I was speaking at the Everything Food Conference (if you haven't gone, definitely check it out!) and during the conference several people talked about "Serving Your Readers". One blogger mentioned how hard they find that concept, especially when people are being critical, rude, or just plain mean. They were asking for tips on how to handle them.
It was actually this question that got me to mentally shift my focus, from "Serve Your Readers" to "Serve Your FANS".
"Readers" is too generic of a term and includes way too many people. Just because someone stumbles upon your website (or watches your YouTube video, listens to your podcast, etc.) doesn't mean you created that content for them or that they are part of your tribe.
To paraphrase what Tim Schmoyer from Video Creators said during a presentation he gave - if you know your belief statement, you can easily ignore everyone that disagrees with it, because they aren't your audience.
So if you believe "It's possible to replace meat with a healthier alternative throughout your diet" then don't worry if I'm not a fan of a recipe because "This would be better with steak". I don't matter, so just ignore me, or politely say, "I'm sorry this wasn't what you were looking for" and then get back to focusing on everyone else who DOES believe it's better without steak.
As Seth Godin likes to say, "Shun the nonbelievers", if you try to make things for the average person, you'll make average products. So find your tribe, those people who "get" you and what you are writing about, and focus on what THEY think, and them alone.
This is why finding a niche is so important, so you know who you are really writing for, and you know who your fans are. Once you've built this base, just focus on them and ignore everyone else.
People, especially on the internet, can just be downright mean sometimes. They may insult your blog, your photography, or even you personally. The best way to handle this is to simply delete their comment, and when possible block / ban / blacklist them so you never have to see their comments again.
This can be hard, but remember that wading into the gutter to interact with them is a waste of your time, and accomplishes nothing besides making them happy they riled you up. Their whole point of writing in is to make you angry or sad...DON'T LET THEM WIN.
Just delete the comment and get back to supporting the people who cherish what you have to say.
Have you had to deal with critics and nonbelievers? How do you handle them? Let me know in the comments below.