What Do You Say When a Friend Says, ‘I Read Your Blog’?
Do you ever find yourself at a loss for words when someone you know comes up to you and tells you they read your blog? I definitely do.
I was at a gathering of friends a few weeks back when a woman I hadn’t seen in a while told me she read my blog regularly.
This blog will be 15 years old in February, so I should be well acquainted with the fact that there are people who read this thing. My Google Analytics confirm that this site does receive a steady stream of visitors. (Not as many as I’d like at times, but a steady stream nonetheless.)
Still, I’m always shocked when someone I actually know personally tells me they’re a regular reader.
I’m flattered. Maybe I’m even a little embarrassed because I don’t know what to say other than an awkward “thank you.” But maybe those words of gratitude are enough most of the time.
I try to ask what they like best or how long they’ve been reading. But I don’t always remember to ask those questions.
When I do, they usually tell me they like my grammar posts the best. That’s consistent, at least, with that my site stats say. The grammar posts tend to be at the top of the list when I look at the most read posts of any given month.
But I’ve realized something about hearing from a real-life reader.
As bloggers, we need to keep in mind that they do exist.
It’s easy, when you blog as often as I do, that you’re writing to real people.
Sure, there are those bloggers who insist that they only write for themselves and don’t care about the audience. I’ve made my feelings clear about those absurd statements.
When I write, I don’t picture any one person. That’s a tactic a lot of bloggers seem to depend on: they look at their numbers and determine the gender, age, income and interests of their most common readers, then they create this composite humanoid that matches those demographics. They even give her a name. Sometimes, they do a Google search for a photo of someone who fits the description, print out the photo, devise a name for this fictional reader, and stick that printout over their computer so they can always see their magical reader.
That’s never really worked for me. It feels too contrived.
I’d rather think of the actual people who’ve told me they read this blog. That way, when I write my next post, I’m actively writing to those people I know are reading.
It may seem too subtle a difference to worry about, and if it does, then I’ll only tell you that you have to do what works for you, your blog, and your audience.
I do think, however, that reminding yourself of a real-life example of one of your blog readers might help you think about your tone. How would you say what you’re writing to that person?
It might be easier to get “conversational” with your readers when you’re writing to people you already know.