How Eavesdropping Will Increase Your Blog TrafficFebruary 14th, 2017 by Jonathan Merritt
More than a decade ago, I considered calling it quits as a writer. I struggled to build a platform, and allure readers to my blog. Four book proposals had been rejected by every publisher in the industry. Each night, my hands pounded my keyboard long after the sun set, but my career felt glued to the pavement.
Have you ever wondered, “Why aren’t readers connecting with my content?”
Stuck in the doldrums, I penned a depressing confession to my writing mentor, Margaret Feinberg. I asked for any advice on how to improve my writing content so that it resonated with more readers. Her response has proved to be a gem of wisdom:
“I wish I could give you a silver bullet, but there isn’t a single secret to crafting great content. But I am happy to share one trick that has helped me:
When I consider writing about an issue, I start conversations with friends about the subject, and then I listen. I interview people in our generation and get them to tell stories. I’ll even eavesdrop on conversations others are having about the matter and observe how they’re talking about it.
Wait for the “ping” or the reverberation… people raising the same issues in the same way. Listen for the same comments. The same statements even. When you hear echoes, you’ll know you’ve touched a nerve. People will read about the topic and say, “Oh yeah. Me, too. I’ve thought that, but just never put it into words.”
I put Margaret’s advice into practice, and my platform grew. No, it skyrocketed. Readership increased. Comments poured in. People began sharing my work with others.
You can’t connect with readers unless you know how your readers think and feel. And you won’t discover this unless you begin paying attention.
Good writers are good listeners.
Novelists listen for dialogue so that their stories sound believable.
Reporters listen to their interviewees so that they get their facts straight.
Poets listen to the sounds of raindrops and whipping windstorms and the songs their souls are singing.
Spiritual writers listen for the whispers of God.
But they all should be listening to the readers they long to reach through their work.
Brilliant writers don’t speak until they listen.
If you’re struggling to create content that energizes your audience, visit a place where they might hang out: a coffee shop, a music festival, a college lecture, an art opening. Leave your laptop at home and bring a notepad instead.
Rather than writing, focus on listening. Whenever you hear a phrase or idea more than once, write it down. If someone brings up a topic that sounds familiar to you, butt into their conversation and ask for them to elaborate. If you have an idea you feel like is resonating, solicit feedback from others.
Remember: Readers shouldn’t just feel like they’re reading your words. They should feel like they are reading their own.
For even more writing tips, sign up for our FREE 3-part mini course designed to help you start writing, sustain your writing, and share your writing.