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When it Feels Like Nobody is Reading Your Blog

Talking-To-YourselfI was chatting with two friends last week – one of them is a blogger and the other was considering starting a blog.

My blogging friend was dispensing a few words of wisdom on how to start out (the usually kind of beginner blogging tips) when he said something out of the blue which made me take note because of the wisdom of it.

He said:

“In the early days you’ll feel like you’re talking to yourself (actually in the very beginning you probably are) – but don’t give up because it’s a feeling that will subside. The key is to keep blogging through that awkward beginning because if you do you’ll find people will begin to find you and the memory of talking to yourself will be a distant memory.”

I really appreciated my friend’s words. They reminded me a lot of my own beginnings in blogging when I felt quite foolish about pouring out what was on my mind for everyone (and nobody) to read).

His words also reminded me of another time in my life where I felt like I was talking to an empty room.

Warning – Tangent Ahead (it’s been a while since we had a tangent hasn’t it!)

In my previous life, before I was a blogger, I was a minister of a middle sized suburban church (I still do this work in a part time voluntary capacity in a small emerging experimental church).

Part of my work in this church that I really enjoyed was preaching. I loved preparing for and delivering sermons (in fact I find the process very similar to putting together blog posts).

My workflow for preparing a sermon went something like this (it took a week or more to go through the full process):

  • Pick a Topic (or be given one by the senior minister).
  • Begin Brainstorming ideas/angles/points
  • Research the Topic (bible study, reading the opinion of others, surfing the web/forums/sermon resource sites)
  • Putting together some main points

Empty-PewsAt this point I would jot my main points (usually 5 or so) down on a piece of paper and leave my office to go and find a quiet empty room (quite often the main chapel of the church). Once in that empty echoing room I would do something that felt quite awkward the first time I did it – I would begin to preach.

With my main points before me I would begin to speak them out – playing with how the words sounded – adding stories, illustrations and ideas as they came to mind.

For me the researching/brainstorming process of the first 4 steps outlined above was a fairly dry process. I gathered information – but it wasn’t until I began to actually do it that the real magic happened. While it felt a little weird at first to start talking out loud in a big empty room it was actually a valuable practice.

As I would preach to the empty pews and as my word echoed around the room I found that I learned so much about the topic I was exploring and how to deliver it. I also learned a lot about preaching. New ideas would come, I’d try different ways of expressing it and slowly the final version of the sermon would begin to form – to the point that when I got up in the same room on Sunday to deliver the final version it would flow.

The more I practiced in this way the more I improved as a preacher.

Lessons for Blogging from Preaching to Empty Pews

As I reflect upon my early days of blogging where I felt that nobody was listening I now realize that that was a time where I learned a lot about what I wanted to say and how to say it.

In those early days I tested ideas, tried new ways of expressing them and learned a lot about my topic and the medium of blogging.

So my advice to new bloggers who feel like no one is listening is to not give up and see the experience of preaching to the empty pews on your blog as a learning experience.

The things you learn now will shape your future blogging, will grow your understanding of your topic, will grow your character and make you into a better blogger.

Hear endeth today’s sermon….

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. bri says:

    awesome post and totally agree. i’m so glad to know i’m normal!! heehee. lets all help everyone out and read each other’s blogs! i just started mine on saturday but would appreciate even a SINGLE visit! THANK YOU for CARING!!!!! life is so freaking hard as it is…we need to help each other and be positive/believe in each other as much as we can. peace!! bri

  2. AhmadAmir says:

    well, thank for the tips. For me, writing is not my passion plus my english is very poor. Although sometimes i’ve got many ideas to write, i still have problems to translate it from Malay language to english. English is not my first language. However, because of my poor in english thats why i try to improve this language day by day. With you informations, you are very inspiring me and now i have some guidance to follow. THANKS!

  3. S says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  4. I really appreciate of the comments! Helps to keep me motivated :)

    Still trying to decide on the direction on my blog though…whether towards a SEO/money making site or more towards what it was originally intended – a serious personal finance blog. Maybe somewhere it between?

    Any suggestions?

    -Raymond (MONEY BLUE BOOK)

  5. I’m suffering from very few comments, though my links have been popping up in places like Slashdot comments and the traffic isn’t bad at all (averaging 200 unique visitors/day, though a lot more today with a link in a slashdot comment).

    I’m thinking about a comment contest! =D

  6. Doug says:

    @Raymond(money blue book) i had a hard time figuring out what my blog should be about and i think most people will agree that you should do something you’re both passionate about and also have knowledge in. a mix of personal finance and SEO sounds like there’s alot of content to be had and i know alot of people will find both interesting.

  7. ShareMySite says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience as a minister and how it relates to blogging. I have been reading your blog and its been a great service for the rest of us. Its nice to get encouragement and advice especially when you are starting out. We have been getting steady traffic to our site and the time readers spend on our site has been increasing.

    Regards,
    T
    http://www.sharemysite.com/blog

  8. Rod says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and have found it really helpful as my wife and I are just starting out in blogging. But whilst I’ve really enjoyed all the practical advice, this more personal post has made quite an impression on my perception of the writer behind the blog – positively so. Keep up the good work.
    So, what church was it, or aren’t you allowed to say?

  9. Darren Rowse says:

    Rod – just a small emerging community called LivingRoom. A small group who gather weekly in Melbourne – usually around a meal.

  10. JL Fleck says:

    What you describe about your process in developing a sermon compares actually to creating a painting–which I wouldn’t have thought of before. I was thinking, as I read your description, how similar the experience is. At first when I begin a new painting, no matter how many have preceeded it, I am awkward and embarrassed in a way that is very similar to talking to oneself, or writing a blog in the beginning. But, with each stroke, the painting develops and grows and those early feelings of awkwardness fade away.

    Your blog and advice are interesting, and rewarding.

    Thank you!

    JLF

  11. Sophie says:

    I’ve had some entries now on my blog which have attracted loads of comments, and some which are still whistling to themselves in a quiet corner. It’s interesting to see which entries get people really fired up.

    One entry that I thought was just commonsense was really controversial and got bucketloads of comments. I guess you could call that commentbait! (Although I had no idea the entry was gonna be so fiery, so it was accidental commentbait).

  12. I’ve been blogging since 2001, so I had forgotten what it’s like to count daily unique visitors with two or three digits only, but in July, I launched a blog for the new company I’ve joined (at http://www.taptu.com/blog) and it’s most humbling to start from the beginning all over again.

    This post made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing there’s nothing wrong starting from scratch and that, given time and some loving attention, it’ll grow into a social and humanised blog with plenty of active readers.

    Thanks Darren!

  13. Starfeeder says:

    Strange, for some reason I can’t picture you as a minister Darren.

  14. carrie says:

    I started my blog about a year ago and don’t have a lot of subscribers yet, but I still find the process very enjoyable as I used to always keep a journal growing up, and it’s somewhat similar. I recently added many of the social networking widgets thinking they would magically work, but then realized you have to be an active participant in these sites in order to make a difference, and this can be somewhat time consuming. I am also experimenting with Word Press versus Blogger, which I am using now, and wondering whether Word Press is more interactive, as I have been reading. I liked that the program imported all my Blogger entries with no problem, except for some of the videos. Has anyone had experience lately with converting to Word Press and has it made a difference?

  15. sarika says:

    Thanks for your valuable post, because i have created 2 blogs, one about marriage experiences and other about classical stories, but i was thinking that it has no use because of the response. now after reading this post, i am feeling encouraged and thinking to continue. the problem is i am not getting what are the things i should write on the marriage experiences blog. could you please guide me in this matter. I will be very grateful to you because i want to earn money to fulfil my family needs but not getting what to do.

  16. Ladan says:

    The title of this article clearly explains how I’m feeling about my blogs. I feel that no one cares to read it and comment or email me about it. For instance, I’m using Twitter, and Tumblr. Twitter isn’t a blog necessarily, but Tumblr is. It is a private blog where no one is to comment on your posts. But still, I’d encourage people to email me on my blog entries there. I do have another place where I post entries. Yahoo 360. That one is the only one that is open to the public.

    Another place is GaiaOnline, a chat forum where I go and chat with friends and other Gaians. I have posted many journal entries there. Yet not very many read them and comment them.

  17. Thanks for sharing about you practicing your talks in an empty church. I can hear and feel what that was like even though I have never done that. What you do well in a simple and clear way is present your ideas and the ideas are of value. Thanks you for ministering to us bloggers. It is really appreciated.

  18. Mich says:

    I can totally relate! :)

  19. Wakish says:

    Well Darren, I’m in a position to say: “I’m really feeling like I’m talking to myself”.
    I’m doing my best to produce some good articles, but there are absolutely no comments. I find myself a bit frustrated by this at the moment.
    I don’t know how much truth there is in what you are saying in this article Darren.
    But as they say: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
    So, lets see where’s my way..

    - Waish -

  20. Y. S. says:

    I’ve been talking to my self for the past month :(

    What scares me is an article i read somewhere about blogging. It said that blogging has reached its Max and its starting to go back down … is that true?

  21. As I reflect upon my early days of blogging where I felt that nobody was listening I now realize that that was a time where I learned a lot about what I wanted to say and how to say it.

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  22. xioshe says:

    I used to have a blogging site, so I can relate. I was worried about the fact that it felt like nobody was reading it, but overtime, that feeling subsided. It became more of an experience of journaling my thoughts so that I can look back and go “Ah-hah, I remember that.” In other words, the organized form of blogging became a way of understanding myself better than the jumble that never rests in my head. The feeling that you see yourself in another light can sometimes make you feel satisfy. At least, that’s what it was for me. Now, I see blogging as more of expressing myself to myself more than just plainly sharing my thoughts, knowledge, and experience with an audience. Thinking of it that way makes it feel like having only a few readers will be alright until it grows.

  23. Gloson says:

    This REALLY motivated me…I’m currently posting daily in my blog, but it seems to me that no one reads it. And no one comments… :( . But my blogging experience is improving.

    So, it sounds to me like you are ‘preparing’ (improving) yourself for other readers.

    Thanks Darren.

  24. Zsolt Balla says:

    Wow! By far the most inspiring words I’ve read in quite a while.

  25. kelly says:

    Yes it is so true that in the intial stages you feel you are talking to yourself.Its just taking yourself through these stages that you reach where people start reading your blog and you have your own set of followers than you gain the confidence. So just keep rodding along!

    Kelly
    junior golf camp

  26. PeterS says:

    I like the analagy between writing a sermon and writing a blog post. Both, as you indicate, are aimed at ‘giving’ something of true value. Thanks for all the advice you give us on your blog.

  27. Booktin says:

    Oh my gosh – I so feel like that right now! I feel like I’m putting everything into my writing and no one is reading, it gets disheartening most of time. This was so reassuring. You’re the daddy of blogging (gross I’m gushing)

  28. Debra says:

    I’m starting a blog and so glad I found this tonight. It definitely encouraged me to push through the initial awkward stage. Thank you. : )

    Debbie