Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How to Find Readers For Your Blog

Today’s episode is about how to find new readers for your blog. It’s the question I get asked most by bloggers, so this is the first of several podcasts on this topic. We will be getting into some tactical and very practical ways to build readerships over the next few episodes, but before we do that, today we look at the two questions you must ask yourself if you really want to get blog readers.

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). Today we talk about:

  • How I damaged my blog by chasing traffic instead of trying to create meaningful relationships
  • The 2 questions you must ask yourself if you really want to get blog readers
  • How to find out who your current readers are and what their problems are – so you can solve them
  • How to create reader avatars for your blog
  • The 3 secret ingredients of blogs that change peoples’ lives

Further Resources For Finding Blog Readers

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there. My name’s Darren Rowse and welcome to episode 33 of the ProBlogger Podcast where today, we’re talking about finding readers for your blog. You can find today’s show notes at

Today, we’re starting a series of episodes on the topic of finding readers for your blog. This idea came from you. We ran a survey recently of podcast listeners (which we really appreciated the responses of) and by far, the number one challenge that you asked us to produce podcast episodes on was finding readers for blogs. 

This was absolutely no surprise to me whatsoever because it’s always the number one thing that people ask us to produce content on at ProBlogger. When we run sessions at our events on finding readers, the rooms are always packed. When we write posts on the ProBlogger blog, those posts are always most read and most shared. When I talk to bloggers, this is always the question I’m asked, “How do I find readers for my blog?” It’s also something I’ve experienced myself—the frustration of not having readers or not having enough readers and wanting more. Even from day one on my blogs, it was something I wanted.

I put time and energy into creating content. I wanted people to read that, it’s only natural. The same thing when you create a podcast, when you’ve got a Twitter feed, when you’ve got a Facebook page, you want people to consume the content that you create. 

For the next few episodes, I want to share with you some ideas on how to find readers for your blog. This will probably go for four or five episodes. Later on in this series, I’m going to get really practical and share some actual techniques, some very practical things you can do. 

Before I get into those practicalities, I want to just step back a little, get you to ask a few questions, and talk about some principles of finding readers for your blog. I think if you rush into it, you may actually end up with a whole heap of readers who really don’t convert to anything. They’re not the right readers. This is particularly what I wanted to talk about today. 

I want to suggest two questions to ask yourself before you go hunting for readers. I think if you ask these questions, you’ll be in a much better position to be effective in finding readers for your blog. The techniques I talk about in the next few episodes will convert much better if you’ve asked these questions first. 

The first question is this, who do you want to read your blog? When I started blogging, I gave this question absolutely no thought whatsoever. I just wanted anyone to read my blog and perhaps you can relate to that. Like I said before, you put all this time and energy into creating content. You just want anyone to read it, whether it’s your mom, your wife, your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your friend’s friend, or a complete stranger, anyone would do. Well, they did for me.

The problem with this thinking is that it really led me to do some kind of silly things that ended up doing more harm than good to my blog. The first thing that led me to do—it didn’t happen straight away but gradually over time without really thinking about it—it led me to start writing on topics that I thought would be popular at the expense of writing about things that truly mattered to me, and perhaps, to others as well. It led me down a whole garden path of blog posts and blogs that I look back now on and I kind of regret doing. 

I had 30 blogs at one stage. The thought behind having those 30 blogs is that if I write on a whole heap of topics that are popular, that people are searching the web for, that I’d get a lot of traffic, and that I’d better make some money from that. I did that without really paying attention to what I wanted to write about. As a result of not being interested in the things I was writing about, I ended up creating content that wasn’t really interesting to anyone at all.

It kind of worked on some levels, though. Some of the content that I produced did get readers. They did get people clicking and visiting, but it didn’t lead to anything that was sustainable. 

I love this quote from Seth Godin. He says, “Entertaining the people who click on 50 things a day will get you numbers but it won’t make a difference.” That was my experience. I actually did get some traffic but people didn’t hang around because there was no real meaning behind the content that I was creating. I wasn’t taking anyone on a journey. I’ve got a bit of traffic but it didn’t lead to a sustainable business and it wasn’t very satisfying to create either.

The second thing that made me do this way of thinking—I’ll just have anyone read my blog—is that led me to promote my blog in trying to find readers in ways that did more harm than good in the long run. It led me to start hanging out on sites that were social bookmarking sites. 

Today, there’s a site called Reddit that many of you will be familiar with. People vote up and down a piece of content. If it gets to the front page, you get a whole heap of traffic. 

Back then in 2006, 2007, when I was kind of in my early years of blogging, there was a site called Digg and it was a very similar kind of model. People would vote up and down content. If you’ve got the front page you got a lot of traffic. 

I started to hang out in Digg and try to create content that would do well on Digg. I started to try and manipulate that system to get to know people that were using it in the hope of getting to the front page. It worked a couple of times. 

I remember the first time getting on the front page of Digg and getting over 100,000 visits in just a few hours to my blog. For the first hour, I was on top of the world. The second hour, I realized that perhaps I’d made a mistake by promoting my blog there. I was getting a whole heap of traffic. The problem was the people who were coming to my blog were not the right type of reader.

Most of the people were using Digg, at least by the comments that I was getting on my blog were probably snarky teenage boys that ended up destroying community and culture on my blog. They left a whole heap of really nasty, horrible comments. They annoyed me, they annoyed my other readers, they crashed my servers, they didn’t respond to my monetization or click any of my ads or buy any of the products I was recommending, and they never came back. 

I look back on the stats now and I see this massive spike in traffic until my server crashed. The next day, my traffic was back to normal. I very quickly discovered that that kind of reader did more harm than good. I realized that getting 100 visitors from another blog that was on the right topic, that had the right kind of readers, was much more powerful in the long term than getting 100,000 visitors from Digg.

I began to change the direction, both in terms of the content that I created but also the way I promote my blog. I began to focus very much upon creating content for a certain type of reader. Part of that process for me was creating what today we’d call an avatar or a persona for my blog, for my reader. I’ll include in the show notes today at some examples of reader personas or avatars that I created when I started Digital Photography School. I got the idea from an advertising agency guy who created personas for the type of people they were trying to reach with their ads. He said that by creating these personas, they were much more effective in creating ads that met the needs of those people and that attracted those people. 

I decided to try that for my own blogs and you’ll see in the show notes some examples of that. You’ll see that in those show notes that they were very simple when I first did them. They were just Word documents and they were guesses at the type of person I wanted to read my blog. I was still in the process of starting Digital Photography School back then, so it was hypothetical. I was guessing at the type of person who might read.

It included a whole heap of demographic information—how old they were, what gender they were, where they lived. It also included things like their needs, their challenges, their problems, also their desires, dreams, and the fears that they had. The goals that they had, the habits that they have, what turned them on, what turned them off, their passions. 

The more I started to describe these types of readers, the better position I was in to create great content for them. I began to see opportunities to find where they were hanging out online and to develop a presence in those places. 

Also included in my reader profiles, things like what did they spend their money on. Were they buying photography magazines or books? Were they spending money on software? Were they buying courses? Were they getting formal education? How were they spending their money? How did they use the web? Were they using email primarily? Were they on social networks? What blogs did they read? What forums do they participate in? What podcasts might they listen to? What social networks are they using? What mainstream media are they listening to? What events do they attend? Who influences them?

All of these questions begin to give you an idea of the type of person that you’re trying to reach with your blog. The more you know about them, the better position you begin to create great content for them, which is a massive part of finding readers. Also, you begin to identify where they’re hanging out and where you can build a presence. You also begin to see ideas for how you can engage with them and build community. You might also get some ideas on how you could monetize your blog. 

Really, what you’re trying to do by creating this avatar is to find out what is meaningful to the reader that you’re trying to reach. Not so that you can manipulate them but so that you can serve them better.

For me, when I created my first reader profile, it was a very hypothetical exercise. I was guessing at the type of reader I might attract to my blog. I created three personas. It turns out that two of them were pretty much on the money. The other one was a little bit off, at least initially. 

I created these reader personas and it really impacted my blogs in a massive way. I started creating much better content because I was creating content that was meaningful to people. I also began to become more attractive to these types of people and also began to see very naturally where I should be hanging out online. 

I really would encourage you to create an avatar for your desired reader. For me, it was all hypothetical, I was guessing. For you, if you’ve already got a blog, you may already have an idea in your mind as to who’s reading your blog. If you don’t, you can use tools like surveys or polls or discussion posts or emailing your readers or doing a focus group of some kind or analyzing your social media followers. You’ll get a pretty good idea and you can begin to test some of the guesses that you have about your reader. I would encourage you to always be gathering that type of information. 

Every year on my blogs, we do a survey of our readers just to see where our readers are at in terms of their demographics but also their challenges and needs that they face. Many of you actually participated in a survey recently of our podcast listeners. That was purely trying to work out who is listening to this podcast so that I can serve you better. I encourage you to do that as well. 

Create your avatar. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be super detailed. Just doing the exercise for 15 minutes will be better than nothing but don’t stop there. There’s a second question I want to put to you. It’s related to this idea of who is reading your blog. It’s this: how are you trying to change your readers? Now, this might sound a little bit manipulative. I’m not trying to manipulate. I’m not trying to change people. Here’s the thing I’ve learned, great blogs actually leave a mark on people. Great blogs change their readers.

As I think about the blogs that have changed my life, I think of someone like Seth Godin. He has changed me in the way that he writes. He’s changed the way I think and that’s had an impact upon me. It’s part of the reason that I go back to his blog. It’s also part of the reason that I tell other people about his blog which is a big part of finding readers for a blog. So, what change are you going to bring for your readers? How are you going to impact them? What mark is going to leave? 

What I’m encouraging you to do here is to create a second avatar. Your first avatar is who your readers are now and then who are they going to be. Create this second avatar. Who are they going to be?

I talked about this exercise of getting a line on a piece of paper and putting point A on one side and point B on the other. At point A, describing who your readers are now, and on point B, who they’re going to become. It’s a really powerful thing to do.

Digital Photography School, my readers when they come to my blog are people who own cameras who are stuck in automatic mode. When they leave my blog down the track as a result of reading my blog, they’re going to have creative control of their cameras. That’s the change I’m trying to bring. That suddenly informs the content that I create. It also helps me to describe my blog to potential readers. 

This is what I’m trying to do for you. You might find this blog interesting if you want this change in your life. Being able to describe that change is a really powerful thing and part of the process of finding readers for your blog. 

Now, every blogger is going to have a different change. For some it’s big and for some it’s small. I talked to a parenting blogger recently who did this exercise and her change was profound. She described at point A, frustrated, angry, confused, hopeless, parents who had kids that had bleak futures, at least in the minds of the parents. At point B, she described people who were patient, who were empowered, who were in control, who had hope about their kids’ futures. 

That’s an incredibly meaningful change that she’s trying to bring. Her just describing that change to me, made me want to know where her blog was because that’s the kind of parent I want to be. That’s the kind of change I want in my life in different ways as I parent my kids. It’s a really effective thing to do not only for you as a blogger, but for your potential readers. 

What change are you trying to bring? It might be a big one or might be small. It might be about giving people information on a topic that they didn’t have before. It might be giving people hope where they felt hopeless. It might be about giving people a realization that they’re not alone when they’ve felt lonely or isolated. It might be about giving people inspiration that motivates them to push through in a tough circumstance in their life. It might be about giving people news or advice that helps them to make decisions. It might be about giving people a laugh in a time that’s otherwise bleak in their life. 

The changes could be anything really. They’ll vary from different bloggers to different bloggers, but it’s a really powerful exercise to do. It’s going to help you create a blog that is so much more attractive to that type of reader you’re trying to reach. 

When you change someone’s life, you create trust. You create loyalty. Here’s the thing, you create word of mouth—opportunities. When I have a friend and I see a change in their life, I want to know how that change happened. When a change happens in my life, I want to tell my friends about that.

Here’s the thing about finding readers for your blog. There’s only so much that you can do to find new readers for your blog. Where blogs really grow is when your readers tell other people about your blog. This is the real potential in growing radius for your blog. 

This is why I want you to really focus on these questions today. Who are you trying to reach? This is going to help you to create a blog that is attractive to that type of person and help you to identify where you should be hanging out to find that type of reader. The second question, what change are you trying to bring? Again, it’s going to help you to build a blog that is attractive, that’s worth being found, that’s meaningful to people. It’s also going to set you up for word of mouth and for your readers to promote your blog for you.

Like I said at the start of this episode, over future episodes we’re going to continue to ask the question, how do we find readers for blogs. Maybe a couple of days from now, in the next episode, I’m going to share three more things that are going to be vital for you to do in your blogging before you go hunting for readers. Then, we’re going to do more practical, tactical, things about how to promote your blog. Like I said at the start, those tactical things are going to be so much more effective if you know who you’re trying to reach and the change that you’re trying to bring in people’s lives. 

I would love to hear the answer to you those two questions: who are you trying to reach and how are you trying to change their life? If you go to, I’ll have some further reading for you, but also the opportunity for you to leave a comment and to answer those questions. I also encourage you to leave a link to your blog in the comments there. I don’t mind people sharing links in my comments as long as they’re relevant. That’s useful for me because it gets me to see your blog and to know you which is obviously important to me as you’ve seen in this podcast.

Also, hopefully, you may be seen by other listeners of this podcast as well. I encourage you to get to know each other as listeners. You are going to learn a whole heap from listening to me in this podcast but even more from watching and interacting with others who are on this same journey. 

Again, go to to get today’s show notes. I’d also love to get your review of this podcast. We’ve finished our 31 Days series now and I know it’s helped a lot of people. I love you to share that review when it helps me to get to know you better and understand how this podcast helps you. It’s also going to help us to be found by more bloggers as well. That review really does help and I’d be really grateful for it. 

I look forward to talking to you tomorrow. Actually, I keep saying tomorrow, I’m still in 31 Days mode, but in the next episode of ProBlogger Podcast episode 34.


How did you go with today’s challenge?

Who are you trying to reach with your blog? How are you trying to change their life?

I’d love to hear your answers to those questions. Let me know in the comments below, and share a link to your blog.

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