Friday, November 30, 2012

Blogging: How do you find the user/reader?

Most games are straight forward.  They are easy to play because it lets you know whether you are doing well or not.  It has scoreboard and tells you whether you are on track to make it on the top leader board.  It has short feedback loop.  Therefore it's rewarding to play.

Unfortunately most things in life are not as straight forward.  Learning programming language, mastering art of coding to write an easy-to-understand program, and figuring out how to build your user base are all hard problems.  Out of them, it's especially hard to build user base on a new product.

It's very important to let people know of your product.  If no one knows of the product or no one can find it,  no one will use the product.  It's a classic problem: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Bloggers need that sales guy with the magic system...

I am seeing the same kind of challenge with running a blog.  Granted that I get a value out of forcing myself to make incremental progress on things that I care about, it will be just as rewarding to find readers and build a community of users around social network, product management and startup topics to exchange ideas.

It is a very difficult problem.  When you are starting out, how and where do you find your readers?  You need a big network and voice to let your messages out to find your readers.  It seems like a chicken-and-egg problem.  You need readers to get your SEO scores up to get more readers (unless of course you have marketing budget to run ads).

The challenge is that this process of building those initial readers who will share your stories and participate in your discussion takes long time and hard to do.  During the long stretch of time, you don't get lot of feedback from the people.  You can make educated guesses about who your readers are, and why they are glancing at your landing page and moving on.  Is it the content not being relevant or users not finding enough value on the content?  You never know. 

Even those first few visitors are sparse.  There is no guarantee that anyone will ever come.  During all this time, you as the owner must go on.  You must create content, post them, share them on your Facebook Page and Twitter handle and experiment to see if visitor graph shows the slightest signs of upward trend.  You are full of questions and doubt.  This can go on for months or years.  The worst thing is that even after all that, there is no guarantee that things will get better.  Unless you've seen it work, you are not confident that you are heading in the right direction.

I think the lack of consistent feedback is the most challenging thing for content creators.  While I see many new bloggers sharing their thoughts, I wonder if they are finding the readers and healthy amount of feedback.

This is a worth-while problem to tackle.

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