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Where the Readers Are

A few years back a colleague asked me what web sites I read most often, and I sat back and said that I really didn't read any sites regularly anymore. The days when I'd make obligatory stops at and and were long behind me. Instead, my reading focused on RSS feeds (then in Bloglines, now in Google Reader), a few really good email newsletters, and sites like (And I still have not broken, and probably never will break, my two-newspaper-a-day habit, but that's another post.)

I've moved even a step beyond that now; my Google Reader has "more than 1,000" unread items, as it will until I get around to hitting the "Mark All Read" button. I read different feeds at different times as the mood strikes me, but I never have time for all of them.

The obligatory reads are the items my friends and colleagues share, whether through Google Reader or Seen This or Pownce or whatever. Once upon a time you'd email interesting stories to your friends, but now you digg them and post them to Facebook. If your content is not available for this kind of sharing, then it is essentially invisible.

Your web site is a downtown storefront in a declining neighborhood, and no matter how much time you spend dressing the mannequins in the window, the foot traffic is going to keep declining as your competitors open up branches in the mall. (As a devoted lover of urban neighborhoods, I'm happy to say that this analogy is a little outdated -- the retail strip on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn is booming even as many malls are struggling -- but I'll stick with it since it gets the point across.) You need to go where your readers are, because they don't have the time or interest or awareness to come to you.