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How to Get In Tune with Your Readers Needs [and Produce Compelling Content]

Compelling“having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect”

compelling-blog-content.jpgImage by margolove

Compelling content is a cornerstone of all great blogs. But what is it? How do you write it? Why do some blogs have it and others don’t?

Over the next week at ProBlogger I’ll be exploring a number of important principles (I have 7 so far) of producing compelling blog content. Not all of the principles covered will be relevant for every post you write or even for every type of blog but hopefully in these principles you’ll find something that helps to take your own content to the next level.

Make sure you’re subscribed to ProBlogger to get updates of each post in this series.

Principle #1 – Being In Tune with Your Readers Needs

For content to be compelling it needs to connect with needs of those consuming it.

Whether those needs are for entertainment, news, inspiration, community, instruction, intellectual stimulation, a laugh/or a cry etc – if your content meets the need it goes a long long way to being compelling – after-all, who pays attention to something that has little relevance to them?

Staying in tune with these needs can be done in a variety of ways including:

  • watching the comments section of your blog for questions and problems
  • watching your metrics to see what words people are searching for in search engines to arrive on your blog
  • watching what people are searching for when they are on your blog using your internal search tool
  • running focus groups with loyal readers (something I’ve done a few times with real success)
  • keeping an eye on what questions are being asked on other blogs, forums and on social media sites
  • writing a post asking your readers for their questions or giving them an opportunity to share their needs

3 Hot Tips For Connecting with Reader Needs

Hot Tip #1 – Best and Worst Posts

I’ve recently asked my readers to share their ‘best and worst’ aspects of blogging at the end of a week. One of the benefits of doing this (and one I didn’t anticipate) was that it identified some common and recurring problems that my readers were having. The comments on these posts have led to me writing numerous posts that directly seek to solve their problems.

Ultimately your goal as a blogger should be to produce content that adds value to people’s lives. Produce this and you’ve got a great foundation to build a successful blog upon.

Hot Tip #2 – Ask So What?

I love the question that Chris Garrett (the co-author of the ProBlogger book) encourages bloggers to ask every time they write a blog post.

The question is – ‘So What?’

This question is all about asking yourself whether a post actually matters – does it have any point? Will it help people in some way?

Write it out in bold lettering and put it somewhere prominent in the place that you blog. Before your hit ‘publish’ on any post ask it to yourself – ‘SO WHAT’? Does your point have a point? Does it meet a need? Who will it help?

Hot Tip #3 – Solve your Own Problems

One of the best ways to ensure that your content is meeting real needs that people have is to Solve Your OWN Needs and Problems.

An exercise that I do every time I start a new blog is to not only brainstorm a list of topics I have expertise on and things that I can help others with – but I also create a list of things that I need to learn for myself on the topic. What don’t I know yet? What challenges do I currently face? What aspects of this topic do I ask others about?

Once you’ve got that kind of list you have a list of real needs that people have and your goal needs to be to learn more in order to be able to answer them or to find someone else to help you write content on those topics.

Another useful list to create is a list of problems that you have previously had and have overcome. Think back to when you were just first exploring your topic (or if you can’t remember put yourself in the shoes of a complete newbie who has just started out). What questions did you have? What mistakes did you make? What challenges did you not know how to overcome. These beginner questions and needs are GOLD – write them down and write posts that answer them.

Homework – Go Do This!

Take 15 minutes to go on a Reader Need Hunt

Your goal is to spend the next 15 minutes compiling a list of needs that your current readers and/or potential readers might have.

Start in your blog’s own comment section and hunt for questions and then proceed through the list mentioned above. If you don’t have any readers or those you have are not verbalizing their needs yet – focus upon the last two items on the list.

You can’t find enough of these types of problems and needs. Compile them all in a list and keep it somewhere that you can begin to work through.

What You Said on the Topic

When I asked you what compelling content was to you the themes I’ve explored above came up a lot – here’s some of what you said on the topic:

  • “Content that teaches you something that you can walk away and hold onto. Any bit of information that you can apply to your life.” Mitch
  • “It helps me solve a problem that I have” – Jan
  • ” it needs to be a useful or helpful to the targeted audience. People likes to learn something useful or helpful” – Bash Bosh
  • “Helps me solve a problem that I have” – Dave
  • “The important of audience is pretty obvious – write what appeals to your readership.” – Jeffrey
  • “I enjoy content that logically lays out a problem and then shows me how to solve it.” – Jarie
  • “To me, compelling content is content which falls into one of – 1) Educates me on something I am interested in. 2) Provides insight into something I am interested in. 3) Helps me solve a problem” – Wesley
  • “Helps me to solve an issue or makes something easier to deal with, whether professional or personal. Sometimes its even straight forward advice you read and then think, this is it – this will work – this is my answer! These are often called my “Lightbulb Moments.”” – Denise
  • “For me, compelling content answers a question, solves a problem, or teaches me something I need to know.” – Judy

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’ll feature more in coming days as we explore more on the topic of how to create compelling content.

Make sure you’re subscribed to ProBlogger to get updates of each post in this series.

Update: I’ll list future posts in this series as they are published:

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. Paul Wilson says:

    Hey Darren,

    I am still learning what my readers want to read, as my blog is fairly new. I will be taking your tips on board, and looking through my comments to find inspiration :-)

    I always try and make sure my posts have a point, but you pretty much seem to have nailed things down over here…!

    Just adding you to my rss, I will be back!!

    Paul

  2. Thank you for the informative post. I’ve already gotten some ideas for making my own posts more compelling. I’m bookmarking this post, too.

  3. Al Lijee says:

    Thanks for the Tips.
    I am always listening to my visitors because without them we would’nt be the number 1 website in our field.

    I have always popped back to Problogger just to make sure I am on the right track to pleasing my online audience.

    Checkout my website http://www.appgiveaway.com and send me an email with your feedback if you feel there is more room for improvement :-)

  4. I’m not a pro when it comes to evaluating blogs – and most of what I’ve seen over the years leaves a lot to be desired. But you can take my word for it that your blog is everything they say it is and more! Seriously – nice information. I am so happy to read your blog!

  5. Hi everybody,
    I am so behind I think I am gong to Build a Better Blog in 60 days!
    I wrote a list post for the course. Its not the first one I ever wrote, but it is a fun one and specially for the blog course.

    Here it is:
    http://www.winterspells.com/2009/08/06/my-nine-favorite-witches/

    If anyone reads it, please leave a comment. I have to run and catch up now!

    Thanks!

  6. Also I love this article and see many more to investigate.
    Darren you are so organized and clear about these things. I am just discovering you really. I found you through Yaro.

    Homing in on what readers want…I did my thing, provided my best stuff off line for years — experientially! How to take experience and package it into text or audio for the web is a challenge for me. I can do it, but my BEST stuff is the stuff I do With people in the real world.

    I am hoping I can provide a taste of this with video. I wonder if you have had this issue and what you would have to say about it.
    Thanks!

  7. ewan says:

    thanks for the tips, I”ll give them a go and look forward to more engagement from readers

  8. Wii Points says:

    Yeah, I’m actively searching for the potential readers needs and popular niches today. Especially when creating a new blog.

  9. Peter says:

    Very interesting and amusing subject. I read with great pleasure.

  10. Clear and concise article. The biggest challenge is for those new blogs that don’t have enough feedback yet.

  11. This is one of the best blogging articles I have read. Learning the principles has given me tons of ideas on topics to write on. Court reporting is what I know best, and I have court reporters following me, especially students, from around the country. They are hungry for knowledge. Thanks for getting me out of my writing funk.

  12. mikeck says:

    I’m sorry for that comment, copy and pasted wrong thing. Hey, we own a large site which auctions off quite a bit of product. I’m interested in knowing you would like to do an article on us. Thanks.

  13. Sesli Chat says:

    Nice post, Darren! I agree, you do need to be in tune with your Readers Needs to be successful at blogging, in my opinion anyway. I try to write articles that target my readers thoughts and needs specifically.

  14. This is one of the best blogging articles I have read. Learning the principles has given me tons of ideas on topics to write on. Court reporting is what I know best, and I have court reporters following me, especially students, from around the country. They are hungry for knowledge. Thanks for getting me out of my writing funk.

  15. ugg boots says:

    thanks for the tips, I”ll give them a go and look forward to more engagement from readers

  16. Mark62 says:

    Your disagreement should be couched in terms of proposed policies that divide people into groups according to age and determine how people should be treated in part according to their group status. ,