“How can I get more people to read my blog?”
“What will make people share my posts? How do I ‘go viral’?”
“Why doesn’t anyone seem to care about what I’m writing?”
I see questions/complains like this often when browsing those infamous Facebook writing groups (some of them are great, don’t get me wrong). Getting readers isn’t the only thing that matters when trying to build an audience — even more essential is how to keep people around.
Sometimes persuading people to stay is a matter of getting people to care — not about you, necessarily, but about what you have to say.
Whether you’re writing a novel, a poem, a blog post, or an article for a newspaper, there’s something extremely important you have to consider before writing about a certain topic. It’s the one thing I’ve found matters more than almost anything when it comes to publishing (second to the actual writing, which as you know, has to be at least readable).
If you want people to truly care about what you’re writing, YOU have to care.
As an editor, I’ve read far too many pieces written by people who clearly couldn’t care less about their topic. This happened a lot when I edited articles written by college-age interns. Many of them clearly didn’t want to write on their assigned topics, and it showed in every single piece they wrote. It’s very easy to tell when a writer puts zero passion behind their words, and it turns most readers off immediately — even if they aren’t aware that’s the reason they don’t like what they’re reading.
When I talk about passion here, I really do mean passion in the sense that you care so much about your topic that you’re willing to put as much effort into your writing as possible to show readers they should care just as much as you do.
How you feel about a subject matters more than you think.
If you don’t care, why should anyone else?
That’s why people love reading deeply personal essays so much. People wouldn’t bother writing them if there wasn’t something deeply important to them they felt they needed to address in writing. And the reason we don’t usually read essays empty of passion and persuasion is that many publications just won’t publish essays clearly written for clicks, not for true emotional appeal.
And if you’ve ever had the displeasure of reading something written by someone who really doesn’t care about the words they’re printing on a page … you understand why it’s so important to consider your position on something before writing about it.
You cannot write about things you don’t care about simply because you’re convinced “that’s what everyone’s reading.” This is why I have a semi-secret “failed” recipe blog floating around. I started a recipe blog because, well, who doesn’t love recipes? I didn’t love creating them (at least not for a blog), so it wasn’t sustainable for me. People didn’t read because I didn’t care enough. It showed. I cared so little that I still really don’t care it’s dead. If you feel that way about your blog, that should tell you something.
You care. They care. People invest in things created by people who genuinely care — about their subject matter, their audience, everything.
Remember that. It will get you farther in your creative endeavors than you think.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.