How To Attract More Readers Than Just Your Mom

by Robb Sutton

Two things happened to me today that spurred a thought that is known throughout the blogging world.

First, I listened to David Risley eavesdrop on two businessman setting up their first website to attract new customers to their business. This is a common conversation that takes place everyday, and…unfortunately…most of them go this direction. There were multiple lines to the trascribed conversation from “that will look cool” to where to put the “skip this intro” link to the Flash intro they were going to throw up on their site (yuck!), but when DR typed out this line…it hit me like a ton of bricks.

And they clearly are planning the design based on what THEY think is cool, assuming customers will like it. Wrong direction.

The second thing was a video linked by Risley (I swear I wasn’t stalking him yesterday…just kind of how the cards turned over) that was a presentation by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) for Ignite on viral content linked on Geeks Are Sexy (and displayed below). Matthew created this presentation to show how he got over 5 million visitors to his website per month before The Oatmeal hit its one year anniversary through viral marketing.

While the premis of both websites are entirely different…one for business lead generation and one being a humor blog…the idea behind site and content design is the same. Except…one site is getting 5 million visitors per month and the other will be lucky to get one outside of their half awake mom…and this is why.

When You Blog…Write For An Audience Greater Than 1

Unless you are blogging just to put your thoughts out there for your friends and family, you have to produce content that you readers want to read. One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning bloggers make is producing content and designing blogs that they want to see and not what their target audience wants to read or see.

Have you stumbled upon blogs that have the latest and greatest widgets/plugins installed all over the place just to make the site load slowly so you leave? Same theory…

Your #1 goal as a blogger is to solve the problems of your readers…not you. If you want to reach a large audience, you have to bring your experience and knowledge to the table in a manner that connects with a large number of people.

Note: While many might think…The Oatmeal doesn’t solve one of my problems…you laughed and not enough laughter in your life can be a problem so keep your mind open to the possibilites.

Throughout the Ignite presentation video, Matthew Iman repeats the same phrase over and over again.

I pick something everyone can relate to and…

When you generate content on your blog, are you producing articles that a vast majority of your readers can relate to? Or are you force feeding what you think they should be reading?

There is a balance that has to be made between what you think is right and what works in an income generating environment. I have seen many bloggers sit on their high horse doing what they think is right only to find they were the only ones that thought that way.

So what do you need to focus on as a blogger?

  • Do not put up widgets or design elements unless 70% of your readership will benefit.
  • Listen to the questions asked in your comments and on social media outlets in your niche and answer those questions with your content.
  • Present your content in a unique/interesting manner to promote viral spreading of your solutions.
  • Reply to emails/comments as much as possible to bring back the personal nature of your site to get that connection between blogger and reader.

You have to listen to your audience and produce the content they want to read to solve their problems of the day. You gain the credibility in you content by bringing your own personal experience to the table and integrating that into digestible and spreadable information. If you continue to try to force feed it down readers throats…you are just setting yourself for writing to an audience of 1.

Image by soylentgreen23

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Paul Piotrowski April 10, 2011 - 10:04 pm

Wow. Eye opener. Time to re-think things.

Great post. That video is a huge wake-up call. I’ve had people send me many of those comics too.

Nottingham August 31, 2011 - 1:32 am

The guidelines would surely work.  So semicolon is a big deal then. Lol. I just found it out now. Well, if you want to attract readers, you gotta talk about the things you know they could jive in. Something that is very popular now. Like in technologies.


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