Blogging: How Do You Find the Reader?

jkim
Jae Kim Director of Social Media Product, Actiance

Posted on December 2nd 2012

Blogging: How Do You Find the Reader?
Most games are straightforward.  They are easy to play because it lets you know whether you are doing well or not.  It has scoreboard and tells you whether you are on track to make it on the top leader board.  It has short feedback loop.  Therefore it's rewarding to play.
 
Unfortunately most things in life are not as straightforward.  Learning programming language, mastering art of coding to write an easy-to-understand program, and figuring out how to build your user base are all hard problems.  Out of them, it's especially hard to build user base on a new product.
 
It's very important to let people know of your product.  If no one knows of the product or no one can find it, no one will use the product.  It's a classic problem: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Bloggers need that sales guy with the magic system...
Source: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/f/falling_trees.asp



I am seeing the same kind of challenge with running a blog.  Granted that I get a value out of forcing myself to make incremental progress on things that I care about, it will be just as rewarding to find readers and build a community of users around social network, product management and startup topics to exchange ideas.
 
It is a very difficult problem.  When you are starting out, how and where do you find your readers?  You need a big network and voice to let your messages out to find your readers.  It seems like a chicken-and-egg problem.  You need readers to get your SEO scores up to get more readers (unless of course you have marketing budget to run ads).

The challenge is that this process of building those initial readers who will share your stories and participate in your discussion takes long time and hard to do.  During the long stretch of time, you don't get lot of feedback from the people.  You can make educated guesses about who your readers are, and why they are glancing at your landing page and moving on.  Is it the content not being relevant or users not finding enough value on the content?  You never know. 

Even those first few visitors are sparse.  There is no guarantee that anyone will ever come.  During all this time, you as the owner must go on.  You must create content, post them, share them on your Facebook Page and Twitter handle and experiment to see if visitor graph shows the slightest signs of upward trend.  You are full of questions and doubt.  This can go on for months or years.  The worst thing is that even after all that, there is no guarantee that things will get better.  Unless you've seen it work, you are not confident that you are heading in the right direction.

I think the lack of consistent feedback is the most challenging thing for content creators.  While I see many new bloggers sharing their thoughts, I wonder if they are finding the readers and healthy amount of feedback.

This is a worthwhile problem to tackle.


jkim

Jae Kim

Director of Social Media Product, Actiance

With solid 12+ years software engineering background in all aspects of high tech startup, I survey, categorize, read, follow links, read more, ponder, look at bigger picture, strategize, and articulate trends on social network and high tech startups. I am Director of Social Media Product at Actiance (formerly known as FaceTime).  I also run the Future of Social Network blog.

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Comments

Kent Ong
Posted on December 4th 2012 at 4:27AM

Hi Jae, focus on building relationship helps in getting readers. It is all about relationship.

jkim
Posted on December 4th 2012 at 8:12AM

Kent, thank you for the tip.  Any helpful steps or pointers to building relationship with readers?  Looking back my earlier experience of launching online community back in BBS days of mid 1990's, I can see how relationship with members are important.

Kent Ong
Posted on December 4th 2012 at 3:32PM

Before we use social media platforms. e.g Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blog, etc...we need to learn how to communicate. Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is a great book. In fact, blogs, facebook, twitter, linkedin are just platforms. 90% on communication skill, 10% on internet tools.

Samuel Chan
Posted on December 5th 2012 at 5:23AM

Jae Kim,

Very honest article, I must compliment.Sometimes it's encouraging to read from other bloggers' experience, if not to remind yourself that you're really not alone. 

The big difference between now and then (pre-Facebook era, probably even earlier) is that we bloggers as a whole have come a long way in terms of internet tools and relationship platforms. Today, trying to gain a foothold isn't as difficult before, although it is arguable if that leverage has become any more easier to obtain given the thinning attention span and the explosive growth of individual brands desperate to compete for readers. 

It's very interesting times. I have read more than 20 articles on how it's easy, quick and cheap to build a solid reader base in the past week. Mind you, I wasn't even actively looking out for these articles. It's refreshing to read an article like this one, pointing out how solid work and invested effort has to be part of the formula.

Thank you.

Samuel Chan
www.officialsamuel.com

JohnnyKay
Posted on December 6th 2012 at 11:23PM

I've read a lot of things about SEOing and so forth, building your links up. But you are right on the money in that the hardest initial hurdle is getting people to read your blog at all. How do you get them there from nothing? Without advertising.

And as you say, content must be the way to do it. One person reads it, likes it, passes it on. But it can be a very, very long process.

I suppose the only thing to do is just keep up the content, keep on pushing it out and not let yourself get demoralised by the scale of the task!

John Kyneur