The Great Content Hoax: Why Just Blogging Your Passion Won’t Build You an Empire

the #1 reason your blog is growing slowly

photo credit: lanuiop cc

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

“I’ve been writing on my blog for a year now and only have 32 followers. …and 14 of them are my family.”

“I write on my blog 3x a week but people who find my blog don’t stay!”

“Why does nobody leave a comment on my blog? It’s like a ghost town around here!”

::

It’s true that blogging can help you make money, build an online community, and grow a base of fans who can’t wait to hear the brilliant things you have to say.

It’s also true that most of us fail dismally at growing our blogs.

If you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle, I have good news for you: over the next three posts, I’m going to share with you three strategies I used to grow my own mailing list, and to go from square one to a vibrant community full of engaged readers in just three months.

So let’s jump right in and learn about…

the #1 reason your blog is growing slowly

What Other Bloggers Will Tell You

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the advice,

“Just blog about what you love!”

-or-

“If you have enough passion, people will see that and want to be part of your community!”

I agree that you don’t want to be blogging about topics that don’t excite you, but…

“Blog Your Passion” is only a Half-Truth

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you know there’s more to that story.

When most people start their blogs, they have a million ideas. They pick a topic that they could talk about forever; making a list of posts to write is as simple as sitting down and asking, “What do I know that I want to share?”

They think that if they just write good posts about what they know, they’ll be successful.

While this isn’t the world’s worst way of starting a blog, it’s a great way to end up with 400 posts and only 60 regular readers.

Why?

You’re going about it backwards.

The problem with dwelling on what you know is that you may put a lot of information out there through your blog, but may never reach the person who will be most passionate about sharing your posts, retweeting your ideas, and spreading your message.

Need an example?

Let’s say you’re a fitness guru who loves to lift weights, eat raw veggies, and deny yourself sweets and other fun stuff. Know what? That could describe thousands of fitness bloggers. But you assume that because you have great photos of different workout techniques and describe new workout plans that “really get results,” you’re going to stand out from the crowd?

Now let’s think about Liz, your potential reader, a 37-year-old single mom who works nights as a nurse at the local hospital. She already knows she needs to eat more veggies, lift some weights occasionally, and cut out the junk food (who doesn’t?). Her problem isn’t not knowing what to do – it’s finding the motivation (and the time!) to live a healthier lifestyle.

If you stick to your guns and blog only about the mechanics of working out, you’ve already lost Liz. She might follow a link to your blog one time, but she’s certainly not going to stick around.

But the day she finds someone who is talking about her problem and helps her overcome the challenges she’s facing, she’s going to be that blogger’s number one fan.

And then she’s going to tell all her friends.

If your blog is going to be successful, you need to be helping someone. Inspiring someone to think differently and act differently. Making someone’s life better. (tweet this!)

Get Focused

Ask yourself this question: If you could have 100 new subscribers today, but they all had to be a clone of one of your existing readers, who would that reader be?

The best way to find that existing reader is to identify who is the most generous about sharing your content, gives you praise and thanks, refers their personal friends to your site, buys your e-books, and whom you love to see in the comments.

Once you have identified this reader, ask yourself what they come to your blog looking for, what specific problems they need to solve, what they’re passionate about, what their own goals are and what value YOU offer the relationship.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

::

Now visit your blog and read all of the pages, your last 10 posts, view all of the images and work your way through the site with your number one reader in mind. I want you to imagine that this blog has been built specifically for just that one person.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the stories on the blog resonate with her?
  • Are the images engaging to look at?
  • Is she able to connect with a real person that’s behind the blog?
  • Is the information relevant and interesting?

Your blog should be built for your number one reader and nobody else. This is usually difficult to execute because we are afraid of potentially losing other readers that might come through, but listen:

When you strike a chord with that one person – when you solve her problem, when you make her life better – she will share your content, tell her friends, promote your products, and keep telling your story long after your other site visitors have moved on to the next Pinterest pin.

…and the good news is, if there’s one “Liz” out there for you, there are thousands.

So tell me:

Whose life are you going to change? Tell me about your ideal reader and what you’re doing to serve their needs. Or what changes are you going to make on your blog to find that one person?

Share this post on Pinterest (thanks!), and then leave a comment below.

Because I’m in this for you.

Please consider sharing this post :: Love, Jeni
Why isn't your blog growing? Here's one good reason.

Coming soon! Free E-Book from The Blog Maven NEW! 5 Things You Can Fix On Your Blog NEXT WEEK to Get More Subscribers Want to get my new e-book with my most helpful advice for growing your subscriber list? To get your FREE copy, just click here.

130 Comments • Leave yours below!

  1. says

    I love this Jeni, especially – “Once you have identified this reader, ask yourself what they come to your blog looking for, what specific problems they need to solve, what they’re passionate about, what their own goals are and what value YOU offer the relationship.”

    I’m doing this now and I’m thankful to be doing it a few months in, rather than a few years.

    Looking forward to the rest of the series!
    Megan recently posted..Study the American Revolution by Combining Art and HistoryMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Megan,
      If you’ve only been blogging for a few months, it looks like you’re already making some great waves. :) Good for you! I love to hear success stories and hope you’ll have plenty more to share.

  2. says

    Thank you Jeni for your wonderful posts!! It is so hard to not be self indulgent when it comes to blogging. I blog to chronicle my families little life story. I would in the near future like to take on some sponsors though so your advice does not fall on deaf ears. I will be looking forward to the next posts. Thanks for everything.

    • says

      Hi Tricia, nice to see you again! I wouldn’t discount the fact that people may be coming to your blog for *inspiration.* That in itself is a benefit they’re getting from your blog. But maybe another way of looking at it is, if you wanted to give your readers one special gift to take with them, what would it be? It doesn’t have to be something tangible. When people start coming to your blog with open hands, expecting that they’ll get something good, then they’re the perfect audience for any sponsors you might want for your site.

  3. says

    Great post! I was excited to see your email today. My blog started out as our adoption story and the heartaches and triumphs we experienced. I had few readers but they were engaged. Then I started writing about our DIY projects and my pageviews exploded and I found a whole new world that I absolutely loved. It took me months of examination but I started a 2nd blog where I share my heart and my original blog is for my business: sponsored content, DIY projects, recipes, thrifty and fast home decor ideas. There is not as much engagement, and I’m hoping to continue on to the next stage of becoming bigger. I will definitely think through what you said as it is great advice! I’ve pinned and tweeted!

    • says

      Thanks for sharing, Marty. It’s funny how blogs can evolve into something different from when we started! I think it’s wise to continue giving your readers what they need on the original blog, and using a different platform for your personal story. Congrats on your success so far!

  4. says

    I was so thrilled to see your newsletter hit my inbox this morning! What you wrote really resonated with me. So often you hear the advice to just write for yourself, but if growing readership is a big goal then of course you have to cater and appeal to readers!
    Lauren recently posted..Casual Pencil SkirtMy Profile

  5. Simmone Daughdrill says

    Hi Jeni,

    This blog post is so helpful. I have been wanting to start a blog but I have been overwhelmed by narrowing down what I want to blog about, designing my blog, etc. This motivates me to just do it and gives me a strategy for growing my blog. Thank you.

  6. says

    In college I always heard “write what you know,” which was great advice but that was in a time before blogs where finding *your* audience is so important! :) I am looking forward to your e-book! :)

    • says

      I agree, Kara – there’s so much more information (“noise?”) out there now. You have to really work hard to stand out from the crowd.

  7. says

    Thank you for the great insight. I am going to view my site over the weekend with my number one reader in mind. I want to go my blog and gain a loyal following but you are exactly right; if my reader(s) are engaged, if I’m not helping them to help themselves…I’m just like all the rest – pretty to look at but nothing gained from the experience.
    Ms. Nix recently posted..AIO WIRELESS SAYS HELLO TO THE MOBILE WORLDMy Profile

  8. says

    Love this advice. I’ve heard all about creating your ideal customer but this is so much more effective! I think I was sort of doing this naturally but I think that if I do it intentionally, really find out who that person is and ask myself the questions you outlined here, I’ll see even better results.
    I’m about to launch something new though. In that case, do you kind of guess, or start with that imaginary ideal customer that everyone tells you to create until you actually get some traffic?
    Can’t wait to read more in this series.
    Beth Cranford recently posted..Bloom Where You’re PlantedMy Profile

    • says

      I think that when you’re starting a new project, your options are more limited. To create a reader profile, you don’t have to have met them yet; I’d advise to just make sure you stay really flexible with your definition of that ideal reader, so that you can reevaluate once you’ve started to connect with an audience. Good luck with your new project! I’d love to hear how it goes.

    • says

      Exactly what I was thinking, Heather! I’ve written a lot about how-to, but they need to be inspired to do it first.

      Yes, giant lightbulb, Jenni. :-) Thank you. Interestingly, my ideal reader actually rarely comments, and isn’t active in social media, but she takes action and makes changes because of my blog. That’s what I want for the blog.

  9. says

    Hi Jeni,
    Yes, I DID miss you–welcome back! I can’t wait to see your ebook…
    Thanks also for this helpful post. I sometimes get caught up in the frenzy and need to relax into “less is sometimes more”…Aloha, Lori

    • says

      Well, there’s nothing “frenzied” around here, but you probably don’t want too much of my casual attitude to rub off on you. :) Hope you’re well, Lori!

  10. says

    This is really an interesting post. To be honest I have not focused so much on growing my blog, lately, but I think this excercise could be also useful for focusing your content, deciding what it is you are really blogging about. I have an older blog where we could really see what resonated from the stats, but not one particular reader. really interesting way to approach it.
    Elizabeth recently posted..Novelty and Narrative on InstagramMy Profile

    • says

      I appreciate your perspective, Elizabeth. I think it really boils down to what your goals for your blog are. It’s tough to start a new blog now, with so many millions out there; if people don’t yet have stats to look at, this method might be a good start.

  11. says

    Hi Jeni! It is so nice to hear from you! I became a subscriber about a month and a half ago when I was doing the large task of switching from blogger to wordpress. I made it through with the help of bloggers like you and now I can’t wait to keep learning and taking my blog further!

  12. says

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

    I’ve been writing blogs since 2009, but have focused seriously on one blog for the past 1 1/2 years. This came about because of a huge response I had about a post on ADD on an older blog. At that point I created a new blog based solely on adults with ADD. My audience has been growing incrementally and I have employed all the tricks I know to seduce readers to stay, but I seem to be stagnating now. The most exciting thing that happened so far is a bump I got from an ADHD magazine; they found me via my tweet. Since then, not much to report.

    Can’t wait for your next installment!
    Amy recently posted..Guest Post Reminder: Send me your writing!My Profile

    • says

      Hi Amy, there are so many hurdles to get over with a blog, but it looks like you’re having at least some success. Have you considered guest posting on a larger blog with a similar audience? If that’s not an option, perhaps writing a helpful series about an issue specific to adults with ADD could help you connect with more people. I think it’s smart to keep looking to the horizon, figuring out if there’s a different angle you can “own” on your topic. Thanks for your note!

  13. says

    Jeni, you are SPOT on here! I was just sitting down last night questioning myself, what I’m doing, and WHY I’m failing. I actually looked over a few ways to write up a business plan for myself just this morning to “get back to basics” if you will and figure out my focus.

    I don’t think I can share with you how this one post alone might have just saved my blogging life. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over. My final thought, and hopefully you have some insight, would be this: I know who my “regular readers” are, but how do you figure out from there which one is your biggest supporter?
    Katie recently posted..Luscious Locks: High Shine, No FussMy Profile

    • says

      Really, Katie, I would look for the person who is the most thankful. That’s the person who is going to be most passionate about sharing your message. And those people are always the nicest as well. :) I hope you’ll keep me in the loop about what happens when you make some changes!

  14. says

    My ideal reader is me 2 years ago. I was sick and needed to get healthy, I got some guidelines but couldn’t find a guide. As I began to figure out healthy living I decided there should be more information out there and started to blog about my journey.
    My blog has grown but now I’m working to turn it into a profitable business.
    I appreciate all you do to make us (bloggers) better!
    Thanks!
    Holly recently posted..Handy Kitchen GearMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Holly, it sounds like you have the big part of it worked out. The next place to go would probably be to figure out if there are specific TOOLS or products that can help people do what you’ve done. By having the “inside scoop” on some of those (even if they’re free, like a motivational app that counts your steps or something), you’ll be positioning yourself as more of a leader. Hope this helps!

  15. says

    I have been trying a number of things to increase traffic…I find that I’m starting to write in the style of some of my favorite bloggers…and I haven’t had enough feedback to know if it works. =) I love making printables that help families and teachers teach the Catholic Faith…and I find that the posts with printables can be really popular (especially when they’re free!) The posts with giveaways of products I review can get a lot of hits too. My favorite subscribers…are the ones that always seem to be the first to pick up a new printable…I guess I just have to keep making these printables. =)
    Monica recently posted..Small Success Thursday 2.0My Profile

  16. says

    Jeni,

    This article is an eye-opener. I haven’t been writing to help someone overcome a challenge or solve a specific problem. Thanks for clearing defining the problem and offering a solution to help new bloggers like myself! I was already a fan of your writing and now even more so! I too am looking forward to that ebook!
    Daniel recently posted..Facebook Page Cover Photo Subtle Policy ChangeMy Profile

  17. says

    I have been missing your posts – my bloglovin has not been feeling the lovin! Thanks for this practical advice – I’ve also had a quiet period on my blog and recently felt re-energised about it and more determined to make it grow and work for me – and now also for my readers. Looking forward to the e-book.

    • says

      Good for you, Sarah! I think it must be something about this time of year…perhaps we rediscover our ambitions as we think about the fact that the year is almost over! :)

  18. Julie says

    I think as writers (as well as marketers, business people, etc.) we often tend to resist being laser focused on our ideal reader (or customer). It seems antithetical when trying to build an audience to hone in on a single person. But I think you’re spot on with your advice to write to your perfect prospect. Not a group of people, but a single reader. Really think about what that one person’s fears, hopes, needs, pain are. Really KNOW that person and write to him or her. Your message will be so clear and focused it will land squarely with that one reader and, ultimately, with many, many others.

  19. says

    This article is incredibly valuable for a newbie blogger like me! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m getting back into the swing of writing again and haven’t known where to begin to start growing an audience. Since I write about biracial and biracial families and the experiences we go through I’ve been at a loss to find my audience since it’s a niche. I look forward to the next posts coming up, thanks for the valuable advice.
    Nicole Del Bosque recently posted..Sharing Selectively and Fighting FairMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Nicole, it can feel like your niche is really small sometimes, but the fact is, the people who have your same experiences can really identify with you! In a much stronger way, perhaps, than people who are just looking for “tech knowledge” or other kinds of information. Have you thought about connecting with any adoption bloggers? Sharla Kostelyk, for example, has a large family with five adopted children, and they definitely get stigmatized by well-meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) people. When you’re determining your exact audience, I think it’s also important to figure out where you have some crossover with another group of bloggers, if only for networking purposes!

      • says

        At times I have worried about painting myself into a corner so to speak by exclusively sticking to my niche but I feel very passionate about my topic and I haven’t found many blogs focusing on biracial relationships. I have never thought of “crossing over” before! This is something I can do, great idea! Thank you so much your comment, your advice helps me tremendously. I will be brainstorming about what other topics of interests I can cross over into. I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts and I’ll be searching around your site to find answers to the many questions I have. Have a great weekend!
        Nicole Del Bosque recently posted..8 Ways to Love the One You’re WithMy Profile

  20. says

    Thank you for this! I’ve been blogging since what seems like the dark ages (2008!) and those three comments you mentioned at the beginning of the post – I have said those exact same things to myself so many times! I’m really looking forward to your posts in this series and the eBook (your blog practices have worked on me!).
    Laura recently posted..Holiday Card Giveaway: Pear Tree GreetingsMy Profile

  21. says

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this one, and I definitely need to focus on this more. My blog is a craft blog. I am naturally a crafty, creative person, but I know not everyone is. My main goal with my blog is inspiring other woman, like myself, to realize crafting and organizing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. I think for many of my posts I do a good job of focusing on this. Lately though, I have been in a blog slump. Perhaps focusing on blogging for my reader rather than just myself I will have more to write about! :)
    Laura recently posted..Thanksgiving Gift Basket GiveawayMy Profile

    • says

      I think it’s great that you’ve figured out where the gap is between what you’re doing right now and what you’d like to do. If you make any changes, I’d love to hear how it goes for you, so please stay in touch!

  22. says

    Thank you for your advices. I’ve started my blog a year ago and would like to grow my readership. My focus was especially on the first impression you get, when you visit a new site like my blog. I’ve changed the design/layout, learned CSS, played with colors and headers. Now that I’m satisfied with it I still don’t have more readers. My intention says that it might be the content. I’m willing to learn and looking forward for your next tips.

    • says

      Hi Sabrina, you *do* have a nice looking site. Do you have any online social events you participate in? With the knitting specifically, I’m thinking of Ginny’s “Yarn Along” that she does every Wednesday. People whose projects are added first (which are placed near the top) seem to get good traffic. Also, it helps to be very social with other people who have similar hobbies as you – taking the time to leave lots of comments yourself and build a relationship with other bloggers, and perhaps eventually working with some of them. You really do have a lovely blog – keep me posted on how everything goes!

  23. says

    Great – you’re back. I’ve been enjoying experimenting with your fabulous photoshop elements tips. This is sound advice too. Looking forward to the ebook.
    Keep up the good work!
    Didn’t try the sourdough recipe yet. But as the only thing in my fridge when I came home feeling peckish just now was a block of marzipan and some left over cooked kale from the weekend I must conclude I’m not the earth mother type – just hope I’m better at blogging.
    Alice Prier recently posted..A quick trip to ParisMy Profile

  24. says

    Thank you for writing this post. If nothing else, it’s always great hearing I’m on the right track! I know it takes time, but it can still be so hard. I’ve only been blogging for a couple months now (http://idlewildalaska.com) and I was so thrilled the other day when a complete stranger (as opposed to a family member) commented!
    This post reminded me of what I need to be doing. Thanks :)
    Amanda recently posted..Mat Su Farm MarketMy Profile

    • says

      Good for you! It does take time, but something that can speed up the process is finding other like-minded bloggers, usually who are also just starting out, to encourage each other, talk about blogging, and be there even just to leave the first comment. I just recently met my first blogging “friend” in real life and it’s a magical thing!

  25. says

    Yay, you’re back! I love this line right here “If your blog is going to be successful, you need to be helping someone. Inspiring someone to think differently and act differently. Making someone’s life better.”

    I feel like I did this when I first started my blog back in 2009. I notice that my most personal posts are the ones that get the most interaction across the board. Lately I’ve been afraid to b e personal because my children are getting older(8,6,3) and I worry that I may share too much information. The truth is it’s been a really difficult year for me personally, and on top of that I lost readers , and slacked off on blogging.
    Sometimes I feel bad for wanting to have a successful blog and actually make money from it.
    Darcel {The Mahogany Way} recently posted..Shopping. Meltdowns. Motherhood.My Profile

  26. says

    Jeni, I’m excited to see your new e-book. I can use all the help I can get! I started my blog in September of last year and have over 70 something suscribers, with only 50 something activated and I just don’t get any comments. :( I’ve tried to be interesting and have even come out and asked for interaction, to no avail! HELP!!
    Joann recently posted..Sweet Pumpkin FrittersMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Joann, since you’re on Blogger, it makes me wonder if people might be having trouble leaving comments. I have a client or two whose readers had given up trying to comment, but once they moved over to WordPress, were finally able to be part of the discussion! It’s not extremely likely that this is the case, but always a possibility.

      Have you considered forming a blogging group with other new bloggers for support, encouragement, and just to have friendly faces leaving comments? Real-life alliances like this can really help bloggers to get a good foundation for future growth. I hope this is helpful, at least to get you thinking about forming partnerships. Thanks for your note!

    • says

      Hi Joann, There is nothing more frustrating that putting yourself out there and not getting any response. As a blogger, there is nothing that motivates me more than comments! I stopped by your blog and have a few suggestions for you (if I may be so bold.) I am still very much in the phase that you are, but I have found a few things that made a difference. First of all, other than the current post, it is very hard to find anything else to view on your page. If you go into your template there are two gadgets you can add quickly and easily that should instantly help: The first is recent posts and the second is most popular posts. Choose to have images included and this will automatically entice people to stick around and also give them and idea of what else they can find and look at when they come to your site. I would also shorten your “about me,” and add an “about me,” page (and when you do, give people a way to contact you- I was looking for that so I wouldn’t have to write a novel here ;) ) You could also add the pages gadget (I’m still not good at using this, but when I added it, it immediately added to my total page views.) Finally, I would go to linkwihtin.com and add that gadget. This will show three of your old posts at the bottom of each post and give people somewhere to go. Finally, to increase comments, join linky parties and when you do, comment on as many of other people’s posts as you can and when you do name yourself as “Joann@theitaliannextdoor” and make sure to add your html so that the name links to your blog. That way people can visit you back and return the favor.
      Julie recently posted..Update: What’s for Breakfast? Two Years Since I Kicked Cereal to the CurbMy Profile

  27. says

    I stumbled upon this idea of “writing for the one” recently. I was never so excited as the first time this reader shared one of my posts. I’ve picked up a few more readers because of that. I have since found myself thinking, “I wonder if ‘x’ will like this,” as I’m writing new posts. Knowing how much I like getting comments, I try to make more comments, too, even if it’s just something like “enjoyed your post.”

    • says

      That’s great news! It’s definitely exciting when you first start to make waves, and it sounds like you’re paying it forward by leaving comments as well.

  28. says

    Hi Jeni! I’ve just started blogging several months ago, and this is very helpful! Great thoughts to incorporate. You touched on a struggle of mine: discovering who the reader is. :) But I see that it’s am important aspect of blogging, so not giving up on the task of reading the reader!
    Caroline recently posted..That Elusive ScheduleMy Profile

  29. says

    Jeni you provide great information to read but also to use. Your comments about knowing your audience is the second time I have heard this in two days. I hear it loud and clear, I will take action because it will make the difference with who, how, and why I connect with people. Thanks for sharing!
    Yolanda YoTrip Triplett recently posted..Morning Person or Night OwlMy Profile

  30. says

    Hi Jeni,

    I’ve been blogging for just under two years now and while everyone says you need to grow your email list, I’ve also come to believe that it’s about serving a few people really well. My husband and I run a small community and it’s like you said that even if you connect and help one person then that’s really powerful.

    So, thank you Jeni for a great post. I’ve learned a lot from you and will be back to read more.

    Kim

  31. says

    It’s interesting how sometimes I find exactly the post I need to read, at exactly the time I needed to read it. I blog about teaching kids to be better eaters. A new friend of mine recently discovered my blog and has been trying some of the things I suggested. Though she has seen some success, she still is facing a lot of challenges… I was thinking today that I need to write as if I’m writing to her. She is like so many parents out there, and when I talk to her in person, I can see and feel her struggles. I want to help and I think that this needs to be my focus. Reading this post today further confirmed this. Thank you!
    Julie recently posted..Don’t be Afraid of Flavor! Spice it Up!My Profile

  32. says

    I’ve had my blog for about a year now, and my readership hasn’t grown to how I think it should be. I think that I really need to fine tune what I do in order to attract and maintain readers. Thank you for your information, it’s helped me.
    Jennifer recently posted..Wordless Wednesday 11/13/2013My Profile

    • says

      You’re welcome! That first year of blogging can be so tough – great work powering through it. Hopefully you’ll really have your feet under you as you head into this second year!

  33. says

    “A great way to write 400 posts and only get 60 regular readers” …. yup, that’s me! It’s really my dream to build my blog into something that makes money, because I get so much great feedback from friends, co-workers, friends of friends who get forwarded my links, etc., and most importantly I love writing it and could do it forever. As usual, your advice is super spot-on! Especially the part about imagining your ideal reader and then writing just for them — and IGNORING the people you “might” lose by targeting a more specific audience. Thank you, thank you. Can’t wait to hear the rest.
    Amanda L recently posted..Newborn EssentialsMy Profile

    • says

      It sounds like you had a light bulb moment here, Amanda. I’d love to hear how things go if you decide to try something new, so please keep me posted!

  34. says

    Very interesting advice. I think I learned early on to write many different topics on my blog because I was simply getting bored of writing about the same few things. When I frst started blogging, it was so easy to let my posts be totally random, almost about nothing because I didn’t realize that my readers NEEDED something from them. Now my blog boils down to about 5 basic topics. I still have random posts, but I tie in those 5 basic “needs” of my readers to keep everyone at least somewhat interested.

    I find that writing about a myriad of topics has helped increase readership, but sometimes traffic is still low. I think the high traffic comes from a high quality post (that usually gets shared a lot) or from being really active in the blog community.
    Melissa recently posted..When I Met God, Part IMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Melissa! I think we all have seasons on our blogs where we’re trying different things, looking to “shake things up” just to keep things interesting. I love what you said about the “5 basic needs” of your readers. Great thoughts!

  35. says

    Hi Jeni! Thanks for inspiration. So far, I’m afraid, my small amount of new readers or new followers don’t know who’s writing and what’s my blog’s mission. I’ll keep an eye on that. Thanks again and have fun writing. Cheers!
    janmikael recently posted..2.1 Im TurmMy Profile

  36. says

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m dedicating the next two months to learning the right and wrong ways to blog. Can’t wait to read you ebook! I really value your insight.

  37. says

    Hi Jeni,
    I was so glad to see an e-mail from The Blog Maven the other day. I wondered if I wasn’t on the mailing list anymore and then I saw your post.

    A lot of good points in this post. It has me thinking. Thank you for the inspiration once again.
    I love blogging and really want to help inspire others through what I say. The reader I am probably most thinking of is an exhausted mama (like me.) We all have so much power to encourage each other, uplift each other, and inspire each other. It’s good to be reminded of that.

    Love,
    Taryn
    Taryn Kae Wilson recently posted..G r a t i t u d e * S u n d a yMy Profile

    • says

      Glad to see you here too, Taryn! I think it must be something about this time of year that causes us to reflect a bit more about what we can do better. I’d love to hear your results if you decide to try something new. Stay warm! :)

  38. says

    I am the blogger with only 11 subscribers and have been blogging since 2009! I stopped in 2012/13 and just recently picked back up. After many years of writing, it is hard to stay with it. But I came to the realization that if I can reach just one, the others will come.

  39. Nicole Ichtertz says

    Thank you Jeni! I am just starting to build a website, blog, store, etc, and everything you posted here was sooo helpful! Thank you!

  40. says

    I have actually been tracking different portions of my web site for a number of years to see which types of articles people like best (recipes, DIY, gardening, etc.). It wasn’t until I started really looking at my newsletter stats before I really got a good handle on what people are clicking on when I send my newsletter out every week. People definitely click on one category more than another, and if you are trying to make money doing this you obviously are going to write more articles about what people are clicking on. Sometimes I get so involved in what I want to write about I forget to concentrate on what people are actually looking for, and when I go back to that I am always surprised at the extra clicks and the extra money I make, LOL. Sometimes it’s really hard to remember that as personal our writing is for us, it is also a business.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Rachel! Newsletter stats can be a “hidden gem” if you have them – unfortunately, most bloggers are still in the “automated delivery” world of Feedburner so they don’t have access to click stats. I wish more of my readers put in the extra time to do things the “long way” and dive into producing good quality newsletters. :)

  41. says

    For the life of me, haven’t a clue how I “found” your blog but am glad I did. You give great advice and ask better questions. Please consider writing an article along the lines of ‘How to Find Blog Designers’…iow, finding and hiring high tech folks to help with doing “blog stuff”. Maybe I haven’t asked enough people (6) but it’s a struggle finding and hiring people. My farm blog is for fun but my 1wifetowidow blog is to help people prepare their affairs *before* the death of a spouse. Did you know a will, once probated, is public information? Anyone can go to the courthouse, read your will and see what you left to whom. Yes, one should have a will but there are ways to keep your affairs private, never public.
    Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm recently posted..Thanksgiving ProclamationMy Profile

  42. says

    Great read! I have read a million articles about writing the content that you are passionate about and how it would grow my site, so it is refreshing to read that is not the only thing to focus on. I started my site with what I was interested in and slowly realized that it was not enough. I have been changing the focus the past few months to suit my readers needs and my site has honestly grown more than 65%.
    Addi recently posted..Christmas Trifle RecipeMy Profile

    • says

      I love hearing about your success, Addi – it’s amazing what can happen when you step outside your comfort zone and start writing to fill the void in your readers’ lives! Thanks for taking the time to comment – I look forward to seeing more of you here. :)

  43. says

    Definitely some great thoughts. I have heard it a lot as well to appeal to everyone, so I cringe when I write things that I know will really help my friends. My friends all ask me to teach them the same thing. How a single mom can be able to live well and stay home with her kids with no outside financial help. This article gave me some great insights into what I need to be teaching on and it also makes me know, sigh, I’ve wasted a lot of time in the wrong areas. Bittersweet. :) Loving your blog!

    • says

      I appreciate your comments here, Sarah. Even more important than posting on a regular schedule or churning out a certain “amount” of content is whether or not you’re helping the people who come to your site. I started my blog very intentionally and there are *still* things I’d change if I were starting over again. But moving forward, it sounds like you’re armed with a great game plan.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts – I look forward to seeing you here in the future!

  44. says

    I’ve been thinking about this post ever since I read it a few days ago. Made me realize I need to rethink my content. I used to have 3 words below the screen of my computer, Engage, Enlighten, Inspire and I still think that’s part of it, but now I’ll be doing that while keeping in mind how each post will better serve my readers and their needs. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Celeste, thanks for your note! It’s just a subtle shift, isn’t it? From “engage my readers-enlighten my readers-inspire my readers” (where the focus is on you as a blogger) to “serve the needs of people who are struggling with something” (which shifts the focus more toward the reader). And when you make that tiny mindset change when you sit down to blog, you’ll probably end up accomplishing all those things. :)

  45. says

    Okay, you got me… I spent the last 30 minutes reading some of your posts and took notes on what to do with my blog next. I’ve just signed up for your mailing list, so be sure to tick the “+1″ on your list of returning readers. :)
    Mama Z recently posted..Hilfe, mein Baby…My Profile

  46. says

    For about 8 months, I’ve been working hard on design and constant posting. While traffic is considerable, it’s far short of what I want. Your advice is well taken. Thanks so much for the insight.

  47. says

    I often receive anywhere from 35-100 likes on many of my posts, but will receive one or two comments. And my email subscription does not grow. I know posts are being read and often shared, but this is not translating into growth in other areas. Would love to know how others create a unified front across social media, email lists, etc.

  48. says

    Great, thought provoking post. I just had to think a little to know just who my one reader is, and I guess I’ve been subconsciously aware, because my posts fit it better than I thought they would!

  49. says

    Brand new to blogging (like less than 15 days brand new) and there is just soooo much to learn! I have really enjoyed reading all your posts–making things slightly less scary and overwhelming. My blog partner and I will definitely be checking in daily for all your advice!

    • says

      Glad you’re finding it helpful, Danielle. But don’t check in daily – I’m working on some behind-the-scenes stuff right now and am not super present on my blog. I will be in the Fall, though. Make sure to sign up for my list if you want updates. Good things coming veeeeery soon. :)

  50. Cyndie M says

    I’m getting ready to finally launch my first blog (hopefully within a week or two) and it’s information like this that really helps. I know I’ll make mistakes along the way but with articles like this, I’m sure the growing pains will be less.

  51. says

    I have been asking myself that very question lately: “Who is my ideal reader and why did they decide to subscribe?” I want to grow my readership, yet I had never really asked myself that question until recently. I hadn’t even asked myself WHY I visit certain blogs often and WHAT brings me back? Funny how that is. Thank you for this post. I enjoyed it and am now combing through your archives.
    Jeffro recently posted..Are You Comfortable Driving a Tractor?My Profile

  52. says

    Hi Jeni. I’m new to blogging and I found your article so helpful. Thanks for sharing your wisdom in a way that’s easy to understand and implement.

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