How to Improve Your Blog by Watching a First Time Reader

Today’s episode is all about how you can see your blog from a first time reader’s perspective, and draw them in to keep reading.

You will need to find someone to help you today (although I suggest a service to try too) but it can be well worth the effort!

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).

Also – if you have a moment we’d love to get your feedback on the ProBlogger Podcast with this short survey which will help us plan future episodes.

  • How to find out how a first time reader views your blog
  • What questions to ask a first time reader to get practical, useful, detailed feedback to improve your blog
  • Tools you can use to make getting feedback easier

Further Resources on Watching a First Time Reader of Your Blog

  • Sign up (free) to Peek User Testing and you can get a 5 minute video of someone using your site. You can pay for more tests, choosing your audience, setting users tasks etc. and on different devices etc.
  • CrazyEgg shows you exactly where users ‘click’ on your site when there and creates a ‘heat map’. It shows how far people scroll and where they stop. Fascinating tests!

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Welcome to episode 17 of the ProBlogger Podcast and 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, where I’m issuing you a different challenge every day to help build some habits into your blogging that is going to take it to the next level. Today’s challenge is to watch someone read your blog for the first time. You’re going to need to find someone else to help you with this challenge. Preferably someone who’s never been to your blog before, but I’ll talk you through exactly how you can do that and suggest another service that you can use to get this same thing done for you. You can find today’s show notes including links to any tools mentioned at I hope you enjoy what we’ve got for you today.

Hi, this is Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to day 17 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. We’re way over the halfway point now and the home stretch. Congratulations. Today, we are going to do something I always find insightful. I actually love this, but at the same time, I’ll always feel a little bit frightened when I do it. It’s to get someone who’s never seen your blog before to view it and give you their feedback.

Here’s the frightening reality. Within just a few seconds of arriving on the blog that you pour hour after hour after hour of time and energy into, just after a few seconds of arriving a new reader is making snap judgments about what your blog is about and if it’s worth their time to stay on it and come back again. It’s frightening to think about it. You put so much time into it, and you see it as a complex and wonderful thing, yet these strangers are making snap judgments about it.

First impressions are so important in real life. We all know that when we meet other people, we’re making judgments about them. In the online space, it’s even more important. People make even quicker judgments about others. You just have a few seconds to draw people into your world or they’ll never return. This is a great activity to do because you’re going to get some insight into what a first-time reader thinks about your blog by conducting a little audit. First-time reader audit on your blog to try and get inside their head.

To make this work, you’re going to need a couple of things. Firstly, you’re going to need a friend, a friend of a friend, a friend of a friend of a friend, a family member, a colleague, a blogger that you’ve not had much to do with, or a random stranger off the street if you can convince them, who hasn’t seen your blog before. We want someone who doesn’t know anything about your blog, if possible.

Ideally, there’s someone who would fit your desired reader category. Whether that by age, demographic, interest, level of experience. This could be tricky, but if you can find that, then that’s fantastic. The other thing you’ll need is a computer on which the person can view your blog. You could do it on a phone as well, but choose a computer for a start, at least.

Ideally, you want to be in the room with them as well so that you could watch them, but you could do this virtually as well. If you’ve got some way for the person to record their reactions to your blog, but it’d be great if you were there, just in the background. If you can’t do those things, I want to give you a couple of services later that you can get some of these insights from, but let’s go through these exercises if you’ve got someone in the room.

Firstly, you want to give the person your blog’s URL, and let them load it up. Have them spend four or five minutes just looking around your blog. Don’t give them anything to do. Just say, “I want you to use this blog, and surf around, and see what you think.” Don’t talk to them while they do it. Don’t distract them. Just sit behind them and watch. Just watch how they use your blog. This is going to be a bit of an uncomfortable experience in some ways for you because you’ll want to leap in and say, “No. Click here. Click there,” but just let them do it.

How do they navigate? What do they click on first? What do they pause to read? Where does their cursor hover and then move on? What calls to action do they react to? What do they tend to skip over without even giving it a second glance? Where do they look confused? How far do they scroll down the page? What parts of the page do they seem to click more often than others? What areas of the blog do they seem drawn to? What doesn’t work the way it should, technically, for them?

Once they’ve been surfing for a while and come to a natural end of their visit, spend a few minutes just asking them some questions about their experience. Some of the questions you might consider asking are things like, what was their first impression? What do they think your blog was about when they first landed on it? Did they find it easy to read? Did they find it easy to navigate, understand? What did they feel when they first arrived? What suggestions do they have about things that you can improve?

What questions do they have after surfing your blog about what you do? What do they still not understand about what your blog is about? What words would they use to describe the design? What were the main elements that they’ll remember about your blog 10 minutes later? What words do they remember that you used to describe your blog? What was your blog’s name or tagline? What words would they use to describe the content of your blog or the voice that you had written it in? Lastly, what type of person do they think would read your blog?

Some of these questions may not have too many words to answer, but you may be surprised at the things that they tell you and whether it hits the mark in terms of what your intentions are for your blog. I do this exercise semi-regularly. Quite often when I meet someone at a conference and we’re on a break. I might say to them, “Can I show you my blog? I’d love to see what you think.” Tell them a little bit about what I want them to do. Even at a conference, in five minutes, you can get all kinds of insights.

There are some tools around that I mentioned earlier that you could use to get some of these insights. There’s a service called Peek, I’ll give you the link in the show notes. It’s a service that you can put your URL in and for free, you get a five-minute video of someone using your blog. You actually get to see how they use it, and they talk as they’re doing it, and they give you feedback. Sometimes the feedback can be quite confronting because they don’t know who you are and you don’t know who they are, but it can be insightful. I’ve used it a few times, and I always get little tidbits of ideas.

You can actually pay more to get more tests, choose a particular type of person to do the test, set the user task, or to get them to do it on different devices, but there is a free version there. Just doing that once or twice can give you interesting information. The other one is a service I’ve used many times called Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg shows you exactly where users click on your site. It creates a heat map of the clicks. Even clicks on areas that aren’t clickable are tracked.

The other thing it shows is how far down the page people scroll, which gives you interesting information as well. You don’t get any actual feedback from your users, but you do get an idea of how they’re using your site. Today, if you can, try and line up for someone to use your site in front of you so you can have a conversation with them and see what you learn. After that, choose one of those services to give a go as well.

I hope you find today’s challenge interesting. I hope it’s not too depressing to watch someone use your blog. Sometimes it can be confronting to see how people react, but it’s a useful thing because every day people are coming to your blog for the first time. Many of them just never come back again, so it’s great to see why that might be.

I hope you find today’s challenge helpful. I look forward to hearing your reflections on it. If you head to the show notes at, you have the opportunity there to not only get links to the tools mentioned today but also to leave a comment and tell us a little bit about what you did and what you noticed as you did today’s exercise. I would be fascinated to see what you picked up through doing this one and whether you’ll do it again.

Again, those show notes are at, where you can also see the coupon code to get 50% off the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook. You can also subscribe to the ProBlogger Plus newsletter, which will get you updates of all the new episodes here on ProBlogger. I look forward to talking to you tomorrow on day 18 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. See you then.

How did you go with todays challenge?

Have you asked first time readers of your blog for feedback before? Who will you ask next?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this approach to getting feedback in the comments below.

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