Most of us write with the intention of being read. That’s not always the primary goal. Perhaps we want to simply write the stories burning inside us. Perhaps writing is cathartic or even (dare I say) fun. But in our core, we are storytellers. We want to reach humanity with our words. And to do that, we’ve got to find a way to put our words and stories in front of those who will read them and be moved by them.
Thankfully, we live in an age of constant communication. The Internet provides infinite outlets to reach potential readers. But it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of websites and forums. It’s best to focus our attention on a few effective tools to meet and engage readers, remembering that the goal isn’t to reach as many people as possible, but to get to know people and to earn their trust through honest engagement. No one will take the time to read your writing if they don’t trust that you have something to say.
What better way to show your style and personality than blogging? This is one of the best ways to build a readership. It gives people an opportunity to get to know you before they read your stuff. There are a few simple things you can do to make the most of your blog.
First of all, blog consistently. This took me a while to catch on to. Even though I knew I should post consistently, I let my personal schedule dictate my blog schedule. When I finally began posting every Monday, my blog views nearly doubled. I’m not kidding. It doesn’t matter if you post once a week, once a day, or once a month. Just do it consistently.
Secondly, let your voice shine through. This can be particularly difficult for fiction writers. We’re used to writing as someone else. Each piece is done in a different persona. It’s easy to forget who we are and what we have to say. Treat your blog post like a conversation. Don’t try to sound overly intellectual or to write in a tone that’s unnatural for you. Just be yourself. People can tell.
And lastly, you’re not writing a journal, but you’re not writing an instruction manual either. Nobody wants to read something that has no relevance to them so don’t give a play-by-play of your life, but include personal details. Find ways to tie together what’s happening in your life and content that is helpful to your audience. It goes back to that trust thing. Being open and honest goes a long way toward earning respect from a readership.
2. Social Media
Social media networks can be an incredible tool for meeting readers, but they can also be a huge time suck. To make the most of social media, choose one platform to focus on. You might (and probably should) also choose one to two other platforms to be active on, but they’re not your main focus.
Personally, I spend most of my time on Twitter. The writing community there is generally open and positive. A lot of interaction happens there, and the platform doesn’t retain the formalities found in other networks (say, Facebook). It’s very easy to get in touch with someone on Twitter—even if they don’t follow you back, you can always “tweet at” them. No matter what, choose the network you’re most comfortable on, and get to know everyone you can.
3. Writing Groups
Oftentimes writers are the best readers. We all fell in love with books and reading—that’s what drives us to create. The literary community is full of supportive artists, all willing to read and help each other. Having writers as readers can be even more beneficial, since they are able to offer critique beyond I liked it. They’ll be your best beta readers and ARC readers.
If you’re on Facebook, there are tons of writing groups to join, ranging in degrees of specialization. (If you write fiction, make this group your first stop. Seriously, these people are awesome.) You can also find writing forums with a quick search, and if you’re on Twitter, check out writing-specific hashtags (#amwriting #writerslife). Participating in writing challenges is another great way to meet writers (NaNoWriMo, July Writing Challenge, which also has non-July variations). And don’t forget to join local writing associations! I am a part of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild, and connecting with other writers is always the best part of meetings.
So go forth, and build that readership! But don’t forget to make time to write. After all, these people are going to need something to read.