Blogging impressions: how to change your journal into a blog

This post is about me. And perhaps it’s also about you… When I started blogging I refused to¬†explore the question who I was going to write for in detail. So now maybe it’s time to make up for that.

Who am I trying to reach? Who is my audience?

Well, for starters:

  1. People who have a brain, and are not afraid to use it. If that’s you, consider it a compliment ūüėČ
  2. People who like to learn, and who don’t mind reading stuff that’s about different topics so long as it’s written for non-experts.
  3. People who share one or more interests with me.
  4. Experts who like to extend their own thinking on various topics.
  5. In other words, I aim to blog for people with room in their heads for new ideas or new takes on things they know (although, if they read a lot, I may not always be able to surprise them). I blog for curious people.

Change your Journal into a blogI’m writing for people who are, in a way, like me. It’s quite possible that I’m writing for me. Which I¬†reckoned was fine when I started blogging. After all, I’m my own best-known audience. I know what I like. If you blog for a specific audience without doing research into your intended audience, chances are that you’re blogging for you. If that wasn’t your intention, all I can say is: Oops.

Does all of the above mean you’re looking at my journal right now? Yes and no… So how do I write my posts for you on this blog of mine?

How to change your journal into a blog written for an audience

Unless my planning gives me a topic to write about up front (I’ll admit I’ve been too busy lately), I start out writing about something that’s either fascinating me, or frustrating me, or worrying me, or…
I start writing and keep writing for a while, exploring the topic as I go.
Until¬†the bloggers’¬†inquisitor¬†drops in. I keep¬†this creature¬†outside on a leash for¬†my ‘raw’ draft so it doesn’t chew on the furniture or drool on my keyboard while I’m busy.

The blogger’s¬†inquisitor is that nagging feeling you may know – that may creep up on you when you’re writing… asking:

  • Why would anyone be interested in your problems?
  • What’s in here that could actually solve someone else’s problems?
  • After all you’re not so unique that you could be the only person in the world who has this issue. Are you?

Turning…

At this point I snap out of journaling mode and start writing for YOU:

  1. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of pasting “you” where I was (yes, and the verbs too).
  2. Sometimes it means I look at the issue I’ve described in a whole new light.
  3. And I start describing details of what you might run into.
  4. Then I add tips to counter some of those issues.
  5. A key issue is that I can’t pretend to have an answer for you if I don’t have one. But as a part of my blogging activities I can look for an answer and present it to you in my resulting blog post.
  6. Or I can think about what might work for you, even if I don’t know if it would work for me.

Think about it for a minute. There’s a HUGE difference between a journal and a blog.

What is a journal about?

A journal is essentially about you. It’s where your write about stuff you run into. In the case of an online journal, it allows your readers to recognize, sympathize – sometimes have a lot of fun reading about your musings. Some of¬†your readers may take heart in¬†the fact that¬†you’re experiencing the same problems they’re facing.

What is a blog about?

A (business) blog is¬†– has to be –¬†about your readers. Whatever you put in should be written to benefit them in some small way. That doesn’t mean you should leave out your point of view – that’s the point of it being your blog – right? I’d say it’s impossible to leave¬†yourself out – but you can suppress¬†your presence¬†to the point of squeezing the last bit of life out of your blog.¬†Please don’t.

Painting the picture more clearly…

Compare writing to painting. Turning from journaling to blogging doesn’t mean you stop ‘painting’.¬†All it¬†means is you don’t do self portraits anymore –¬†most of the time.

Your work still shows your choice of topic, your structure, your style, your preferred colors and details. It’s just that your readers are no longer inspecting every pimple on your nose anymore (metaphorically speaking – I hope). Instead,¬†your readers¬†are exploring the world through the¬†words you paint onto the canvas of your blog.

Read more storytelling and blogging:

  • The science of storytelling, by Gregory Ciotty on Problogger.net (14 Feb. 2013)
  • And in this post on Problogger, Jon Morrow gets personal (2011) – much to the surprise of some¬†people in¬†his audience if the comments are anything to go by.
  • Lastly, I talked about audience matters in an earlier post, so in case you missed it here’s the link to that post.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Blogging impressions. You may find previous episodes here and here. And finally, leave your thoughts on journals, blogs and (your) blogging audience in a comment!

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