Eddie Dickey at Lending a Voice brought up an interesting point that I just had to talk about.
It struck me recently how blogging/podcasting seems at times to be like stand up comedy. Back in ‘92 I took a course at the New School in NYC in stand-up comedy. And the final was an appearance at a marquee comedy club on the East Side at 8:30 PM on a weeknight. In the blogging world that’s like getting a mention on Scripting News or Scoble. That means that the club is full and the patrons are sober. I have a tape of my appearance and I think I’ll post it on the web ( I have no shame). But first I have to convert it to a .mov file or something comparable.
How is blogging like stand up? Well feedback in the comment section is the audience in blogging. Log stats can give you numbers but the feedback is the human touch. I saw a few friends in New York as they waited until 3:00 AM to get a chance to appear at a club in the Village. And your lucky if the audience is not comatose. And the feedback in stand up is … laughter and applause. So blogging can sometimes feel like playing to an audience at 3:00 AM in the Village. But hey, I chose to be here. Thank you very Much..
Sorry, Eddie, for quoting your whole post, but it is short and sweet and brings up a brilliant point. Blogging is like stand-up comedy, or any performance art. So how it is really the same and how it is different?
I spent the first half of my career life as a professional performer, traveling across the planet bringing music and song to many. The second half (or maybe third) of my career life has been as a writer, bringing my performing talent to the printed (and virtually printed) page. To me, blogging has much in common with performing, especially the entertainment value.
Yes, blogging is entertainment. It is performance. Each blog post a show, sometimes an opera, sometimes a 30 second commercial. Like a show, it may start with a bang, lead you along from song to song, have a great climatic moment, then leave the audience wanting more.
How is it different? Well, as Eddie mentioned, you are blogging for your audience and their response comes in a variety of forms. It comes to you from your blog statistics, giving you the numbers of visitors who stop by to check out what you have to say. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you if they stayed around long enough to listen to the first song or any part of the first song they encountered. It just says they came by. It might have just been a knock at the door. But it’s a clue to the potential size of your audience.
If you have ever stood in the spotlight, you know that until you learn to see around the spotlight, all you can see is the light. By expecting your audience to be representative of your visitor statistics, you are only seeing the spotlight and not your audience. Look closer to where they come from, which pages they land on, the keywords that bring them through the door, and the search terms they use on your site, as well as where they leave from and where they go when they leave. This, along with some other statistics such as browser types and versions, geographic information, and other statistics help you get a better picture of who your audience really is, though statistics only show you a part of the whole.
What is immeasurable with today’s blogging statistics is how old is your visitor, what are they really interested in, how they came to know about your blog, and what they expected to find when they arrived. Did they find what they needed? Or did they heckle you and should out what they really wanted and you didn’t hear?
This is where comments come in to help the performing blogger to understand their audience better. If you ask your audience questions, begging them to tell you what they think, how they think, and what information they want to know from you, and they answer you, then you will slowly understand more about who they are and how to help them better.
Until then, all you are left standing with is your song, your words on your blog. So think of the timeless classic songs you can hear time and again over the decades. Songs like “Cry Me a River”, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, “My Way”, “Love Me Tender”, “The Way We Were”, “Blue Skies”; these are songs that stand the test of time and apply to everyone. The words of “The Way We Were” are understood by everyone, no matter your age, race, culture, or country.
Like the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? could we?
Written by A.Bergman, M.Bergman & M.Hamlisch
We all have regrets, we all wish we could do it all over again and not make the same mistakes. Without understanding the specifics of your blogging audience, you can cater to all of them by writing in a way that appeals to the majority, or you can style your writing to cater to the majority of those who share your point of view. Either way, you are still performing for your audience and the more they know that you understand them and their needs, the better your response.
Blogging is mostly like performing stand-up comedy because it fulfills a greater need in our life, the need to show off for the masses. To stand up in the crowd and want our voice to be heard. For the most part, while some may think, as Eddie mentioned, that the comments are the applause, the need to perform and share our opinion with the world is greater than our need for our audience.
Honestly, if you are dependent upon comment responses to your posts for your blogging thrill – forget about it. Some posts never get, nor do they deserve, comments. As a blogger, there are many posts I write which I think will bring flocks of people commenting, adding their own voice to mine in a choir of agreement or disagreement – yet there is only silence.
The truth is that the need to perform, be it on stage or via blogging, isn’t dependent upon comments. It is a need inside that is greater than the need for the audience. It is the need to perform. It is the need to show off. It is the need to let your voice soar off into the netherworld of the Internet and Blogosphere, heard and unheard. That is what keeps you blogging. It isn’t the audience, it is what you have to say that keeps you blogging.
It is the need to be heard that keeps us talking.
A Pearl Among the Oysters
A good friend of mine, Howard Bulson, has worked in Seattle as a professional accompanist and piano bar artist for 45 years. A long time ago, he got a job offer to play at a new nightclub in Seattle and asked my opinion about moving to the club. Howard hates change, so any offer like this is evaluated seriously and over a long period of time. He had interviewed the club owners thoroughly about how he worked and what they expected from him. They told him that they wanted him to audition the singers before they performed on weekends, and to keep out the bad performers, only allowing the star quality singers to entertain their prestigious crowd. I asked him if that was okay with him.
“You know, there are many times when a stranger comes in for only one night. They will ask me to sing, and they will sing like an angel. Then they will go and I will never see nor hear them again. But for a moment, I will have experienced a pearl among oysters.” He shook his head. “No, I won’t take the job. I won’t give up my rare pearls for all the oysters in the world.”
That is one of the amazing things about blogging. Anyone can do it. Have a story to tell, want to share part of your life, have an opinion, it doesn’t matter. You can blog through a variety of resources to let your voice be heard. Not into writing, then try podcasting. Either way, through blogging, you can let your voice be heard.
If you are an oyster, then you will do it for a while and then move on. Just like the thousands of people, like Eddie, who experimented with stand-up comedy or performing and found it thrilling but not fulfilling. But you will do it for YOU, not for anyone else.
If you are that rare pearl, then your audience will slowly appear and word of mouth will spread. Your audience will grow, soon confident to leave a few comments to reassure you that someone is paying attention.
If you are truly one of those rare pearls, please, come back and give us a repeat performance. Who knows, you may become the next Mat Mullenweg, Scoble, or Michelle Malkin, stunning the world as one of the most interesting bloggers for 2005 and beyond. I’d call that some serious applause.
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen