Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advice for New Bloggers: How to Build Your Readership


Readership is built, reader by reader. I was reminded
of this last Thursday. I was waiting for the train, and a man
made small talk
with me while we waited on the platform.
Once the train arrived and we sat down he
proceeded to
inquire about what I "did", then told me he had a 9 to 5
and a business. I reached in my bag to get my lotion and
started to put some on my hands. He reached into his bag and
did the same, and said "Why should we give our money to Duane
Reade when we could buy our products independently?"
His lotion smelled like cherry-apple. I don't do cherry-apple.

If there is one thing that I am particular about it is lotion.
I like fancy
lotion and its one of the major indulgences that
I will probably
always allow for myself.

That being said, he took out his catalog, asked me if I finished
shopping, I told him no, that I was looking for something
for my six year
old nephew. The man proceeded to show me a catalog with
telescopes. I just shook
my head at him with a big smile and said,
"I would never buy a telescope for a six year

He then asked me whether I would be intersted in shopping
with him
this holiday season. I responded flatly, no.

It was clear to me that this salesmen knew very little about building
He would have been much better served by making
small talk. He could have tried to make a connection with me
about something and then handed
me his card, telling me that he has a
small business and that if I was
interested in supporting an
entrepreneur and using some great
products to contact him.
He decided to try and sell first, then get consent later. A no-no.

This incident inspired me to share what I have learned about
over the last three years.

Know Your Audience
I write about a very niche yet intersectional topic, Thugs,
and Boom Bap. This translates into urban Culture,
Feminism, Hip Hop,
Gender, Politics in general, Political
economy specifically, The law,
and Black artistic culture.

Some are interested in just the feminist discourse,
others in hip hop, some in the gender talk and finally others
in the intersection of all of the above.
That being said, people do not always agree with what I
have to say.
Trust, they e-mail and tell me. But, what they do
say is that they appreciate
what I have said.

The lotion salesmen did not know is audience.

Ask You Readers What They Want
Every once in a while, I will ask folks what they want me to
write about.
Recently I did this and a couple of people
e-mailed me and said
they wanted to me write about
"How to Be in Pain and Not Fall Apart."
This, of course
was difficult to write. However, yesterday, I was surprise to
received a thank you
e-mail, which was a month after I wrote
the original piece.

Follow Your Numbers
I check my links on Technorati, Site Meter and Feed Burner
every other day. From looking at this I learned that I
get a lot of traffic
on issues pertaining to Black women and
the Black female body.
Because of this I take time to write
about the Black female body in popular
culture. This has
included essays on Venus and Serena Williams,
a post titled "Thick Women Rock" and finally a post titled,
"Buffy the Body is Venus Hottentott."

I also get a lot of referrals from a piece I wrote called "The
100 Worst High School
s in America", which has me wondering
whether there should be a follow up post
where people write in
and compare their schools from a student centered
point of view.

Visit Other Sites

Visit other sites and leave comments. Its genuine. It gets your
out there and it is a great way to drive links back to your site.

Do NOT Asked to Be Linked To

This can be tricky. If other people like your content they will link to you.
I will link to people in a post if I think my readers may be interested,
or as a show of support for the site. Asking can be perceived as being tacky,
unless you have already linked and it is clear that the folks who read at
your requestee's site would like the content on your site as well.
If someone links to you, thank them. I try and do so every time I see
myself linked somewhere.

Talk About What You Know
I talk to other bloggers about how specific my niche is.
The feedback has been that specific is fine because
people will come to you to hear about the new Kanye
album, but will stay to hear you talk about the financial
crisis or the price of gas.

That being said, paying attention to these six things
should enhance your readership.

Try out some of the tips and let me know how they
turn out for you.


Unknown said...

Cool post!

Ill be heeding some of this advice for the site im currently writing for

And i just realized ive been following your site for over 2 years now


oh and...

you now making your way out here for the holidays?

Unknown said...


Model Minority said...

Nawww man.

BUT TMR is coming here from New Orleans tonight...

I don't know if the world is ready, lol.

Man. With this ice outside...I wish I thought further ahead about a Miami trip...

You are one of the oldest readers...thank you
for hanging in there. I spent some time categorizing posts for an archive....going back through the years....A LOT has been discussed her mayne.

Happy Holidays to you and your brother love.


neo said...

Very educative post. It also translates into the music realm.

M.Dot. said...

glad you like it love.

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