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Do you write for Individuals or the Masses?

Individuals-2

The Blogosphere is Big!

  • Blogs are read by millions of people every day
  • Blogs have a global audience
  • A popular blog post can be read by hundreds of thousands of people over its lifetime

It’s very easy to get caught up in the size of the blogosphere and picture your blogs readers as a crowd.

However the reality is that when people read your blog they are alone.

Forgive me if I’m wrong but while it’s likely that a few thousand people are reading this post today, very few of you are doing it in the physical company of anyone else.

While you might be aware that others are reading this blog most of you are probably sitting in your work cubical, your home office, on a couch, in bed, in a cafe…. alone (have I depressed us all yet?).

While blogging has some wonderfully communal aspects to it we need to remember that it’s also about individuals connecting with other individuals.

I get the feeling when I read some blogs that the blogger sees themselves as standing before a large crowd. They use language and have attitude that backs this up. I don’t know about you but I’d much prefer to be spoken to like I was an individual.

The Challenge to Write for the Individual

So when you sit down to write on your blog next time I challenge you to push aside the image of the crowd and focus on the individual.

  • Personalise your writing
  • Use ‘you’ language (it’s much more engaging and personal)
  • Tell stories (especially personal relatable ones)
  • Show photos (include some of yourself from time to time – it gives your blog a more personal touch)
  • Use singular language (make the person reading your blog feel like they have your complete focus)
  • Pretend you’re having a conversation with one person rather than giving a speech
  • Keep a level of informality
  • Make it accessible by using everyday words (don’t use big words to impress – write words that people use in everyday language)
  • Respond to individuals (in comments respond to individual comments, send emails to readers)

It’s not always easy to do all these things. I know that I’ve been guilty of getting sucked into the ‘crowd mentality’ as much as anyone – it’s easy to do (and at times it might even be appropriate) – however remind yourself of the individuals that read your blogs from time to time and you’ll inject something into your blog that could just take it to a new level.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Nneka says:

    I recently just wrote a post about finding my voice (http://www.balancedlifecenter.com/32-finding-my-voice/) on my blog. I’m finding it challenging to straddle the line between saying something important enough for a million people (or right now 200) to read, but in a way that connects with each person.

    I started off in personal blogging so my tendency is to slip to far into the “This is how my day went” mode and lose the point of my post.

    I’ll implement these tips and see how it goes.

  2. brem says:

    What would be intersting here Darren is a concrete example of a blog entry written for a group vs. a blog entry written for an individual.

  3. Jon says:

    Looking at my logs…the answer to your question would be … mostly me and my mom :)

  4. Rick says:

    I’ve never written for the masses because a Blog about Landscape Design will not have masses. At the same time I am not writing about: what I had for breakfast, or how the weather is, blah, blah, blah.

    Hopefully I am speaking to “each” person who stops by, and am able to pass along something of worth, or a jolt of inspiration.

    I’d sort of like to think that it’s on a personal level, on a Professional topic

    Rick

  5. You know, when I was working in radio, we were always taught to talk into that microphone as if we were talking to someone we knew. It seems intangible, but the listeners can hear the difference. The same is true in blogs. Talking to the masses sounds like the author is talking AT you, instead of TO you. The difference might be subtle, but it drastically impacts the tone.

    Bottom line, there’s no choice here. Write TO individuals, even if the content is intended for a mass audience.

  6. Susan says:

    You are right that it isn’t an easy thing to do. My writing style doesn’t always lend itself to me speaking to the individual, but rather to an audience. I’ll take your points into consideration when I’m writing my next post. Thanks!

  7. Steve says:

    I try to write each post as a personal post, frankly because the audience is only going to be for a few individuals anyway. I think that tends to shift when you have a large following and it becomes to some extent like a lecture, but you are absolutely right. Each post is for the individual.

  8. Darren, this is a good list not just for writing blogs but for public speaking. If you can actually be in front of a crowd of people but still make each person think you are talking specifically to them, you’ll be asked to speak again…

  9. Those are great suggestions and without realizing it, I was struggling with that very issue. My blog’s about intellectual property, specifically trademarks, so as you can imagine, a lot of the language is very heavy on the legalese and light on clarity. That being said, I try to keep it light. But never thought about using ‘you’ or singular language, so thanks for that.

    Oh and you’ve got a typo: (make the person reader your blog feel like they have your complete focus) — should be reading.

    …hey, was that a trick typo? ;)

  10. Teresa says:

    Hehhe..I’ve only written for one person since I usually assume that’s all that’s reading my blog!

  11. Karen says:

    While I can’t think of any specific blogs at the moment, I know that feeling you get Darren when you’re reading them and they’re so impersonal – dare I say condescending- and I never go back to them.

    I’d never want that!

    I only really only write what I’d like to read. I just keep it that simple.

  12. Sherry says:

    Interesting article. I’m not a problogger and tend to write whatever however. But after reading your article I went back and looked at a few of my posts.

    I found that I tend to write for an individual when I want an opinion or comment. If I’m just telling a story I tend to write like a storyteller talks. When I’m just being silly, it’s more of a newspaper type feel.

    You made some very good points. I will be thinking about them the next time I write something. Thanks!

    Also, like Brem, I’d like to see examples as well.

  13. Terry says:

    One on one is the feel I’m trying to go for these days. It really is apersonal thing in the end. I also like blogs who go with that personal feel.

    One great thing about writing to a small audience, is you don’t have to be an expert on something to talk about it. Just go with your gut feelings.

    Terry

  14. I think for us that are just starting to build a readership, it might be easier to think of writing for an individual. At least it is for me. Having a specific niche audience, it’s easy to picture the archetypical reader.

    I’ve also found that I tend to get feedback that supports that idea. Folks have written some very cool responses via email, sharing their own experiences on being home-based business owners and parents. It helps to perpetuate the impression of writing specifically for them. A sort of audience of one.

  15. May C says:

    Since I know that there aren’t too many people visiting my blog, I *know* that I’m not speaking to the masses and probably never will. My objective and approach has always been on a one to one basis since I write as I’m talking, very much like to someone. That’s why some readers tell me they feel as if I’m talking to them, which, in some ways, I am.

    Gosh, I wouldn’t know how to address the “masses”. That idea seems way too scary. :)

  16. Pete says:

    I mostly try to write blogs with a person in mind. My ideal reader is a person who is some what informed about the things that I write about. I always try to write in a way so that I can entertain and educate the person at the sametime. I do at times make the mistake of writing for the masses, but most of the times I stay grounded.

  17. Emmet GIbney says:

    I’m definitely like Pete, I try to write for people just like me, trying to make the decision I had to make before going to film school. Although I definitely read both types of blogs, both those that are written to the masses, and those written to individuals (that’s the way I would classify ProBlogger).

  18. thanks. darren.

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