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Reader Appreciation Project: Putting Readers First

Ronald Huereca writes for the Reader Appreciation Project blog and recently caught my attention with My Thoughts on Being Paid to Post.

When one starts blogging for money, there are new considerations. Who am I really writing for? Am I writing for my new boss that will pay me per post? Am I writing for Google so that people will search for the right keywords and click on my ads? Am I writing for the advertisers who demand mainstream articles that people will read?

I didn’t start blogging just so I would have to answer to some pie in the sky boss. I started blogging to air my thoughts, get out my writing, and share the knowledge that I have with others. I never started blogging to make money and frankly refuse to let money be my motivation to continue.

If it gets to the point where I’m blogging for cash, I might as well quit. I’m no Darren Rowse or John Chow. I will never make my living off of a blog, and I don’t really want to. I’m perfectly fine keeping blogging as a hobby.

He cites my article, Blogging for Hobby or Money on the Blog Herald, an article that took me two years of tweaking before I had the courage to publish it. I honestly explain that when you blog as a hobby, you do so for the joy and love of it. When you blog for money, it changes how you blog, often taking some of the fun out of it. It turns it into a business, thus into a job. It also changes how your readers view your blog and your opinion. It changes everything.

Ronald explains that blogging for money changes not only the way he blogs, but his interaction with his blog readers and the blog itself. For him, he’s made the decision that blogging is a hobby, something done for fun, and when a price is put on it, he’s not happy.

What really caught my eye was the blog itself, dedicated to the support of readers.

The Reader Appreciation Project

The Reader Appreciation Project aims to show readers that they are one of the most important assets a blogger can have, and the Reader Appreciation Project also aims to show among other things how bloggers can treat their readers.

“How bloggers can treat their readers.” Wow! What a concept.

I love articles that stimulate conversation as well as ideas in the readers. So what a thought that there is a group out there dedicated to ensuring “Readers First”, putting the emphasis on what is most important to the art of blogging.

According to their About page, the purpose and goals of the Reader Appreciation Project are:

  • To show you why appreciating readers is important
  • To show you why appreciating bloggers is important
  • To reward readers without making them do extra work
  • To not only make promises of appreciation, but to actually appreciate
  • To promote honest and open communication between bloggers and readers
  • To promote good ethics between everyone on blogs
  • To promote transparency by showing you how you will benefit blogs in specific cases, and how blogs will benefit you in specific cases

Those are pretty good goals. Do you share these same goals on your blog?

The Project includes a Reader Appreciation Week annually on the second Monday in April, encouraging bloggers to show appreciation for those who support their blogs by reading them. Occasionally, they select and honor blogs with a Readers First Award for “websites who have shown an outstanding quality in placing the readers first on a website or a blog.”

The blog also offers a wide variety of articles that explore many aspects of blogging, mostly focused on putting the reader first, including these recent article features:

If blogging for money changes how you blog, how would blogging for your readers “first” change your blog? For the better?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

7 Comments

  1. Posted November 18, 2007 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    This is the right post for me at the right time, though I might veer a little off-topic with this comment. I don’t have ads on my blog, but I do find myself writing for traffic or comments. I want to be writing to keep a record, to share, to get feedback. When I’m not sure of my intent, I consider whether or not what I’m writing will be something I’ll enjoy months or years from now when I’m browsing my own archives. I figure if I enjoy it, someone else will, too. Beyond that, I imagine my readers feel under-appreciated.

    Lorelle, I love your blog and often copy and paste your articles to WordPad so I can print and read them later. And highlight and circle and add notes. Is there a possibility you’d add a way to make your blog posts printer friendly?

    I just saw the button to buy the book. I catch on eventually.

  2. Posted November 18, 2007 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    @coolbeans:

    Hmm, I thought I had made my site printable. I’ll take another look. It could be an IE/Firefox issue, as I design more for Firefox than IE as I’m so sick of the hacks.

    And thanks for the kind words.

  3. Posted November 18, 2007 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    As I always said, “blog for yourself, write for your readers”.

    If you’re going to blog for your readers first, then basically that changes the way you start blogging. You’ll be inhibited by questions such as “what do my readers want?” and forever doubting your capabilities, instead following the mainstream and never exploring your full potential.

    I’ve always reasoned that this is why many younger blogs today actually fail. People put too much stock in whether or not they get readers that they ultimately resort to technical jargon like SEO in the assumption that it’s all they need to draw in readers.

    It’s only when you start blogging for yourself, with the idea that you need to learn how to communicate your views to your readers, that you begin to untap your full potential.

    Write and they will come. Write in a way they can relate to and they will stay. Isn’t that much better than the one off hits?

  4. Posted November 18, 2007 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle,
    Thanks for dedicating an entire post to RA Project. I appreciate your support.

    Edrei,
    You bring up an interesting point and the term that pops up in my head is “people pleaser.” Bloggers that start off to please everyone else are just setting themselves up for disappointment and heartache. Once those readers do come and stay, then what?

  5. Posted November 18, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I was impressed when I found the Reader Appreciation Project. So impressed, in fact, that I decided to spend the month of November featuring a handful of my readers in the form of some interview questions. I have 15 interviews in and will close it off there and finish out the following week with a summary of what they have all said. I am amazed at the blogs they have introduced me to as a result of this series!

  6. Posted November 19, 2007 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    @Ronald: The way I’ve observed is that when those readers do come and stay, for the most part, that would start satisfying the blogger’s sense of self worth towards blogging. From then on, whether they can keep holding on to their readers is another matter entirely.

    A lot resort to shock tactics and in-your-face controversies in order to have their readers come back for more. It’s not that this is wrong, if they pull it off, it just means that they are doing a good job about it.

    At the end of it though, every blogger, not just the ones that try and please other people have to ask themselves the question of what they want from their blog. Because even if you have a plan to begin with, as we grow, those reasons ultimately change. It’s fitting in what blogging is to us in our life that ultimately defines its success or its obscurity.

  7. cisgude
    Posted November 19, 2007 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Interesting post. It’s indeed true that we are trying to write for our visitors, and not for ourself…


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