Justin Kownacki put together a thought provoking piece, and addresses what is, to me, the most interesting aspect of not just writing, but anything that involves audience building (which for me, includes building blogs and video vehicles like like and on demand programming).
He quotes George Saunders (emphasis, Justin’s): "If there are 10 readers out there, let’s assume I’m never going to reach two of them. They’ll never be interested. And let’s say I’ve already got three of them, maybe four. If there’s something in my work that’s making numbers five, six and seven turn off to it, I’d like to figure out what that is. I can’t change who I am and what I do, butmaybe there’s a way to reach those good and dedicated readers that the first few books might not have appealed to. I’d like to make a basket big enough that it included them.”
But then Justin asks the question: "What if the tactic you employ to reach “those good and dedicated readers the first few books might not have appealed to” actually alienates the audience you do have?"
This is a question I ponder regularly. I began my blogging career as a youngster in the 90s creating pages on Tripod. I moved on to Diaryland, chronicling to an audience my weird life working with nerds in the dot-com era boom and bust cycle. Eventually I started more heavily newsblogging around the time of 9/11, and turned it into a career as a freelancer. Then I focused on one type of tech while I was at Mashable, and here at SiliconANGLE, we’ve gone with another type of tech.
I know all about morphing your voice to please broader audiences, and the expense it has on your first audience. I can tell you that I know of perhaps less than a dozen people that have stuck with me through more than three of my creative tectonic shifts (let alone followed me from the beginning).
As we grow our video operation in 2013 at +SiliconANGLE, we’re making a number of decisions about creativity, distribution, even considered a Vehicle Donation, and what we want to cover editorially that will likely increase our audience, with the goal of staying true to what made our core audience love us to begin with.
It’s an interesting mental exercise, and one worth having no matter what creative endeavor you participate in. I recommend it.