A Guest post by Stanford from Pushing Social. Image by superbomba.
Your blog is like the popular kid at school.
It needs to look great, be funny, smart, and remember everybody’s name. It’s a tough job.
But the hardest part of the job is keeping everyone happy.
You are probably figuring out that your readers are not all cut from the same cloth. Although they may share a common interest, each has his or her own reason for visiting your blog. Some are casual readers, while others are hardcore fanatics that devour every word.
It’s easy to believe that every reader will be satisfied with your 300-700-word post. Not so. In fact, your standard post may only satisfy a fraction of your readers and leave the rest wondering, “Where’s the beef?”
If you want your blog to grow, get passed around, and inspire an engaged community, you’ll need to write content that makes everyone happy.
Wait, you can’t make everybody happy … right?
I know that blog readers — myself included — can be a fickle crowd. There’s a handful of blogs that I read daily and I have impossible standards. They need to write exactly the type of posts I like, publish them regularly, and never, ever, disappoint me. I’m a tyrant and so are your blog’s readers.
The problem is that you can’t write multiple types of posts every day to satisfy every reader.
But can you make all of your readers happy?
Crowd -> community -> core
Yes you can … by being smart about the content you produce and where you place that content.
It’s useful to think about your audience as overlapping circles of readers. At the center are the core readers. A little further out is your community of regular readers. Furthest out is the crowd, who occasionally visit. All together, these folks form the ecosystem for your blog.
Every day, people read your content and naturally settle into one of these circles. Your goal is to move the crowd to the core.
Let’s take a look at each group and some techniques for keeping them happy.
These folks are dedicated to you. They visit your blog every day and are the first to comment, retweet, and mention your posts. You may even know these fans by name. Core readers are the first to sign up for email courses, pre-order products, and join your affiliate program.
Your goal as a “tribal leader” is to find and connect with your core as quickly as possible.
Core readers are disproportionately influential. Don’t be fooled by their small followings — their enthusiasm is infectious and they can rally a crowd through sheer persistence.
How to make core readers happy
Core readers hunger for more than your usual posts. They want to dive deeper into each of your posts and are starving for more detail. These folks have devoured your archive post and relate to you on a visceral level. You need to kick it up a notch to keep them satisfied. Here’s how to do it:
- Go deep: Use email courses, private forums, and ebooks to give the core a deep dive into your content. My own Spectacular Posts email course is designed to give my core readers new information that I haven’t covered in a post. I don’t hold anything back because my core reader has an insatiable appetite for more information. So does yours.
- Keep your eye on them: Create a list of your core readers in Twitter and bookmark their Facebook pages. Friend them, follow them, and regularly visit their blogs. Make sure they know that you are cheerleading for them.
Community readers are regular visitors to your blog. They are infrequent commenters but frequent retweeters. The community makes up the bulk of your blog’s traffic. They appreciate a consistent message and hate surprises.
How to make the community happy
- Be reliable: Your community wants a steady supply of information that serves their needs. They share your goals and interests and want to hear more from you. Consistent posting encourages them to visit your blog often. Over time, you earn their trust and convince them that you have a resource worth sharing.
- Use “edutainment”: Community readers plow through a lot of blogs every week. Dry, me-too posts are easily drowned out. To raise above the clutter, you need to combine entertaining and interesting viewpoints with your topic. These mashups can combine Lady Gaga and Blogging Tips or Ant Swarm Behavior and Project Management. This is guaranteed way to stand out in the RSS reader, and catch the eye of super-influencers too.
- Be relevant: Community readers have a low tolerance for loosy-goosy, feel-good content that isn’t practical. They were attracted to your blog because you helped them solve a problem. They keep coming back because you are interesting and have a viewpoint that fits them like a glove. Don’t disappoint them. Keep an editorial calendar that continually delivers on-point content.
Outside of the community lies the crowd. Crowd readers are usually referred by another source. They are not regular readers and may only spend a few seconds on your blog. Your topic is likely to be complementary to the crowd reader’s main interest, but not a tight fit.
It’s tempting to dismiss the crowd since they aren’t your bread-and-butter readers. But smart bloggers work to satisfy the crowd because they bring fresh perspectives to the community. Your goal should be to turn the occasional crowd reader into a regular community or core reader.
How to make the crowd happy
- Guest post: As you know, I’m a huge fan of guest posting as a way to reach readers that lurk outside your community. Guest posts allow other more influential blogger to vouch for you, giving you enough credibility to attract a larger audience. It’s not a mistake that many up-and-coming bloggers spend a large chunk of time guest posting to reach the crowd.
- Build outposts: Outposts are social networking sites where you maintain a profile and special content. Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are popular outposts that represent online watercoolers for millions of users. Pick one outpost to start with, and invest some time to build a presence there. Link your outpost to your blog and regularly post content there. Over time, your outpost will get on the crowd’s radar screen and start escorting new readers to your blog.
- Be a peacock Don’t be shy. Every once in a while, write a post that grabs attention. Your post can be provocative, epic, or piggy-back on a popular topic in the news. These “peacock posts” get noticed by influencers and passed along to their network. Even though it’s hard to tell if your post will be a barn burner, you can increase your chances by regularly writing them!
What do you think?
Can you make all of your readers happy? Which technique will you try first?
Stanford obsesses about how to get passionate people’s blogs noticed and promoted at Pushing Social — except when he’s fishing with his boys. Follow him to get the latest about his new ebook “Get Noticed.”
A very educative and informative Post Darren. Thanks for all the thoughts.
I especially like the idea about being very personalized for all your followers and also about writing an Outpost.
I think my core community is of geeks who try out what I have to say .. I will keep working hard for them !
This is an interesting article. I never thought that it would be possible to please all people all the time. Especially so when you are catering to such a diverse crowd via a blog. the use of twitter and Facebook will certainly increase the audience.
We at our blog have always tried to keep our posts relevant to our target audience by posting stuff related to what is required for the large student community. I would like to think that our readers are happy!
The unofficial manipal university blog
Great Post. Will follow Stanford Immediately.
P.s.: Forgive me if its a duplicate comment because I accidentally closed the browser when I commented earlier.
I find it very savvy from your part that the link to your blog is directed to an entry specifically for us Problogger readers! But the page does not load up for me and I can’t see it :-( Too much traffic?
I second your advice on following your readers’ blogs. I also send emails to thank new subscribers and readers who tweet my posts. Sometimes they answer back and tell my why they’re loyal to my blog or liked something. It’s all very helpful in knowing what direction to stick too!
Also I happen to have a fashion blog, and my readers are a little bit more, um, “fashionable” than the couple in your picture.
I have never put much thought into satisfying all classes of readers. But your post was so convincing that most certainly I’m going to get a lot more number of “core readers” this day onwards.
Excellent post Stanford ! Having happy readers will definitely make you happy too and they will surely return.
I don’t think you can make everyone happy. You will have your core readers, as you say, and as long as you don’t stray too far off message you will be fine, I believe.
Now we all grow and change, but hopefully our readers are growing and changing along with us.
“You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself…”
Thank you for sharing this, I’m almost doing it that way :P
You definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. I was wondering how you could please everyone but I see with the different levels, how that’s possible. Also means a bit less work on your part to gain a bigger and more loyal crowd too.
@Brian, it really comes down to your goal for your blog. If you want your blog to grow…then your strategy needs to include appealing to more than the dedicated few. However, if you are writing for yourself (and growth doesn’t matter) then you can safely just focus on your devoted core.
Sudeep, this post wasn’t written by Darren. :P
Anyway…this was a really useful piece Stanford! I had never thought of my readers in different categories in the way you suggest. However, it’s a great way of conceptualizing your blog’s “niche” and who it is trying to reach out to.
I will definitely be keeping these things in mind for the future.
Aswell as making all your readers happy, you have to keep yourself happy as well! If your not happy writing your posts, your readers will get that impression off of you and wont enjoy the post as much
Also, i find I write my best posts when im happy to write about them
When I read the title for this post I thought “You can’t please everybody.”
After I read it, I think you are on to something. By providing content aimed at the different types of readers (using different methods) like you say, maybe you are right.
For starters, I’ll be concentrating on strengthening my core and community first, but what I am doing also should work for the “crowd” as I am using an outpost to help.
Whenever possible I take the time to connect with readers of my ezine who also have a website to see how I can help them promote their work – the more connected we are the better for all. If they don’t have a site I work to see if I can help them get that started with ease.
Thanks for asking,
Ya keeping everybody happy means that you have to be a 2 way street. If you visit your blog, visit theres, etc.
This is a smart post. I like the way you have deconstructed each group and given us a way to think about meeting each group’s needs. I sometimes get conflicted, as my readership grows, in trying to meet the needs of different groups — separating out different needs into different areas is a really great way of thinking about it.
The crowd – community – core develops over time – the aim is to get as many people into the core as possible. These are your best buddies. They comment on your blog, promote you on twitter etc….
The hardest part of all is getting people out of the crowd and into the community.
To this end I use aweber for mailing lists, promote my RSS feed constantly, use “top commenter” plugins etc.
I also send personal emails to people thanking them if, say, they have taken part in a conversation in the comments section – another chance to cement that relationship and let them know there is a person behind the blog.
Stanford, You always have a well thought out point of view. I learned several new points and perspectives form this article and for that I am very grateful to you.
Good post with some great content.
I do have a question though. Whats the best way of turning members from ‘the crowd’ in to members from ‘the community?’
You cannot and should not keep everybody happy.
My blogs have their own “audience”. I am not trying to attract other categories of readers, because it’s not my point. My writing is loved by some people and it’s OK like that. I do write about the things that matter to me, not trying to pursue some popular topics just for the sake of traffic. I will not devalue my content either, so that I can attract people who are looking for something “easier”.
Yes, I do look after my commenters, yes, it’s important to be constant and do your best, but it’s important to find your audience and style and provide the best content you can. The rest will follow
This post really hit home. I’m always trying to figure out what style of cards my bloggers want me to make rather than doing it for myself. You keep telling us to guest post and today’s post convinced me to do just that. Thank you.
I don’t think we can make all our readers happy…all the time. What works for some may, nay, does not work for others. What we can do, however, is ensure that we are always building a community and a community within a community.
I’m not sure I totally understand your point on or connection between guest posting and keeping the crowd happy.
Thanks for sharing.
P.s I love your problogger landing page…sensational idea!
First – Love the photo… those glasses are just too funny. People really wore those? Perhaps they still do. Put some dark glass in the frames and you’ve got today’s Gucci Sunglasses!
Great post. Helps me refocus on what I need to continually target in my own blog- aim for the core, and the crowd will follow.
Keep it light, keep it valuable, keep it relevant. All good tips. Thanks.
The secret of making everybody happy is probably the art of expectation management.
Love this post – a great strategy/approach. Another thing to keep various part of your audience happy & returning, along with the strong content as suggested above, is to vary the length and type of posts you do.
Don’t abandon your core posts – what originally helped you build you audience, but if you always write long, detailed posts, consider a series of shorter posts- maybe focused on one tip. This catches the eye of the reader who prefers short posts and may draw them in to look a more. or visa verse – if you write short posts, do an occasional long one.
Also – look at the arc of your posts over time – do you see a pattern – lots of how to posts, and a few tips posts – why not add a list post or two into the mix, or an interview (if you are good at them), or a product/book review or even a fun, lighthearted post. Again, don’t abandon your core post-type, just schedule in an occasional diversion.
@Robert..right on. We have all known that nice girl or guy or teacher that wanted to friend and please everyone. Meanwhile they sucked in-so-much that they didn’t keep themselves pleased. It really comes down to keeping close at bay and in the immediate conscious the reason you started blogging in the first place. Was it to please others or was it a personal journey? Go with that and build from it. Balance is the key.
Great ideas tho of how to please more readers and build a bigger base.
Thanks for the convo.
Well, this was a thought provoking post for me (which was its goal, I’m assuming!). I’m still trying to figure out my core group – have only been up for about 9 months and really active for about 6 so still getting my feet wet.
I really liked Ritournelle’s comment about sending an email to people who comment initially – that’s a nice, personal touch. I’d love it if someone did that but only if it were a real email and not an auto-generated one.
Thanks for giving my little head something to ruminate upon, Stanford! :)
@officeCavalry: Make sure that you have a variety of ways to get your visitors subscribed to your Blog’s email notification feature.
@Sandra – you are very welcome. :)
@James – Gotcha didn’t I? :)
@Michael, Guest posts attract readers that don’t normally visit your blog. For that matter, they may not want to add another blog to their roster of sites they visit. Guest blogging keeps your content in front of them and eventually lures them to your blog.
Does that help?
I’m relatively new to blogging and this post gives me a lot of new insight for how to type my journey forward. My niche is anger management, which is not a popular topic, for obvious reasons, but still the advice you offer here gives me confidence that I can build my readership with good solid content that will be of value to them.
Talk about an attention getting photo! Yikes, but I do remember those days, LOL!
This was a fantastic post today. I honestly haven’t broken my audience down that far and realize I should be. I will be chewing on this all day. Thanks!
I’m looking at my stats to see which posts are the most popular. My most viewed posts, so far, seem to be satirical posts that give people a chuckle. When I combine humor with spirituality…people seem to like this combo as well. Thanks for the great advice!
I like how you separate each group of readers. Very interesting read. In fact, I can even see which category I fall into for a number of blogs I read. I can name a few blogs where I’m part of the core, several where I’m part of the community and an infinite number where I’m part of the crowd.
Great post Stanford…I’m always worried about making my visitors happy and getting them engaged in my post..You have laid out some great tips to reaching out to the mass amount of people with different personalities…I will definitely work on using some of these tactics….Thanks for this post!
Well according to this post, I think my current activities will keep my core readers connected with me.
I need to work really hard on my content for the crowd.
Thanks for this post.
Another great cluster of useful tips – At first I didnt think that it was possible to make everyone happy – however after reading through the various methods you wrote about – it seems extremely possibly with the right mindset and attitude!
Now I just need to figure out a way to get more core readers… haha
the best trick to keep every one happy is to post things in relevant category and make them very targeted to the topic of post, so that readers may not be hurted.