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Blog Readers are Selfish

Perhaps my post on remembering that blog readers are people was a touch too ‘warm and fuzzy’ – so I thought I’d balance it with another characteristic of blog readers that it’s well worth keeping in mind as you blog…. that being that….

Blog Readers are selfish!

Ok – that might be a little harshly put…. blog readers have many characteristics and motivations for reading blogs, but from my experience of both reading and writing blogs – there is at least an element of truth to the idea that most blog readers have some selfish element to their motivation (and I put myself into that also).

Most of us live pretty full lives with plenty of opportunities when it comes to deciding how to spend our time. I often lament that I wish there were more hours in a day because I never seem to have time to do everything I want to do.

As a result of this when I find a new book, website, TV show, newspaper article…. blog …. etc – I tend to ask myself a question of some sort to work out whether it’s something I want to spend time doing. When it comes down to it – the question boils down to:

‘What’s in it for Me?’

Of course I might not say it in those words – I might ask:

  • ‘does this interest me?’ or….
  • ‘will this help me become a better person?’ or….
  • ‘is this fun/entertaining/relaxing?’ etc

but ultimately I’m asking ‘what’s in it for me?

I have a theory that this little question is one that most of us ask throughout our days as we decide what to invest time into.

That’s not to say we don’t do things that are not ‘selfish’ – but it’s definitely a filtering question that many of your blog’s readers will be asking in one form or another.

Take Home Advice

So knowing this information, and knowing that people make up their minds very quickly whether to stay on a website or not (most seem to stay on blogs for just seconds), it’s important to give your potential reader a reason to stay and explore your blog.

Tell them ‘what’s in it for them’ – and tell them loudly, quickly and clearly.

Don’t hide the answer to that question away on an about page, or at the bottom of an in depth article on the benefits of your blog.

One of the best ways to do this is to work hard and nailing down the key benefit of reading your blog into a single sentence or phrase so that you can incorporate it into your page title and header – you might even like to reinforce this with a picture or some other visual element (like a logo) that communicates simply and clearly what the blog is about.

Make it clear how readers will benefit from interacting with your blog but whatever you do – deliver upon your claim. It’s all very well to tell them what they’ll get by sticking around – but if they don’t see the benefits you claim they’ll be gone before you know it.

Also take this same principle and put it into the micro nature of blogging – the writing of individual posts. Your title and first sentences are essential in the writing and reading of a post so keep your potential’s ‘selfishness’ in mind as you form them also.

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.

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Comments

  1. jhay says:

    Another great post, trouble is, I always find it difficult to come up with short yet concise titles that would at least contain a keyword related to my post. Some bloggers are just so good at it, it pushes me to do improve my next post.

  2. Brian Clark says:

    So, you’re saying blog readers are people? :)

  3. Bill McRea says:

    So you have about 30 seconds maybe less to capture the readers attention. I totally agree with you. I read this blog daily because I know I will learn something that will help my own goals. I must have read 500 blogs about blogging before I settled on Problogger.

    A lot of the materials on blogs is moronic, smarmy or too technical. I read Problogger because it provides the information I crave while it talks to me at the same level I am at. Not a moron and not a technowizard.

    So I guess I’m selfish too :D

  4. Ken says:

    I wonder if that’s why my site only has a handful of regular readers. Maybe my blog posts are too personal and don’t have enough to offer to readers.

    Mine is a personal blog. It’s not ad supported, but I love it when people comment or leave feedback and stuff. It’s really encouraging, and I always post more when I write in response to something someone else has said.

    You guys know any ways to make posts more other-centric?

  5. jay says:

    Darren, awesome post. I’m reading problogger since some month but even though your advice in this article seems to be quiete obvious it is great how you make your point.

    I thought first you would write an article about the nature of a blogger. Maybe you want to kick off a series like that. In my opinion blogging changes you after some time. Whatever I do and whatever I want to learn, I will write about it to share it with friends and relatives and while I do this I make some money with it.

  6. Joe says:

    People are selfish! That’s why I blog on selfish giving at http://www.selfishgiving.com!

  7. Joel says:

    Darren, I have to agree with you here. I think humans, by nature’s design, are instilled with a degree of selfishness. It is a feature, when used sparingly, that is designed to better one’s self. Regarding today’s society, this is evermore evident. You hit the nail on the head when you said “…as we decide what to invest time into” because in today’s busy reailty we have to pick and choose carefully where we spend our time. It is the only way to stay efficient and productive.

    Applying (or better yet capitalizing on) our selfish nature to blogging is key. Focus your title and you will have a captive audience that will be coming back for more!

    Great post.

  8. Jon says:

    let’s see…if I remember my Plato correctly

    if Readers are people
    &
    if Readers are selfish
    therefore
    People are selfish

    :)

  9. Rex says:

    Haha, great comeback to the last article.

  10. Ming 2.0 says:

    it’s great that you’re back, we miss you, but now we’ll miss you being away too.

    I seem to have lost the plot at my blog, bost like this will help me to find my way again

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I’m talking about the subjective, experience-type posts (like two of Darren Rowse’s recent posts). Here, I’ll stick my neck out and give the obvious explanation: There’s really no textbook content for much of the stuff on blogging, and the like. You could probably flesh out your article indefinitely if you wished to and (try to) take into account the various perspectives your readers may have, or cut it into an easily digestible mini-piece. [...]

  2. [...] Darren has an excellent post on his blog at the moment about the fact that blog readers are selfish. [...]

  3. Blog Readers are Selfish…

    You heard it here, first, people! Well, second, anyways….

  4. [...] In Blog Readers Are Selfish, Darren Rowse says, So knowing this information, and knowing that people make up their minds very quickly whether to stay on a website or not (most seem to stay on blogs for just seconds), it’s important to give your potential reader a reason to stay and explore your blog. [...]