Updated post first published Jun 19, 2008
Letting Your Blog Go #3
Another way that some bloggers let their blogs go is to let their blog become more about them and their own needs and less about the needs of their readers.
A blog will only ever be successful if it fulfills a need for readers in some way. This need might be for information, tips, inspiration, entertainment, community etc.
I’ve seen a number of blogs over the years rise to popularity only to fall in a heap when the blogger took their readers for granted.
This can happy in many ways:
- bloggers whose posts become stuffed with affiliate programs/paid reviews
- bloggers who become too big for their boots (arrogance)
- bloggers who just promote their own work and don’t acknowledge their readers or other blogs in their niche
Let me say that I understand how easy it is to let your blog slip in this area. Sometimes the temptation to make your blog self serving rather than reader serving is great – however you need to keep the balance right (and it is a balancing act because a blog needs to serve you too).
The solution is to know your readers and why they come to your blog and to work towards being a useful blog that fulfills their needs.
Tips for Having a Blog that Serves You AND Your Reader:
Every now and again it is worth doing an audit or review of your blog in numerous areas. One of these should be around how useful your blog is and how much you focus upon your readers. So do a review in this area by asking some of the following questions:
- How many of my posts have practically helped people lately?
- What percentage of my posts contain affiliate links or paid reviews?
- Have I heard any recurring reader complaints lately?
- How much reader interaction do I have (in email and comments)?
- Do I answer reader questions?
- What have I given to my readers?
If you are out of balance with your blogging here are a few suggestions that I’d make to right things (based upon previous posts here at ProBlogger):
- Email a new Reader – emailing someone that is new to your blog can make a great first impression.
- Email an old Reader – sometimes long term readers can feel a little unnoticed when a blog grows. They used to get personal attention but then it disappears. An email can reignite their passion for your blog.
- Respond to a Reader Comment – being active in your own comments section makes a big impression.
- Run a Reader Survey – the perfect way to get in tune with readers
- Make a Reader Famous – blogs are usually about making bloggers famous – but one that highlights and shows off it’s readers will always attract new people to them.
- Ask for Reader Questions – and Answer them – this ensures a relevant, open and useful blog
- Check Your Stats to See what Questions Readers Have – this technique for finding out what your readers are searching for is priceless!
- Write a ‘How to’/Tip post that will help readers with something practical – the more practical and ‘useable’ your posts are the more you’ll find readers attracted to what you write.
Ultimately, when you find that your blog is starting to serve you more than readers its about refocussing your blog. Draw a line in the sand today and make it the start to a more useful experience for your readers.
Remember – it’s about Balance
Do keep in mind that for a blog to be sustainable in the long term it can’t be ALL about your readers. Yes they need to be front and center in your mind – but YOU need to get something out of your blog too. This might simply be personal satisfaction, building your profile, earning some money or something else – but unless you gain something from it you’re likely to burn out from your blog.
Get the balance right and you’ll be well positioned to have a blog that not only helps do something for you but that helps others along the way.
In the ProBlogger PLUS FREE Member’s Library we’ve got a downloadable worksheet for you on “How to Make an Impact With Your Blog”. If you’re already a member, just sign in to download. If you’re not a ProBlogger PLUS Member, it’s free to join.
I try to not become self centred on my financial blog. My readers have just started giving me feedback on what they want to read and I am going to do everything within my power to give them what they want.
I don’t just blog for me, I blog to help others. But i do keep a healthy balance
Bookmark in Del.icio.us? Check.
Reminder in calendar to come back and re-read this every few months? Check.
Due to recent changes in my life, I’ve largely had to let my biggest blog slip by on my number of posts, but the Google hits just keep rolling in on my most popular posts.
They are serving the ever-important function of providing information, even though it’s not my prettiest or most in-depth post since then. I love it for its simple utility of truly serving a purpose in this world, and it’s funny how the comments keep trickling in more than a year later:
Does anyone else out there have posts that keep the comments coming in for months that just brings a smile to your face?
It can get harder the more popular your blog becomes, but remember that without your readers, you wouldn’t be where you are now. Nice post!
Blogs work when they are relatable to the readers. I write about myself and my experiences and it works because I make sure that what I am writing is relatable to most people.
The Masked Millionaire
All great tips! Thanks, Darren!
A very important reminder for every blogger or new blogger (guilty as charged, m’lud) out there.
I come from a newspaper background where I was always taught that we were there to ask the questions and find the answers that the public wanted to know but didn’t have the opportunity to pose themselves. Assuming readers are drawn to blogs in the same way they are to good, well-written news, then this is a post definitely worth remembering for any blogger out there, I’d guess.
I’m loving this series, Darren. I’ve considered this point so often, and still don’t think I’ve found exactly the right balance. I find I only stay inspired if I’m blogging for me, but I also want to “do” for my readers, because they are so important. I need to be inspired, or I can’t write what I want to write. But I also need to know people are reading. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Perhaps half the battle is awareness. The rest will fall into place.
I agree with Kelly. Most of my posts come from runner quesitons/feedback from readers. But, I throw in personal stuff as well. Too much of anything is boring.
Hey Darren, I appreciate the post. I’ve started a number of blogs over the past few years, all of which I’ve become burned out on or lost interest in due to lack of readership.
However, your posts on how to let your blog go (and please keep them coming) have helped me develop a strong foundation for my newest blog about WordPress tips and tricks. My goal is to focus on writing practical tutorials, tips, and tricks for first time WordPress users (I’ve always used Blogger in the past).
Your posts are helping me remember “what not to do” as my new blog grows and develops.
Tyler @ TysTips.com
Thanks Darren – I’m approaching month #4 of my blog, and at times I find myself sliding the subject matter back to myself – but I always try to use events that happen to me as an example that might help my readers.
@FitMom, if too much of anything is boring, then what do you say to niche bloggers like The Masked Millionaire above?
In my opinion, the more you give your readers what they want, the more they will listen to what you tell them. And if that means talking a little about yourself within your blog, promoting affiliate programs, then great!
The more authority your readers perceive you as having, the more you can promote yourself and your products. But you’re absolutely correct, balance is key.
First comment in a few days, so congratulations on the birth of your baby boy!
I think that in order to get what you want, you have to give others what they want. Your focus should always be on the reader and satisfying the reasons that they have for visiting your blog. If your visitors are happy, they’ll keep coming back and clicking on the ads and the affiliate links. You provide excellent suggestions here for keeping your readers happy.
Blogs work when they are closer to the readers. I write about myself and my life and it works, because what I am writing is well understood by most people.
Thanks for this!
I was inspired by this post to make my readers famous in the next few days!
Thank you for the suggestions!
I’ve already kept in close contact with the old and new readers via E-mail but this one I’ve never thought of.
By the way, anyone reading this should know by now that if you want something, give it away!
If you’re sitting there wondering, “Why don’t my readers E-mail me?”
Start e-mailing them first!
If you’re sitting there wondering, “Why don’t my readers show any appreciation to my work?”
Give appreciation to them first!
I just did that and I made a video for my readers 2 days ago:
Click here to watch how to appreciate your readers.
=) I got a few E-mails in after that – 2 birds with one stone ;)
I’ll immediately implement that “getting readers famous” tip now Darren and thanks loads!
To Constant & Never-Ending Improvement,
The World’s First Teen
Personal Development Video Blogger
P.S. Anyone has any tips on how to make my readers famous?
Oops, submitted this comment on the wrong post, sorry.
I like the idea about making someone famous. Care to try it with my site? :)
Thanks for the info
What? I thought everybody wanted to hear about every little thing I do…(including all the antics of my cat, my dog, my goat and the mouse that lives in my pantry).
Your telling me I have to give something…what do ya take me for?….some kind of father christmas mother theresa type. pooh!
You know some, I am quite elated at your write up and would like you to my personal mentor on finding my voice and writing too for profit as a woman. I am a prolific writer and would surely do well at this.
Great piece of work you are doing, please do keep it up.
Arrogance oozing from a blog is such a turn off for me. From the moment I detect it, I lose interest and go else where.
I suspect that the majority of online surfers may have this same reaction to self serving and self centered blogs.
I also wonder why owners of blogs don’t respond to comments made on their blog.
I, personally, feel this could create a very valuable person touch not often found on blogs.
For the most part I agree that you have to consider your readers while you are blogging, however, you need to also consider yourself. One of my biggest problems with blogging is I concern myself too much with what I think I should do, and how I should write if I want to be considered “professinal”. But I have found that if I don’t worry about how I should write, and just be myself, then I write better posts. And in the end that is better for my readers!
I’ve noticed blogs that start out well but quickly turn into what are more appropriately called personal journals, which isn’t a bad thing, but those kinds of blogs tend to ramble or get too introspective for general readership. It’s not that they’re arrogant or self-promotional as much as that they’ve lost a clear focus and a shared commonality with the readership.
I’ve also seen blogs and/or journals overly manipulated by readers, so you’re right about finding the balance.
I once knew a blog that was very successful and then the owner of the blog thought they could do no wrong. Treated people horribly. Would not acknowledge others in their same niche and now that blog is all but in the toilet.
The sad thing is, it was a “good cause” and “could” still be making a difference, but instead arrogance has set in.
I think it really depends on the focus of your blog. Some are more community driven and model themselves as place to find help and assistance for a particular topic. Problogger is an example. When I come to PB I expect (and to be honest feel entitled) too certain types of posts. Not just topics, but I expect that the article will help me to make my blog better. In other words a blog like PB can’t afford to be self-centered. It always has to be in a giving mode.
On the other hand there are plenty of blogs that haven’t dug themselves into a particular hole and I can’t expect anything from them other than quality writing on whatever they choose to write about.
thanks Darren, your posts are so informative that i could gain a lot from them. However, i still don’t know how to establish my blog’s readship, can you give me advice to deal with it? thank you.
Just yesterday I unsubscribed from 2 once-favorite blogs because I had grown so tired of all the blah blah blah about the writers’ lives. Every blog I read must give me some personal value (even if it’s just pure entertainment), or there’s not enough reason to fit it into my overcrowded day….
Woke up this morning thinking, “wow, that would be a good example for How to Let Your Blog Go.” But no surprise to see you’re already all over it!
I enjoyed your post. Don’t get too cynical though.
Interesting content should always be your priority, regardless of the market you cater to.