Where’s the right audience?

WordPress – the tool I use to write and host this blog – is an interesting and strange beast. Over the year I’ve been writing now, I’ve never focused much on gaining a large following or on spreading my writing more than simply having an automated post to Twitter. It wasn’t my goal to have many readers. My writing was more of a way to train myself, so that my (professional) writing skills would be continually active, and accessible at any moment. I didn’t want to go for weeks without writing and struggle with the reboot. It was only for me, not for others, but I’ve grown to really like blogging, and the body of texts I have created. But it was completely untargeted. I do provide a couple of tags to posts where they are relevant. I initially only did this so I could basically sort my own posts by subject, in case I would need to find a post back quickly. One thing I have learned is that remembering all post titles is an impossible task.

I never really expected that people would actually read my blog and come back for it.

I may have been wrong.

These days, I regularly get comments from people I know (to varying degrees) who indicate that they read my blog, every now and then, regularly, or even daily. I’m always humbled that people read what I write, especially on a personal page. I somewhat understand that people who work on the same subject as I work on read my scientific writing, but why they would read my personal blog, I’m not sure. I take it as a compliment. I recently heard that some readers don’t even feel the need to ask how I’m doing anymore, because they read my writing, and always feel up-to-date. I had never expected this, but maybe writing has an antisocial side effect. Whoops! Please keep talking to me, people. I may be strict with the distancing and shit, but despite that I am still very much a social animal…

There are also a good bunch of readers that I don’t know personally. This is probably the majority of readers on a daily base. Several reach this place vis search engines (what they were looking for I don’t know, but I hope they found it here). There’s also many others that follow me via WordPress. WordPress has an app that provides a reader, as well as the writing tool which I’m writing this post on now. I don’t use the reader enough, to be honest, but it has some interesting search functionality, and especially quite often it suggests very cool blogs about all kinds of stuff, from poetry, to science fiction, to academic blogs. Whenever I am bored, I use this and find interesting stuff written by talented people. What I regularly do, is visit the pages of the people that follow me. It’s a diverse bunch, and certainly not all ecologists, dads, or reptile enthusiasts. Now, many of these followers, I think, are bots, or the result of mass-following actions from accounts hoping to gain a couple of follow-backs. These are easy to spot, and I usually ignore them. However, there’s also a sizeable number of people that seem to regularly come back, read my posts, and also often like and comment. Thank you! I appreciate you.

I almost feel dumb for only realizing this after one year, but I think there may be a good potential to reach many new followers by better use of tags, and by actually focusing on WordPress readers rather than on people that follow me on social media. Click rates on Twitter are always exceptionally low. I think that this may be much different on a place like WordPress, where all active users are obviously readers and/or writers. These people are there for exactly what blogs have to offer. Maybe I should tap into that more, to reach a wider audience of interesting people.

Next week I will hit the 365th consecutive post. I haven’t given much thought to the future of this blog after one year, but I will certainly continue to write it because I like it. I love the routine of it. However, one thing I may explore more is how to target specific audiences. I might divide posts into different categories for different blogs, as I sometimes find it random to write on academic life, travel, parenting, ecology, and reptile keeping all on one place. I might try something else. Who knows. I’m also considering no longer sharing things by default on social media. Loyal readers will find me anyway, with or without Twitter. I’m not sure how much Twitter truly contributes to active reader recruitment. I might test some different things. If any more experienced readers out there have good advice on what works and what doesn’t, feel free to share.

If you’re into reading and writing, but haven’t yet heard of the WordPress reader, I would say install it, and get an account. That way it’ll certainly be easier to follow me – as well as countless others – in the future. I’d love to see you back :).

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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