Today’s Daily Prompt: To what extent is your blog a place for your own self-expression and creativity vs. a site designed to attract readers? How do you balance that? If sticking to certain topics and types of posts meant your readership would triple, would you do it?
My last blog post just got published here at Elephant Journal. It is the third piece that they’ve published (they are an awesome resource for getting exposure, building a portfolio and getting some conversation momentum rolling). Their style and topics are a good fit with my interests, so I haven’t really had to tailor anything ‘for’ them. Now that I understand more about the kinds of articles they publish, I sometimes keep a certain style mind, but they are very open with both so it is not really an issue.
I visit Elephant Journal frequently, partly because I like the writing, but partly to see what kind of articles garner more views than others. It’s been a sort of interesting experiment to see what attracts a specific audience that is beyond the WordPress community.
Sometimes it’s all in the title: the actual article might have little to no (original) information, it’s just that the title is controversial. The fact that one of their top articles (in terms of views) includes this nude Playboy yoga video – which kind of irks me.
But then again…that video is hot. It’s spicy. It’s garnered them a lot of traffic…so can I really blame them? If I were running a site that was focussed around yoga, would I say no to a yoga video that I knew would get lots of attention? I can’t say that I would say no.
I think they do a decent job of balancing controversial (attention-getting) material and still sticking with mostly meaningful/positive/spiritual/engaging topics. They are very open – and colorful – with their subject matter, and that I’m sure is part of their draw (I certainly love that about them). They really are keen on publishing authentic work and to me that is the most important. Also they ascribe points to commenters ..so the more you participate and the better your comments, the more points you get. This is a really neat way to encourage others to quality conversation.
But my most recently published article isn’t getting many responses/views. I’m not bent about it or anything, I just wonder why: is it that they changed the title (my original one was slightly more eye-catching, I thought). Does it have to do with their own readership? Is it an SEO thing that I have no control over? What is it (besides controversy) that does really garner views? Is it really just a crapshoot?
There is an endless array of topics to write about, and for that matter, online avenues to (potentially) get published, and I’m trying to find my place in that bigger world. Of course I write for myself here, but I want my voice to be louder. I want to reach people, and I’d like to expand my writing style and topics anyhow. Plus I’m a bit of a chameleon…I’m adaptable. So having someone else ‘direct’ me towards a topic might actually help me focus.
I did experience a large readership (on this last Elephant Journal post) and I didn’t have to tailor my writing one bit. This was a great indicator that – with a little luck – it’s possible to reach people with my own heart-writing. I can tell you that it felt amazing…but I’m not quite sure how to do it again!
The bottom line: I will continue to challenge myself to new depths with writing, because frankly I’m worried about getting bored. And if I’m bored, the audience will most certainly be as well.
I’m definitely feeling the urge to connect to an audience more deeply, to bring more focus to my writing, and definitely spice things up!