Writing for Different Types of Readers
As all of us who write online know, the Internet attracts different kinds of readers.
This fall I've been blogging mainly at Blogjob. (For a while that site was trying to recruit new bloggers, and I'd posted a referral link youall could use to get paid for blog posts too. The recruitment period ended. The door is now closed. They cap the number of posts and interactions bloggers can get paid for doing per day, and the number of bloggers who can use the site, in order to have enough money to pay everybody...unlike Bubblews.)
Blogjob is a Wordpress-hosted site, and Wordpress does a lot to help bloggers who want to publicize business efforts. If you sign up for the appropriate programs they'll prompt you to use the right number of keywords to maximize discoverability through search engines. This attracts the kind of readers who are not looking for something to read, or for a connection with you personally, but for something to buy. If you're launching a business this is probably the kind of readers you want.
Some of us are most interested in building and publicizing our writing skills, more than in marketing a product. I write about books, and I sell books, but I've never sat down and worked out a plan to market the newest books, or the books I most enjoyed, or the books whose authors are paying me to publicize their work (none of them ever has), or the books I think everybody ought to read, or even the books that will help people understand my belief system. I'm all about the general idea that writing is work for which people should be paid. The books I've been ready to sell first have been the ones that I didn't want to keep, but didn't want to burn either--the ones that somebody out there could use--and the book reviews I've posted reflect that. Their purpose is more to keep my blogs active than to sell more copies of books that, in some cases, I actually unloaded twenty years ago. My primary target audience is writing clients and publishers.
Some people who write online are more interested in maintaining connections with friends, as revealed in Coral Levang's post:
Persona Paper does seem to be set up to help this type of writers and readers find one another. This is a beautiful thing.
As mentioned in my comment on that post...I'm an introvert. When I have some sort of painful but minor and temporary symptoms, unless they include a few degrees of fever , it doesn't occur to me to write or talk about them. Maybe a note in a private diary just in case they turn into something more serious...but my general rule is "Sprains, burns, bruises, etc., are boring; people like me will tolerate one mention of them, by way of an explanation for not doing something, but they certainly wouldn't want to read page after page about them."
Though of course people can always act contrary to their natural tendency. On sites that pay people for socializing, I do read page after page about e-friends' minor symptoms, and what they had for breakfast, and the thoughts that go through their heads while they're waiting, because they're my e-friends and I want them to get their fair share of pennies for their trouble. I don't think those are their best posts, don't "plus" them or add them to Link Logs, but I do read them. Even while thinking "Advertisers are paying for this? Well, maybe...a company that sells home medical supplies..."
I care about my e-friends...in a very introverted sort of way. In real life I'm definitely not the sort of friend people call to chat with about their everyday minor symptoms. (I am the one they can call if their ankles aren't making progress as expected, if there are "complications" of residual pain in their hips or backs or wherever, because I took the specialized training to be able to Erase Pain of that kind.) I'm the sort of friend people could stay with for a few months if they became homeless, and the sort who would sit with them and focus intensely on every little symptom if they were in the hospital...but my introvert brain just doesn't grok that "other people are nearby, so that somehow makes things better, even though they don't need to do anything in particular to help" thought process. Except when I have a fever, in which case not only does "My teeth feel more sensitive" seem interesting, but so does daytime television, because knitting and reading the newspaper seem strenuous.
For me, reading everything one person writes at a low-pay-per-view site is Doing Something for a Friend--a tiny act of love I'm able to do occasionally, after doing everything I can do towards paying my bills with Real Work. That's probably a small niche of readers, but it definitely does exist in cyberspace. People who can't afford to buy John Grisham's new book, even though they like him, can afford to read the things we post at the social sites that pay for views and comments. And they will. While wishing they could do more for us.
Because e-friends are a small niche within the total reading market, all the how-to-write, how-to-blog advice out there tends toward "Don't waste time writing for your close friends and relatives! Write for one or more of the larger niches that pay!"
Nevertheless...e-friends do care, and they do count. So it's nice that there are social sites like Persona Paper where e-friends can relax, stop worrying about links and keywords and target market demographics, and just connect.