How Going Shopping Can Improve Your Blogging

Today we’re going shopping!!!

Yep – you heard me, we’re going to the mall!

If nothing else this challenge is going to get you away from your blog for a bit – but there’s more to it than that.

Today we’re doing some observation exercises that could bring a lot of life to your blog.

In This Episode

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

  • Why are we doing this exercise?
  • A quick outline of what the challenge is and a series of questions to ask while doing this exercise
  • Some suggestions for those of you not living near a mall/shops
  • Some examples of some of the things I’ve learned from doing this exercise

Mentioned in this Episode

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hello and welcome to the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and welcome to episode 13 and day 13 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Today, we’re going to do something a little bit different. You probably will shake your head and say, “Darren’s gone a little crazy here,” but bear with me. We are going on a trip to the mall, the shopping center, your local shopping strip, or whatever it is that you’ve got around you. This may sound like it’s got nothing to do with blogging. In some ways, it doesn’t but you are going to learn a lot today at least. I always do when I do this particular exercise. So, bear with me. Today’s show notes are at You’ll get some further reading there and any links mentioned in the show. Let’s get into it.

Today’s challenge is a bit different, to say the least. It’s gonna get you away from your computer and your devices into the real world. I want you to visit your local mall or shopping center as we call them here in Australia. I can just see people shaking their heads and muttering under their breath, “Darren has completely lost his mind,” but stick with me. There are a few benefits to this little exercise. If nothing else, it’s going to force you to get out of your pajamas, brush your hair, get away from your blog for a little while, and hopefully to get a little bit of exercise. If nothing else, that’s probably a good thing. I know what else bloggers are like.

Secondly, it’s going to give us a chance today to do some observational exercises that could help your blogging, particularly if you’re selling something on your blog, product or service, affiliate products, or even if you’re selling an idea, even if you’re just trying to change the world, or if you’re selling yourself in some way.

Why are we doing it? It comes out of the realization that many times, my best ideas come from my blog when I’m not blogging at all and when I’m doing something else. Many times, the idea comes when I’m in a different environment. I see something that’s unrelated to blogging or online, but it triggers a thought process that actually does come back to it. I’ve had so many blog post ideas and I’ve made so many changes to my blog, particularly the way I sell my products based upon what I observe in the real world. For me, many of those ideas come while I’m at shopping centers, sometimes while I’m waiting outside changing rooms for a certain someone in my life, but just observing what’s going on around me in those environments gives me all kinds of ideas.

Here is the challenge. Grab a notebook, a pen, or some other way to jot down notes, preferably not a device that’s going to distract you, and then head to your local shopping mall or super shops. I know for some of you living in rural areas, this might be a bit harder than others, but I’ve got some suggestions for you below as well.

Once you’re there, take 30 minutes or so to wander with no agenda other than to watch, observe. Watch the people, watch the places, watch the shops. Ask yourself some of these questions: Who’s here? Who are they with? What are they doing? Are they actually shopping or doing something else? If they’re shopping, what are they buying? What products seem to be particularly hot right now?

If you can observe people’s buying without being too creepy, how do they make their decisions? What do retailers do to attract people’s attention and stand out in that environment which could be quite noisy? What messages and calls to action are they using? What colors and design techniques are particularly popular at the moment? What else is in fashion? What sales techniques are staff using? What are retailers doing well? What are they doing poorly?

Just watch and observe. You’ll be fascinated by the things that you see. Take some notes, but don’t try to interpret them yet, rather just walk, wander, and observe for 30 or so minutes. At the end of that time, sit down with a coffee and ponder if there’s anything that might relate to your blogging. Maybe it relates to your design, the calls to action that you’re using, the way that you’re marketing or selling. Any number of things might come out of it. For me, a lot of things have come out of this.

I remember the day I was walking through a bookstore and I observed the bestseller list. I noticed that no customer in the shop was on any of the other bookshelves but they were all standing at the bestseller list. It taught me the power of social proof. A guy gave me an idea to go home and create a bestseller list based upon affiliate products that I noticed that it sold well. It had a massive impact on the sales of those products.

Another time I observed the power of upselling, a smart sales assistant with a well-timed suggestion about what goes with what convinced me to buy the second item. That challenged me to go home and think about the selling experience of my ebooks. I can’t even begin to describe the number of things I’ve learned in an Apple store. That’s a great place to go and observe. There’s a whole heap of things that I can tie back to my experience in shopping centers that I’ve learned that has improved my blog.

If you don’t have a shopping center or a mall close to you, then maybe this activity could work in another place. A local library, analyzing the books and how people interact with them, the shopping channel on TV—I’m sorry; it’s probably not what I’m going to do—a local tourist destination, a museum, a gallery, a restaurant. It’s about people watching, but it’s also about watching how people sell and are sold to.

I hope you had fun with today’s challenge. I’d love to hear what you thought of it at today’s show notes at I’ve also included in today’s show notes a post I wrote that has 10 lessons that I learned doing this exercise, 10 different things that I observed in a mall or shopping center that impacted my blogging. You might want to check that out as well. That’s at Looking forward to chatting with you tomorrow on day 14 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

If you do have a moment, I love you also to leave us a review or a rating on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast listening tool. Also if you’d like to subscribe to get updates about this podcast, go to I’ll talk to you tomorrow on day 14 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

How did you go with todays challenge?

I know todays challenge is a little on the abstract side but I hope you got some value from it.

Where did you go? What did you observe? Did it impact the way you’ll blog in any way?

Let us know in comments below!

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