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How to Warm Up Your Blog Readers to Become Fully Engaged

Welcome to Episode 112. Today I am kicking off a mini-series of podcasts that are designed to help you to move your readers from being cold towards you and your blog, to being fully engaged towards you and your blog.


I’m going to talk about the benefits of getting your readers warmed up, and walk you through a series of steps to do that.

Then over the next four upcoming episodes I’m going to get strategic and tactical and give you some practical exercises that you can do to help move your readers through these four stages.

In the sixth episode, I am going to give you some case studies and examples. Go to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any episodes in the series.

In Today’s Episode – How to Warm Up Your Blog Readers and Make Them Raving Fans

  • Why readers may be cold towards us
    • Blog readers can be incredibly distracted
    • They might be a bit suspicious of us
    • They are just clicking links in a Zombie like state
    • Short attention span
  • Benefits of warm readers
    • Readers that have warmed up to your blog return again and again
    • This reinforces your brand and makes you more memorable
    • Warm readers contribute to your site and comment or answer asks questions
    • Builds social proof
    • Share content and help to promote
    • They trust us and take action on our calls to action
  • How to warm up our readers
    • Steps readers need to go through to get to this point


The 4 Stages for Warming Our Blog Readers

  • Challenge: Readers that are completely unaware that we exist. Objective: Get their attention.
  • Challenge: The readers are not interested. Objective: Get them interested.
  • Challenge: They are about to leave our site. Objective: Get their connection, or else they are gone.
  • Challenge: Our readers remain passive. Objective: Get engagement.

 Where Is Your Weak Link?

I’m going to get into these tactics in the next episodes. Before I get into them I would like for you to ponder the question of “where is your weak link”?

You may have had success with one or two of these tactics, so we want to focus on getting all of these stages working towards your blog.

How did you go with today’s episode?

I would love to hear your feedback of where you think your weak link is. I would also like to see examples of how you have overcome these weak links.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger and welcome to episode 112 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today I’m kicking off a little mini series of podcasts which is designed to help you to move your readers from being cold towards you, and your brand, and your blog, to being fully engaged, to be raving fans of you and your blog. I’m going to talk to you about the benefits of getting your readers warmed up and walk you through a series of steps to do that.

And then over the upcoming episodes of this little series, the next four episodes, I’m going to get strategic, I’m going to get tactical, I’m going to give you some practical things that you can do, some exercises that you can do to help you move your readers through these four stages. And then in the fifth episode, at the end, I’m going to give you some case studies as well. It’s really important that you subscribe to the ProBlogger podcast to get all of this content. It’s all completely free, but if you don’t subscribe you’re not likely to get the message that the new episodes have come out.

Hit us on iTunes and hit that subscribe button. Subscribe to the ProBlogger Plus Newsletter on today’s show notes as well. I look forward to walking you through this journey. You can find today’s show notes where you can subscribe and you can find us on iTunes at

Do you dream of having warm readers, hot readers, readers who are warm towards you, who feel like they’re engaged by you and who are engaging back with you, a community that is alive? If that’s what you want, then this next series of podcasts is designed particularly for you. 

Over the next few episodes, I want to walk you through four steps to warming your readers up. To taking your readers from being unaware of you, very cold towards you, the first time they come across you, they’re cold for one reason or another. Taking them through to being warmed up to become interested, to become connected, and to become engaged with you. 

This is the dream that many bloggers have and if you’ve said yes to my question of is that your dream, then you are certainly not alone. We hear case studies all the time of blogs and social media being used in this way to warm people up. I’ve talked about it myself and how when I first started blogging in 2002, I was a complete unknown. Apart from my real-life friends and the people that I work with, nobody knew that I existed. Everyone was very cold to me, except for those who really knew me. The vast majority of the earth’s population had no idea that I existed, they were cold towards me.

But over the last almost 14 years now, I’ve gradually built an audience to the point where four or five million people a month show up on my blogs and have become warm to my brands. Not everyone in that four or five million readers are coming back every day, they’re not all hot, they’re not all highly engaging, but there are a growing percentage of them who are. How do you take your blog from having lots of cold readers to being warm? That’s what I want to focus on over these next four podcasts. I want to present to you four steps to doing it. Because the reality is that most blogs look like they should warm readers up, but they don’t actually do it. We end up with cold readers in one way or another.

Cold readers can be the result of a number of things. Firstly, one of the big challenges that we have as bloggers is that we are trying to get people onto our blogs who are incredibly distracted. Even if we end up with people on our site, often they are doing two things at once. They might be watching television while surfing the web on their computer, answering messages on their phone, and their kids are in the background asking for dinner, or the boss is about to walk into the cubicle. We’re distracted. This is I guess the reality of life at the moment in the world that we live in.

Another reason they might be cold towards us is they might be a bit suspicious of us. I talked about this in the last episode on start here pages, how often people come to our site a little bit suspicious, a little bit skeptical that we’re credible, that we know what we’re talking about. Or they’re a little bit skeptical that what we’re saying is relevant to them. Suspicion is one of the reasons that people are a little bit stand-offish towards us.  

Another reason that readers might end up being cold is that they’re in that zombie state that we get into when we click on one link, after another link, after another link. I don’t know about you, but as I look at my Twitter stream there’s all kinds of things to read and it’s very easy to almost fall asleep at the screen as you follow the links. Related to this is the short attention span that some people seem to have today as well. This can leave people cold towards us because they almost wired these days to look at a site for three seconds and then move on to the next one.

For whatever reason, the reality is that many of us have cold readers. This is a major challenge because we know there are many benefits in having warmer readers. When you get a warm reader, when you warm someone up towards your blog and your brand, you increase the chances of them coming back again. 

When you get someone returning to your blog over and over again, this reinforces your brand in their mind. It makes you more memorable. Warm readers contribute to your site, this makes your site more useful. Warm readers who are answering other reader’s questions or even asking questions help to make your site more useful to other readers. That also helps to build social proof when you have people engaging in a warm way, it’s easier to attract new people. Warm readers also share our content, they help us to promote ourselves. Word of mouth kicks in when readers are warm towards us, warm readers trust us, they take action on our calls to action, they buy our products and services.

For all of these readers we want to warm up our readers, but how do we do it? That’s what I want this series to be about. The first thing I will say is that it’s really important to think about the process that your readers are going to take to become warm. Lot of people have this idea, “I want an engaged community.” But I think it’s really useful to step back from that question to say, “Okay, that’s what we’re aiming for, but what are the steps your readers need to go through to get to that point?” 

I’ve been asking this question in my own mind, with my team over the last year or two particularly. What’s the journey of my readers, those readers that do become engaged, how do they get to that point? I’ve realized slowly over time that there are different stages that our readers go through. Some of these stages happen very quickly. Readers who first arrive on your site make decisions very quickly and they move from one of these stages to the next within seconds sometimes. But some of them are quite slow as well.

I want to present to you in today’s podcast four stages of warming up your reader. And then over the oncoming episodes, I want to dig deeper into each one and give you some strategies for moving your readers through these stages.

Let’s get into these four stages. I want to say right up front that these stages are not rocket science. In fact, they are stages that you will have gone through as you think about the brands that you are warm to, the blogs that you read, the podcast that you listen to. You will have gone through these stages. I want to encourage you as I move through them to be thinking about what moved you through these stages, what made you warm towards your favorite blog, and your favorite podcast, your favorite social media influencer. What were the things that moved you along in the journey, because the things that moved you along are hints to the things that you can be doing with your audience as well. 

Let’s move through to these four stages. Each stage has a challenge, a state that your reader is in, an objective, a goal that we have to move our readers through.

Stage number one, we’re presented with the challenge of readers who are completely unaware that we exist. This should be a challenge for most us who’ve started a blog. The reality is when we start our blogs, no one knows that we exist or no one knows our blog exists. I remember the moment very well in 2002 when I hit publish on my first post, and I realized that whilst I created this blog and that was a bit of an achievement, no one knew it was there and I had to email my wife and say, “Hey, check out this link. It’s my new blog.” And then I had to explain what a blog was. Then, I send out the link to a few other friends, and family, and colleagues, and then I ran out of people to send it to. 

I realized I had this massive challenge before me to go beyond just my own circle of influence to grow awareness of my blog. That’s the challenge, people don’t know we exist. This is the challenge that faces us all, it faced me again last year when I started this podcast. I remember the moment it went live in iTunes and realized, again, I was back at ground zero. No one knew it existed.

The challenge is unawareness. The objective at this point is to get attention, to get attention. I want to present to you some strategies for getting attention. Another way to term getting attention is to get the eyeball, that’s the first stage. 

Second stage is that even once we’ve got attention–people may now be aware that we exist, they may even be on our blog, they may be listening to that first episode of the podcast–the next challenge that we face is that they are disinterested. They’ve given us the eyeball, but because they are distracted by other devices, and their kids, and all the things going on in their life, or because they’re suspicious or because they’re in that zombie like state, they’re not actually fully giving us their attention. In some ways, they’ve given us the eyeball, but haven’t given us both eyeballs. Or they have looked once and they haven’t looked twice.

The challenge here is to get them interested. This is the second key objective. We want to get their attention first, and then we want to make them look twice, we want to get them interested in what we’ve got to say. I want to present some strategies in a couple episodes time on taking people from first time viewers to a little bit more interested in what we’re doing, that’s a really important step along this journey. If we don’t get their interest, they’re never going to connect. They’re never going to engage.

Step number three is we got them interested, now they’ve given us a second look, they’ve gone, “Huh, that’s interesting.” But they’re about to leave our site. This is a massive challenge and it can be incredibly frustrating for us as bloggers. We see people arriving in our site, but no one’s actually connecting to us. This is the third objective. 

We get their attention, we get their interest, and now we need to get their connection. Because if we don’t, they’re gone. They will leave our blog and the statistics show us that most people never ever return again. Even if in the back of their mind, they’ve said, “I need to come back to this site,” they will not do it in most cases unless we got a connection. That connection—it can be email, it can be social media, it could be getting their business card if you’re in a real life event or something else. But the key objective is to get connection. It’s to get permission, as Seth Godin says in his great book Permission Marketing, to contact them again. 

First step, we want to get their eyeballs. Second step, we want to get a second look. The third step is we want to get the connection. The fourth step is so important. This again is another major frustration. The challenge that we have is thought we might get the connection, but we don’t get the engagement. Our readers remain passive. 

If you’ve been blogging for more than a few months and you’ve got a few subscribers now, you know how hard this is. You look at the email subscribers that you’ve got and then you send an email, and you look at how many people open those emails and you get depressed by the small percentage of people who opened the email or who even verify that they’ve subscribed. You look at your Facebook stats and you see all the people who have liked your page and the tiny percent who actually are reached by your messages, and even tinier percent who comment, or share, or retweet the social messages that we have.

We see the amount of people who look at our blogpost in Google Analytics and then look at how many people comment. It’s less than 1% of people, the studies show, comments on blog posts. It’s probably even gone down further than that because commenting seems to be something that people are now doing more in social media. This is another massive challenge: passive, lurking readers. The objective here is to get engagement. I want to present with you in a few episodes time some strategies that we’ve been using on ProBlogger Digital Photography School to get the engagement.

These other four stages, the four challenges that we are faced with and the four objectives that we have. Let me recap them. Firstly, our readers are unaware, we need to get their attention, we need to get their eyeball. Secondly, they’re disinterested, we need to get their interest, we need to make them look twice, we need to make them go, “Huh, this could be for me.” Third stage is they’re interested but they’re disconnected, we need to get connected, we need to begin that relationship, we need to get permission to contact them again, to speak to them. Number four is that they’re passive, they’re lurking, they’re at an arm’s length. We need to work on getting them closer, we need to work on getting them to engage with us, to talk to us, to share with us, to build a relationship with us.

We know that if we can get their attention, interest, connection, engagement, they become a warm reader. That’s a very valuable thing, but how do we do it. That’s what I want to present over the next few episodes, but before I get into the techniques and tactics and the strategies that I’m going to present, I’m going to share two or three or four things on each of these areas in upcoming episodes. I do encourage you to subscribe in iTunes or however else you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss these four episodes.

Before I get into those tactics, I want you to ponder this question. Where is your weak link? In those four different areas, where is your weak link? Most bloggers I talk to are pretty good at one or two or even three of these areas. They’ve worked hard on it. I know a lot of bloggers who are really great at getting attention. They create content that maybe is controversial, or humorous, or is very shareable, and that’s one of the things we’re going to talk about in the next episode. But that’s where it stops. They get a lot of eyeballs but they don’t get any subscribes. Maybe the weak link there is getting the subscribe.

Or maybe they’re really good at the engagement end of things, but they’re not so good at getting the eyeballs in the first place. That really decreases the amount of people who end up getting to that engagement level. Over time, as I look back over my own blogging, there’s been times where I’ve almost obsessed over each of these four areas. I remember times in the early days in my blogs where attention was the big thing, it probably should have been. Because when you start out, that’s where you do need to start. I would work so hard on creating viral content. But viral content alone is not good enough. If all you do is get eyeballs, you’re never going to get anyone to leave a comment, to buy your product, that type of thing which comes out of engagement.

There’s been other times where I’ve been so obsessed on the engagement side of things that I’ve actually stopped focusing on getting new readers. This is something that was kind of a bit more recent even for ProBlogger. We’ve put a lot of attention with ProBlogger in the last year or so into trying to get the connection, we’ve really done well in getting more email subscribers and trying to get more engagement, tying to draw people into conversation, using live streaming, that type of thing. I had the realization a few weeks ago that we hadn’t really been doing so much to get the eyeball, we’ve not really been creating as much shareable content, we’ve not really been addressing some of those needs so we need to put a bit more attention back into that area.

My question is where is the weak link for you? Where are you falling short? Because you’re only ever going to get as far as your weakest link. You’re never going to really get fully engaged, lots of fully engaged readers unless you’re working on all four of these areas.

Again, the key challenge, number one, is unawareness, you need to get their attention. Number two, you’ve got to get them interested. Number three, you’ve got to get the connection. Number four, you’ve got to get the engagement, which is your weak link? I’m going to get into each of these four areas over the next four episodes. I want to give you some really practical, tactical, strategical kind of things that you can be doing and give you some examples of things that we’ve been on my blogs over the last little while to move your readers through these stages. But before I get into them, I think it will be really worthwhile. You, number one, subscribing, so you don’t miss those episodes. Number two, asking yourself where have you been falling short.

I’d also love in today’s show notes at to hear your feedback on where you think your weak link is and to see your examples of what you’ve been doing in each of these four areas. I actually asked this on Facebook recently and got some amazing responses on people who designed the whole almost processes to move people through this. 

What I’d like to do at the end of the next four episodes is to get into some case studies and then share some stories of how people are using the techniques that I’m talking about. If you’ve got a story to tell about how you’ve gotten more attention, how you’ve moved people to get interested to connect and to get engagement, I love to hear from you. You can leave a comment on today’s show notes, episode 112 over at, or you could shoot me an email at [email protected], or you could even leave a voice message on today’s show notes as well.

But the number one question, where is your weak link? Love to hear from you. I look forward to taking you through this journey in the next four episodes of the ProBlogger podcast.

Update: Here’s the next episodes in this series:

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