When I first started blogging it never occurred to me that people would come and read it, let alone come back and again and again to keep reading. When I realized that people were reading and commenting, it completely blew my mind.
Over time I began to “know” these people. I read their blogs, I formed relationships with them and when they were in pain, I too would often feel that pain, sympathize, cry or shout at the world with them.
As I learned more about blogging and the people who commented and read what I had to say, a word stood out again and again: “audience”.
But I hesitate on the word audience. For me it sounds like I’m putting on a show and should be charging admission. While I think that we are presenting our expertise on topics through blog posting, I don’t believe that we are speaking to an audience. Since we often engage with the people who read our blogs by visiting their blogs (if they are bloggers), or by answering questions through commenting back or continuing the discussion, this makes those people feel less like an audience and more like readers, or dare I say… a community?
Readers aren’t Spectators
You see, an audience by definition is: a group of spectators or listeners, especially at a public event such as a concert or play… or the people reached by a book, film, or radio, or television program. I agree that our blog posts reach people and they are often touched by what they read but that’s where I feel the definition of audience ends. They aren’t spectators. Spectators watch. Observe. Your readers interact, they react, they engage and so do you if you if you’re participating in social media correctly.
Bloggers aren’t in the Same Category as Entertainers or Public Figures
Have you ever been to a concert or public event and have the host visit your home afterwards thanking you for coming or drop you an email because you shouted louder than the other participants or flicked your Bic longer? The blogosphere is ever evolving and social media has changed how we blog. We have the option to forge friendships and kinships with our readers, how many entertainers or authors do that? We often meet in person to network, share ideas and learn from one another. This is what happens in a community not an audience atmosphere.
Some may argue and say that you are speaking to an audience – that you’ve built an audience based on what your blog is about but I disagree. You’re not selling tickets and charging admission at the door for them to come are you? Is there VIP seating? I’m betting the answer is no. You type up your thoughts, opinions and informational posts that folks can snatch up and read at their convenience and you do it all in the hopes that they will come and find value and substance in what you’re writing and keep coming back. Of course there’s an added benefit to writing and publishing for profit (more on that another time) but by and large when you’re hitting publish, it’s the sharing of information, interaction and engagement that you’re after, right?
The next time someone suggests that you’re writing to an audience, think about how rewarding that is in the long run and how well it matches the overall goal of your blog.
Which best describes what you’re trying to gain from your blog? An audience or a community?