OFFICIAL LIVE BLOG: Enough About You... Who's Reading YOU

Session Description: If you care about building traffic, then you must care about who’s reading you. How do you think of your readers? Readers? Audience? Friends? Fans? Community? And would it change your blogging if you thought a little harder about who's hanging onto your every word? Have you decided what kind of readers you really want? We’ll talk to bloggers with different perspectives on the identity of their readers…and we’ll talk about how blogging to build community is different from blogging to build a fan base or blogging to maintain friendships or blogging to find an audience…you get the picture. 

Laura Roeder, celebrity social media marketer, Ree Drummond, noted for her honed rural-style blogging, photography and recipes, Twanna Hines, a sex, dating and relationships blogger, andSusan Getgood veteran online marketer and strategist start the conversation with their viewpoints on readers, and share their tips and tricks for blogging to maintain that relationship. But the real question is: Who do you think your readers are? And how does that relationship come to play in your blogging?

Susan: Twana, tell us about the different yous.

Twana: I am a writer, based in NY. My writing comes first. is a list of my professional writing portfolio. It's where I send editors to see what I've done. My blog is my play space, where I write waht i'm thinking about . I write a lot about sex and love having an audience where I bounce thougts off of. HTat space is very different than an editor or a magazine who is there to evaluate me. I write about grandma sex, period sex, or anything releated to sex.

Susan: do comments change how you write? Affect you?

Twana: On my writing site, I don't allow comments because that is the full personal me and I don't allow comments. On my other site, the comments get teh discussion going, and are great, spirited.

Comment: When no one writes a comment on one of my posts, I don't want to keep on doing it. It's hard to feel like things are worthwhile if you don't get comments.

Susan - Rhee you have a different approach. You have one blog just about your life. Very diffferent from us which have different blogs each about a very niche topic.

Rhee - I started with a blogspot blog and had only read one blog about a gay homeschooling family. One day my husband took all four kids to rope cattle and I had 10 minutes to myself and got a blogspot blog up. I started putting up pictures of my kids, mainly for my moms, and a few weeks later started getting comments. Then I started sharing strange stories from my past and gradually people started commenting. About a yaer after I started writing, I started doing recipes and put it on a separate site: Pioneer Woman Cooks. Then when my husband started ripping down the barn, I was going to start another blog and I realized that I don't want another blog. I want to put it all one place.

When you write a post and the comment count goes down, you can't help but be affected by that. You want your readers to enjoy your content so I just put that feature and aside and start something else.

Susan: Everyone, how about criticism in comments. Have you ever been criticized?

Comment: When I was 7 months pregnant, I wanted to build a crib and I won a contest and my post about the crib was shared on a nother site. The comments flooded in about me being unfit to be a mother and it was my first experience with negative comments. It was brutal, but people stood up for me, and it put my name out there.

Comment: My name is Jan. One of my blogs is It's Jan's life. I also blog about my child having Aspergers. This spring the principal called me into her office and said, I understand you have a blog, and no teacher wants your child next year. I haven't gone to that blog since then because I am so scared and I'm unsure of where to go from here.

Laura: Don't be afraid of the negative comments. The negatvie comments help you refine your community.

Comment: Jan, I'm a special ed teacher and a blogger. keep on blogging, teachers need to be held accountable and they need to know what you're thinking. Hopefully they will take it as constructive as opposed to negative criticism.

Susan: On some level, when we want to have a readership beyond our mom and our four cousins. How do we go about figuring out what our readers want? What do you use to decide what you are going to write about?

Laura: It is really good to look in google analytics to see what they were searching about when they found your blog.

Twana: I am a huge fan of Google Analytics. It tells you what people are looking for. Who's reading your site. Also finding out what people are doing when they get to your site. Look at will actually re-do the visits of your customers. Also if you google the phrase heat map, you can see the hot spots on your site, where people are clicking. Quantcast will give you demographics - how many have kids, are they college educated, where do they live. Sometimes having a sense of what you're reading will help you too.

Comment: My mom is my biggest fan and I find myself censoring my posts but my mom will put in my place for it. How do you deal with that?

Susan: My husband won't read my blog even though I've asked him to so I don't have my problem.

Rhee: I want my site to be something my kids can read in twenty years so I rein it in a little. My grandmother reads it too. There are a lot of people who don't like the "F-bomb",

Susan: I have three blogs because I carve each different area into each one. Maybe you can find a blog that your mom won't read or don't tell her about it.

Comment: You can also ask your mom not to read it. You have to expect that everything you put out there will eventually be read. I am Danielle. I created Celebrity Baby Blog which I sold to People last year. On Friday, my last day, we had 25MM page views a day. My junior editor relied too much on comments and I advised not to do that. Comments are only left when people are really moved or really angry but it doesn't represent what is really beign read. Trust your stats. Do reader surveys and ask your readers why they come and what they want.

Comment: I'm Nicole Perry from Your We created a video called Facebook Manners and You because of that Facebook is very popular on our site. We've reached the limit on talking about using Facebook in relationships. We were getting away from our mission and what we had set out to do. By all means, look at your traffic but don't change what you do because something hit. The flavor of the month shouldn't change who you are.

Twana: Blogging has helped me live more authentically both in my real life and online. It does affect you when you know everyone is reading what you are writing. I found it to be very liberating. It makes people accept you for who you are. I wouldn't say pull back at all. 

Rhee: We had a call before our panel a couple of weeks ago. I hung up and said to my husband I am so lame. I was always afraid that if I worked too hard on the tricks of getting traffic I would lose why I was blogging. If you want to do it by instinct instead of looking too much at the analytics, that's okay too.

Laura: Blogging can help you form more truthful relationships, deeper, more authentic relationships. If it's out there, it's out there. And it can be hard but that's worth it.

Susan: How do you pick what you write about?

Rhee: It's fly by the seat of my pants. I pull it out of my wazoo. It helps being a middle child and being the entertainer.

Comment: can a platform hurt you. I use I don't have the time to migrate to a  better platform. What should I do?

Laura: You don't have full control at They own it, and not you. If you think you might want to make it a business, then you should move it to and own your site.

Twana: I go back and forth. I am a fan of hosting your own site so you get the full control back. People take you more seriously if your site is just a .com. One of my closest friends has a blogspot and is doing so well. It is so prevalent, it almost like a .com.

Susan: Map your blogpost to your own domain to give yourself your own traffic. It costs $10 a year and it makes you look much more professional.

Comment: My name is Sandy Benson and I have 14 childrens. So many of my readers are interested in how we made our family. I sometimes have bad days and drop the F bomb and I have found that if I mark some pots as R rated, it keeps my kids and my mother off.

Comment: How did you decide what categories you were going to write under and how do you handle a post that doesn't fit in the categories.

Rhee: I didn't have categories for the longest time. But I wouldn't write to the category. Just have miscellaneous. Don't think that you need to keep your blog to a certain genre. It keeps it exciting to do different things.

Susan: You have lots of interests, you may find that you have certain buckets. But don't force it to happen. Let it happen between you and your readers. If you want to, let it happen because it will fit what you want and what your readers want. 

Comment: You can create different RSS feeds for different categories. But you may be surprised that people like you and your voice, not just a particular topic. If it/s a personal blog, even a genre blog, people are reading about all the things you have to say.

Laura: I think most people oversegment. People are interested in your life.

Susan: I have a marketing blog and over time there were some things on it about my personal life so I put it on a persoanl site. Over time that site started to get overwhelmed by traveling and all the trips I wanted to take. So I have two very focused things and one dumping site, but all that happened over five years. You don't need to have it all planned out right now.

Comment: Do you go out and comment on other blogs now that your careers are further along? How do you get traffic?

Twana: I don't comment a whole lot. I tend to email people if I read something in my RSS that I really like. I just put my link wherever I go and oddly people find it in random places. If people are interested in what you write about, they will find you.

Comment: My name is Grace Davis and I have a blog called the State of Grace. I want to congratulate everyone, especially Rhee. But I want to ask you about the cost of your popularity and how you and Heather Armstrong get slammed for your popularity on certain sites?

Rhee: It's impossible to ignore,let's be honest. I welcome legitimate criticism. If you're a blogger, you can't be afraid of criticism. I don't do many controversial things on my site. It's like butter. I have gotten slammed for letting my kids drive tractors but many other things are just untrue. I don't have a private plane or a private airport. That's just untrue. I have a fear of flying. So then I tune it out. If my mom were moderating the hate sites, I would care, but it's not so I just chalk it up to the Internet.

Comment: My friend stopped blogging because of the hate blogs. What would you say to her.

Rhee: It's like letting the terrorists win. You have to listen to the legitimate criticism in. Otherwise, it's just a game. If they're not focused on me, they'll turn on someone else.

Laura: Let's go back to building your audience. I think you should focus on building a few relationships rather than reaching out to everyone. If you truly engage with a few people they will become huge fans. It does take time, slowly build genuine relationships will build real traffic rather than leaving hundreds of comments on random sites.

Susan: On Facebook and on Twitter - don't be afraid of posting your blogs so it spreads.

Laura: Don't put your blog as a note because it doesn't link to your blog. Include the link instead.

Comment: I have a question of Rhee. What did you do when you started
getting readership. Did you seek outside help? Did you do it all on
your own?

Rhee: I live in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn't have
known where to turn for that. Intuition has really helped me. I do love
to tell other people what to do with theirs though!

Comment: I'm
Elise Bower of Simply Recipes and I want to address the negative
comments because I get them every day. I approve all comments before
they post but I don't let it occupy my brain. I figure every minute I
focus on a negative comment, the terrorists are winning. Most of them I
just delete, including the ones that are threatening. I don't usually
get threatening ones. I get "You're ugly." "You don't know anything'"
"This recipe sucks." And I learned early on that if you don't get
engage, it will stop.

Rhee: there is something to be said for that, if you let it continue, it will.

Question: Have you ever had issues with stalkers or improper emails?

Twana: I don't delete anything. I have all emails to track IP addresses if anything seems suspicious. There are two great book called the Gift of Fear and Tracking Everything to protect yourself online.  You also should be very clear about your boundaries. Some guy asked me to shame a girl who had herpes and I discussed why I wouldn't want to do that on my site.

Laura: If you get a scary message threatening you, treat it seriously and report it to the police.

Comment: For a long time I blogged for my family and suddenly I realized that I have 500 people in my feedreader and now I'm freaked out. 

Rhee: I can remember posting a love story about me and my husband. I posted it because I had nothing else to write and as I posted it I thought this is it, the last post, the end of me. But it wasn't.

Susan: they came to you for a reason. They come to the blog for a reason. If you want to know why, ask what they like. That doesn't mean you have to do it, but people like to be asked.

Laura: All these people who subscribed, they're not subscribed because of your future posts. They're subscribed because they already like what you write.

Comment: I like doing occasional questionaires. I get valuable feedback.

Question: I've gotten negative comments about posting a pic of my 5 year old in a bathing suit. How do you handle the privacy of others on your site?

Susan: I think you have to make the decision for yourself and your family about what your boundaries are. I put pictures of my son up and I made a decision long ago to not put something up about them that they will be embarrassed about when he's 15.

Laura: Last night at a party, somone was taking pictures of me and I didn't know who they were but I think now there is an expectation when you're out there that your image is public.

Question; I have a stalker. I have talked to the police and the FBI and got nowhere.

Twana: EFF - is a great organization to help you with cyber crime. They can help refer you to good resources.

Susan: If anyone starts to get strange interactions like that, keep everything. Print it up. Law enforcements are looking for a pattern and will want evidence.

Comment: That individual has also come to my blog. He uses many identities and masks his IP.

Susan: Thanks to everyone for coming to blogher! We're out of time.


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