What it Means When You Lose A Reader

Paul Corsi

RedheadWriting reader Paul Corsi on the beach in St. Maarten

When you publish a blog, you pay attention to your subscribers. And it’s a given — just like Nikki Minaj wearing something that shows her ass — that we’re going to lose those readers on occasion.

Sometimes, it’s because they don’t like the language you use (not that I would know anything about that).

Others, it’s that they subscribed based on a certain post and didn’t know what they were in for on a macro scale. (Wouldn’t know anything about that, either.)

And then there are those times where it’s nothing that you did — has nothing to do with who you are or what you write. You come to find that a member of your community has passed away. This is what happened at RedheadWriting last night.

I returned home from (gasp) a date and did what my workaholic self generally does: I logged into email and social to prep for the coming day. Waiting for me in my Twitter stream was this:

Paul Corsi

And my heart just sank. Tears welled-up. Just days before — March 30 — Paul had stopped by the Facebook page for The Power of Unpopular and uploaded a picture of him holding my book. Two great pictures, in fact — just look at that smile. It was hard for be to believe I’d never see a comment from him on my Facebook page or the blog again. See, Paul’s been here for the long haul like many of you. Whether it was a note in my inbox responding to a post, a comment on Facebook, or a brief comment on a blog post, Paul’s kind of a mainstay in the RedheadWriting world. His tweets on Twitter were less frequent, but when you take a look at the scenery in that picture above, there’s no wonder at all that his username was @stmaarten.

So today, I’m reminded of a few things — as one who writes, we’re seen by many as people who focus more on sending than receiving. Here’s what’s been running around my red head since 8pm last night:

  • Rethinking your readers: Subscribers come and go, but never forget that they’re the solitary reason you get the chance to write. None of us write with dreams of posthumous fame. We write for now. If no one is there to read, you’re doing something wrong. Maybe it’s not granting your audience the respect and honor it deserves. And maybe I just wrote a book about this very thing.
  • The indisputable fact that social media is the motherfucking bomb: Back in 2005, I started a little private project called Redheaded Fury. I think 7 people read it. Today, I earn a living as a writer and strategist who applies everything I’ve learned so that other brands can find their own flavor of success…and with the right audience. If it weren’t for Twitter, Facebook, and my blog, I’d have none of this. Paul found me on Twitter. He followed a link over to my blog, and there he’s been for the past 3 years.
  • It’s never about you: Death has a pretty rude way of making you grow up against your will. There was a day in October of 2010 where my friend Merredith stop me in the midst of a panicked tirade when Jason was in the hospital and said, “Honey, this isn’t about you.” To this day, it’s the most treasured piece of advice I’ve ever received.  I might blog, write books, and have a magazine column and all that fancy-schmancy, but it’s never about me. If I don’t find a way to include my audience in every thought and experience I share, it’s all worth dick. So yeah — losing Paul from the RedheadWriting community reminds me that it’s never about me. I write for you. And meeting you, hearing from you, and even on occasion, arguing with you are the best part of what I get to do for a living. If I don’t make you feel, you won’t come back. So it’s always and forever about you, not me.
  • The R word: Referrals. Someone in Paul’s life knew how much he loved my work. They knew enough that I would want to know he’d passed away. That means he talked about this redhead woman in Denver, Colorado who writes a no-holds-barred blog to people who were important to him. People find us because others think we’re worth their referral. And sure, a retweet or linkback from just the right psuedo-online personality or news source might make your blog blow up, but it’s our responsibility as writers to give people a reason to come back…and invite their friends when they return.

So today, we say farewell to Paul Corsi. A guy I never even got the opportunity to meet in-person, but one who made this place better. He’s a pretty fan-fucking-tastic example of why I say thank you so much to all of you. And yeah, I can’t explain why I’m crying while writing this post this morning. I’ll venture to say that it’s a culmination of all of my own bullshit mixed with the simple fact that I’m human. Paul was always human with us, too.

That’s why he’ll be missed.

90 comments
Kate
Kate

What a touching post.  And though I was moved to comment today, I am often moved by your posts -- especially the way you blend very real, quiet, human things (like the importance of community, of one's readers, or the pain of grief...) with your quick no-bullshit style.  I am sort of maybe starting a new blog (cautiously, tentatively dipping my toe in the blogging water) and you are one of the bloggers out there that inspires me with each post you share.  Thank you.

Ralph Dopping
Ralph Dopping

Hey there Erika, I come by your site by way of Srini Rao after listening to your convo with him at Blogcast FM. Love Srini and really enjoyed your sense of humour. Thanks for all the tips and thanks for the one's above. It's really awesone that you can share a story like that and bring some good ideas to the table along with it. I had a chat with Srini last night about building enagagement and as the wise man he is he asked me to define it. Bastard! Anyway, engaging with your readers, your subscribers, is to me an awesome way to build that community and remembering that it's not about you (me) is the best advice anyone can take. I know you didn't know Paul but I feel i need to say sorry for your loss. How may business people out there (let alone bloggers) are going to devote time and a post to one subscriber? I hope many more than you. This post has reminded me about why I started blogging in the first place.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Here's to Paul for being there for you. Here's to you for being there for Paul. Because that's truly what makes the world go round.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And thank YOU for taking the time to read, Karin.

Barb
Barb

OMG.........Thank-you so much, Red.  I forwarded this blog to Paul's family........You are a wonderful person.  Paul will know. Barb (bestnurse101)

Ted Stauffer
Ted Stauffer

How sad, yet very awesome that someone let you know that you were important to him. You're tribute to this fan is exactly what I would expect from you Erika, simply beautiful.

Brian D. Meeks
Brian D. Meeks

That was a beautiful tribute to your reader.  It made me tear up a bit.

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

Holding a glass up to Paul.   My condolences Erika.

lissaduty
lissaduty

Erika, I didn't know Paul. I wish I did! This blog post is great and a good reminder for all of us to appreciate our audience, since they are usually a big key to our individual successes! :-)

tomRmalcolm
tomRmalcolm

"... make you feel..." yep, ain't THAT what it's all about...

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika, I've ben writing for an awfully long time. It's just so easy to overlook the fact that our readers have what I call the three Fs; faces, family and feelings. Thanks for reminding us. I'm sorry to hear about Paul. But you've chosen the perfect time of the year to tell us. Look after yourself Best Wishes Leon

April Johnson
April Johnson

My heart, thoughts & sympathy go out to you, Erika, you, the other many RHW fans and of course to Paul's family & friends.  What a beautiful reminder of the many gifts, pleasures, heartaches, and memories in life!  

Dick Carlson
Dick Carlson

I had heart bypass surgery in January.  Believe me, it changes your perspective from this end as well.

Susie @ Newdaynewlesson
Susie @ Newdaynewlesson

That was a beautiful tribute. And I stay despite your language lol (I am a old fashioned prude yet I am still here.)

Gwen
Gwen

It's the connection.  The human bond that ties our hearts as earth inhabitants to one another.  The amazing string that sings and twines its way through our hearts as we find a way to navigate this ocean of tumultuous longing and rejoicing and bonding.  No doubt...those whom we find along this way are dear to us.  I understand, my BOLD and brazen heart-friend.  Carry on to touch life upon life...as only you can.

danny abalos
danny abalos

hello erika so sad to hear about pauls death...on the bright side though, he loved reading your shit and even sent you a picture of him with your book from the beach, what a loyal reader he was.  we all know that we write, sell, communicate or whatever for the other person and sometimes we are reminded of that lest we forget who we really are. nice post and paul will be missed by all i'm sure. rest in peace paul and may the rest of us be better every day carpe diem to all danny

Cinnamon3711
Cinnamon3711

So well said. I was lucky to be one of Paul's friends and you would have loved him. Everyone he touched became a friend immediately. It doesn't surprise me he connected with you even without meeting face to face.

jessicamalnik
jessicamalnik

RIP Paul.  It's crazy to think how someone you have only talked to online and never met IRL can have such a tremendous impact on your life. It's also a great reminder in the power of relationships- and taking those newfound online connections offline. Thanks for such a profound and authentic post. 

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

Hi Erika, I listened to your interview on BlogcastFM this morning while getting in some quality treadmill time, and then I listened some more while in the car, ... because it was so damned long. ;) Actually I'm glad you rambled, because it was all great stuff! I'll listen again and take notes, but I loved it and learned quite a bit. I also paid attention when you discussed community. I paid extra special attention. So, now I read this and see exactly what you were talking about. "Someone in Paul’s life knew how much he loved my work. They knew enough that I would want to know he’d passed away." --That is pretty amazing to me really. Being about seven months in to blogging I can't even imagine it, but it's obvious you truly value your community. "The indisputable fact that social media is the motherfucking bomb" --Amen! It's changed my life in a very short period of time, so I'm on board for the long haul.

Teacie Ewing
Teacie Ewing

Beautiful and insightful, as always. Thank you.

Denis McBriarty
Denis McBriarty

Wow...a lot of insight there, wise, selfless and yes, human.

Lexie's Kitchen
Lexie's Kitchen

We learn and gain insight, even in the experience of death.

Alison Law
Alison Law

This post demonstrates the power of community. Two key components are #1 delivering value and #2 valuing those who gather here. I can see why Paul showed up and know that he'll be missed.

Joel Don
Joel Don

Even though it's not about you, thank YOU for sharing this requiem for a reader.

John Trader
John Trader

The collective strength of your community to you EN. Somewhere, Paul is kicking it on his eternal beach smiling down at you for making such an impact in his life. 

Joe Mayberry
Joe Mayberry

Thank you for sharing. This post really reminded me that it's the people who are important for being themselves, and not for what they may or may not do for us.

Bob R
Bob R

I honestly can't remember how I found your blog earlier today, but I will remember that this was the first of your blog posts that I read.

AmyS
AmyS

Cheers to you, Paul.  May you be as happily and unrepentantly unusual in the beyond as you were here.  And kudos to the nurse who contacted about Paul's passing - a dedicated professional who kept caring about the wishes of her patient even after he was gone.  That's pretty damn awesome. Now where's my Kleenex?  Damn.

karin mesa
karin mesa

Sorry you lost your reader, Paul. Thanks for letting us see how real and important he was to you.

Lori
Lori

Certainly a tremendous argument for taking your social media efforts offline as well - meeting as many people in person as you can. That's my favorite "social" part. Which connections will you keep for the rest of you life? Who have you affected across the miles? Indeed, social media is da bomb.  Your posts always hit me like a brick to the head - usually because of the language - but this one I was unprepared for. What a compliment to your work Erika - to have such a fan, in a stranger. Death has a way of highlighting what's important - immediately. 

Donna Eaton
Donna Eaton

Thanks for reminding us it matters. Hugs to Paul's family. Including you.

Cherry
Cherry

touching. thanks Reds; I'm glad you're human yet sorry you're sad. great and timely advice from Merridith for all of us. "It's not about you."

Stephanie Hackney
Stephanie Hackney

For you, as you mourn the loss of your reader, Paul: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”    Maya Angelou  

DebbieEhm
DebbieEhm

Thank you so much Erica! You brought a tear to my eye as well. I'm sure Paul's family is pleased to know that he touched people far and wide through your blog <3

Diane Cook-Tench
Diane Cook-Tench

I lost a friend yesterday to cancer and feel motivated to make more of a positive difference in how I communicate and share ideas.  We all impact one another and it's great to see this post acknowledge the importance of our readers and the communities we build together.

Cathy Presland
Cathy Presland

So sorry to read this. It happened to me a couple of weeks ago when someone I only knew on twitter passed away. It somehow brings this virtual reality right into our present. A strange and sobering experience. My thoughts are with you. Cathy

Cynthia
Cynthia

I'm so sorry.  And your words about Death forcing us to grow up are so true.  Peace.

Casey B
Casey B

I am sorry for your loss. It doesn't matter whether or not you met in person, Paul made a difference to your life...and he clearly wasn't just another reader to you. Thank you for honouring him in this way, and honouring us by allowing us to share in your tribute. I found this via Erin Margolin, just to let you know.  Wishing you peace and strength on your journey,  Casey B 

Sandi Amorim
Sandi Amorim

I saw the update you posted on Facebook yesterday and had an immediate reaction as well. First, that someone had passed on (this past year has made me all emotional like that) and second, that you would share the information about this man you'd never met and how he'd made a difference to you.  The thing that struck me was that we just don't know how we're making a difference to someone else's life, do we. Yet we are. Always making a difference. 

Jim Brochowski
Jim Brochowski

Ah you got me. I'm calling it mist. It's mist I tell you. Well said, not overstated, very human. I'm proud to be a reader. :-)

Tea Silvestre
Tea Silvestre

Thank you for sharing this experience with us, Erika. A VERY important message and reminder about the power of relationships.

Trackbacks

  1. […] also wrote a blog post titled “What it means when you lose a reader“. Go read it. Draw you own conclusions. What I saw and felt was realizing that the emotional […]

  2. […] I wanted to mention a post that, while I didn’t write it,  could have come straight from my heart.    I’m well […]