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What Do You Want Your First-time Reader to Do?

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of December 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Here’s a little strategic exercise that I think is well worth doing as we approach the beginning of a new year. Ask this question:

What do you want your readers to do?

There are numerous levels you can ask this question on. Let’s explore one now (I’ll do another tomorrow).

What do you want new visitors to do?

What’s the number one thing you want a new visitor on your site to do?

The answer to this question will vary depending upon how you define success for your blog, what your goals are, and depending even upon your business model.

In most cases, I tend to advise bloggers to focus attention for this first visit upon hooking the user into your site in some way (subscribing, joining, following, friending, etc).

The thinking behind this is simple: if you don’t hook a new reader in, they’ll be gone and unlikely to return after they’ve read the post that they landed on.


The key with hooking readers is to find out what technologies and media those you’re attempting to reach are familiar with. Then, call them strongly to connect with you using those methods.

But there are, of course, other valid conversion goals for new visitors.

If your blog is less about getting repeat visitors, you might actually be more interested in getting people to buy a product, click an ad, donate, retweet a post … or achieve some other goal.

For example, on my first photography site (a camera review site which is no longer active), I wasn’t as interested in getting people to keep coming back as they were their with the intent of researching cameras (and once they’d bought one, they weren’t likely to return even if they had subscribed, as their need was met). So I was much more focused upon trying to monetize their first visit by getting them to click an ad or buy a product via my affiliate links.

As a result, there weren’t too many strong calls to subscribe. Instead, ads were prominent and calls to buy cameras in reviews via affiliate links were also strong.

There is no wrong or right answer to this question. However, knowing what you’re attempting to get first time visitors to your blog to do is important. Otherwise, they’re likely to blow in and blow out again.

The answer to this question should inform your blog’s design, and what calls to action you place in key hot spots on your blog (the places people look).

What do you want your first-time reader to do?

Stay tuned tomorrow! Tomorrow we’ll explore this same question on a deeper and more powerful level, as we ask what you want repeat readers to do after they’ve subscribed.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • Great post. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post as my main issue is sometimes to make repeat readers to comment or participate with their ideas.

    I know they read it and personally they mention to me that certain posts were really good, but they hardly comment.

    Cheers from London !


    • I have the same issue where I know people like my content but they rarely comment. Maybe it is the type of content? My site is very educational, whereas I have noticed that other sites with more personal stories and such get more comments. Just a theory.

  • Darren, it is like you were reading our minds today. We were sitting here talking about the priorities for our website and started to shift things around on the site based on the priorities of actions. At the same time we removed everything that was distracting readers or did not add to the goals for the site.

    Thank you for a great tip and a simple question we will be asking as we prepare our business and website for a big 2012.

  • Thanks for this post. I am going to spend some time today working on this. It makes perfect sense. Just looking and ‘walking’ around my blog like a visitor helps me find things that I would change.

  • I guess I’m asking my first time visitors too many things. I want them to subscribe, click on ads. and to comment and interact.
    A very helpful post as usual from Darren!

  • I was looking for this today! Thanks for posting this!

  • Really great one.
    Now I’ll integrate facebook popup to get more likes.
    Often we never give our readers chance to come back, we should provide some easy way to reach us again.

  • You’re raised a great question Darren! It feels tempting to entice a new visitor with the latest post and the related ones, and the newsletter subscription, and the product you want to sell etc.

    Having a good answer to this question will help many of us set our priorities right.

  • Good article. Got me thinking. For me, I just want to make a connection. I started my blog to connect with women who are like me, who are likely to be friends with me. So, making a connection with readers are important. If they like me, then they are likely to subscribe or join me through a network.

  • Thanks Darren Ive just started my blog so this is a great question to focus on. Will look forward to reading more.

  • I like the contrasting examples you provided here. Often I read that it’s important not to sell on a first visit–instead get them to subscriber–but selling is what you did on your photography site. It’s good to hear that.

    For my site, my focus is getting the visitor to subscribe to my newsletter. I have it in a feature box on my home page and in the sidebar on the rest of my site. I don’t use pop-ups because I can’t stand them.

    It’s great to think about this topic again, as I’m sure there are always improvements I can make to call attention to THE thing I want people to do when they visit. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I use an alternating methods: when I close some articles, I ask the reader to spread the word about my website. I mention the social media tools located at the bottom of the article and sidebar and urge the reader to tell their family and friends about my website. On other articles I ask them to sign up for my newsletter.

    The reason I use alternating calls to action (CTO) is that some readers are more interested in subscriptions whereas others prefer social media.

  • I want first time reader to spent some quality time on blog apart from subscribing rss feeds and following me on twitter.

  • This might be just my amateur opinion but I think that developing content for blogs designed for repeat viewings is much harder.

    But then, I’ve never been lack for ideas to write about (now, GOOD ideas to write about…that’s something entirely different)

  • Hi, Darren. One of the things I would like my first time readers to do is to opt-in for blog updates. I also believe that building a strong email list is one of the best things you could do to grow a successful blog.

  • Good post, I had to remove some distracting ads from my blog last week since my focus for first time visitors is not to click on ads but to turn them into returning visitors by getting them to subscribe or getting them to read more of my posts to get them hooked…LOL

    You do not get hooked on cocaine by a single doze, the more u take it….Same as, the more a reader dives into your quality contents, the more he will come back for more…

  • I’m going to have to double back to this blog post and read it thoroughly, so that I get a better understanding of what message is being positively conveyed here :-)

  • Like the others here, my first goal is to get them to subscribe to my newsletter or like me on Facebook, for example. What do you think are the “hot spots” to place these links? Sidebar? Top or bottom of posts? Can you overdo it?

  • I want to make my readers come back again and again and this can only be done with the help of good content. Other than this, obviously I would expect people to subscribe my newletter or feeds when they come for the first time on my blog.

  • Hi, i want my first time reader to subscribe my blog in this way i have list of e-mail addresses and reader gets updates daily from me

  • I want them to subscribe to my email Newsletter. Rock solid communication channel, where I offer more top notch content.

  • Excellent suggestions to engage the visitor to achieve repeat visits through the use of commitment. I am presently promoting a single web page which offers a free smartphone app. I am not looking for return visits. There are no other pages to direct the visitor to. I would be happy to see a bounce rate of 100% as long as they download my smartphone app when they make their one-time visit. This is a contrast to my blog site.

  • Really looking forward to tomorrows post. I would want them to share my post with their friends via my social networking buttons.

  • Ya Ya Love this. When I read your articles and other articles, They are talking about Call-to-action. But I didn’t understand that correctly. Now I understood what is it. Thanks for this article. I’ll read your tomorrow article definitely.

    According to your article I invited to my readers to connect with my blog on Social Media Sites, RSS, and Email Subscribing in my About Me page.


    • are you an e-mail marketing expert by chance? The reason why I ask is because and looking for someone to school me about e-mail marketing tactics, as well as “how to build a successful e-mail marketing list and capture new e-mail addresses daily”. If you have experience in this area, please let me know, as I’ll be happy to give you my e-mail address so we can talk personally :-)

  • I agree, but sometimes readers prefer the look of the first image he saw in the appeal with a long text and melelhkan to digest its contents

  • I want my first time readers to read apost or two and probably look at the ‘related posts’ section. I also like my reader to tell me what they think about a post – whether they agree/disagree my opinions.

    I also want them to subscribe to receive weekly updates and come back regularly for more.

  • Sometimes one wonders what defines a successful blog.
    My poetry blog ( ) had successfully sold out an advertising amid what people said about subdomain.

    The advertiser bought it for 90 days.

  • Fall in love with me.

  • Hi Darren,

    Timely post – aren’t they always? ;)

    I am contemplating this right now. Made a few changes to my blog today, with this idea in mind. I cut down on my options, or calls, big time. I realized some widgets, like my Facebook Fan Page box, were not only generating little interest, but were dividing my reader’s focus.

    Ultimately, I want first time readers to learn more about my gifting club. So I got ride of the excess fat, switched up my free offering, included a consistent call to action both after my post, on my side bar, and in my footer, and plan to stick with this strategy until I feel it is not working. Metrics will prove the deal, as always.

    First time readers should not be confused. Really drill down your options, to the point that you make it virtually impossible for your readers to do anything other than take your chief call to action. Then, many of your first-timers, and some of your veteran readers too, will take the call to action.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Darren.


  • Nice article.Every blogger like his readers to subscribe email Newsletter & write good comments.
    I hope my blog will grow in 2012 before ending the world. he he :)
    [end of world in 2012according to MAYA civilization]

    Your pathfinder in cyber world.

  • Like most other bloggers, I want my first time visitors to subscribe to my blog too. I have chosen the theme of my blog with this goal in mind.

  • I want people to spread the word about my blog. Google + and other engines like it have been a blessing.

  • Tim

    As a 1st time reader, it would be rare that I would sign up for a newsletter. A website needs lots of pertinent info and/or products before I’d do anything other than add to my RSS feed. Content is King and a CTA is useless until you prove you are that King.

    I cannot remember ever clicking an ad on my 1st visit to any website. Overall, I subscribe to a lot of blogs and 95% of the time I unsubscribe within a day or 2 because of invasive CTA’s and ads. “In Your Face” promotion may work for you but everyone I know just thinks it’s annoying.

    The little sliders at the bottom of blogs is getting out of hand now too. I call them Screams of Desperation to be Ignored. But it’s hard to ignore them so I hit the little X in my tab bar.

    Tasteful and subtle CTA’s are the only way to go in my opinion.

  • I would like a first-time user to examine the material, find it interesting, and the use one of many methods to not lose track. Leave a comment with follow, sign up for the newsletter, subscribe on Twitter or Facebook — bookmark — but don’t lose the connection. It happens sometimes. This is more important than clicking an ad or affiliate link. Not that I would complain.

  • I want my readers to find the information they’re looking for. Be it on the ads or the articles :)

  • I’m getting a lot of interaction (and views) from Twitter, but all I have on my blog right now is a ticker that shows my latest Twitter update. However, there is a button on top of my blog that say “Follow Me on Twitter.” I’m wondering if that’s not good enough?

    Ideally, I want to get people to comment, connect with them, and offer them advice. I’m not too interested in monetizing right now because that’s not really my goal. I plan to write a set of E-books in the future, but probably not until my blog is fully established and getting a lot of good, quality views. For right now, I just want to establish myself as an expert in my field.

  • I guess with most website call to action is what we are looking for. At the point of entry of the visitor there needs to be an action whatever you goal is. Contact you via email or buy an item would be good

  • Thanks Darren, the big logos in the middle of your article forced me to rethink about my placement strategy for my rss, fb, and twitter button. Also, I need to make my subscribe/friending/following buttons a size bigger to make it more prominent. Good reminder!

  • I am a relative newbie at all this and have been making a gargantuan effort to learn as much as possible about the key issues around encouraging a first time readers back!. There are a few strategies I have taken into consideration when recently creating and designing my site. I just hope they’re okay?
    1/ to keep regularly providing unique content that’s of interest to my niche.
    2/ to create an easy to navigate site, with breadcrumbs and relative posts.
    3/ to engage readers to share by providing readily available social share floating buttons that scroll down with the text- I love these!
    4/ calls to action so that the reader is given an idea of how to use the information he/she has gleaned from a post.
    5/ networking in social media- and giving of yourself to help others- and the good social karma comes right back.
    6/ to know that time and persistance is required, most bloggers give up.
    7/ to learn from stupid mistakes, move on- lesson learned.

    Even with all the above it’s hard to get people to comment, engage and return. There’s much competition out there and newbies like me have to learn fast about providing excellent content day after day- it’s a tall order and I am still not sure whether I will ever be good enough to fully engage and enthuse my first time readers sufficiently to really make a go of it. Time will tell no doubt. I’m in it for the long haul.

  • I would want my readers to learn what I know about passive income and benefit from it and bookmark my site. Of course this can only be accomplished by publishing great content when someone can say they found some value in reading my articles.

    I always try to pretend I’m that first time visitor to try and understand what my site should look like and what articles I should publish :)

  • Once again, I have found the topic of my interest. Visitors come to my blog from Google searching for the solution to their problems and leave the page after reading that article. Because of this, the bounce rate is very high. Till date, I thought that only displaying the related posts at the end was the only way out. But now I think there may be many other things. Thanks much!

  • I think this is key whether your site is a blog or any type of signup site. If users dont see what to do next they are going to leave. This is why gamification and points and badges play such a big role in social networks.

  • Liz

    Hey Darren, wise tips!

    When you really think about the fact that many of your visitors may not return to your website or even remember you, it’s a really smart strategy to get them to sign up for your newsletter or connect on a social level before they’re gone for good.

    If you can put your visitors in a position of getting to know you, learn from you and start to recognize you, that’s a big step towards increasing traffic and ultimately making sales.

    Liz :-)

  • This is one question I find myself asking more and more, and realize other than getting their information and being on their way, my visitors don’t do much else, I really need to refocus and give them a reason to stay and do them what I want them to.

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