A key consideration for a blogger is who the blog is being written for. I am going to try my best throughout this post not to use the word ‘audience’, because the people that read blogs are more than that, not least because of the interaction they can have through comments and pings from their own blogs. But even if we avoid thinking of the readership – or intended readership – of a blog as an audience, we still need to have an idea of who they are. It might be that a blog is written primarily for the author’s purpose, more than anyone else, for example.
It’s fair to say, I think, that a log can probably be written for several groups of people, indeed maybe the question is who is this blog post for, rather than the entire blog itself. But it might be useful to try and break down the different groups.
1. Blogging for yourself
This doesn’t necessarily mean making very private thoughts public – maybe a handwritten diary is best for that kind of thing. But blogs can be used as notebooks, capturing thoughts and ideas so you can return to them later. Again, the blog format, including stuff that appears in the sidebars as well as in actual posts, alows it to become your hub on the web, so you can have in one place your del.icio.us links and flickr photos, say. The blog almost becomes your online scrapbook, but one which you ahre with the world and welcome their thoughts on – if you have comments turned on, that is!
2. Blogging as ‘consultation’
A blog can also be used as a sounding board, putting your writing out there for people to come back to you on, which you may then use for another purpose. A lot of the stuff I write here on blogging, and getting started with other social media and web 2.0 tools is slowly being edited and added to, and one day when I have some time I might try and put it into an e-book format or something. This is a bit like 1, really, as the beneficiary of it is yourself, but if you publish what you do put on your blog with a Creative Commons licence, say, then others can benefit too.
3. Blog your experience to create a niche
There are plenty of niches about, and one way you can carve one out for yourself is to write about an area of expertise tha you have, sharing your ideas and good practice with others who do similar stuff. You can soon make your blog the centre of a community of interest in your sector, as you tailor what you write to meet the needs of the people you work with, whether in your organisation or others.
4. Family and friends
It’s quite legitimate to use your blog just to communicate what you are up to so that family and friends can keep up to date with your movements. Using photos and video in your blog means that it will be a fair bit more exciting that your average round-robin letter or email. If your content is good, too, you might pick up some readers who just enjoy what you post, even though they don’t know you. Having said that, though, your readership is generally going to be pretty limited if you concentrate all your writing for family and friends!
5. People with the same interests as you
You can use your blog to write film reviews, or book reviews. A good friend of mine has started a blog doing just that and after a little over a year is now seeing publishing using his reviews on book jackets. Now, it helps that he is a fabulous book reviewer, but the fact that his blog features book reviews and book reviews only means that he attracts an audience of book lovers, ie people who share the same interest as him.
6. People who can help you
You can use your blog to attract the attention of people who can help you achieve something. Say you have a great idea for a web service but no idea how to put it together, well, by blogging about it, interested folk will come across you when Googling and can offer their help. Don’t just write one “HELP!” post, but write a few, explaining what you want to do and why, and how you are going about trying to fill the gaps in your knowledge. By making it look like you are making an effort, people will be more likely to help you, and you may well be informing others, too.
7. Future employers
Your blog can become your online CV, and the best thing (actually it could be bad…) about this is that it provides a snapshot of exactly who you are: your interests, your style and your ability to work with different types of media. For example if your CV or application forms claims that you have amazing communication skills, it’s fabulous to be able to back that up with a real example, of which a well-written blog is a great one.
What have I missed out?