How One Blogger Created a Directory that Attracts Readers

We continue our Blogging Breakthroughs series with Carolyn Edlund, whose Artsy Shark blog focuses on the business of art.

Carolyn shares the story of how she created a directory to attract readers to her blog instead of having to chase after them. It revolutionized her blog, and helped her build a successful business around it.

Carolyn Edlund created a directory to attract readers to her blog.

Carolyn understands the importance of building strong business relationships and creating win-win situations through collaboration.

Her directory identifies places artists can sell their art online. It also provides solid business information and helps artists gain exposure.

To attract readers for your blog, ask yourself:

  • What do your readers want?
  • What problem can you solve for your readers?
  • What issue can you help your readers overcome?

Based on tips from Carolyn, what kind of magnet do you plan on creating to draw readers to your blog?

Links and Resources for PB 262 – How Carolyn Started a Directory to Attract Readers to Her Blog:


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Darren: Hi there, friends! Welcome to episode 262 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind, a blog podcast, events, series of ebooks, and courses, all to help you start an amazing blog that’s going to change the world in some way, make people’s lives better, but also hopefully be profitable for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all that we do at

Now this week, I’m actually in Orlando. As this episode goes live, I will be at our Success Incubator Event, and I know some of you will be at that event, I’m looking forward to seeing some of you. And while I’m away, we’re continuing our blogger breakthrough series of content, where we’re featuring stories from listeners of this podcast, and we’re talking about their breakthrough moments.

Now, today’s listener is Carolyn Edlund, who has a great blog called Artsy Shark. You can find it at Her blog is about the business of art, and she’s going to tell us a story today that I think will be interesting to many of you. It’s a way of drawing readers into your blog that’s going to stop you from having to chase your readers, but hopefully attract them to your blog, and this has revolutionized her blog and has helped her to build a really successful business around the blog that she has.

You can find show notes today at, where you’ll find links to Carolyn’s blog, and also the directory that she’s about to talk about as well, and a book that she mentions, too. At the end of her story, I’ll come back and pull out a few of the golden nuggets that I heard her share, okay? Now, over to Carolyn.

Carolyn: My name is Carolyn Edlund, and I’m the founder of Artsy Shark, which is the blog about the business of art. Before I ever became a blogger, I was a self-employed artist for more than twenty years, with a successful production studio, and subsequently, I was a sales representative for an art publishing company. I had a lot of experience marketing and selling art, and I also led a business networking group where I learned a lot about the importance of building strong business relationships and creating win-win situations where both parties can benefit by collaborating with each other.

I got into blogging sheerly by accident back in 2009, after I took a free course held at a local community college. At that time, I had no idea what I was doing, and I wasn’t quite sure what would happen. I got started by writing some business articles for my blog, based on my experience on marketing and selling. And then, I stumbled on a book called Inbound Marketing, that was written by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. That book explained how online businesses could attract readers, and attract customers by offering really useful content that would act as a magnet for website traffic.

I also found ProBlogger at that time, where I could see Darren Rowse uses a lot of these strategies and that they really work. So I decided straight away, I needed a way to offer real value to my potential readers, and I also started publishing individual artist features. These are portfolio articles that allowed visual artists to tell their story in their own words and share their artwork with the world.

To this day, I publish artist features regularly on my blog. It’s worked really well because the truth is that, although artists do want to learn how to market and sell their work, what they would really like is to have someone else do it for them. So my business model was built on providing solid business information, but also taking action to help artists gain exposure through my own site. As a blogger, I’m a member of the press, and people love press. I run a call for artists several times every year, attracting submissions from artists all over the world who’d like to be featured on my site, and this has allowed me to publish a blog that presents an amazing variety of art, as well as art business information, and of course, they go hand in hand.

Now, the breakthrough that really exploded my blog traffic happened in 2013. I realized that artists were looking for information on how to sell their art online, but they weren’t sure how or where to do this. And that allowed me to create another magnet on my website to draw traffic. I spent several months researching and compiling a directory of my website of hundreds of places where artists can sell their work online with full descriptions and lengths and so forth, which is a super useful directory, and it’s completely free to use. That directory is a magnet that draws tons of traffic through search, bringing artists who want to learn to market and sell right to my website, which helps them market and sell.

I’ve been able to build a really thriving business using this model by offering e-courses on the business of art, personalized business consulting for artists, and speaking at in-person professional development training events, in collaboration with the Clark Hulings’ Fund for Visual Artists, which is a business partnership that I developed through my network. One of the things that I love best about this method, is that it attracts readers rather than chasing them. From my experience working as a salesperson, I know how challenging it can be to prospect for customers, seeking their attention, trying to get their interest, continuously following up. And by turning that around, and creating magnets for customers, you can pull them in without all of that chase. I’ve been really inspired by seeing how ProBlogger uses this model successfully, and I’m really honored that I’ve been invited to share my story with you here.

Darren: Thanks so much, Carolyn, for sharing your story. You can check out Carolyn’s blog at, and I have, in today’s show notes, links to the directory that she talks about, and also the inbound marketing book, which I have heard from many of you as ProBlogger listeners have enjoyed that book as well. Couple of things that I love about this story, firstly, that Carolyn is practicing something that I’ve preached many times over about giving your readers exposure on your site, and making your readers famous, actually helping your readers to get profile.

This is something that we’ve done on ProBlogger many times. In fact, this whole series really is about showcasing the listeners of this podcast. I love doing this because it helps your listener, your reader to achieve their goals. And many of your readers will be wanting to showcase what they do in some way, but also enables you, particularly if you do it smartly, to achieve your goals, as well. My goal at ProBlogger is to teach people how to blog better, and so my hope is that by sharing these stories, you’re getting ideas, as well as us serving the person who is actually creating the content as well.

And so, featuring your readers in these creative ways can be really useful. On digital photography school, we allow our readers to post their pictures in comments, and we actually use their comments and pictures from time to time in content, as well. So all of these things can be really great ways of helping your readers to get their profile, but creating really useful content as well.

I also loved the idea of creating magnets on your site, things that will draw and attract readers to your site, rather than you having to go out there and chase readers down. It’s a great concept, and I guess some questions around that, you know, what are your readers wanting? What are they trying to achieve? What problems do they have? How can you help them in some way, by overcoming a need that they have, you know. Creating a directory that is going to solve those problems is one way of doing that. And I’ve seen a number of bloggers create directories for their readers that have done really well.

Now, I don’t know if Carolyn actually charges people to be in her directory, but I have seen bloggers do that, as well. Like, put this directory up, their readers cannot access at all, but I might sell, you know, featured listings, or just charge people to being their directory as well. That might be a creative way of monetizing your blog as well, but even if it’s free, for those to be in it, and those to be reading it, it’s creating a way of drawing people into your site.

In some ways, on ProBlogger, having a job board has been a similar kind of magnet. We know that when people are searching for writing jobs or blogger jobs, that we come up in the search results as a result of having a job board. And some of those people come back across into the rest of ProBlogger. For some of our readers, that’s their first ever experience of ProBlogger, and they get on our list, and they become buyers of our courses, and attending our events, and those types of things as well. How to start a blog course is a magnet, it’s something that we know people are searching the internet “How do I start a blog?” and sometimes we’re on the end of their search results as well. What are people searching for that you can help them with, that is going to attract them into your blog, that is going to solve a problem for them but also get their attention, and hopefully, get them into a process of a relationship with you as well.

Great tips there from Carolyn. Again, check out her blog at artsyshark,com, you can check out some of the artist features that she does, and also you’ll find a link on our show notes today directly into her online directory. So you can check that out and see what it’s like. It’s actually not that hard to create, it’s essentially just a page on her site where she’s created a list of places that people can sell their art. Not that hard, it’s not something that you would need to put a massive amount of investment into, apart from the time to get those resources. Hopefully that provides you with some inspiration today, I’m expecting lots of you to have directories by the end of next week, of those types of things, and if you do, leave us a comment in our Facebook group or in the comments of these show notes as well, today, and I’d love to check out what you do as a result of hearing this story.

Thanks for listening, and check out the show notes at and I’ll chat with you next week when I’ll be, I think, almost back from Orlando. I’ll be back on the day after this podcast goes live, but we’ll have another story for you next week from another one of our listeners that I’m really looking forward to sharing with you.

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