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Is Your Blog Truly Valuable?

This post was submitted by Chris Garrett from ChrisG.com

Valuable content. Most people know this is the way to be successful in blogging.

Sure there are other important factors too. Traffic, design, usability, community … All the good stuff.

Whatever reason people have for visiting, they stay for the content.

Here is the catch. Have you actually sat down and worked out what “valuable content” means?

  • Is it a one-off post that gets to the front page of Digg?
  • Articles that get lots of links?
  • Posts that attract comments?
  • Is it that top 100 list you bookmarked?
  • A funny cartoon that gets pinned to a cubicle wall?
  • Flash games you just can’t put down?
  • All of the above?

Value is tough to pin down. The definition depends entirely on point of view. What is valuable to the creator could be subscribers and AdSense clicks, while the reader could be just looking for a solution to their plumbing leak.

What is valuable depends entirely on your audience. Before you work out what you need to create, you need to get inside your audiences head and have a really good poke around. Solve their problems, motivate, educate and entertain.

While most people would love to have millions of visitors, thousands of subscribers and maybe a top 100 spot in the technorati list, if you are not supplying value then all of these lovely high-scores and stats are hollow at best.

How do you know when you have created a valuable blog? The biggest test of all is to ask yourself would anyone miss your blog if it disappeared over night? Look around your niche, I am sure you can pick one or two blogs that you would miss. This blog you are reading right now is on my personal list of daily resources. Some blogs go beyond being useful and interesting and enter the holy grail of “required reading”.

Feed readers are getting more and more cluttered. All the time I am hearing of people culling their feeds, housekeeping down to a manageable number. Like most people I have subscribed to a ton of blogs, can’t recall half their names, wouldn’t miss 90% of them if they stopped posting.

If you want your blog to keep its subscribers you have to earn that place. Create a pen portrait of your typical subscriber. Ask your readers what they want you to write about. Take care of your comments and notice what people say. Most of all work out what they need and supply it to them, because of you don’t you know there are another ten blogs just like yours waiting to take your place.

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. Fantastic points of view on value. I would suggest everyone to read it again.

    If you answer those questions and stay focused on “being” valuable it will happen.

    Think of your blog as a legacy your leaving behind once and while.

    Steve

  2. affzan says:

    Really nice article

    I would really like to know what are the methods to ‘get into your audience’s head’?

    If you ask them questions, and they don’t give any comments, what’s next?

    Thanks

  3. Shane says:

    When I decided to create a new website, ThreeWheelRevolution.com, I change tactics. This was largely based on the advice in Yaro Starak’s eBook “Blog Profits Blueprint,” detailed on this site several days ago. I threw out any posts that were not informational in nature; I figured my main audience for my new blog would be people who were seeking information, not wit or humor. With every post I make I ask myself if I think the targeted reader will find it valuable. It if won’t, I don’t post it. I think that has already made it a better blog than my original one.

  4. Matt Jones says:

    Those are all very good points, the meaning “valuable” is a very hard word to pin down. Comments are a great way to judge a posts worth. Of course more traffic means there is more chance of someone commenting… but then that traffic was probably created by writing valuable content… Circle of life!

  5. The toughest part of blogger is creating quality content that people love and will be willing to come back for.

  6. foodette says:

    Good insight – I consider that food for thought. I just started out blogging, and I love to read your blog again and again so I can think about how to improve what I am doing. Thanks for all of your great articles!

  7. On our site we gauge value by using Google analytics and seeing how long visitors stay on our site reading the articles. If new visitors are bouncing off in seconds are minutes, we aren’t doing our job. We try to cater to the small business owner, who may not have a lot of working capital and needs affordable solutions and information. We don’t make a lot of money on ad revenue, and we don’t gain a lot of new customers from the articles on our blog, but I do find it rewarding nonetheless to see repeat visitors spending 20 minutes or more reading through the articles we have posted.

  8. Alwitt says:

    I’m focusing on creating a link-baiting list of resources now…

  9. wow, great stuff! I have been using these amazing insights. Mike Connaway oasisseattlechurch.com

  10. Deborah says:

    Articles such as this are the reason I made it my favorite the first day I started blogging. I review it daily.
    Thanks for the info!

  11. stephen says:

    I find value only in things i can eat… i tried eating a few blogs… not very good :( mine tastes kinda salty too…

  12. Rebecca says:

    Great post! I had alot of thoughts about value as I was reading it, most of them focused on “does the blog add value to the readers life?” Of the six things listed, the one that really got me excited was the cartoon pinned to a cubicle wall – creating something a person wants to share with everybody and have around them all the time.

    I do think I would be missed, at least by a few readers, because … well, they tell me they love me. And they send email telling how my ideas have improved their lives.

    What I need to improve now is keeping it fresh for people who have been around.

    And I agree about the value of this blog. If I had to choose, I would give up probably 20 other blogs to continue to participate here.

  13. weput says:

    Ok now i have a question…
    how can you determine the above statements on a blog that have less than a week old?

    I’m asking because your post made me hesitate on the pathway i’ve been taking…

  14. narcolept says:

    Shane – I think you have a basically good idea there, however, it’s my opinion that you need to mix in wit and humor or whatever you can as a hook, otherwise, you’re just providing ordered lists that people can find anywhere. Information itself cannot be a hook, you need to provide the information in tan appealing manner in order to add value.

    (Disclaimer: You’re in a totally difference niche, one which doesn’t pique my interest, so I’m not sure what other sites in that niche focus on, your site could be the best one there for all I know.)

  15. Great advice…I think I’ve done a good job of becoming a “must have” blog for some of my niche readers; however, my niche is pretty niche-y, and I don’t think I’m ever going to make money with the blog. I’ll keep reading and dreaming, though…and if the blog is something I’m going to keep doing anyway, since it pleases me, I might as well try to make it profitable, right??

  16. Angela Betts says:

    Shane, I agree with narcolept. Let your wit, humor, and other positive personality traits come through on your blog. If you were, say, at some sort of gathering of motorcycle (that is what your blog is about, right?) enthusiasts how would you interact with them face-to-face? Interact in the same manner with your readers on your blog as you share your knowledge and expertise.

  17. I have been blogging for 5 months (minus one month hiatus when I considered stopping.) I get very few readers, but I do feel that the people who read my site get a lot out of it and really love it. Sometimes I wonder if I should continue for such a small readership, but I do feel some sense of responsibility to the people who I know enjoy my site. I don’t really know how long it takes to grow readership. I hear 2 years, but then it seems like other people have much faster growth.

  18. I think I have a good niche. There are tons of food blogs out there, but no one focuses on it the same way I do. I try to keep my ideas fresh and valuable and try to stick on topic. It is growing like crazy lately so I am on to something I think! – I like helping people – that is my motivation, so being valuable is important.

  19. Brown Baron says:

    Interesting points. Especially valuable to new bloggers like myself.

  20. hustler says:

    You design your own blog from scratch? Code and all?

  21. ashok says:

    I want my audience to be so diverse I couldn’t possibly make a profile of them except for the most basic characteristic – they’re serious about thinking through things in life.

    I want them to be united not by any characteristic that might define a demographic, but by the openness of their minds.

    Value is in the relation: I’m not there to dictate. In fact, my ideal audience is much like the small one I have now, which consists of people who are far more patient and kind and thoughtful than I am. They’re amazing, for they put up with my rants and tantrums, and slowly and carefully work through my prose to bring things to my attention I hadn’t thought of before. And I blog hoping that I can bring them something – anything – that might make their day better.

  22. Cutie says:

    I love this post! Yes, I think My content are not really good, it’s not really esential but I’m happy writing my content because I like writin. When we like writing, maybe someday we can be a great writer and the content will be loved by our visitors.

    I don’t get many link from my article, but there is. Espcially when I join last month contest here, I get many links from so many blog :) I’m working on it to make great blog..

  23. @ashok – your target audience only needs one thing to unite them clearly in your mind, it does not have to be demographic, geographic, industry, etc, it is just one thing that is common. Look at hit music, bands can have very tight demographic in their fans or very diverse (from teenage girls to cigar smoking company chairman), but what always unites them is the particular style of music.

  24. Tim says:

    I have a ton of RSS feeds also, but I recently reorganized and created a “5-blogs-says-it-all” sub-category for each major category. The idea being that I can keep up with/learn anything of import in a given subject by focusing on 5 quality blogs. The rest I read at my leisure, but the top 5 I read daily.

    Yes, this blog is a Top 5 for blogging. :-)

    Now, I just have to build a blog to join you there… if your own blog isn’t one you’d put in a top 5 list, it’s not very valuable… there’s a rule of thumb there, I suppose.

  25. Weoer says:

    Interesting points. Especially valuable to new bloggers like myself.

  26. Daniel Bates says:

    For people blogging for business (not adsense, but an actually a business they own), value should mean the conversion of profit. It’s not that easy though, I had to create an entire website that would serve as a community center before my site served as a valuable recourse.

  27. George says:

    Eexcellent guest post Chris.

    Yours and Darren’s blogs are on my short list of must read blogs for every week.

    I like the advice to “Take care of your comments and notice what people say.” I do that sometimes, but I should pay better attention to my comments.

    Thanks for the great advice.

  28. Jan says:

    Thought provoking post. I wanted to add my 2 cents to the comments, but I found myself writing so much that I decided it was more relevant as a post on my own blog as a huge comment.

    Chris’ asks a very good question, but I think the attempt to reply it is missing a very important aspect namely the blogger self. Hence I rephrased the question and ask “Who Should Get to Decide if Your Blog is Truly Valuable?”

  29. Enea says:

    Great advice ! for the beginners like me

  30. You are right. “Value” is a difficult thing to ascertain and quantify.

    I am a real estate agent, and operate a brand new site, and am very much interested in providing “value.” I would like to share my observations about the real estate blogosphere, and find out if you or others have made similar observations in other types of business blogs.

    Three types of blog posts now predominate the real estate blog world:

    (1). Opinion posts. Opinions are cheap and they are relatively harmless when they are clearly presented as opinioin, not fact.

    (2). Re-packaged information. Information that is readily availalbe from other websites can be easily cut, pasted, slightly scrambled, and posted as a new article. Occassionally, these types of real estate posts are valuable if they contain information that would normally not be stumbled upon by those outside of the real estate world. These posts become more valuable if they draw upon more than one resource. They become even more valuable when they provide valuable context for the topic by giving backround information to the reader. Sometimes, these posts are useful for deciphering professional jargon, or providing “how-to” type of instruction. Your site offers the best of this type of site; you allow readers to ask questions and you provide some valuable tips and instruction.

    (3.) Advertising. There is nothing wrong with that, especially if readers become more informed and aware of our products.

    I am seeing a new but rather unseemly type of blog post lately. I call these “dog-eat-dog” blogs. Many real estate agents now offering unsolicited critiques about other real estate websites, all under the thin guise of being “helpful.” These sites actually believe that we should feel honored if singled out for criticism, because we will be better for it. This reminds all of us of the playground bully who liked to beat other kids up to bring attention to himself. The egotistical critic might even be able to gain attention in the form of “backlinks.” Of course the victims are often agents who are new to the blogosphere, or maybe are too busy with customers and referrals to do much blogging. Maybe this trend in blogging is showing up in other professions, but I think consumers would be left a little rattled if doctors and lawyers started attacking each other’s practices on the internet.

    Let me know how my experiences in the real estate world compare with yours in your world.