Why Aren't People Reading My Words?
By: Emily Moore
Most writers are selfish. And that’s ok.
Most of us do not write for our readers. We write for ourselves. It’s a therapeutic exercise intended to help us sort out emotions, tell our stories or just untangle the cluster of words spastically darting around in our creative little minds.
That’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it means we don’t attract a lot of readers. We hunch over our laptops for hours, damaging our spines and pouring out our souls. We start slow, uneasy about the deep truths we are about to share with the world. But as the words start flowing our fingers begin to pound against the keyboard. We type faster and faster, charged at the thought of the lives that will be changed by our vulnerability. We are being brave. We have a purpose. The world NEEDS to read our story.
A couple of hours and 2.5 cups of coffee later, the piece is done. We read it through one more time, proud of ourselves for the richness on the screen, and in a triumphant moment of courage, publish it to our website.
We did it. It was grueling and emotional, but we wrote something meaningful.
Then we take our dog for a walk and imagine all of the people who are reading our post. The lives that are being impacted by our words. We are proud.
The next day, we log on to check our analytics. 17 people read the post.
And that includes Nana and that creepy guy on Twitter.
What did we do wrong? Why aren’t people reading our work? 2.4 million people read a Buzzfeed post about a Calico who loves carrots, but when we bare our naked hearts to the inter-webs, 17 people click the link.
This happens to all of us at some point, but today I want to give you a few tips for getting people to read your words. You worked hard on that post, so let’s get it in front of some eyeballs. Here are 3 things you should do every time you post a blog:
1. Consider you audience
Sometimes your writing is for you, but sometimes it should be for your reader. Part of blogging is finding a balance between the pieces that your heart needs to write and the pieces that serve your audience. The internet doesn’t want to read your diary – unless you are Amy Poehler. If you are Amy Poehler, please send me your deepest thoughts and reflections as well as what you eat for breakfast every day. I will read all of it. Every single word.
If you only want to do this kind of introspective writing, that’s totally fine, but if post after post is overly self-focused, you’re probably not going to get a ton of shares on social media. You’ll have an easier time growing your following if you mix in some content focused on what your readers want to hear. What wisdom or encouragement can you offer them? What topic are you an expert on that you can help them understand? Think about how you can serve your readers.
Because while writers are selfish, so are readers. And if you produce content that benefits them, they will come back for more.
2. Send an email
I’m sure your website is fabulous, but the truth is people are not regularly checking your site for new content. Except maybe Nana and that creepy guy on Twitter.
If you want people to read your work, you have to let them know it’s there. This is where having a robust email list comes in handy. You should send out an email every time you create a new blog post, unless you are posting multiple times a week. People don’t want that many emails.
When you’re not creating new content, focus on growing your email list so that when you do have something important to say, you have an audience to say it to. Always make sure there’s an easy opportunity for people to sign up for your list at the end of each post. You can also use your website and social media platforms for fun things like free downloads, quizzes or giveaways to grow your list. Remember, readers are selfish, so they’re more likely to give you their email address if there’s something in it for them.
3. Post to social media
You know this. You should always share your posts anywhere you are socially active. But just like the email lists, when you’re not sharing new content, make sure you are focused on growing your following. Easy ways to do this: consistently post regular content your readers will enjoy and engage on accounts with similar followers. Social media is meant to be a two-way conversation, so make sure you are being an active part of the community.
I have exceeded my 800 words, so let me just drop a line here saying you can also submit your work to websites or publications. This one is an obvious place to start.
At the end of the day, don’t get hung up on the numbers. Yes, you want people to read your work. That’s why you’re reading a post titled “Why aren’t people reading my work?” So hustle and grind and try your hardest to get it in front of an audience, but even if after all that you still only get 17 readers, be proud of yourself. Putting your words out into the world is brave, and you’re doing it. And you’ll always have Nana and that creepy guy on Twitter.