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April 18, 2009 / jadettman

Building an Audience

How do you become a recognizable creator in the reputation economy?

First, don’t use me as an example . . .

There are several things that I don’t do but probably should if I want to build a reputation for myself on the internet. Here’s a checklist:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Choose a broad topic and stick to it.
  3. Post something on a regular basis
  4. Engage others in conversation
  5. Be enthusiastic about your chosen topic

Clearly, I’m doing okay on number one but not so much with the other five.

For the second, I talk a lot about gaming, game design, and various topics about the gaming industry. Unfortunately, I dilute all that with a hefty helping of personal life which doesn’t make for the most focused blog. I could fix that by off-loading all of the game stuff to a different site, maybe a Cracked Mirror blog or somewhere completely different. That just seems like a little too much effort. Frankly, most of the work I do in the gaming area is largely of the hobby variety these days, so I don’t have as much of a professional interest but something to keep in mind.

Posting regularly I vary on quite a bit. For a while there I had just stopped posting. Then I started up again but it was too infrequent, probably once or twice a month. Lately, I’ve been trying to post more frequently. I usually try to get to or three posts up a week now, though I would have to check my calendar to see if I’ve actually succeeded. The regular posting is rather critical to getting and keeping an audience. I suspect that I lost a significant amount of audience during my last big hiatus. Learn from my mistake and don’t do that.

The fourth point I’m weak on. Sure, I have my comments feature on and I’ve done what I can to make it easy for people to comment without getting caught in my spam filter but I don’t really think I’ve engaged with my audience. Come to think of it, I’m not really clear about how I would engage with my readers. Surveys? Contests? Something to think about.

That final item on the list . . .  Well, I like to think that I’m enthusiastic about games and gaming. I don’t know if that comes across well in a blog post. I know that I tend to have a laid-back attitude and can occasionally seem relaxed to the point of appearing medicated so my version of enthusiasm can be hard to distinguish, especially in person. If you’re reading this, you’re going to have to tell me how that translates in my writing.

The upshot is: I’ve got some ideas about what I should be doing to make this blog more interesting (more widely read?). I don’t know that I’ll follow through and make any improvements but at least I know that a could.

Now, what could you being doing to get your name out there so that it’s recognized by the audience that you want to be talking to?



Leave a Comment
  1. Tim Jensen / Apr 18 2009 8:47 pm

    Helping you with #4…

    What did you play at Forge Midwest?

    What games are you currently playing?

    What games would you like to play soon?

  2. J.A. Dettman / Apr 19 2009 6:52 am

    Hey, thanks for the assist, Tim!

  3. Britt / Apr 21 2009 12:51 pm

    Frankly, I don’t think someone who has written and published a game and who has edited and published good work from many other people and who keeps up with the gaming industry and who is engaged with the design community and has consistently interesting things to say about games should be labeled as a hobbyist.

    Merlin Mann of 43 Folders and John Gruber of Daring Fireball spoke at SXSW on blogging, credibility and, basically, the reputation economy (though they don’t use that term.)

    I think they had a lot of cool things to say, especially the tip about writing something that [your hero] would find interesting, i.e. having a specific audience in mind.

    Merlin would disagree with choosing a broad topic. According to him, you want to have a narrow enough topic that you can own that topic. The other key is having a “voice,” i.e. bringing something distinctive to the topic that nobody else is saying.

    It was a cool talk, and I’d strongly recommend giving it a listen.

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