I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is: Blogger and Audience Relationship, recommended by Rukky!
So, the actual prompt is “do bloggers owe their readers and vice versa,” but I reworded it a bit to try and be a little more SEO friendly. (Talking about SEO like I know anything, who is she?) I thought this prompt was so interesting, so I’m excited to give it a go!
Blogger and Audience Relationship
I really enjoyed some of the questions that Rukky asked in help prompt this discussion. Questions like: Do bloggers owe their readers anything? Or deserve anything from their readers? Is there’s a specific etiquette that bloggers/readers should follow when interacting? Do you as a blogger pressure yourself to provide certain things to your readers?
So, I think I’ll try to cover some of them, when discussing the blogger and audience relationship.
What Is It
Mostly namely, I believe the blogger and audience relationship is both simple and complex. It’s simple to define. It’s the relationship that I have (and set) as a creator with those who choose to read (and return) to my blog. Yet, it’s also complex, in that it can vary, it can be threatened and it can evolved.
Personally, here’s the relationship I want to have with my readers, as a blogger. When readers stumble upon my blog, I want them to:
- Feel safe and know their identity is respected and heard here
- Enjoy the content I publish
- Know what to expect
- Be willing to engage, so I’m reminded I’m not just in the void
In return, as an audience, I believe they:
- expect content to be published regularly
- want bookish content (since I label myself a book blogger, after all)
- Enjoy discussions and don’t mind personal posts (based on stats and post engagement trends)
And thus, our relationship has formed.
Expectations + Etiquette
So, as you can see above, I have a list of expectations I hope to set and a set of expectations I believe readers currently have, based on the limited data I can access/interpret. I think it’s also important to back up your expectations. For example: my first and most important expectation is to create a safe online space. How to you implement that, though? For me, it’s been a combo of things, like:
- Including my pronouns in my about me page and front page
- Using inclusive language
- Reading diversely
- Sharing my own allyship journey
- Supporting diverse bloggers (via linking their posts in my monthly wrap-ups, engaging with their content)
- Going self-hosted so I could make my blog more accessible
Some of these measures are simple, small things, while others require work, sometimes money (like self-hosting to access the accessibility widget) and time. But all of them go towards creating a (what I hope to be) safe space within this blog for my readers.
Likewise, etiquette is something you can set up, too. Readers might feel more conversational because that is the tone and voice of my posts. I also share personal posts, reflecting vulnerability, yet also curse all the fucking time, reflecting a less serious nature, too. It’s no surprise that readers might feel comfortable being more open in comments to personal posts because of the etiquette I’ve set up.
Pressures + Pitfalls
Do I feel pressure? Absolutely, but never direct. Like, I’ve never had a reader or a member of my audience ever pressure me directly. They’ve never reached out and said, “hey, you promised a MWF schedule but you missed a post last week, how are you”. The pressure is all inward expectations I’ve set upon myself. Especially as I’ve continued to grow my blog, starting to see regular engagement (something that floors me to this day).
I think one of the pitfalls, though, is that you can set up all of these expectations and have the “reality” fall flat. Meaning, you could post consistently, with the expectation to grow your readership, but that’s not a guarantee. Or, I can set up a safe space, but still have a random troll on the internet try to invade it. But, I don’t think that my readers owe me anything. Yes, I want engagement, I want community, I want growth, but this is a space I’ve created that no one asked for. Whatever time, kindness, attention and support a reader gives me, I cherish.
To me, the blogger and audience relationship isn’t a guarantee, but it’s like a traditional relationship: it takes work, a willingness to grow and communicate, and an openness to listen, with the hopes that it’ll be supported into something positive and strong.
This was a super fun topic to write a discussion on! I’m curious to hear from you all, though. What are your thoughts about the blogger and audience relationship? Are their expectations that I missed? Pressures I didn’t cover? Benefits or pitfalls that you’ve experienced? Let me know in the comments!