May 7, 2008

Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic

Filed under: Blogging Tips -- Darren Rowse @ 04:18pm

I still remember the rush that I felt when I realized that someone was reading my first blog… and that it wasn’t my Mum!

Bloggers love to know that there’s someone reading the posts that we write.

Whether we’re blogging on a personal blog about the quirkiness of our pet ferret or blogging for money on a blog analyzing stock market trends in Tokyo we all have at least some interest in growing the numbers of those who log in each day to read what we have to say.

“But how do I grow the number of readers to my blog?”

It’s a question that I asked a lot of more experienced bloggers when I first started out and one that these days I get asked regularly too.

Over the coming weeks I’d like to explore this topic here at the Scribefire blog in a weekly post.

This week I’d like kick things off with a question that a blogger asked me in my first months of blogging that I believe has been responsible for me growing my blogs to have over 90,000 subscribers and 50,000 daily visitors…..

Would You Read Your Blog?

Hold on Darren…. where’s the traffic generation tips? How’s this question going to bring me readers?

I hear you – I wasn’t that impressed with the question either when it was directed at me. I’d asked the blogger for a tip on how to bring in readers and he answered with that!?!

I’l be honest – I discarded the question to the ‘trash’ in my email setup and didn’t give it a lot of thought.

Years later I realized the wisdom of that question.

Sometimes we have to learn the hard way and when it comes to this topic I tried a lot of ways to grow the readership of my blogs. I started blogs on topics that I thought would be popular, I wrote posts that were controversial with the hope that they’d draw in readers, I networked with bloggers, I begged for links and spent hour pouring over my source code attempting to get things just perfect in terms of SEO.

Some of these things paid off to some extent – but the lesson that I ended up learning was that I should stick to blogging about things that I was interested in and that I should blog on those blogs in a manner that was authentic to who I was. Ultimately my success came from developing blogs that… I would read.

If you wouldn’t read your blogs – why would anyone else?

There are a number of reasons why this question is important:

•    Sustainability – building a successful blogs takes a concerted effort over the long haul. It takes years to grow a blog up to the potential that it has and if you don’t have an interest in the topic or are writing in a style that isn’t reflective of who you are it can be difficult to sustain a blog for longer than a few months.
•    Readers catch passion – blog readers are a fairly intuitive bunch and if you’re heart isn’t in your blog then you’re unlikely to write in a way that engages them in a way that will convert them to loyal readers. Someone recently told me that they read ProBlogger because they could tell that I loved my topic. I think that says it all.
•    Reality is Important - as I look at the posts that generate the most traffic for my blogs it strikes me that they are usually around the problems that I have had and how I’ve overcome – the posts emerge out of my real life. One of the main reasons that people use the web is to search for ways to overcome problems or fulfill needs that they have. To find how someone else has fixed an issue that you have is something that people will reward with loyalty (and some free word of mouth marketing).

But What About the Reader?
Some might read about this post and think that I’ve got it all wrong. Am I saying you should ignore the needs of your readers? Should you start with them and write for them primarily?

Of course your reader needs to be in the front and centre of your focus if you want to build a popular blog. It’s important to be in tune with them, be interacting with them and writing about things that apply to their lives – however unless you’re also writing for you you might just find that others are not drawn to your blog in the first place.

*Darren Rowse is a guest blogger for Scribefire. He blogs professionally at problogger, part of the b5media family.

62 Responses to “Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic”

  1. 1
    Aurelius Tjin

    I enjoyed reading your great post. The ideas and insights are very worth reading. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have shared here.

  2. 2
    Israel

    I think you need to write strategically. Before you can write for your readers, you need to get readers…

    Also, side note: It’s terribly painful to the eyes to read this white on black blog. I found it hard to concentrate and keep track of lines as I read.

  3. 3
    JoLynn from The Fit Shack

    Hi Darren,

    I like what you said about “blogging in a manner that was authentic to who I was”….that’s really all we can ask of ourselves – stay true to the topic(s) we’re passionate about, and if you’re really interested in what you’re blogging about then that will come across to your readers.

    On the flip side, if you’re blogging about a topic because you think it will make you money but you’re really bored by it, you can be sure that will come across in your posts.

    Congrats on your first guest post here at ScribeFire! :)

  4. 4
    Jaspal

    i always like darren what ever he writes … i really liked “Would You Read Your Blog?”
    thnks for sharing …

  5. 5
    Steve Mills

    Good Ideas Darren, followed you here from Twitter just so you know.

    I think that writing a blog that you honestly think that another person would get value out of and want to read is the number one criteria for building a blog and keeping it going

  6. 6
    Doyle Slayton

    I really like your points about sustainability and passion! …and of course, “Would you read your own blog?” It really puts things in perspective… doesn’t it!

    Doyle Slayton
    Executive Director & Sales Strategist
    http://www.SalesBlogcast.com

  7. 7
    Veronica Robbins

    I agree wholeheartedly that readers can tell if you are not passionate about your topic. They can also tell if you are really knowledgeable or just blowing smoke. How can you sustain an engaging blog over time without passion and real knowledge?

    Great post! Thanks!

    By the way, Darren, your book showed up in the mail today and I read it tonight in one sitting. It was fantastic!! When is the next one coming out?

  8. 8
    Ditto Rahmat

    Hi Darren,

    I followed you here from Twitter and I must say I agree with your points. Your idea, passion and good writing skills is what made attracted to your blog in the first place.

    While there are other top blogger who gets equally – or maybe even more – traffic compared to your blog, I never bothered reading them since I found their post usually provides less value than the insights and ideas you put on your posts.

  9. 9
    Rajeev Edmonds

    I got the same question from one of my friend, which jolted me for a moment. I was not ready to take this question at that moment. Later I realized it’s importance, and now I stress on making my posts useful to my readers.

  10. 10
    Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)

    Brilliant – as usual – Darren. Reading your posts is never time wasted – I always appreciate your insight and experience. Thanks! (Followed from Twitter)

  11. 11
    Darren

    thanks everyone for the comments. Veronica – the last book took us over a year to write – so don’t expect anything too soon :-)

    Would love to see a review of it up on Amazon if you get a spare moment or two!

  12. 12
    ilaxi

    Thanks for the tips. In reading own blog, we have the beat and passion to blog. However, we need to create topics on what readers like. Darren’s posts and readings are always informative and am impressed with his wisdom due to which journalists like me can spare quick learning through his links…

  13. 13
    Would You Read Your Blog? - A Guest Post by…. Me

    [...] You can see my first guest post which just went up at Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic. [...]

  14. 14
    Ricardo Bueno

    Honestly I think it’s a question that we’re afraid to address at times. I mean it’s not really confidence inspiring to think of the possibility that “no one” is reading.

    Then again, the sooner it’s addressed, the better. At the end of it all, remembering about the “social” in “social media” makes it all just a tad bit easier. (Did that make sense?)

    Anyway, Darren, remember that small e-book I asked you about? I finally finished it. It’s up on my site. Think I can have a comment from you on it?

  15. 15
    Make Money Online » Would You Read Your Blog? - A Guest Post by…. Me

    [...] You can see my first guest post which just went up at Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic. [...]

  16. 16
    finally

    Finally a place where I can leave critical comments about pro-splogger without it being deleted by Darren.
    The only value of problogger are the guest post. These are good ones. Darrens post keep repeating the same over and over. They’re even, after modifying them for a couple of years, of mediocre quality.
    Would you read problogger to know how to make money? Hell No!

  17. 17
    Sumesh

    “Reality is important” >> Spot on. I think most bloggers start with some illusion of making six figures within a few months.

    “Sustainability” >> Again, same point as above.

    Most of all it takes some sensational stuff from a blogger if he/she is to grow very quickly.

  18. 18
    Darren

    ‘finally’ – for the record. The IP address that is associated with your comment here matches the IP address of comments left by someone on ProBlogger – all of which are critical AND yet were still published.

    One was left under the name ‘anonymous coward’, which I find a little ironic.

    If comments that you have left on ProBlogger have not appeared on the blog then I’d encourage you to email me about it so I can get them out of my spam filter. Akismet (the filter I use) does block some comments falsely – not because they are critical. I allow all comments on my blog whether they are positive or negative and only delete spam and/or defamatory/explicit comments manually.

    Lastly – you’re totally entitled to your opinion on my posts at ProBlogger. I actually appreciate constructive critique – if you’ve got any suggestions to make on how you’d make the blog better feel free to let me know.

    While I do repeat some themes on ProBlogger I attempt to provide relevant and useful information on the blog. Over 3 and a half years of posting daily on the same topic I would hope you’d forgive me for a few repeats.

    If ProBlogger doesn’t satisfy your needs – I’d encourage you to keep searching for that perfect blog that does – and/or… start your own on the topic and show us how much better you can do.

  19. 19
    Would You Read Your Blog? - A Guest Post by…. Me | Amabanal Network

    [...] You can see my first guest post which just went up at Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic. [...]

  20. 20
    Tyler

    I’ve wanted to start a blog for years – but I kept getting stuck on “would I be able to continually write great content to keep people coming back”. See, I wanted to be an ‘authority’ on my subject and have people flocking to me for advice! LoL Then a realization hit me – and it’s totally in line with what you say – the blogs I read are the ones that are “real”. I wanted to read about people’s opinions and thoughts on certain topics from their heart. I skip through all the blogs that are ‘official reports’, etc.

    Thank you for this post. I started on my blog last week and have been doing exactly this. This is a great reminder that I’m heading in the right direction!

  21. 21
    finally

    So you check ip’s and trace them to posts every time someone posts negative remarks?

    I haven’t seen a critical comment of me published on problogger. Maybe they were approved a couple of days afterwards when the post had disappeared from readers eyes? I saw other comments appearing after mine.

    The biggest problem I have are the spam blogs found on livingroom. Let’s be honest, that’s how you made your money, at least when you didn’t yet had that following on problogger yet. I know you are rather quiet about those (some you left) on problogger. They don’t fit well in a portfolio of a problogger who is trying to sell his book on how to create quality content to earn money.

  22. 22
    Would you read your own blog? | Sweet's Blog

    [...] a powerful question. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote a guest post at ScribeFire on this question and I think it’s a great one. So often those of us who blog [...]

  23. 23
    Would you read your own blog? | Sweet's Blog

    [...] a powerful question. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote a guest post at ScribeFire on this question and I think it’s a great one. So often those of us who blog [...]

  24. 24
    Would you read your own blog? | Sweet's Blog

    [...] a powerful question. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote a guest post at ScribeFire on this question and I think it’s a great one. So often those of us who blog [...]

  25. 25
    Would you read your own blog? | Sweet's Blog

    [...] a powerful question. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote a guest post at ScribeFire on this question and I think it’s a great one. So often those of us who blog [...]

  26. 26
    Would you read your own blog? | Sweet's Blog

    [...] a powerful question. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote a guest post at ScribeFire on this question and I think it’s a great one. So often those of us who blog [...]

  27. 27
    Would you read your own blog? | Sweet's Blog

    [...] a powerful question. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote a guest post at ScribeFire on this question and I think it’s a great one. So often those of us who blog [...]

  28. 28
    James Sweet

    What a powerful yet simple question. So often those of us who blog get caught up in the mechanics of SEO or the discipline of linking to and commenting on others blogs that we forget about the most fundamental aspect of all of this – no one will read your blog if it isn’t interesting and if it isn’t even interesting to you then it won’t be to anyone else. Great stuff Darren. I know I’m looking forward to more posts in this series.

  29. 29
    I Am Husband

    I always enjoy what Darren has to say, and this topic means a lot to me. I’ve searched for a long time for my niche, and it was only recently that I found it. I placed my feed in my Netvibes feed reader (mostly just to make sure the feed is working), and it always excites me to see my new post pop up. I enjoy going back and reading things I have previously written.

    Good article, Darren.

  30. 30
    Maria Webster

    I completely agree. For me, this was one of the first reasons to start a blog, because I knew if I didn’t want to read it, no one else would either. And you’re right that it simplifies the process of finding content. The biggest challenge that follows, I think, is striking a balance between what *I* want to read, and what my readers want to see. I’ve got to make us both happy. I have unsubscribed from other blogs because they couldn’t seem to find that balance.

    Great article. I look forward to the rest of the series.

  31. 31
    Alec Satin

    Clear, helpful and encouraging. I love this question: would you read your blog? What put me off starting a blog was the fear that there would not be enough interesting content.

    By focusing on what I’m naturally focused upon anyway (the 20% spike that Richard Koch talks about), the content continues to renew itself. Hopefully this will translate into something interesting for others as well.

    Thanks!
    Alec

  32. 32
    Luis Gross

    Great post Darren, It truly is words of wisdom. If no you won’t bother to read your own blog, then why should anyone else? This goes for any service or product being provided to someone. It has to be of quality and worthwhile. When you blog it has to be from the heart, so your readers can feel your passion.

  33. 33
    Would You Want to Have You as a Teacher? « Just Enough, and Nothing More

    [...] May 8, 2008 — Tammy Takahashi I came across a blog today, that asked, “Would you read your own blog?” It got me thinking about my blog, and my content, and whether I would, indeed, keep coming [...]

  34. 34
    Tammy Takahashi

    This post can be related to just about anything in life. Writing, art, designing, being a spouse, being a parent, working at a job, being a friend, etc.

    Thanks for bringing this up to our consciousness. Definitely worth thinking about.

  35. 35
    Roy Sudomo

    Wow! The power of a simple question.

    Thanks Darren

  36. 36
    Ulla

    Darren,
    a simple question but a lot to think about. I have a photoblog with some comments on each photo, and I like to do it. That’s the reason why I put quite a lot of work into it, in addition to my job. The question of making money out of my blog is not a question for me, so I could say the important thing is that I enjoy doing it. On the other hand, with this blog I want to communicate with other people, to show them my pictures and the feelings that go with them.

  37. 37
    yuvarlak.net » Blog Archive » Would You Read Your Blog? - A Guest Post by…. Me

    [...] You can see my first guest post which just went up at Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic. [...]

  38. 38
    Simon

    Great post Darren, it’s such a simple question, but very powerful.

    By the way, I always enjoy reading problogger.

    Simon

  39. 39
    Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic

    [...] Justin McElroy wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWould You Read Your Blog? Hold on Darren…. where’s the traffic generation tips? How’s this question going to bring me readers? I hear you – I wasn’t that impressed with the question either when it was directed at me. … [...]

  40. 40
    Would You Read Your Blog? - A Guest Post by…. Me | DougsTech.com - Tech News, Reviews, and Guides

    [...] You can see my first guest post which just went up at Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic. [...]

  41. 41
    Residual Income Lifestyle

    I agree Darren on the comment that if you’re not writing for you, then nobody will want to read it. Of course I’m paraphrasing here. ;-) But if you’re not passionate or educated about what you write, it shows and the people who read know.

    Timothy

  42. 42
    Guest blogging at ScribeFire about… blogging! at Jennifer Slegg - Search Engine Marketing Consultant

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  43. 43
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  45. 45
    sdenterprise

    I tend to take the time (when I can) to look at the content of my blogs and web sites to make sure that at least I would give them a bit of my time to read them, never mind anyone else taking time out…

  46. 46
    Farrhad A

    Nice article. Keep it up!

  47. 47
    Dennis Blackmore

    thanks, and by the way…………I have no problem with the black blog.

  48. 48
    Таможня продвигает новые технологии - Хибины.ru

    [...] Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic [...]

  49. 49
    Manou

    Very nice article and very insightful. Now I understand why Darren and Probloger alike blogs are so popular and succesful.
    I will definitely try to “leave by these rules” when writing my swedish blog http://www.din-it-kunskap.com

    Keep writing nice articles like this one.

  50. 50
    Becky C

    I think this is the only question that truly matters, initially. I have looked at a variety of blogs based on reading a comment on another blog or a blog roll and am often pleasantly surprised how consistent the content is – maybe it’s the topic or the author’s writing style. Ultimately, if it appeals to me, I’ll bookmark it and read it for awhile. If it really catches on with me I’ll add it to my reader. This informal process reminds me to re-read my little newbie blog and see if it still resonates with me – if it doesn’t, I probably ought to find something else to do.

    Thanks for the post and directing me to yet another blog to follow!

  51. 51
    thinkwerid

    Basically there are two types of blogs: one is a collage and the other is focused. My blog is a collage of whatever I want to blog, but to generate more traffic, it is better to focus on only one subject and write everything about it.

    Also, it is useful to leave your blog address in the comment and let other people know your blog ;-)

    http://www.thinkweird.info/

    Tell me what you think of my weird blog.

  52. 52
    ferret

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  55. 55
    Blogversary

    Great article. I just linked this in my blog. Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I was bored by my own blog and needed to change things for my own sake.

  56. 56
    Timothy West

    I would say that i am struggling with my blog as its hosted on my website and i just cant get it out there as far as the whole blogashpere is concerned. I have just added SEO optimisation ad ons to the system and it seems to be working but i gues that it takes time. It also doesnt help that i have had 3 blogs kidof that i have consecutively changed from a wordpress hosted to my own now. So check mine out then as it wouldn’t be cool if any one read this and didn’t take a look at my blog..
    Gosh i haven’t really been talking with allot of passion there have I…. well honestly do check it out i have some good topics on it.. http://www.trcwest.com/blog/

  57. 57
    Rhonda Kincaid

    i saw the title of this post and though “DUH” that makes total sense, but thought i’d read the post to see if there was any more insight and i just wanted to say kudos. i just started my second blog because i was bored with my old one. why on earth would anyone else read my blog if i dont want to read it!?!

  58. 58
    ferret

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  59. 59
    Loryoperge

    Thanks !

  60. 60
    O QUE É ISSO ? » Blog Archive » Você gostaria de ler o seu blog ? O segredo para aumentar o seu tráfego

    [...] Link: Would You Read Your Blog? The Secret to Building Traffic [...]

  61. 61
    Dave Higgs

    LOL – but would YOU read mine? (oops, not supposed to do that am I)

    A problem that I am battling with is this: You say we need to blog sincerely trying to help others on the one hand, and on the other we need to blog what we would read.

    My blog (my first!) is documenting what I learn about blogging as I go along – hopefully fast-tracking someone else on the way. However, what I learn tends to change: First I read a post about promoting your blog using comments. So I run off posting “Thank you” comments only to find that is perhaps worse than doing nothing!

    My mind is being stretched and that is not a bad thing :)

    Thanks for all your posts – MOST of what I now know (and am still very much learning!) is thanks to you.

  62. 62
    Ways to drive traffic to your blog : blog4cash

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