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

How to Use 2 Types of Content to Find Readers for Your Blog

Today’s episode is the second part of our series on how to find new readers for your blog.

It’s the question I get asked most by bloggers, so this is the second of several podcasts on this topic.

In part one we looked at two really important questions to ask before you go hunting for readers to read your blog. Today we talk about one other thing you need to consider before you go hunting for readers – the content on your blog.

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 to Create a Blog that is Worth Being Found
  • How to Create Great Cornerstone Content
  • The Key to Creating Shareable Content

Further Resources For Finding Blog Readers

The successful series of cornerstone content I published on the Digital Photography School blog about exposure:

Also relevant to this topic:

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript

Hi, this is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger and welcome to episode 34 of the ProBlogger Podcast. Today, we’re continuing our series on finding readers for your blog. You can find today’s show notes at

Hi, this is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger and welcome to episode 34 of the ProBlogger Podcast. Today, we’re continuing our series on finding readers for your blog. You can find today’s show notes at

Now, I would encourage you to listen to the last episode, episode 33 before you listen to today because, in part one of this series, we looked at two really important questions to ask before you go hunting for readers for your blog. Those two questions (briefly) were, who do you want to read your blog and what change are you trying to bring in those readers’ lives. These are really important questions, and we’re going to build upon them in the next episodes in this series.

Today I want to talk about another thing you need to consider before you go hunting for readers. Now you might be really itching to get into some of the techniques that we’ve got coming up in future episodes. This one is so important and it’s going to make promoting your blog so much easier. He says, “I look back on my own journey of finding readers for my blogs, and I’ve got around five million people reading my blogs every month today. I can see that the techniques and strategies for growing readers,” that I’m going to talk about in a couple episodes’ time, “were important, but they weren’t as important as the actual content on my blog,” and that’s what I want to talk about today is content.

Most of the techniques I’m going to talk about in future episodes work so much better if you’ve got two things happening on your blog. Firstly, you need to have solid useful content on your blog that serves your readers. Secondly, and this probably isn’t as essential, but it’s certainly useful. You need to have some shareable content that you can use when you’re promoting your blog. In today’s episode, I want to talk about content. I want to suggest that you need to create these two types of content. I want to share some ideas on how to do that, which will put you in a great position to promote your blog in future episodes.

The first thing I want to talk about is building a blog that is worth being found. You can go and promote your blog as much as you like, but unless there’s something worthwhile on your blog, when people surf on by, then there’s little chance that they’ll stick around for longer than a few seconds. There’s little chance that they’ll subscribe or want to connect with you on social media, there’s little chance that that wants to come back again, and there’s little chance that they’ll tell anyone about you.

Ultimately, it comes down to creating something that’s attractive, interesting, and useful to people who arrive on your blog. Now there’s a whole heap of aspects that come into play with creating a blog that’s worth being found, and future episodes of this podcast really will be about that topic. The number one thing that you need to focus on, if you want to have a blog that’s worth being found is creating great content, content that serves people, content that is interesting to people, content that’s useful to people. The number one thing, when it comes to creating that type of content is focusing upon that change that you’re trying to bring to your readers.

This is where the last episode really comes into play and I would encourage you to listen to that. It’s episode 33 and it’s all about creating content that takes your readers on a journey that changes them in some way. If you’ve been blogging for a while, then hopefully you’ve already got a solid archive of great useful content that does change your readers’ lives. You can probably skip on to the next little part in this podcast in a few minutes time, but if you’re just starting out, then this really has to be your number one priority in the early days of your blog before you go hunting for readers.

This is what I would encourage you to focus most of your time on, creating what I call cornerstone content for your blog. Cornerstone content is sometimes called flagship content, pillar content, or even evergreen content. It’s the type of content that you build the rest of your blog around. It’s foundational stuff. It shows your expertise, and it shows your readers or your potential readers what your blog stands for and what it’s about. It’s also the content that you can continually link back to over time.

This is the type of content I really encourage you to spend some time creating in the early days of your blog, in particular. I outlined a really simple exercise for doing this in episode 11 of these podcasts. You might want to go back and listen to that. It’s an episode about coming up with ideas for content for your blog. In that episode, I shared about how I came up with my first 200 or so ideas for posts on my blog at Digital Photography School. 

In Digital Photography School, my number one goal for the first year to a year and a half of that blog was really about building up a library of cornerstone content. I didn’t spend a whole heap of time promoting my blog in those early days, although I did a little bit of that. I certainly didn’t spend much time monetizing that blog. My number one priority in those first two years was really about building up the library content because I knew if I had that as my foundation, then I’d be in a much better position to promote my blog, monetize my blog, and to leverage that content.

An example of this type of content—let me give you that—would be a little series that I wrote, just a series of four posts on Digital Photography School, and I write this series in the first few months of that blog. The series was on the topic of taking well-exposed photos. It was pretty simple stuff. It just had four posts in the series. The first post was about learning how to take well-exposed photos and introduce that concept and introduce three different elements of taking a well-exposed photo, aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. The rest of the series was really expanding upon those three topics, so I created posts on aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

Now, I’ll link this topic content to these posts in the show notes. This topic content isn’t overly sexy, it’s not the content that people are going to go, “Wow, you’ve got to read this,” and share it all over the web. It’s good solid content on core ideas that are really important in photography. Not a week goes by today, even seven or so years later, where I don’t link back to those posts in posts because it’s cornerstone content. It’s what the rest of my blog is built about.

Anytime I mentioned aperture, ISO, or shutter speed, I’ll link back to those posts. Those posts, even today, are still getting a whole heap of content. In fact, they’re usually in the top 10 posts on my blog, even seven or so years later. This cornerstone content is really important. It’s not going to get shared a whole heap but it’s the type of traffic that tends to get ranked well in Google, and also you’re able to refer your own traffic back in time.

So, a few questions to help you to identify what type of content fits into this category of cornerstone content. A few questions to ask yourself, what questions do new readers always ask me? Or what do my friends always ask me about this topic? If you don’t have readers yet, they might be actually referring to your friends or it might be going back to your own questions that you had in the early days.

What key lessons did you learn to get to where you’re at today? That might help to identify some of those key things that you want to build the rest of your blog around? What keywords might people be searching for when it comes to your topic? Now you might have some actual data on that by what people are searching for on your blog, or it might be just what you would search for in Google.

What themes or topics do you want your blog to be known for? This is about what people might perceive your blog to be about, and that might reveal some of those key cornerstone topics. What posts have you already written that have done well, and so this is more for those of you who have been blogging for a while, actually, those posts may be the cornerstone content, or it may be about you going back and rewriting some of that content.

If you’re launching a blog at the moment, I really would encourage you to think about creating this type of content first, and build up this archive in the first year or so of your blog. When I’m launching a blog, I try to have at least three or four of these types of posts already live on the blog when I launch, so that when people arrive, those very first readers, they can see, “Hey, this is what this blog is about. It’s good solid content. This is useful content. I want to see more of this type of stuff.” That’s the first type of content. That really needs to be probably your number one priority, I’d say spend 90% of your content creation time focusing on that type of content. 

There’s another type of content that’s really useful when you are trying to find readers for your blog, and that is shareable content. If you want to find new readers, you want to create content that people who arrive on your blog or want to tell other people about. The reality is that there are some types of content that are much more likely to be shared than others. The examples I gave you before on ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. They’re not the sexiest content that I’ve ever created. They don’t get shared a whole heap, although they do get shared a bit because they’re useful, but there are other types of content that do better.

I want to say right up front that this shareable content isn’t the only type of content I would recommend you creating. Notice before I said spend 90% of your time creating cornerstone content and that leaves you about 10% of your time to create this more shareable content.

If you only share this shareable stuff, you’ll find that you don’t really always bring about the change that you’re trying to bring about in your readers. You might find readers come but they tend to bounce off a bit negative bit frustrated with this because this shareable content tends to be a little bit fluffier. I’ve referred to this in a talk I gave recently as cotton candy content. It’s sweet, it’s attractive, but you can’t live on it, you need something a little bit meatier in the mix as well.

Mixing in some of this shareable content from time to time will certainly help you to grow your readers. Let me give you some examples of the type of content I’m talking about here, and this will vary from blog to blog a little bit, but on Digital Photography School (my main blog), most of our content is how-to tutorials. If you go to Digital Photography School, you see most of the content there are these how-to tutorials,  how to do this, how to do that, how to take this type of photo.

I’d say it’s more informational type content. But there are types of posts that we do mix into that from time to time that do well in terms of their shareability. Perhaps the first type of posts that I used to create quite regularly once a week—we still do it once a week—is what we call our image collections. This might be a collection of 20 amazing photos that are taken with long exposures or long shutter speeds, they’re gorgeous photos with lots of beautiful lights in them or blurry waves over a beach shore. Sort of aspirational, inspirational type posts that have very few words, just images.

These posts do really well for us. Our readers love them, they get inspired by them, and they like to share them as well because they’re spectacular images. Now, the problem is that if all we ever posted was image collections, we would not be bringing our readers along on the journey of changing them in how they take photos. We’d be inspiring them but we’d never actually be teaching them anything. So, we don’t want to go fully down that road.

Another type of shareable posts for us (and these works on a lot of blogs) are anything that’s funny, so funny photos of someone taking a selfie and then falling off a fence. We shared one of those recently. A funny photo of a father holding his baby and the baby has a bit of an accident, a poo explosion all over him. Those types of photos that relate to our topic. They’re funny and they get shared a lot.

The problem with these types of posts is it doesn’t bring about any change. They’re great for you being seen by more people, but people don’t tend to hang around in these posts. We don’t do too many of those unless they’re really funny. We just get off on them because they’re funny for ourselves. A better type of shareable post for us on Digital Photography School are infographics. We find these worked very well with our audience. An infographic is easy to digest, very visual, and they’re easy to communicate very quickly to people.

By themselves, they don’t bring about a massive change in our readers, but they do start to talk to our readers about a particular topic. There’s one infographic on Digital Photography School about how to hold a camera. This is a really basic topic, but it’s one that’s important to our readers. It’s visual, it shows our readers how to actually hold a camera. This type of post does really well. It’s also very shareable. It got shared around heaps hundreds of thousands of times on social media.

The great thing about an infographic is that around it, it gives you an opportunity to share links to deeper content on the site, so we’re able to say, here’s an infographic on the topic, if you want to learn more, here’s a tutorial that will actually walk you through it.

This is the key. This is about driving people deeper into your site. What I find is that if you can get people to view more than one page on your site, you’re increasing the chances that they’re going to hang around. You’re increasing the chances that they’re going to remember your site and your brand. You’re increasing the chances that they’ll subscribe.

This is really very important. Infographics worked really well for us. They won’t work on every blog, but it might be something to try. Some of those infographics recreate ourselves and some of them we curate from other people’s sites with their permission, of course.

There’s also a whole heap of different types of posts and topics that work well for us on Digital Photography School. We find list posts work well in terms of their shareability. Posts like 10 tips to great portraits are not as deep as some of our other posts, but they’re a little bit more accessible and they tend to get shared a bit more. We find any post that uses the word mistakes in it, for example, does quite well. Five mistakes that travel photographers make. Step-by-step guides work well for us in terms of their shareability. Anything that’s a DIY post does really well for us, so a do-it-yourself post.

Anything with a bit of controversy can get shared a bit, so Nikon versus Canon or Sony versus Pentax tends to get people in. Although, I will say that controversy can also lead to a bit of snark as well on your blog, so you want to be a bit careful about that. Any post that has essential gear, so three essential lenses for wedding photographers will always do well in terms of the shareability. I do want to say this type of content tends to be a little bit fluffier, and some of it will help to bring about a change in your readers, but you don’t want to just do this type of content all the time.

If you just do the shareable types of posts all the time, you will find that some of your readers will get frustrated. You want to also create that useful cornerstone content as well. The key (I think) is to try lots of different types of posts, watch what works, and keep doing what works. But don’t do the same thing so much that your readers begin to spot the formula and get frustrated with it.

You also want to be really careful about anything that has a hyped-up or builds up expectations in your readers. A lot of people say clickbait is a bad thing. Clickbait is where you use a title to get people to view your content. That’s totally fine but if you use a title that builds the expectation of what people are going to see on a post up to the point where they’re so excited, and then you can’t deliver on that expectation in your actual content, that’s where you get into trouble.

Don’t fall into the trap of that. I guess the other thing I’ll say is that sometimes when you create this kind of shareable content, it is exciting and it is fun, and the temptation is just to do it over and over again. Just to end up with a blog that is quite light and fluffy. That might be okay, but if you do want to change your readers’ lives in some way, you also need to mix in that deeper stuff.

These are the two types of content I would encourage you to create. We’re thinking here about the foundations that you want to build in a blog that is going to enable you to then go and find readers. That cornerstone content, when readers come they’ll see that and that will impress them and show that you’re a blog that’s got some expertise and is worth following, and that shareable content will help you to actually find new readers. You use some of that shareable content in some of the techniques we’re going to talk about in future episodes.

In the next episode, I want to talk about another really important aspect of finding readers for your blog that you do really need to pay attention to before you go and promote your blog. In the next episode, I’m going to talk about building a sticky blog. Now it sounds a bit gross. It’s about building a blog that hooks readers in and turns them from surfers into engaged and connected, long-term readers. That’s the next episode.

Today, I’d love to get your feedback on this particular episode. Head to, and you’ll find today’s show notes. I’m going to include in the notes a whole heap of further reading and also some examples of the type of content that I was talking about today.

There’s also an opportunity there for you to leave a comment, and I love to see the type of content that you’ve created or that you are creating that fits into these two types of categories: shareable content and cornerstone content. I hope you found today’s episode useful. I’d love to chat with you on the show notes and I’ll talk to you in episode 35.

How did you go with today’s challenge?

Are you using these 2 types of content to draw readers in to your blog? What will you do differently in future? 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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