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How to Get In Tune with Your Readers Needs [and Produce Compelling Content]

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of July 2009 Featured Posts, Writing Content 0 Comments

Compelling“having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect”

compelling-blog-content.jpgImage by margolove

Compelling content is a cornerstone of all great blogs. But what is it? How do you write it? Why do some blogs have it and others don’t?

Over the next week at ProBlogger I’ll be exploring a number of important principles (I have 7 so far) of producing compelling blog content. Not all of the principles covered will be relevant for every post you write or even for every type of blog but hopefully in these principles you’ll find something that helps to take your own content to the next level.

Make sure you’re subscribed to ProBlogger to get updates of each post in this series.

Principle #1 – Being In Tune with Your Readers Needs

For content to be compelling it needs to connect with needs of those consuming it.

Whether those needs are for entertainment, news, inspiration, community, instruction, intellectual stimulation, a laugh/or a cry etc – if your content meets the need it goes a long long way to being compelling – after-all, who pays attention to something that has little relevance to them?

Staying in tune with these needs can be done in a variety of ways including:

  • watching the comments section of your blog for questions and problems
  • watching your metrics to see what words people are searching for in search engines to arrive on your blog
  • watching what people are searching for when they are on your blog using your internal search tool
  • running focus groups with loyal readers (something I’ve done a few times with real success)
  • keeping an eye on what questions are being asked on other blogs, forums and on social media sites
  • writing a post asking your readers for their questions or giving them an opportunity to share their needs

3 Hot Tips For Connecting with Reader Needs

Hot Tip #1 – Best and Worst Posts

I’ve recently asked my readers to share their ‘best and worst’ aspects of blogging at the end of a week. One of the benefits of doing this (and one I didn’t anticipate) was that it identified some common and recurring problems that my readers were having. The comments on these posts have led to me writing numerous posts that directly seek to solve their problems.

Ultimately your goal as a blogger should be to produce content that adds value to people’s lives. Produce this and you’ve got a great foundation to build a successful blog upon.

Hot Tip #2 – Ask So What?

I love the question that Chris Garrett (the co-author of the ProBlogger book) encourages bloggers to ask every time they write a blog post.

The question is – ‘So What?’

This question is all about asking yourself whether a post actually matters – does it have any point? Will it help people in some way?

Write it out in bold lettering and put it somewhere prominent in the place that you blog. Before your hit ‘publish’ on any post ask it to yourself – ‘SO WHAT’? Does your point have a point? Does it meet a need? Who will it help?

Hot Tip #3 – Solve your Own Problems

One of the best ways to ensure that your content is meeting real needs that people have is to Solve Your OWN Needs and Problems.

An exercise that I do every time I start a new blog is to not only brainstorm a list of topics I have expertise on and things that I can help others with – but I also create a list of things that I need to learn for myself on the topic. What don’t I know yet? What challenges do I currently face? What aspects of this topic do I ask others about?

Once you’ve got that kind of list you have a list of real needs that people have and your goal needs to be to learn more in order to be able to answer them or to find someone else to help you write content on those topics.

Another useful list to create is a list of problems that you have previously had and have overcome. Think back to when you were just first exploring your topic (or if you can’t remember put yourself in the shoes of a complete newbie who has just started out). What questions did you have? What mistakes did you make? What challenges did you not know how to overcome. These beginner questions and needs are GOLD – write them down and write posts that answer them.

Homework – Go Do This!

Take 15 minutes to go on a Reader Need Hunt

Your goal is to spend the next 15 minutes compiling a list of needs that your current readers and/or potential readers might have.

Start in your blog’s own comment section and hunt for questions and then proceed through the list mentioned above. If you don’t have any readers or those you have are not verbalizing their needs yet – focus upon the last two items on the list.

You can’t find enough of these types of problems and needs. Compile them all in a list and keep it somewhere that you can begin to work through.

What You Said on the Topic

When I asked you what compelling content was to you the themes I’ve explored above came up a lot – here’s some of what you said on the topic:

  • “Content that teaches you something that you can walk away and hold onto. Any bit of information that you can apply to your life.” Mitch
  • “It helps me solve a problem that I have” – Jan
  • ” it needs to be a useful or helpful to the targeted audience. People likes to learn something useful or helpful” – Bash Bosh
  • “Helps me solve a problem that I have” – Dave
  • “The important of audience is pretty obvious – write what appeals to your readership.” – Jeffrey
  • “I enjoy content that logically lays out a problem and then shows me how to solve it.” – Jarie
  • “To me, compelling content is content which falls into one of – 1) Educates me on something I am interested in. 2) Provides insight into something I am interested in. 3) Helps me solve a problem” – Wesley
  • “Helps me to solve an issue or makes something easier to deal with, whether professional or personal. Sometimes its even straight forward advice you read and then think, this is it – this will work – this is my answer! These are often called my “Lightbulb Moments.”” – Denise
  • “For me, compelling content answers a question, solves a problem, or teaches me something I need to know.” – Judy

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’ll feature more in coming days as we explore more on the topic of how to create compelling content.

Make sure you’re subscribed to ProBlogger to get updates of each post in this series.

Update: I’ll list future posts in this series as they are published:

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Internet marketing has so many areas that it seems not enough to just stick to what you already know. Keeping updated by joining forums, reading other people’s blog and attending trainings and seminars either on the web or not is indispensable.

  2. I think that the secret of success in the online marketing varies. Determined on the nature of your own websites, the best approach might differed from some other kinds of individual blogs.
    In order to lead your own online marketing into success, it’s necessary to check the marketing approaches of different kinds of websites and try to follow the pattern of the websites with similar nature to yours.

  3. You have some really good information on here with tons to read about. MY blog is business related and I have no readers. Just a bunch of spam. I’m sure nobody wants to read about movers in Phoenix on a regular basis so I will have to search for my own readers. Thank you for your articles.

  4. Lacking comments, I use wordpress stats to see what people are searching for, then update those posts to incorporate the keywords better.

    I don’t have enough traffic yet to mine the comments.

  5. No doubt about that, what ever said is absolutely true and the best way to understand a person is via surveys and feedback.

  6. Regarding writing down problems beginners may have faced…sometimes I have the opposite problem, where I’ll get TOO detailed with the steps involved in a process. Once I found myself writing a blog post about how to log in to WordPress.com…maybe overkill?

  7. Awesome information! What I need to do is get more interactive with my readers, and you really helped me out! I like the 3 hot tips. Thanks problogger!

  8. this is so helpful. I rarely consider solving problems via blog content .

  9. Having worked as a freelance writer, editor and PR consultant, I’ve learned that the more you focus on your reader’s needs (than on what you want to say) the more effective you’ll be. This is true when pitching the media; most people miss the mark because they’ve been seduced by their message and seldom think if it meets the media’s needs. The same is true with blogging. Speak to your reader’s needs and issues. Easy to say, sometimes hard to remember.

  10. Compelling content is something that I sometimes struggle with because sometimes I just need to get content posted.

  11. Very cool tips! Before this, i just write at my own pleasure. I will implement your tips. Thanks a lot!

  12. Anyone can well produce content in any possible flatform available, but the ultimate question is, ‘is it compelling?’ I agree to your insights and advices, they are laced with truth and straightforward enough for an ordinary person to understand and reach this goal. :)

  13. Fact find, Fact find and fact find some more! I constantly train my sales teams on the basis that if they don’t know what the client needs or is looking for, how do they expect to sell them anything! I also use that theory in every article I post.

    Find out what your readers are looking for and provide the solutions or answers on your blog and you will build a large and loyal following.

  14. You’re so right, understanding your reader is key. As a writer (of blogs, books or anything else), your reader is your customer. Without them, you don’t have a business.

  15. I have installed the KeywordLuv and now trying it out to see the effectiveness.

  16. Compelling content has to have some kind of edge over others that creates value. Good post… thank you.

  17. Love the series idea! I’ll definitely stay tuned to hear more.

  18. Great post Darren, like always there something to learn.

  19. Nice article, totally agree that simply asking the readers is a critically important way to get feedback.

  20. Darren, this approach is very effective when a blog receives as many comments as you get per post :)

    I recently started deriving ideas from various forum posts that I come across.

    Thanks for sharing the info Darren. Your posts are most eagerly awaited.

  21. Another good post is one that helps me to solve a problem I didn’t realise I had until I read the post!

    Keep up the great work…


  22. I always keep an eye on what questions are being asked on other blogs and forums.

  23. this is so helpful. I rarely consider solving problems via blog content .

  24. Great tips! Content is the soul of a blog. To get in tune with the reader’s needs, what I do is see what is relevant for the time being and how it affected me and what I can suggest to either solve it or my two cents.

  25. I have found that different forums are great places to look for things people need more information about.Another way is to simply ask for readers opinion after a blog post, you will get good input that way as well.

  26. As a newbie blogger, I’ll be taking everything I learned from this and banking on it. I definitely want to help my readers solve their problems!



  27. Great post! success in blogging is directly related to it’s readers opinions of your content – connecting with them is the key role in getting to know who they are and developing a relationship with them….Thanks for sharing Darren!

  28. Thanks for the post Darren. This is the first time I’ve posted on someone else’s blog. I think that truth is compelling. What resonates more than the truth? I think when people read it or hear it, or whatever, they recognize and appreciate it. And I believe that really great and compelling content must have a great deal of it. How’s that for a load of Malarkey!. Just kidding, I really meant what I said about my first blog post and my comment about the truth. Just started a week off from work and was feeling a little snarky.

  29. I hope I will get more reader from now because I must apply this theory in my personal blog.thank you very much for your article.

  30. Online content is definitely king. And the quality of that content decides how good of “king” you really are. If the content is bad or boring, visitors won’t stay long and will be less likely to return.

  31. Hey

    This is the first time I’ve been over here but I’ll be back for some more killer information!

    I have recently started blog and really want to find out what my readers problems are. Some of these tips are absolute GOLD!

    Probably a bit stupid of me for not thinking of this, but just checking which keywords people are searching for when they land on your blog is so easy to do!

    I also like the So What? Question. I have just read a couple of my own posts and thought that, so will be using in in the future!

    Thanks for the great post!


  32. First of all, Darren, I appreciate what you do here quite a lot.

    With this post you really stated what the very purpose of your blog is, which really demonstrates it is a pro-blogger blog, designed to help bloggers.

    Secondly, I tried myself, for countless times to convince others of the importance of the content. You give many accurate details on how useful content has to be planned before being written, which by my experience is a highly time consuming action. In today’s world nobody has the time anymore to do things right. So it becomes much easier for many to just throw away some text and make it appear online. The potential revenue that could come with content become the number one priority for many.

    Surprisingly people just consume whatever they are given if it comes from a popular source. Only a very few actually take the time of analyzing what they read through their own brain and not take everything for granted. The AdSense fever is shaping the new face of the internet and we are just witnesses to this.

    I’ve seen people calculating how many posts they could write per day and how much money this could bring for them, but I haven’t seen anyone really care about what happens next, about what usefulness that content that they produce can bring to others.

    And giving the fact that every individual with a pc and an internet connection can potentially become a content generator who will ever have the time to judge which content is good and which is not. The answer should be : the internet users, the visitors.

    But as we can all see more and more sites pop up just like mushrooms after rain, and it might be only my opinion but I think that the quality of the content is no longer a priority to the large mass of content generators.

  33. Thansk for the great advice. I am going to apply what you have mentioned here and work to make my blog more effective. I look forward to your future posts and learning more from your site.

  34. Solid work Darren.

    Hot tip #2 is…Hot.

    Thanks for sharing.

  35. Great Work. Write wonderful content to impress the readers are not as easy as people usually thing. It requires dedicated work. You nailed it on this topic.

  36. Nice work, man.
    I’ve been working hard trying to improve this aspect of my blog as well. It is a hard work. You’ve offered some very helpful tips. And I’ve also got some idea from the comments above.
    Thanks a lot for all of you for sharing your thought.

  37. Great Work.I’d like the thank the blog owner for posting it.
    Great Comments. I’d like to thank the readers for sharing more helpful and relevant information.
    I think if the content the blogger offered is important or interested enough, people will be willing to spend time on the surveys that they have to answer ahead.
    For example, if you are offering online video clips people are keen to watch online or download, it will make better motivation.

  38. That is the most important thing to remember – the blog is for the reader. The author is enriched through the reader’s experience.

  39. There are different writing styles but most of the time, I try my best to write naturally so that I can express my views and present my ideas. It’s not easy to get readers’ attention but I guess what you mentioned here is absolutely right.

  40. yes I understand that I have to learn before writing on a particular topic, compiling is the key

  41. For me it’s a simple case of tell them what they need to know + something they never “thought” they needed to know (a surprise of sorts – something that’s factual, surprising and…. but most importantly ADDS VALUE.
    Regards, Fleur Brown

  42. Totally agree with the point of solving your own problems. This itself should give a lot of insight into determining right content for blog.

  43. Hello Darren!

    These are very helpful advices to bloggers. Some bloggers, for want of content on their sites, sometimes sacrifice quality for quantity. Through experience, I have learned that the quality of a blog matters a lot. Good blogs are those that help readers learn something new, which do matter to them.

    Aside from blog comments, one idea I can also share is browsing forums and question & answer pages. Through these sites, one can have an idea of what information readers want to know about.

  44. Listening is always the key to a good blog – if you give your readers what they want they will always stay faithful to you…

  45. I think I’m in tune with my reader’s needs. They want to earn money and I show them ways. :D

  46. Thanks. I’m just in the beginning of starting my own blog on my website. Will keep all your tips in mind.

  47. Nice post, Darren! I agree, you do need to be in tune with your Readers Needs to be successful at blogging, in my opinion anyway. I try to write articles that target my readers thoughts and needs specifically.

  48. Hi Darren!
    I really like this topic , as most of the new bloggers like me will definetly find useful from this.
    I am also from one of them who is looking for an good traffic on my blog. Its really having an
    good stuff to refer and implement these things on my blog.
    Thanks Darren once again for such post.

  49. Great post Darren! Really love the tip to ask our readers, what are their worst and best experiences. Creates community, and the more we can find out their needs, the more we can help them. Thank you for your tips, looking forward to learning more from you.


  50. Very nice post and I really liked the ” So What” Tip

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