Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

I wouldn’t read my blog.

I know a lot of smart people who are crappy bloggers. They each may have a plethora of useful information, but the way they approach the act of blogging leads seems to be flawed. And I think I’m one of them.

Here’s my problem:

My interests cover several different industries, more than one brain hemisphere, a couple of cultures, and too many demographics. So who is my audience? I don’t know. How do I write something that will appeal to my audience? By not writing at all.

I occasionally overcome that issue, but only when I have something I really want to get out there. The thought of writing something that will appeal to my “audience” is what keeps me from being a “better blogger” (whatever that means).

When I write something, I tend to make an article of it. I want it to be well thought out. I want it to be thought provoking. I want it to be some sort of literary masterpiece. What do I end up with? A bunch of words.

Why I wouldn’t read my own blog:

I read blogs via RSS, unless I’m searching for something. When I go through feeds in my RSS reader, I blaze through them. I read through them so fast, the blogs authors’ keyboards rumble. I glance at the title and I sometimes skim a sentence or two to see if it’s something absolutely interesting. Long posts, like the ones to be found on my own blog, usually get the least attention — unless the title reaches through my monitor and grabs me by the eyelids. Believe me, that doesn’t happen often.

I’m thinking about what to do to resolve this. I want to write more often and I want to overcome my “audience” issue. Someone who is interested in my philosophical meanderings probably won’t be too interested in a quick blurb about something code-related. I wonder if I should create a separate blog for code stuff. A blog for wordy articles about anything, mostly philosophical, career, marketing, etc. Maybe even a blog for photography and video. Maybe a blog about neat crap I’ve seen on the web. I see a lot of neat crap and might as well share it.

Should I?

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15 Responses to “I wouldn’t read my blog.”

  1. December 22nd, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Chuck Reynolds says:

    I deal with the same thing and funny that I’ve been having this same talk with myself and Aaron and Tyson the last couple of weeks.
    I want to post what I talk about at lunches or to clients, I really do, I just can’t – I’m a horrible blogger, not that I really think of myself as one at all. I jot notes all the time tagged “blog” and if I don’t eventually say forget it because I think nobody would want to read it, I’ll start writing it and take so much time researching and/or wanting to be the center of knowledge on the topic that I just never finish it. My perfectionism kicks in, then eventually the ADD thing, and then I have nothing. Somebody else posts on the same thing and I get aggravated that I didn’t do it. Rinse and repeat. That’s how it is for me.
    I really need to break that and eat my own dog food and utilize my blog for broadcasting my knowledge and opinions. I also have issues with my demo/audience.
    Idk the answer, I hope that I just start writing and it falls into place – it usually does in this space.
    *shrugs* good luck with yours :)

  2. December 22nd, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Evo Terra says:

    It sucks to be an interesting person with many interests. We are legion.

    I think the path to an answer leads through some realizations:

    1) Not everyone who finds me interesting will find my blog interesting
    2) Not everyone who reads my blog will subscribe via RSS

    Neither of those lead directly to a solution to your (and my?) dilemma, but it does shed light on this: If I’m a multi-faceted person, it’s OK for my blog to be one more facet if me.

    So I try to blog like I want people to blog. Which may get to the heart of your question. I try to blog much more “chunky” than I write. And that was hard to get used to. Take this paragraph for instance. Crappy writing. Yet a good example of “correct” blog-copy.

    Topics? A different story. But from what I know of you, I’d expect you to blog about various things. Lots of various things. I’d expect you to be passionate about a topic for a post or three, then move on to something else. That’s your personal brand, at least in my opinion.

    So go ahead and post those notes. Forgo the deep research. Abandon the need to center. But that doesn’t mean ignore editing, style and purpose. It means you may need to change what those things mean in to Brian the Blogger.

    Good luck in your quest. I’ll keep reading. Though I’ll probably skip the long posts, too.

  3. December 22nd, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Eric Wilbanks says:

    Thanks for the post, Brian. Let’s me know that I am not alone. I, too, am one of those who has such a wide range of interests that I most likely scare away those who would read my blog because of more specific topics.

    I’ve debated about whether or not to start seperate blogs for myself that are better centered on certain topics/areas. The value for readers is that it cuts out the noise. They don’t have to listen to my rants on branding or eLeraning if all they really want to read are my posts on MMA.

    But honestly, even with the blogs I read that are very much “on-topic” all the time, I rarely read all the posts. I skim my Google Reader for posts that sound interesting, so why can’t my readers do the same?

    For now, I’ll continue being an eclectic mash-up of otherwise incongruous topics and hope that I’ve done the best I can to brand them as simply “thought-provoking” quips for all who read.

    Looking forward to seeing what route you decide to take…

  4. December 22nd, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Greg Furmanek says:

    Like many other people I also read most of my articles
    through a reader and not on the blog itself. It’s only when
    I find something interesting I find myself following the
    links to the original article. Like this one.

    Just because I don’t read all your articles, it does not
    mean I don’t read any of them. Not all your interests
    reflect mine and not all mine hobbies you will find appealing,
    but if you split the blog into multiple blogs you deprive your
    readers the opportunity to find an article that could be
    interesting to them.

    People like variety, hence there is so many people that
    read Digg. Digg is mash-up of all kinds of stuff but
    for most people it’s a starting point of reading news.

    The more important issue here is make the writing interesting.
    Even if the subject is not very fascinating, people will read
    your articles purely for the entertainment. Yes, many times
    writing enriches people by solving their problem or giving
    them a good advice but most people read because the
    writing is fun to read.

  5. December 22nd, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    krist0ph3r says:

    you can do what i do: write whatever comes to your mind. most people are used to skipping posts they don’t find interesting. if you post often enough, a visitor to your site might just read your last 5 posts and feel like subscribing…and once they do, it’s too much effort to unsubscribe unless you really go out of your way to write crap. and silence doesn’t buy you subscribers :)

    ps: i’m not a great blogger by any stretch. you probably have 10-100x subscribers than i do :D

  6. December 22nd, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Ian Baird says:

    I’ve deprecated my blog in favor of twitter. I think twitter soaks up a lot of my random thoughts and works better with my information flow. Maybe a Tumblr log is the right answer for me?

  7. December 23rd, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Wes says:

    The solution IMHO is suitable use of categories. Have a think about the various audiences you have an create a category for each one. Each category in WordPress (which it looks like you’re using) has it’s own feed at a URL like http://example.com/category/categoryname/feed. You just need to publicize their presence so people will know to subscribe. This way your readers can choose what content they see in their RSS reader.

    Once you have that set up its a simple matter of choosing one or more applicable categories for a post. Also if you’re worried about reducing the number of categories, that’s what tags are for: more transient labels for a post.

  8. December 26th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Tomas says:

    I feel your pain buddy. I had the same dilemma when I started blogging and tried running two separate blogs. It worked for a while but regularly maintaining one blog was difficult enough and eventually the second blog never got touched.

    Then I just said “fudge it” and started posting things that I found interesting on The Closet Entrepreneur even if they were completely unrelated to business and entrepreneurship and you know what? It freakin’ worked!

    I think people enjoy things that are entertaining and can provide value regardless of whether or not it fits into your blog’s mission statement.

    Try out different writing styles too; try a long philosophical post then try being more brief and see what gets more attention. It’s all an iterative process and there will be posts that are more successful and posts that are less successful—it’s all part of the process.

    :)

  9. December 27th, 2008 at 4:34 am

    Wendy Kincade says:

    I, too, believe I have lots to say that others should find interesting. So far, I have written two blogs. One has been up for several months, and I now have one follower. Hmmmm? Is it something I said? Or didn’t say?

    I think for me my blogs are my way of getting out ideas that I don’t want to lose track of for myself. And while I could just journal them on my own computer, it’s kind of cool to send them out into the universe (kind of like a note in a bottle), and see if anyone finds them.. Besides, I definitely thrive on having an audience.

    It would also be cool to get a discussion going on a particular topic. My first blog was designed for that purpose, but nobody commented. Not to depair, though. I will keep trying.

    I also believe that people who are interested in social media and online networking tend to be rather eclectic in their philosophies and interests, and therefore, have a wide range of potential audiences. So my advice to you, Brian, is ramble on, and let your audiences sift through and find their topics of interest. That’s what I just did.

  10. December 27th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Gina Madison says:

    I hear you about the long blog posts. I was thinking the exact same thing as I was about to push the publish button on my last blog post. Maybe more live streams are the answer? :-)

  11. December 28th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Vinny O'Hare says:

    Never thought about people reading my blog through a rss feed. As for writers block and setting up a new blog just for certain subjects I find it a waste of time as your readers will scan over your blog and see if its interesting and read it.

    Some of your thoughts and ideas will cross over many sections anyway. Just look at your twitter post. That affects a lot of people across all types of intrest.

  12. December 28th, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Clintus says:

    The answer is simple really. Fuck em. This is your blog and you should write about what you want when you want. I say let it all be put here. I think the variety is what will keep people coming and keep people interested. Yes not everything you write about will be liked by everyone but who cares.

    I had a similar deliema last year about my videos and something I’ve learned over time is you should worry yourself to the point of not posting. There is no reason to lose sleep over this shit. You are Brian Shaler. If you write it, they will read.

  13. December 28th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Brian says:

    Holy crap! That’s a lot of comments.. and a lot of them are LONG! Didn’t you guys read the part where I said I like *short* reading? ;-)

    Thanks, though! I’ll be reading these as soon as I get a chance. I’m traveling for a few weeks with short bursts of time to read comments, other blogs, etc.

    I mean, I didn’t think Chuck knew how to read, write or comment on blogs. I’m surprised Evo hasn’t found enough *good* blogs to subscribe to bump mine off his reading list. I’m humbled that Greg is watching, despite our differences in interests and our lack of seeing each other much in the last year. I’m glad Tomas (who could honestly make a good living being a for-hire blogger, he’s so good at it) stopped by to show some support and share some tips. It’s cool to see new faces-.. err.. names, who found me through Peter Shankman. And Clintus, you rock!

  14. December 31st, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    John Murch says:

    Brian I know exactly what you mean. I am exactly like this every time I am writing a post or think about writing a post. Spent most of today thinking about 2008 and the future for 2009. I was looking through a lot of my posts realizing that YES I do need an editor to fix this grammar/spelling issue, but also that I am ALL OVER the place, seriously.

    I have so many interest and find so many great articles and content that I want others to read, but offering a “organized” way to doing this and/or offering up to different niches is always a problem. My latest thought (what do you think?) is to use SweetCron (http://www.sweetcron.com/) with multiple blogs and offer up a way to see all of what I am doing and break down each niche into a separate blog. The only problem I foresee is that each blog will only get a post once a month or so, maybe more. Just a thought.

    Anyway, Awesome blog post, retweeting now.

  15. April 22nd, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Connor McSheffrey says:

    It it possible to write for yourself and your audience? Or do you have to pick one?

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