Capturing Attention Spans

All dressed up and nowhere to go. That must be how my drafts are feeling. I have the photos ready but absolutely no stories to tell.

A while ago, I stumbled upon a blogger who had made a name for himself, had become an author and made piles of money. He was podcasting about it, giving advice about blogging tactics and telling the story of how he became a published author, which was his end goal. (And mine, too, I guess.)

I usually don’t listen to podcasts but I somehow ended up listening to this one and one thing stuck out, like it always does. The advice itself.

The advice was to give advice.

Quite literally, in a nutshell, that was one of the secrets to success he so generously wanted to share: people will read, come back, follow, talk about you, and eventually even give you money, if only you offer them useful advice on the topic they are interested in. Figure out what your unique niche is and paint yourself as an authority. Offer them something every time you ask for something back.

As someone who does digital and email marketing for a living, I’m familiar with the logic behind this. But as a hobbyist blogger, I want to scream, Nooooooooo….!!!!!!

Not all blogs are/can be/need to be about giving advice. I mean, there is only so much advice a person can give or receive, right? And there are already too many self-proclaimed experts out there. Where is the originality in that?

It’s like reality shows on TV: stop it please, we already have enough!! I’ve already seen too many shows where you vote people off or watch them work their day jobs or pour their heart and soul out and cry with their makeup running down their face. Where’s the originality, the imagination? What happened to storytelling, to having a narrative?

Why can’t you simply have a blog about something that is not putting you on a pedestal, a blog where you are not presenting yourself as superior to others with your valuable advice. A blog that you do just for your own pleasure, and fill it with photos, stories, cooking, art, kids… without an agenda? All of you reading this know what I’m talking about!

But hang on… does this mean none of our blogs will ever become super popular? Will no one publish our story books, always opting instead for “5 Best” lists or “How to” lessons? The notion of it seems twisted.

At work, I’ve sometimes done the list thing. You know what I mean. “Three reasons to…”

The first time I did it, it was a bit of an inside joke (very inside because it was just for me). The second time it was already there, so it was convenient to re-use it with a little update. But in general, I don’t like being a copycat, and I would like to give my readers a bit more credit than that: aren’t we all a bit bored of the list presentation model by now? I try to avoid it on my personal blog (and have succeeded so far. Can’t say that the temptation is very strong.)

Yes, a quickly scanning human eye of an incredibly busy person will register a bullet point list if it is clearly presented. True. You will gain their attention. But what a challenge it would be to actually write sentences that capture that same wandering eye, don’t you think?!

Anyway, I guess my point is: what is happening to us? Are we becoming zombies?

Has anyone else seen The Social Dilemma? It made me feel guilty for trying to capture people’s attention and steal moments of their life, both at work and at home. But it’s become a habit of mine. A hobby, even.

76 responses to “Capturing Attention Spans

  1. I dunno. I read your blogs with the most of joy because they always have something thoughtful to say, something that makes me smile, makes me wonder, makes me fantasize. I do hope you become famous and that your thoughts are spread much wider then your blog on WordPress. The more folks reading it, the more pleasure is spread. But bullet points? The five biggest attractions of Helsinki? Where to eat in Turku? I eh… I dunno. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hahah! Well, I don’t want to be famous, but I would love to get paid to do something I love. Like back when I was flying. It would be great if all I had to do was just write. Some fantasies will forever stay fantasies, eh? 😄
      As for those types of posts, yeah not my thing! Five best cafes and then begging them to sponsor me! 😆 No thanks.
      But thank you for the kind words, Peter! I enjoy our chats!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I wonder who am I blogging for? Is there a specific audience that I want to reach and am I doing the right thing? (I bet that sounds familiar in your job realm 😉 I think that the uber-sucessful bloggers do this very well. They’ve figured out their niche & they consistently (and regularly!) serve up fare that their faithful following want to see. It’s also why they can dole out advice & be appreciated for it.
    But it’s a bit like pop music and reality tv .. it becomes formulaic .. which might be bad but studies show that people generally like seeing the things they like. Which is what that documentary is about. Thanks for sharing that btw. It’s on my watchlist now.

    Liked by 5 people

    • When I started blogging, I had no idea where it would take me and didn’t think of a target audience. I still don’t, except that I’ve noticed that it’s accidentally been formed 99% of other bloggers 😀 Which is excellent because of the exchange of thoughts which is the cherry on top of it all! Influencers rarely have much engagement, which makes me think they got their dazzling numbers of followers by buying, using bots or other hacks, or maybe because a friend works in the press and they have gotten free publicity. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t swap places.

      Liked by 2 people

      • btw I watched that Social Dilemma. You can feel safe that you’re not part of the evil internet trying to make people into zombies. It was an interesting show but I don’t like how they mixed the teledrama with documentary. I’d have been happy with just the facts, man.

        If you enjoyed that bit of television, then you might enjoy this Bo Burnham clip, which is another take on people’s co-dependency on social media.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. There are so many experts these days, aren’t they? Everyone tries to capture everyone else attention, and some even succeed, exactly like in the movie lol.
    To quote a line from the book I’m reading now: “The life is a dream within a dream”.. It was said with a different meaning, but.. aren’t we zombies already?…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hmm, we are zombies anyway, do you mean in the sense of this other quote I remember seeing somewhere, “We are ghosts driving a meat-covered skeleton made from stardust riding a rock floating through space”? 🙂 It certainly gives you food for thought!
      And yes, we are all experts and so many of us want to let it be known. But I guess it’s only human. We all think we are special, and we are. To ourselves, we are the most special people there are ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Absolutely agree, there’s more than enough people offering suggestions. I love the pictures and stories in your blog, it’s like listening to a good friend sharing their news and their thoughts. Don’t change the format you have the content for a beautiful book and trying to make it into something else could spoil that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much, Varis. I think blogging does help us develop or, better yet, express our own style. I really don’t know why the general opinion (or just the loudest opinion??) is that people need advice rather than entertaining or food for thought. 🧐

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Snow, you write a post and it initiates a huge discussion in my head. There is so much I want to say about this I can’t write it all here, so will formulate a post to respond.
    I feel like I have seen something similar to the social dilemma and it feels like conspiracy theories but there is much truth in what they claim. Certainly, more penetrating communication has brought us benefits but along with that has also moulded us into a more anxious, divided and more distractable population. A concern and where does our blog fit into that? Can it just be a force for good?
    I appreciate connecting with you and the time I spent reading this post, so that can’t be all bad, can it?

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m looking forward to reading your post, Amanda! If I miss it, feel free to share your link here ☺️ I’ve very much enjoyed our discussions (and sometimea almoat debates!) here along the years. Sometimes we have opposing views but it’s always interesting and thought-provoking to chat with you 🌻
      And yes, let’s keep our blogs going as forces of good!!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you, Snow. I re-watched the Social Dilemma last night. I feel like I have seen parts of it before, but some of the doco felt new. I am instead, perhaps thinking of Michael Moore’s documentary, wherein those at the forefront of tech development seemed to operate in another plane of the mind, and I was thinking they were a little scary/borderline deranged to listen to. By contrast, the speakers on this program were completley rational and the fact that several of them refused to let their kids have any social media/screen time spoke volumes.
        If we disagree with each other, we can do it respectfully and that kind of disagreement is always welcome as it can change perspectives and lead to wider understandings. I will come back and leave a comment as I will ping this post. As we know, pings don’t always work.

        Liked by 2 people

          • Ah..I forgot not to talk Aussie for a moment there!
            The irony and unintended consequences of the like button was profound and true!
            As was the video of the young girl who smashed the locked container to get to her phone.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Yes it makes me worry for my kids, how much supervision will be enough, etc. Kids here get phones very young and generally walk to school unsupervised so phones or smart watches are a good way to keep tags on them. But too much screen time… it can happen so easily.
              Go ahead and talk Aussie! I’m imagining the accent in my head 😍

              Liked by 2 people

              • I laugh a little when you mention my accent, as I am not such a fan of Aussie accents myself! Yet some friends overseas seem to like them! I cannot see why! Whilst it doesn’t bother me here, it is when I have been in Europe or Scandinavia for several months then return say to Singapore airport, the sudden onslaught of Aussie accents is very apparent to me, and hard on my ears!
                As for supervision for kids, gosh it is hard. My kids were the dial up internet generation so sessions were limited to four hour stints. That was good and bad. My daughter however is part of the mobile phone generation and did feel some negative effects of social media. We monitored it but in the end, they decided to delete facebook and instagram themselves although they keep some element of social media for communication.

                Like

  6. Yes, zombies, the lot of us… Trying to capture people’s attention and steal moments of their life, are we? 😉 Is this what blogging is? I’m not so sure. I offer. I cater. I don’t sell, luckily we don’t have to. I’m not trying to do anything. I just do it. Why? To communicate. To refuse to be zombiefied takes effort and energy. To zombify people knowingly and willingly… This is how the world has felt for a while now. Just say no?

    Liked by 4 people

    • In all honesty, even we non-monetary bloggers seek an audience. Otherwise, why not write a private blog – or journal? If we receive fewer likes or views, we wonder what happened. We are only human and it’s okay. Like I’ve said before, art needs an audience. If performed in an empty vacuum, it loses its point because it reaches no one.
      But I agree that it takes energy and effort to refuse to be zombiefied. They’ve made it so easy and addictive!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Did you hear me screaming NO right along with you? 😂 I have found that when I focus too much on finding my niche or worrying about the numbers of visitors on my bog, the fun of blogging goes out the window. Much rather blog for the fun of blogging and not worry about where it leads.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. 100% relatable. Sometimes I wonder at all these gurus and if they actually did anything or are so confident in their guru-ness? Can’t I also be anonymous and have influence? Trying to not be sucked into being a carbon copy.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I can relate and I am feeling you. I dont´know but I only write what I have been doing for the last 10 years of my life…well not really everyday stuff but just sharing my expat adventures.
    I am happy when someone paid attention , hit the like button, and actually read my Blog and comments or like a photo that I posted, other than that, I don´t wish for fame…if someone pay for my post then it´s welcome, probably I convert into Business plan someday Hahaha…

    Anyway, seriously speaking I don´t want to feel any Kind of pressure on Blogging. I don´t even wanna be bothered by stats..although I appreciate the spikes.
    I do it as a hobby and to actually document my days, travels, life with kids and art. Nothing more, no dvertisement either.

    Maybe I´ll write a post about….” How to survive writing a post every other day” which I can´t even guarantee If I can write about it because I only write when I have time…Lol or Blogging after 2,5 months of Hibernation mode.
    But then, I´ll keep this Blog cuz I have friends like you..and the others…so thank you!

    See, I read your post, feel Hugged then.Cheers to Blogworld without stars, only Fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is a hobby for me too, but I still want to challenge myself to maintain quality in my content and in the visual look, and try to keep the same tone of voice and -like someone commented- format, in a way. I can still have goals even if they aren’t monetary and that’s what bugs me in the assumption that everyone wants to do the same thing: how to- posts and live off their blog’s ads and affiliate deals. I haven’t looked at my stats anymore, either, my goals are more in the content production area. And I don’t want internet fame, but I would like to be acknowledged as a creative member of this particular genre of blogging. Which of course I am, looking at all these supportive comments 😊 It would just be nice to see even one article about this, aimed at the grand masses, just to give them too some inspiration and encouragement to not always follow the leader.
      Tschuss and blog hugs to you too, dear! 💖🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Fun with friends – Manja Mexi Mexcessive·

  11. Hello, I found you through Manja. I agree with other commenters here that your post has triggered many thoughts on this issue. I blog because it keeps my writing skills up, my brain sharper and also because I’m an introvert. I’ve never thought of a specific audience, either. I have seen a lot of “advice” blogs round and about however; I’m not interested in those. I haven’t seen the Social Dilemma; thanks, will watch it now!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hello Lynette, nice to meet you! Let me know what you thought of the documentary if you watch it. I too write to hone my skills and to give myself a little intellectual push, the puzzle of putting my thoughts together into a coherent entity that is also interesting enough for others to want to read til the end! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hahah! It feels funny assuming that everyone is just thirsting for advice all the time. Like blog readers are advice-seekig zombies, just scanning thru article after another. I mean, I do sometimes do that, if I have something specific to look up. But it’s not my usual M.O.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My advice is to ignore the advice and do what you want. If you want to make money, then catering to the large number of people whose attention span can be measured in nanoseconds might be the way to go. I had a brief period when I tried writing what I thought people wanted to read. It did not end well. I had more success (still very minor) when I wrote whatever I wanted and I enjoyed that so much more.
    I’m totally with you on reality TV except can we dispense with the ‘reality.’ There’s nothing real about it. It’s just non-union, non-talented people in bad soap operas. Enough already!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Writing what you want gives you, in my opinion, more of an edge and more insight because they are your genuine thoughts and opinions. People who just do lists or write about trending topics tend to be a bit bland in their outcome, either lacking inspiration or creativity. And it shows. (Still, people seem to read and follow that stuff!)
      Hah, as for TV, I sometimes wonder if real actors are bummed by all these unqualified regular people taking their jobs (for lesser pay, I’d assume). Like photographers vs Instagrammers, etc. hmm…

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Great post!

    This is precisely my problem – I know what sells, but I just don’t want to do it. It would feel like work and blogging/ writing is something I want to keep enjoying. I did a series of “blogging tips” back in the day, which was somewhat popular, talking about the equations for titles, for example. I tried it for a while but could not continue it for a prolonged period of time.
    Why are there all these copycat shows? Because people watch them (for a variety of reasons)!
    I’ve been told to find a niche. Meh. Too limiting.
    To become the “authority” on a specific subject. I’m not that conceited.
    To tell people what to do and how to live. Ehh…
    I will definitely tell you what I think you should do, but ultimately, I leave it up to you. I don’t play tricks to make you think you came up with a certain idea even though it was really me. I just don’t like playing games.

    Destined to die poor.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hah, your last line made me chuckle. So true!
      And I mean, I’ve had so many phases during my 6 blogging years, I’m sure there’s a list somewhere if you dig through my old posts. And I wrote an article about basic blog tips, too. And what to do in my home town (another blogger asked me to, because she was about to visit), etc. I also have some insight in what seems to work: writing about blogging, Paris, or something slightly provocative gets the most comments. And titling and tagging them accordingly, of course. But those are not the posts I want to be doing all the time just because I know they’ll get attention. I want to let my mind flow, and be creative. Whenever I write a short piece of fiction on my blog, it gets the least engagement 😅 But I started out as a travel blog and so many of my followers probably are more into travel (to Paris, e.g.) than fiction.

      And on another note, my blog isn’t ad space for sale. It’s an art gallery.
      Sometimes I wonder if I should just try to make money by simply selling ads on a premium/business version, a second blog which I would promote and handle differently, and see if I could make money from it. But over here, you need to pay taxes for any kind of sponsorship or affiliate deal, and though I know many ”pro” bloggers don’t do this (and say they didn’t know), my conscience won’t let me because unfortunately I do know this troublesome fact. Filing a freelancer tax report just because of free shampoo or lipstick really seems like too much of a hassle.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’d love to read some fiction on your blog. There are times when I get plenty of comments on a CW (creative writing) piece, but other times there’s only one or two. No clue what it depends on 😦

        I hear ya.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: Why Write a Blog? Is a Blog a Waste of Time? – Something to Ponder About·

  15. I’m really glad I read this one.. I’m newbie here and this truly insightful.. We often lose originality just to be superior and to achieve success but the glory lies in being true. This is wonderful ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Amen. Oh, yes. 100% agree. Etc. As someone else said, I know what I should do to make my blog more popular or profitable, but I just don’t want to do it! I (we) may be outliers in the blogging universe overall, but I can see that your readers feel the same as we do for the most part.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Ah, the ol’ reliable tried and tested Advice, to just give out useful content for free. I’m a huge fan of it, since I can relate to and understand why it should work.
    Out of curiosity, can you say what particular podcast and episode this interview was? Intrigued to listen to the whole thing

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was Jeff Goins being interviewed by someone, can’t remember who or where. But the podcast itself was quite interesting which is why I listened to the whole thing, and he sounded sympathetic. If you google his name, you’ll find plenty to listen to.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This is so true 👍but your blog hits different for me it’s just what a day dreamer like me likes to feed on when am searching for blogs to read honestly, wouldn’t be bad if you got paid for it your great at it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Finally I find someone who feels the same. Some years ago I closed my niche blogs and opened a single blog that encompasses all my interests…. No advice, no listicles, just experiences and thoughts. One single niche blog wouldn’t have covered who I am, nor do I feel qualified to advise anyone constantly. I have less visitors but the blog feels like home. I noticed that subscribers take what they want from it and leave aside the rest and there’s always something for everyone. Thanks so much for this article, I feel so encouraged!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much and I’m so happy to read your comment! I don’t get that many views actually, but almost every visitor likes my posts and almost half of them comment, so the engagement is much better than what pros have. And I’m very happy with this combo since I don’t care for views as much as I do for interaction and feedback. Sure, I wouldn’t mind more views, but not at any cost. This is a hobby that I do for fun, and I’ve way surpassed my goals already ☺️ Happy blogging!

      Like

  20. All dressed up no where to go thats how my draft is feeling and people’s reaction on social delima a hobby woh 😅😂 and yes being yourself and to have uniqueness is very important. Like your way of fun with lessons 😊

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.