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Find Out What Readers Think (and Feel) About Your Blog

Yesterday I shared a little exercise to help bloggers gain clarity around the branding of their blogs. The idea was to simply list what you want your readers to think and say about your blog.

Today I thought I’d share a followup exercise—one that I also do on my own blogs from time to time.

The idea of yesterday’s exercise was really to crystallize in your mind the type of brand you want to build. Doing this exercise can be powerful in framing how you move forward as a blogger, however the reality is that in most cases what you want your brand to be, and what it actually is, can be quite different.

So what is the reality, and how do you find out how people actually see your brand?

Focus group

Copyright Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com

The simplest way to find out is to ask people—and that’s what we’re going to do today.

There are a variety of ways to do this. Let me suggest a few:

  • Start a survey: One simple way to do this if your blog has regular readers already is to set up a simple survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey, and invite readers to fill it out. Design the survey to test the brand that you’re trying to build. Surveys can be particularly good because they offer participants anonymity, which can increase the likelihood of real and raw responses (just be ready for some honest and sometimes confronting answers).
  • Email trusted readers: If your blog is smaller and you’re not confident of getting many survey responses, perhaps another method would be to email a few trusted readers—those that you do know read your blog. Even just a handful of responses from readers could give you valuable insights.
  • Run a focus group: One blogger that I know recently held a small focus group with a group of local readers. She had them all meet at a cafe here in Melbourne and shouted the group morning tea in return for their insights into how she could improve her blog. The face-to-face interactions were not only great for getting feedback, but also building relationships with a few readers.
  • Ask a friend: If your blog is really new, or you don’t know any of your readers to ask for feedback, why not ask a real-life friend to test your blog for you? Ask them to sit down at your blog, read over it for 15 minutes, and then give you feedback on what they think about it. Another thing you can do in this situation is actually watch your friend surf over your blog—don’t interrupt them, just watch how they use it. What navigation links do they click? What problems do they have leaving comments? This can be an illuminating experience.

However you do it, the key with this research is to try to get inside your readers heads, and learn about how they see your blog—particularly what lasting impressions they have of it.

Also keep in mind that brands have a lot to do with the feelings and emotions people have about your blog. So make sure you ask about those, too.

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. I’ve always relied heavily on the feedback of my readers and it’s worked out very nicely in two particular scenarios. I once had someone tell me that they thought my blog design was a little too generic and boring. So, I decided to poll my readers and sent an email to all of them. I had some great responses and they all told me they liked the design and thought it looked professional. Since the response was on the side of keep the design, I didn’t make the change.

    Another scenario occurred in the comments section on a post when a reader asked me if I could adjust the font style type so that it looks more professional. I emailed the reader to ask what they would like to see. After discussing, I made the changes and now the font style looks a lot better and it’s easier to read.

    I’m not so sure about surveys. I know they work in certain situations, but I know a lot of people hate taking the time to fill them out. Anonymity is great, I just wonder if people will take the time to do it. Loyalty will definitely result in a lot of people filling out a survey. What’s been your success rate?

  2. Jacob says:

    A lot of these same tips are necessary when doing market research for your blog. I’m in the beginning stages of launching a start up and I need to know if the idea is feasible for people. A survey is a great way of getting a feel for it, e-mailing people that read one of my blogs similar to the niche is a great way and so is asking friends.

    Move over to launching a new e-book. You might send a survey out to your readers asking them what their biggest issues are and then you can create a new e-book around that. Knowing what the reader wants is half the battle to selling them something.

  3. ScrewLife says:

    Yeah, it is necessary to know what people think about your blog and for that matter your brand. This will help in many ways such as…. Knowing if what you intent to deliver or what you are delivering is being received or seen by your readers as you think it is.

    If you find out that your readers are viewing your blog not in the same light as you are viewing it or intent for them to view it, then you can result to drastic alteration in your content presentation among others..

    ….Aftterall public opinion or readers opinion about your blog is the most important!

  4. LAjuice says:

    And you can guest blog here at Problogger- people are totally helpful with that kind of thing!

  5. I just launched a new site, and I had several topics categories in mind. I posted a survey to my existing following and got their feedback as to what they wanted the focus of the new site to be. It is very helpful to seek out the advice of your readers.
    Thanks!
    Bernice
    Making your to-do list work for you

  6. Tom says:

    I used survey monkey before and it’s a great way to get feedback.

  7. I ask friends – like all the time – they are now sick of talking about it and have banned the B – word from our gatherings. (Blogging)

    I also ask my trusted readers who have been my biggest supporters and encouraged me from the get go that I can indeed do this.

    Surveys might be the next step – I am just scared that nobody will respond. I can do without public humiliation. :)

  8. Carolyn says:

    Another strategy that I use is to actually READ my own blog. I’ve found all sorts of problems with broken links, unclear categories, etc. Pick an article that’s older and pretend to be one of your readers . . . read it just like you would someone else’s blog. What do you like about the site? What looks a little off? What problems do you have navigating? and on and on . . .

  9. Robby G says:

    These are all good and legitimate points. I find surveys a little bit annoying personally, but the focus group idea is great fun. Asking friends can be a little misleading because they tend to say things are good even though they may think it isn’t just to not hurt your feelings.

  10. Hi Darren,

    Simple and actionable tips here.

    We can improve our blogging experience most quickly by getting the opinions of our readers. Quick, easy and free counsel, which is not a bad deal.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

    Ryan Biddulph

  11. James Greg says:

    Great points to follow. The survey thing might be a little bit tiring as for this we have to do extensive research but I think this is also he most accurate method. Great post and I think this would certainly help me in future.

  12. Cristi Pavel says:

    I recommend Google Docs for taking surveys, it is free and very easy to use.

    I think that the idea of watching a friend how it surfs through your blog is great!

    In this way, you cand see how the person behaves on your blog. If you want to do that directly from your chair, you and your friend could install “teamviewer” and set to see the other’s desktop.

  13. I agree with Cristi, GDocs is my favorite tool to use for surveys, but that could be because I’m somewhat of a Google Fan lol.

    I like the email (or contact through other ways) the trusted readers, I really rely on them to find out how my blog comes across to people in my niche, but I also get family members to check it out, even if they have little to no interest and see how it comes across to them too.

  14. Laura says:

    Try Urtak–it’s a great way to increase reader engagement that let’s readers ask and answer simple q&q questions. It is much more effective than traditional comment boards and has a leg up on traditional surveys/polls because it lets readers direct conversation as well.

  15. Uxío Fraga says:

    Hello, everyone!

    Related to what people think and feel, I’d like to ask you about your page usage heatmaps.

    Are you really able to extract any valuable information from them?

    I’m arising this question because it happens to me the same as with surveys or friends reviews: I’m never sure if I’m obtaining a too-biased answer/result.

    It seems the way you ask or even examine the results is far more relevant on your conclusions than the data itself.

    I really think it’s not possible to extract “the real truth” with all these methods but just a strongly biased conclusion.

    Maybe I’m too subjective…

    What’s your opinion?

    Cheers and thank you!

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