It’s About Time
Writers of all forms have many reasons for what we do. We write to inform, to entertain, to make others think, to cleanse our soul… the reasons are like the stars in the sky–uncountable. Regardless of the reasons though, the challenge to succeed is always the same.
As a writing form, blogging may have a unique challenge. With most other forms, the reader has accepted the conditions of reading and has ceased other activity in favor of the current reading. Each form has its requirement of time and the reader allocates this time up front. Whether it’s a book, a story, a poem, a news article, or even the comics, focus time is awarded up front, before beginning to read. For most blogs, it doesn’t work this way.
Blog readers seem to use a different way of allocating time. Scanning headlines in various readers, they may give the title less than a second of attention. If they are attracted within that initial glimpse, they may spend 10 seconds reading the 1st paragraph or two before deciding whether to actually read the rest of the piece. If those ten seconds fail to grab attention, the reader moves on in search of something to read elsewhere.
Perhaps of all readers, blog readers are more acutely aware of the value of their attention. They know how valuable their time is to themselves. There might be hundreds of titles on a given day to choose from, and they know they will not choose them all. They also know that just because Joe Blogger wrote a killer piece yesterday doesn’t mean he will do another today, or ever. But they will probably at least look at his headlines for a while.
The Challenge Of Blogging
So the first challenge of blogging is getting the reader’s attention, and then keeping that reader interested. How important is it that thousands of people visit our blogs but not one stays longer than 10 seconds? There is no value in that for the reader or the blogger. I would rather have lower numbers of visitors who spend enough time to read something.
When I look at the stats for my blog the most important number I’m looking at is the time spent on site. Right now that averages out to a little under 4 minutes, and I think that’s pretty good. Most of the things I publish take about that long to read, or less. That tells me that people are reading this stuff. That tells me I’m not wasting my time.
So now, the question is how to get the reader’s attention and keep it, in less than 10 seconds. As any successful writer will tell you, there’s no real formula for it. But there are some components that are a necessity.
Write well and write often.
Any art or craft must be practiced to be perfected. Poor writing in the form of badly constructed sentences, bad grammar, or incomplete thoughts tend to drive readers away. If we want our efforts to succeed then our blogs must have fresh, well-written content published on a regular schedule. Sporadic postings train our potential audience to expect nothing, and they’ll stop checking pretty fast.
Don’t be too afraid to fail or succeed.
The best way to guarantee failure is to be too afraid to do anything at all. Some people fear failure and some even fear success. Either way, if you want to build a readership you have to get over the fear and actually write something and publish it. And remember, no matter what you do, the world isn’t going to end.
Be happy! Go lucky!
All my life I’ve had this echoing in my head. My great-grandfather Pa Roberts used to say it every day, and I only understood why after I’d grown up. He’d just laugh when I asked him. “It’s Life, son! Be Happy! Go Lucky!” And we’d grin at each other like we knew a secret. And the secret is this: Do whatever you do with a true joy in your heart, for the goodness of it. Life will respond in kind with good fortune.
Write from your heart, using your mind. Be true to yourself and others will feel it. Recognize your fears but overcome them all.