So many people begin blogging, thirsting for page views and the glory of the HackerNews front page, only to be disappointed with few visitors. Soon their motivation fades. They stop writing.
We all get a high off of page views but in reality, not everyone’s writing will receive massive attention. But blogging is so much more than a numbers game. It is a vehicle to share one’s stories, knowledge, and perspective. And it takes just one reader to make an entire blogging career worthwhile.
Semil Shah’s piece, The Power of One Unique Visitor, describes his challenges to conceive a child with his wife. For many months, they tried nearly everything fearing infertility may be their reality. After many months of painful research and diagnostics, Semil posted a question on Quora and one person’s response provided hope that eventually changed everything.
Holly Finn, an author of the book “The Baby Chase”, offered her advice. Hopeful, Semil sent her a message asking for help. This led to a chain of events and 13 months later, a baby girl was born.
Semil’s story is just one example of the power of serendipity and “one unique visitor”. As an internet culture, we’re more connected than ever yet we continue to evaluate our success in numbers, ignoring the importance of building real connections with real people.
Blogging remains a largely impersonal, disconnected experience between writers and readers. On occasion, readers engage in the comments or on Twitter, but those brief, public interactions are only skin deep. Meanwhile, we ogle at Google Analytics, vainly counting page views. But who are these people? Who is interested in my writing? What knowledge or perspective can they provide? How can they help me? How can I help them?
Three months ago, I started an email list, providing readers a more intimate view into my writing and life. Each week I share my latest blog posts, experiments, and other (sometimes) fun updates. But most importantly, I email every new subscriber with a simple, personal message:
Thanks for subscribing, John! How are things at Company X?
Here are a few (enthusiastic) responses I’ve received:
Wow it’s amazing this is the first time i am receiving such a personal email for subscribing to blog.
Dude, you make it exciting to subscribe. Enjoying the inspiration and insights …and looking forward to returning the favor.
Things are good over here. If you ever want a closer look, swing by for a delicious and heathy lunch.
Wow, I honestly just said “damn” out loud. I never expected an email at all, let alone so quickly.
Hello Ryan, it is awesome to receive a personal response from you. I love that. Everything is fine around here. How about you?
I’ve sent more than 1,000 emails, engaging with people across the world from India to South Africa to a few blocks from my apartment. Each individual email takes little effort but adds up. And it’s worth it. This investment has led to enjoyable conversation, in-person meetings, and new relationships.
Bloggers, consider opportunities in truly connecting with your audience. Recognize writing is more than page views and that one single essay has the power to change an individual’s life, including your own.
I hope others will embrace this mentality, write and share their experiences not for the page views, but for the people.