Stop Worrying About Your Readers

writing
My daughter asked me to tell her about every girlfriend I have ever had and to focus on the ones who broke my heart.

I laughed and told her I didn’t know how many girlfriends I have had nor did I have any idea how many had broken my heart.

Confession: I lied about some of those things.

I have a general idea about how many girlfriends I have had and I know who broke my heart and who didn’t but she doesn’t need to know those things right now.

Maybe later, maybe never.

At just a few minutes before bedtime I wasn’t interested in getting into a conversation that I knew would send her mind racing off to a million other questions that would keep her from falling asleep.

There are boundaries in blogging and boundaries in general storytelling.

Stop Worrying About Your Readers

Once when I was in sales another salesmen told me he didn’t understand why I didn’t adopt a “customer is always right” approach and suggested I could sell more if I gave them what they wanted and didn’t worry about what they needed.

If my daughter were older and I felt like being transparent with her about some of my dating history I would tell her that some of the women I dated got what they wanted to hear because it got me what I needed.

It is not something I am proud of but when I was a younger man I didn’t always date the woman I needed and so I went after the one I wanted.

Those relationships rarely lasted very long because I never let myself open up to get what I really needed and consequently I just got what I wanted.

As you might imagine the few who broke old Jack’s heart covered both what I wanted and what I needed. If I opened myself up to possibility I often stumbled into opportunity.

Sometimes that led to heartbreak but it always led to growth too.

I think somewhere in between or after heartbreak and lots of living I figured out that I was always happier when I focused on what I needed and not what I wanted.

Can’t say when I adopted that approach as a sales technique but I found it to be effective because if I understood what the customer needed I could serve them better as a trusted advisor than a salesman who said yes to whatever they asked.

And that is part of why I stopped worrying about what my readers need.

Niche Bloggers, Cars & Tech

My car is 15 years old and I am about ready to replace it.

Sometimes I wonder how some bloggers get gigs where they are given a car to drive for a while.

I know the car manufacturers hope it leads to a post in which the blogger praises the car and recommends it to their readers.

And I know bloggers who have done it but I have never reached out and asked them for details or help. Heck, in eleven years of blogging I have spoken to two PR folks from two different car companies but it never led to being given a car to drive or any of the experiences other bloggers have done.

The obvious response to this is to ask why I haven’t done more to try and change this. If my kids approached me about a similar situation I’d ask them if it made sense to sit idly by and hope that someone approached them or if it made more sense to be proactive in their approach.

Might be nice to get a car I am thinking about buying for a weekend in exchange for a post. Would make it easier to figure out what I want, now wouldn’t it.

And then I think about all of the cool tech that is out there and how I could be one of the bloggers that gets a chance to use and review it.

Might be nice to get my hands on some of that tech and write about it. Might offer a chance to carve out a new role and maybe even a cool career.

Maybe I should rethink my approach and become a niche blogger.

Why I Don’t Worry About My Readers

There are more than 983,883,993 blogs out there or at least that is what it feels like to me.

I do my best not to succumb to blog envy and get irritated by those that are more successful but provide inferior content.

Can’t say that I am always successful but most of the time I am. And most of the time I am happiest when I just write from my heart and share whatever comes from my head…within limits of course.

I could adjust my focus and spend my time trying to give people what they want. I could focus on my stats and write solely about the biggest traffic generators.

I could spend more time trying to drive traffic by writing about current events including the controversial stuff like religion and marriage and be confident that it would increase the number of readers here.

I know that it works because I have done it but it is just not as interesting to me as it used to be.

What I write about are the things that touch me now. Does that mean I still giving people what they need and not what they want?

Probably not, but no one has to pay to read this so those of you who are hanging out are here because you choose and or want to be.

And that is why I don’t worry about my readers. You’ll keep coming as long as it serves you and the best way to serve you is for me to be engaged in my writing.

I think that is a win-win.

What about you?

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16 Comments

  1. Wendy of The Rock July 14, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Oh how I wish I could stop worrying about my readers… Or the lack thereof. I’m a highly inexperienced blogger with no niche… No focus… Sometimes not even a vague notion of why I decided to blog at all because I suck at social media and have no interest in turning the blog into a business… I think my blog is probably No.983,883,991… Anyway, all that aside, I was truly enjoying the blogging and then about a month ago a random reader starting stalking me… He’d pieced together stuff about where I must live from my posts and photos… one of my neighbours challenged him about why he was cruising the street taking photos and he thought she was me … Freak show… So now I’m not writing coz I’m worried about who exactly my readers might be. .. But I really miss it…
    And I’m way impressed that your daughter not only acknowledges that you had a life prior to her existence, but cares enough to ask about it.

  2. Liza July 14, 2015 at 4:04 am

    “I gave them what they wanted and didn’t worry about what they needed.” Um…anyone in sales (using that term lightly) who adopts that way of thinking won’t get very far. 🙂 Loved this piece.

  3. Lindsey July 14, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Great advice. Ha – and i’ve never been offered to test drive a car either. And as my readership has grown I’ve gotten more adventurous with my content because if they like me, they’ll come back. If not, this is me and there is not much I can do about that.

  4. Larry July 13, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I hear you and it does make sense. However, the car sounds nice too.

  5. alisa/icescreammama July 13, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I feel the same. I like to write about what moves me at the moment. This is your blog, your space and while you want to entertain/engage readers, you have to feel it to write it. I guess, you’ll be buying your next car along with the rest of us. 🙂

    • Jack Steiner July 14, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Yeah, sadly no one wants to give me a car, at least not a car I want to drive. Damn, maybe I’ll schedule a second Bar Mitzvah for my 50th birthday and see if I can convince the guests to all work together to buy me one. 🙂

  6. Tracy@CrazyAsNormal July 13, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    “…suggested I could sell more if I gave them what they wanted and didn’t worry about what they needed.” – And that’s exactly why I was/am the absolute worst salesperson in the world. I pretty much am only concerned with what people need. Luckily it only took me a little over a year to figure out. 🙂

    • Jack Steiner July 14, 2015 at 7:40 am

      Hi Tracy,

      As a consumer it makes me CRAZY when I feel like salespeople are only focused on trying to get me to buy something without any regard for what I need. It is part of why when I have been in sales I try not to be like that professionally.

      But it is good that you figured it out, some people never do.

  7. jeremy@thirstydaddy July 13, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Good advice. I’m a newbie blogger but have already figured that since I’m not getting rich anytime soon (ever) doing this, I need to focus on writing what I care about. Those are always the best posts anyway.

  8. Renee McKinley July 13, 2015 at 3:27 am

    You must be doing it right, cause I keep coming back. Do I always comment? No. Because it takes me time to think through the words and then lazy kicks in and I don’t follow through. You make me think, Jack. And that’s a good thing.

    • Jack Steiner July 14, 2015 at 7:33 am

      Hi Renee,

      Thank you. I just write and hope that even those who don’t comment are moved in some way by it. It is good to hear that I have succeeded. I always appreciate your comments and your time.

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