disbelief, have subscriber numbers in the tens of thousands. TechCrunch has 92,854 subscribers. That’s an incredible number until you consider the fact that there are 300 million people in the US and 6.5 billion worldwide. In context, even TechCrunch’s penetration into the real world is less than insignificant. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have circulation numbers in excess of 2 million, and that doesn’t count tons of people like me who read those papers online or who grab a colleague’s copy after he or she is done with it.

The number of bloggers competing for attention makes it seem like the blogosphere is a huge, chaotic place. But it only seems that way because we have all ended up in a small room at the end of the hall. When people refuse to converse with me or go out of their way to link around me, it hurts a little. Until I remember that while they aren’t listening to me, no one in the real world is listening to them either.

I have been told by a couple of buddies in old media that old media tech writers tend to write for each other as well, so my theory is not limited exclusively to bloggers.

But the more I think about it, I think most bloggers write primarily for each other.

Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy writing. But sometimes it feels vaguely depressing to write something, put it up and wait anxiously for someone to reply via comment or link.

The problem, it seems to me, is that we often overstate the interactive nature of the blogosphere. Sure, blogs are somewhat interactive, but there is still an effort hurdle to be crossed to converse. You have to invest the time and effort to make a comment or write a responsive post. And with everyone talking at once, a lot of things get lost in the static.

And, of course, the rock stars who refuse to have cross-blog conversations with anyone other than other perceived rock stars make blogs seem even less interactive (and more silly) than they really are.

The whole system just seems really inefficient to me.

Which is why we need to ask ourselves why we write and who we are writing for.

So here’s my challenge. Write a paragraph that explains why you write a blog and who you write for. Think about it for a moment first. And be honest. I’ll compile a list (with links), and we’ll see if there are any patterns. Maybe we’ll learn something.

Here’s mine (I trashed and completely rewrote the following paragraph four times):

I write as an outlet for the creative energy that I used to use writing songs, and to initiate conversation with people who share interests of mine that are not generally shared by my real world friends. I write because I like to build things and to see if I can become meaningful in an area other than the one in which I make my living. Fundamentally, I write for the people who will allow me to become part of their conversations, either because they like what I have to say or because they are willing to try to change my mind. And, to be honest, I write to show some of the people who believe they are tech stars that some middle aged ex-farmer from Texas can compete with them on their field, on their terms- and win.

Three Things Meme

Mathew tagged me with the Three Things Meme, so here goes.

The three things are supposed to be things that you would like to see occur in your lifetime. Some folks mention the important, serious things, like curing cancer, world peace and making the world safe for all children (which would be my serious three), but I’m going to follow Mathew’s lead and give my less serious three:

1) Wake Forest win a national championship in college basketball.

2) The remaining members of Led Zeppelin tour again and come to Houston.

3) XM and Sirius satellite radio merge so I can get Sirius channel 14 on XM.

I think the chances of the above happening are 3%, 60% and 75%

I’m tagging Mike Miller, OmegaMom and Rick Mahn.

A Sentence

I saw this on OmegaMom’s blog and thought it was cool.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 161.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Here’s mine:

Mitch crawled out on his porch.

From my copy of An Unfinished Life, which I just got back from a friend. Boring sentence, but a fantastic book.

Anybody else want to play?

4 Things, Revisited

Mike Miller tagged me for the 4 Things Meme. I really enjoy memes because they are a fun and easy way to find out about people. I enjoy Mark Cuban’s blog, but I disagree with him about memes. Those are some rock star-like statements from a guy I have always thought to be a (rich) man of the people.

Back to the meme. I answered these questions a few weeks ago, so tonight I asked Cassidy to answer them. Here are her answers:

Four Jobs I’ve Had

1) Secretary (for her 2nd grade class)
2) Tables (for her 2nd grade class)
3) Windows (for her 2nd grade class)
4) Pets (for her 2nd grade class)

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over Again

1) Twitches
2) High School Musical
3) Sky High
4) Kim Possible So the Drama

Four Places I’ve Lived

1) Texas

Four TV Shows I Love

1) Kim Possible
2) Lilo and Stitch
3) Tom and Jerry
4) Sponge Bob

Four Places I’ve Vacationed

1) Fort Worth
2) Galveston
3) Bandera, Texas
4) Florida

Four of My Favorite Dishes

1) Corn
2) Candy
3) Pickles
4) Popsicles

Four Blogs I Read Everyday

1) What’s a blog?

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

1) With my friends
2) Fort Worth
3) Bandera
4) School

Four Things Meme

James Kendrick tagged me today in the Four Things Meme.

This is similar to one I got via email last month from a non-blogging friend of mine, but this is the first time (to my knowledge) I’ve been tagged via blog. Thanks JK!

Maybe I’m just new to the meme tagging business, but what a great way to find out a little about each other.

Four jobs I’ve had:

1) Bag Boy
2) Lifeguard
3) Heat Set Machine Operator
4) Lawyer

Four movies I can watch over and over:

1) Spaceballs
2) The Holy Grail
3) Raising Arizona
4) Up in Smoke

Four TV shows I love to watch:

1) Battlestar Galactica
2) The Amazing Race
3) Survivor
4) Lost

Four places I’ve been on vacation:

1) Bahamas
2) Cozumel
3) Santa Fe
4) Kamloops

Four favorite dishes:

1) Sushi
2) Poblano Chicken
3) Christina Fenrich’s gumbo
4) Arnie Fenrich’s garlic mashed potatoes

Four websites I visit daily:

1) Flickr
2) My Yahoo
3) Bloglines
4) Tech Memeorandum

Four bloggers I’m tagging:

1) Zoli Erdos
2) Doc Searls
3) Dave Wallace
4) Russell Limprecht