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Who’s the Boss of Your Blog?

Who’s the boss of your blog?

Neat desk

Image courtesy stock.xchng user furnishu

Who calls the shots, makes the hard choices, and keeps things moving in the right direction?

If you’re thinking, “me!” you might be falling prey to the kind of philosophy that prevents many bloggers from reaching their full potential.

Readers rule

What are your favorite blogs? Narrow the field to just two or three, and have a think about why you like them so much.

I have a feeling that when you look closely, you’ll find that each of your top blogs is one that you can relate to in some deep or essential way. That doesn’t mean that the topics have to be serious. Maybe your favorite blog is a humour blog. If that’s the case, I’ll bet you see a sense of humour and the ability to see the funny side of things as an essential part of who you are. I can well imagine that you love to laugh.

And I’ll also predict that your favorite blog delivers on that need every week. That it doesn’t just meet that need in tried and tested, proven ways, but that it edges off the expected path, too, to meet that need in even deeper ways you don’t anticipate, but find that you love.

How do they do that? And how can you achieve that with your own audience?

The answer isn’t just to get to know your readers. It’s not even to put readers first.

The secret is to let your readers rule.

Make readers the boss

Making your readers the boss of your blog can take something of a mindshift. The easiest way to start is probably to think about what good bosses do in the workplace. I’ve had plenty of bosses in my time—some good, some not so great—but in this exercise, try to think about a boss you really enjoyed working with. Picture them, and remember why you liked them so much.

The best bosses I had did several things.

  • They set goals and targets I needed to meet.
  • They helped me stay on track.
  • They stretched and challenged me by setting standards and expectations.
  • They gave me the help I needed to meet goals.
  • They reviewed my performance and helped me identify areas where I could improve, while also recognizing my hard work.

If you think about it, your readers can do the same things for you as a blogger.

Let them set targets

As well as looking at your blogging goals from a perspective of what you want for your blog, why not let your readers set targets for your blog, too?

Let’s say you decide that this year, you want to launch your first paid blog product. Before you go any further, turn to your blogging bosses. What challeneges are they facing right now? What tasks do they need you to help out with? What thinking would they like to delegate to you to make their lives easier?

If you look at your readers in this light, you’ll probably find more opportunities for product development than you ever expected. Not only will you identify the obvious needs but, just as with a real boss, you’ll be bale to intuit other, related areas where your help could benefit them—”If they need help with a, then they’ll probably be happy if I looked after b for them as well” thinking.

Let them help you stay on track

The more you spend time with your readers, the more real, and pressing, their needs will become for you.

Like the boss who keeps walking past your desk with an eye on your monitor to see if you’ve finished that report she’s waiting on, your audience can be a major motivator driving you to get that product finished, get that blog post written, get that new idea launched, attract more readers for them to engage with, and so on.

If you really want to make your readers the boss, tell them what you’re planning and working on. This way, you’ll be fully, publicly accountable to them as you would your boss at work. If you don’t deliver, you’ll have them to answer to—what a motivator!

Let them challenge you with standards and expectations

By making yourself accountable to readers, you automatically set expectations within them about their importance to you. That’s the most basic standard you need to meet—the expectation you’ve set through what you’ve promised them.

But again, spending time with your readers—looking at what they like and don’t like, understanding their standards for what’s helpful, useful, high-quality, and relevant, for example—can help you understand where they’re coming from, and what you need to do to perform.

It’s one thing to know that your boss needs you to report on something. But does he need that report in a spreadsheet or a slide presentation? Does he need multiple printed copies to circulate for discussion in a meeting? And what level of depth does he require in the reporting?

Similarly, your readers have expectations about what’s good, and what’s outstanding; what you can deliver, and what they can get from you. At the very least, you should understand those expectations so that you can asses whether or not your actions are enough to meet them. But once you know readers’ expectations and standards, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to exceed them.

Let them help you meet your blog’s goals

A good boss will give you everything you need to get your work done. Whole the standard to which you do that work might be up to you, your boss should at least provide the essentials—and be around to give you advice and direction when you need it.

Make readers the boss of your blog, and they can fulfil the same role. Need a designer? A translator? Opinions on something you’ve planned? Beta testers? Ask your readers first.

Not only does this approach involve readers more deeply, giving them opportunities to “buy into” your blog, but it can produce some surprising results and act as a fast way to obtain information you’d never have found otherwise.

If you’ve heard the term “crowdsourcing,” you’ll know that seeking help from an audience (or crowd) is an excellent way to innovate really smart solutions. You can apply that philosophy to your blog today by making your readers the boss, and seeking their help and direction when you need it.

Let them help you identify areas where you’re doing well, and can improve

If your readers are boss, they’re the best people to help you understand where you’re at, and how you can improve your work to suit them—and achieve greater success.

Inviting feedback directly, after a sale or conversion, through a feedback form on your blog, or even through a specially designed, periodic survey, is a great way to get a clear picture of how your readers feel you’re tracking.

But your ongoing involvement with them should give you an intuitive, gut feel for those kinds of answers, too. In the real world your boss will have a list of performance indicators she needs to meet, and similarly your readers will have real, felt needs that they’re conscious of. They’ll be able to see clearly whether you’ve met those or not.

But on a deeper level, we want our bosses to find us good to work with, a great team player, and an asset to them. This isn’t the kind of information your readers are likely to give you outright—you’ll need to infer it from the way they treat you and your blog, by looking at stats and comments and social media and backlinks and a host of information that, when you boil it down, lets you know what you’re doing well, and where you can do better.

Only by making your readers boss will you be able to approach that assessment with an open mind that’s not tainted by your own ideas about your performance. And the answers might just surprise you!

Who’s the boss of your blog?

Are you still thinking that you’re the boss of your blog? Or do you see merit in making your readers the boss? Do Have you already made your readers the boss? How has that changed the way you blog?

I’d love to hear your take on this idea in the comments.

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. Amazing post Darren.

    What I liked most is this:

    you want to launch your first paid blog product. Before you go any further, turn to your blogging bosses. What challeneges are they facing right now? What tasks do they need you to help out with? What thinking would they like to delegate to you to make their lives easier?

    If you did not do so, you ma release a product that no one will buy.

    Amazing post Darren.

    Regards,
    Ahmed Safwan
    ToStartBlogging.com

    • Totally agree with this. By putting blog readers first, you will understand what is it they really want and what problems are needed to be solved. This will give new ideas and maybe even better ideas that we can come up with.

    • mahfooz says:

      Totally agree with this. By putting blog readers first, you will understand what is it they really want and what problems are needed to be solved. This will give new ideas and maybe even better ideas that we can come up with.

    • I’d say this is true for the most part, unless you have a blog that is just for family and friends, sort of a personal online journey to something, or photos of your kids.

      But if you’re looing for revenue from the blog, you’re absolutely right! My analytics amaze me, I did a banal post once about how awful a Conde Nast bag was that I had received with my magazine subscription. I have had the most readers at that post, so I’m buying another mag to give it another shot, and will report those results to my readers, in case they are determining whether to get a subscription or not if it includes the free bag.

      Analytics is a powerful tool and should not be ignored.

  2. Danijela says:

    You know, it does make a sense. I agree with you. Even though, it is hard sometimes to get a feedback. At least for me it is, since I run a blog about coffee. If I write a review or recipe, people usually just read it, tweet it, but I don’t really get these kinds of useful feedbacks, at least not the one that I can use for the next post. I am sure there is a way to improve this, I just have to figure out how to do that. :) Great article, thanks!

  3. Justin Mazza says:

    I like the way you are thinking here Darren. It’s true. There is a blog that started just two months before mine and his traffic is 10x that of mine. Obviously, I need to see what he is doing and model his approach because his readers keep coming back for more.

  4. It really helps if you’re a member of your niche group . . . you DO know what they’re looking for. And that helps you to even know how to frame questions for them. And you get much better feedback as you understand what they’re getting at . . .

    I’m constantly amazed at bloggers who pick a topic based on how much they think they can earn, as opposed to whether it’s something they care about and are part of.

  5. Ehsan Ullah says:

    This is something which I have never heard about, but seems great idea. Making our readers the boss of our blog is something which keeps them visiting our blog and it also keeps them entertained.

    For everything and every question, we should ask from our readers first whether they’re happy with the decision or no.

    Question: Is asking from readers and letting them know about upcoming E-book good ideas?

  6. Who is the boss of your blog? You’ve done justice with this post Darren. I had always thought I’m in charge of my blog, but I know better now. I’d definitely take your advice and bring my readers into everything I do. It’s such a powerful post.

  7. Kiran says:

    A really interesting post. Particularly useful is trying to think of how your blog comes across from your readers point of view. This makes a change rather than thinking of how your blog should look based on your own point of view.

  8. This is a great post…I have always seen my readers as the boss. I pay attention to their comments and pick up what they say…From listening to them, I get more info and idea about what they want to read…

    There are times I have written about a topic that my readers have come to make contributions or submissions that I did not even think about…

    If you want your readers to keep coming, then you got make them the boss…As my friend always say…You be the boss and carry all the titles on your head, all I want is the bank account and the satisfaction that I have helped someone!

  9. I think the accountability thing is HUGE. When my audience is waiting for something, it sure makes me want to get it finished. In fact… I think I’ll go finish that case study they’ve been waiting for… :)

  10. I WAS the boss who ruled my blog but from now my readers are my boss :)

  11. nilesh says:

    Darren, From now onward I will make my reader and visitor as boss and work according to them. Thanks for this advice.

  12. Guy Hogan says:

    It took me a while to realize that my readers would make or break my blog; but I did finally accept it and I’m a much happier blogger. It’s not about me. It’s about them.

  13. I’m very agree with this post. The admin just serve an article but the boss are the readers. visit my blog please. my blog in Indonesian language…

  14. Ha! Of course, you are totally right. But asking readers what they want is scary. I am most scared that I will ask them and get crickets!

  15. Tom Clark says:

    I will be sure to implement these techniques on my blog. Would you recommend that a forum is a good idea to get this interaction and feedback on site, or would you recommend using Facebook and other social media platforms? I only ask because I have held off creating a forum until I have a larger reader base and thought about the effect of an unpopulated forum. Thanks- Tom

  16. Warren says:

    All this time I thought Google was the Boss of my Blog! :)

  17. Ashish says:

    I liked your idea of making the readers the boss of your blog after all they are the which lead into onces success or failure,without the readers the blog is nothing so why not make them boss,In fact blogging is like the democracy i.e. by the people,for the people,to the people.

  18. So ridiculously true. As bloggers, we care about post likes and views, number of comments, and small blog design issues.

    Readers care about none of this!! Like you said, you’ve gotta deliver and give them tools, and continuously satisfy their needs.

    Ok maybe if your posts get 100+ comments readers will stop and admire.

  19. Thank so much

  20. Steve says:

    I was not aware about Who’s the boss of my own blog & I was in this thinking ! I’m the owner of this my own blog but I understand your point that Readers the real boss of any blog ! As they like your blog quality & feedback for your blog ! So it become more clear.

  21. suresh says:

    I feel readers is our BOSS. Good article

  22. Rob says:

    Readers are definately the boss because without them your blog serves no real purpose.

  23. Chino says:

    Agree with your points. But for beginning bloggers who have yet to find and know who their “boss” is, this could be a big challenge.

  24. Suzy says:

    Darren,
    I recently discover and enjoy this blog a lot. I’m getting to lots of insights into online publishing through your tips. I recently embarked on developing my online magazine ofwitandwill.com. I’m learning so much everyday.

  25. J. Delancy says:

    Blogs and books both fall into the category of “Vanity Press”. Right now I’m trying to establish my writing ‘voice’, the next step will be to find an appreciative audience through guest blogging. If only three people are reading your blog then you probably won’t get sensible feedback. Audience first, feedback second in my humble opinion.

  26. David Sneen says:

    Spot on, as usual, Darren. You completely caught me off-guard! I am sure the vast majority of bloggers feel they are the boss of their blog.

    You demonstrated ways that we could open up the lines of communication we\ith our readers. Gold nuggets for any serious blogger!!!

  27. WpShouter says:

    Boss of my blog is 1st – I , 2nd – ME & 3rd – Myself :P I’m the uncrowned emperor :) By the way tnx for your advice @Darren:)

  28. Rony says:

    That was an awesome post Darren. Your Clear conceptual writing just amazed me. I agree with the point that readers are our boss. Thanks for writing this unique article for us.

  29. Jan Bierens says:

    I used to thing I ruled everything on my blog, including my grammar and spelling errors (I am not a native English speaker). Now I have someone that helps we with that part and I found that really helps me to see the fruit of my thoughts in a different way.
    Would it be ok to – point blank – ask your readers for input on what’s missing or what can be improved on yur blog?
    I think if you would ask your ‘regular readers’ for an opinion you are bound to get comments like “You are doing fine”, “Keep doing what you are doing”, “I like it the way it is” and so on.

  30. When I first saw the question; who’s the Boss of Your Blog? My first answer was me! With this information, I guess I just changed my mind. Thanks!