The room got quiet as the speaker rose to the stage and stood at the lectern. All eyes were on him. He unbuttoned his suit coat and smiled at the audience.
It was a Saturday morning. The room was crowded, with people milling about in the hall, peeking in the doorway as they peered through the shadows searching for a seat somewhere, anywhere, in order to take notes while they listened. The air conditioning was on high, and people were still fanning themselves with their programs. I was sitting closer to the front, glad that I came early enough to get a seat.
The speaker talked about online marketing. He told stories and shared insights. I, among others, took pages of notes. One list of bulleted points stuck with me. The one about us – us, the audience, and how we act on the web.
“It’s not about you,” he said, staring down at those of us in the front row, moving from person to person to person.
“Everyone thinks it’s about them.” He paused, shook his head, paced the stage. “We all want the content on our websites to be about us. It’s our website. It’s our content. Why shouldn’t it be about us?”
No one answered. I saw some folks frown. No doubt they were thinking exactly what he had just said, that it was their website, so it should be about them, or their company or their products.
“Truth is,” the speaker almost shouted, “it’s not about you, it’s about me. ME, ME, ME!” He jabbed his chest fiercely!
“It’s about your client,” he said in a calmer, quieter voice. “It’s never about you.”
I think about that speech a lot when I look at blogs today. Oh, the world of blogging has changed so much, I wish I could write a tome about that! We did think it was about us, back in the day. We created these amazing blogs out of nothing, and we shared our thoughts, whatever those might be: tech, politics, food, teaching, marketing, whatever. We wanted to share and to create conversations and to be heard.
Gradually, we learned better. We learned that the speaker mentioned here was and is right. We learned that if we wanted to attract viewers, eyeballs, comments, we needed to write about the things our audience liked. Not always what we liked.
However, reality is this…the speaker here was right; it’s not about you. It’s about you and me.
It’s about me, as your reader, because I have come to enjoy your blog for a reason. The reason is you and what you’re sharing. It’s about you and how you share. It’s about you and how much I appreciate your insight or humor. And, it’s about me because as I return time after time to read your blog, I expect the same content. Oh, not the same posts, but the same kind of humor or insight or research.
Moving on from the blog home, to the blog About page, we have a trickier task. That page is about you and about your blog. It’s also about me. Me, the reader.
Your about page needs to tell me, the reader, not about you in first grade or about you last week and how you didn’t post because you were too busy. Your about page needs to show me your personality, your experience, your focus, and your pets. It needs to be both personal and professional, if the blog was created to be a business for you. It needs to be short enough to give me information quickly, but long enough to substantiate what you’re asserting. And, it needs to be visual enough to prove to me that (a) you’re a real person and (b) you’re someone I would like to know better.
Your about page also needs to give me a way to contact you. I see a lot of forms today. I like forms. Forms allow the reader of the blog to share thoughts or ask questions, not necessarily fit for the comment box. But, forms also put some folks off. I like to be aware of who the blogger is and within that desire is a wish to know where they are from. Not a physical address, folks. Merely a location – for instance, I’m outside of Denver. You now know where I am. It helps you understand a little about me. And, it helps you understand when to contact me because with the varying time zones across the country, both email and voicemail can get lost in the shuffle. You’re best suited to contact me via email, and expect a reply within 24 – 48 hours, depending on time zones and weekends.
I learned a lot at that presentation back in the early 2000s. I took the advice of “it’s not about you” to heart. And, over the last 10 years, I have come to realize we need to both understand ourselves and our motivations for what we’re creating online, as much as we strive to understand our audience and how we can serve them better.
Because, it’s not about you, it’s about you and me. We’re in this together. Aren’t we?
I continue to learn those lessons at the conference and beyond. I so look forward to seeing my old blogging friends in a few weeks, and to make new friends. Because the conference is the best way to absorb the reality of “it’s about you and me.”
Yvonne DiVita is a Co-Founder of BlogPaws. She is dedicated to storytelling and the human-animal bond. When not working on BlogPaws, she writes at Scratchings and Sniffings and The Lipsticking Society. You may contact her at Yvonne@blogpaws.com.