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:
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.