If you’re a frequent visitor to this page, you might have noticed that I maintain multiple websites–this site and a personal page. I’ll freely admit that Heroic Technical Writing gets ten times the audience that BartLeahy.com receives. One primary reason for that discrepancy is content focus.
What’s it all about?
I’ve written personal blogs under various guises for years now, and their readership has always been minimal, mostly because a lot of people don’t know Bart Leahy, nor do they necessarily care about his opinions regarding books, movies, politics, or the events of the day. However, the success of Heroic Tech Writing owes a lot to some sage advice I got from my buddy Hugh Stanley, who runs MyKickStart.com, a business information site focused on news of interest to people working in the defense or aerospace industries in Huntsville, Alabama. His advice boiled down to “You need to write a blog about something.”
Mind you, my personal blog is “about something,” but that something is merely my random opinions about whatever interests me. The best way to acquire an audience is by writing consistently and with high quality or insight into a particular topic. If you’re interested enough to write well about one thing consistently, you’ll attract an audience. Of course it helps if there’s an audience or demand for that one thing.
What Heroic Technical Writing is about is providing practical advice on the professional, business, and personal practices of technical communication. Is there a demand for such advice? According to my internal stats, there’s at least ten times more demand for my thoughts on tech writing than on any other topic, so there you have it.
Who is your audience?
So okay, I’ve got content, and I also have an audience in mind. My primary audiences are in-school or fresh-out-of-college students pursuing degrees or careers in technical communication. My secondary audience comprises other technical writing pros who might or might not benefit from my experiences.
What do you want your audience to do?
At present, this site is written as a public service for my audience and a writing outlet for me. It did not start out that way. Originally it was going to be a business site to bring in customers to my freelancing practice. It could do that still, I suppose, but after a few months I realized that my target customers–large technical organizations–were unlikely to be interested in my insights on technical writing, and most of my work has come through word-of-mouth referrals anyway. But I still had the blog. So what do I want my audience to do with the unsolicited advice I so freely dispense?
Well, for starters, I hope you find it useful enough to act upon–sometimes it’s enough to know that you fine folks are reading and avoiding problems I admit to learning the hard way.
In the future, though, I might compile all these bits of “wisdom” into a book, in which case this site will transform into a commerce site once again. Who knows? That might go on my list of things to do in 2016.
Regardless of your particular content, any website you create should have a specific aim:
- If your goal is selling stuff, you should include links and shopping pages that enable them to purchase your products or services
- If your goal is advocacy, you should include position papers and opportunities for people to “get involved”
- If your goal is sharing your creative output–news releases, fiction, music, paintings, handicrafts–around the internet, you should include hashtags, social media sharing buttons, etc.
- If your goal is to facilitate discussions about specific topics, you should provide robust forums or chat services that allow interested audiences to communicate with each other
Et cetera. Your content, audience, and goal should be factored into your website so that it allows your audience to do what they want to do with the content you provide.