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How to Write Your Most Popular Post

What was your most popular post this week?

I asked this question on Twitter on Thursday, and got some interesting responses. The people who tweeted back blog in a range of markets—from personal blogs and finance blogs, to fashion blogs and craft blogs. And their readers are have differing needs.

Put yourself in the picture

Put yourself in the picture

Among the posts were how-tos, reviews, personal stories, opinion—all kinds of approaches. And the ideas discussed are as diverse as yellow pants, Excel spreadsheets, and portrait photography.

Yet all of these were these bloggers’ most popular posts.

The message here?

There is no perfect post formula

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll have seen that a concept or approach that works one month might flop the next. While much of the advice we see online seems to suggest that repeating what works is the path to blogging success, most of us know it’s not that simple.

Each new day brings a slightly different world, and we have to continually adapt to meet the needs of that world, and the readers who inhabit it.

What worked yesterday may not work quite so well today. So while we can rely on some “formulae” or “secrets”, we have to continually evolve new ones, and test them, and see how they work, so that we’re evolving at the same rate as our market—maybe even a little ahead if we’re lucky.

In doing that, many of us develop reader personas—ideal views of the person we’re trying to reach through our blogging. While we all understand that there’s variation, these personas can make our blogging clearer, more consistent, and give it a stronger voice.

Still, it’s important to see the lesson here, too.

There is no ideal reader

While it’s good to picture an “ideal reader” and write and blog with them in mind, I like to remind myself that that person doesn’t actually exist.

All readers are different, as all people are different. We have unifying characteristics, but they’re usually outweighed by the differences. It’s the combination of similarities and differences that makes us unique. While as bloggers we can focus on the similarities, and use them to define our readership, if that’s all we look at, we miss a big opportunity to connect.

Each person experiences things—including your blog—in a unique way. This was very clear in the posts we recently published by bloggers who joined me in Queensland, Australia, earlier this year. We all attended the same blogging workshops, and we all shared a lot of the experiences that Queensland Tourism made available to the group.

Also, all of the attendees were bloggers who were interested in visiting Queensland, and had the abilities to win the competition we ran to find our attendees.

Yet if you read those posts—and we gave all the bloggers a similar “brief” for the series we put together—it’s clear that each person took something unique from the experience. NOt only that, but they applied what they learned in completely different ways with their blogs and readerships. No two bloggers are alike—not even in these five examples!

There is only one you

We’ve published a few posts recently that have made this point, including The Secret to Crazy-happy Blogging and Unconfidence: The Essential Ingredient to Crazy Stupid Success.

While the world may change and your audience may evolve, there’s only one you.

You—your unique way of seeing the world in which you blog, and interpreting it for your readers—are the glue between your blog and your audience. I know it’s more common to see the blog as the medium between yourself and your readers, but just for today, I’m asking you to see it differently.

See yourself as the reason readers are coming to your blog.

You’re the reason they’re reading, following you on social media, and using your blog to buy products, connect with others, share their experiences, and engage.

While none of us wants to get too ego-bound, I think bloggers can be more likely to overlook this point than focus on it. And that’s to our detriment. While your blog’s not about you—it’s about your readers—you’re the reason your blog is popular.

You’re the reason your most popular post is popular.

Success is down to the work we do, as individuals. So just for today, don’t look at others’ work to find some commonality, technique, or formula that you can apply to your blog to achieve popularity. Instead, think about yourself, and your readers, and know that the approach you create to meet their needs and solve their problems is unique to you. You’re popular with your readers because you are the person you are. And that’s worth making the most of in your blog.

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. Alex says:

    Great post Darren!
    This was a message I totally needed to hear as I’m about to dive into blogdom.

  2. I think social media is changing a lot of the way we interact with our loose ties. Instead of talking WITH each other, people are talking AT each other. That in mind, the way that someone expresses the information or knowledge they want to share is really important, so I completely agree that personality counts. You should write in your own style about your interests and you will attract like minded readers, subscribers and followers. Great post, thanks.

  3. Mike says:

    I think the key is to write every post like your greatest post ever. some of them can just go viral as long as it’s high quality an unique.

  4. Amazing post…So good, exactly we are the main reason behind our popular post.

  5. Danijela says:

    Great post. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Rabin says:

    “What worked yesterday may not work quite so well today” well said.

    In my opinion, we must have an experimental enthusiasm.

  7. Totally agree with you Darren. There’s no fixed formula or pattern. So it is not easy to emulate the past successes. Guess there are so many factors involved, maybe a bit of luck as well.

  8. Having heard over and over that “content is king” I guess I have just dismissed my role in the entire thing. As such, I have found no rhyme or reason to why certain posts are popular and take off and others languish. But add me to the equation and it starts to make a bit more sense. If I can continue to solve problems for readers and give them ideas and inspiration while remaining myself, I might be on to something. Thanks!

  9. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Interesting point Darren, Really I can’t say anything about the Digital Photography one, but at ProBlogger only you’re the reason of the popularity of this blog and also you’re the reason of why your most popular post is popular.

    I’ve been writing some post with same mind and only those posts of mine went well and got popular. Writing about your own experience will surely make your readers love your blog.

  10. Jim Zboran says:

    So simple, and yet so profound, Darren. You’ve summed it up especially well: “… the approach you create to meet their needs and solve their problems is unique to you. You’re popular with your readers because you are the person you are. And that’s worth making the most of in your blog.”

    Ironically, being oneself doesn’t seem to come naturally… it takes work for some people to “be themselves” in front of their audience. And yet, I think you’re 100% percent on target about what an audience is really seeking from you after it has been attracted to you.

    That suggests an increased focus on simplifying and clarifying one’s unique core ideas, values, personality, etc (and allowing those to be communicated naturally in the context of the topic of interest) would be a very high-value activity.

    Few relationships (if any) one has in life are “all about you.” But in blogging, I couldn’t agree more, the relationship with one’s audience is “all because of you.”

    Thanks for an excellent analysis of the results from your Twitter question… you’ve hit squarely on a vital truth.

  11. Earl says:

    Haha! When I found this post I looked at the title and said to myself, “yeah right – another ‘secret formula’.” But when I saw those big “There is no perfect post formula,” it’s as if you read my mind. Overall, good post!

  12. You’re the reason why your readers come. They like you so much and have made it a point to read and make your simple post popular. It’s about celebrating yourself today, which has a multiplier effect on blogger’s future. Thanks Darren for such an amazing post.

  13. I just published a post about dealing with cantankerous internet trolls on my website. Why? It came from my heart. 10 minutes before writing I dealt with a troll. In a high energy way. So the idea was fresh, and I wrote from my heart. Not because I was supposed to write a post today, or I needed to write a post today. Gotta come from the heart.

    This post already has generated more FB likes than I usually receive in 24 hours…in 1 hour, so far. Heart-felt. All heart-felt posts rock but few write from their heart persistently. Write with passion, emotion and real energy behind your words. People will feel it: especially like-minded people, and the post will become popular, almost every time out.

    Thanks for sharing the spot on insight Darren!

    RB

  14. Thanks for this post Darren. It’s really encouraging and affirming to recognise that the things that make us successful come from within.

    I know that my blog only started to take off when I made the decision to just be myself and put my thoughts out there in a way that made sense to me. It was the same using Twitter. I decided on using an approach that made sense to me as a person wanting to connect with other people. Fortunately there are enough people out there that like what I doing and are finding it helpful in building there own businesses. And that is what encourages me to keep going. :-)

    Your post prompts me to spend a few minutes to try and articulate the specific qualities I have that my readers are responding to. If I can recognise them, it will help me make my style and offering even stronger.

  15. Marianne says:

    My most popular post this week was about Spanish bars, and eating tapas – which obviously caught people when they were feeling hungry! I also had a lot of hits on a recent post about “The Cost of Living in Spain” and another with a gorgeous photograph of Casa Batlló in Barcelona, with a catchy title “When life gives you curves, flaunt them!”

    I find that people are interested in learning about everyday life here in Spain and the things they would normally do if they lived or visited here. Of course, the titillating headline also brought in a few people interested in curves!

    I want to carry on writing popular posts but I have a problem.

    I regularly get several hundred hits each day and this is increasing all the time. I also have more than 600 followers, which I know compared to you isn´t very many, but I also have .wordpress.com in my domain name. Yes, it´s a free blog. So my question is – do I merely buy a domain name to park on my blog site, stay on wordpress.com and have traffic redirected from my .wordpress.com site or do I jump over to wordpress.org?

    It´s a big decision for someone rather technically challenged as I see wordpress.org as very much standing apart from “the community” on wordpress.com. I´ve read many posts about this and it seems I should have bought the domain name at the start. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. I didn´t do that. I worry that I would be able to cope with all the technical updates, backups, etc., I might have to do, that wordpress.com do for me automatically. But at the same time – I want my blog to be taken seriously.

    I recently was talking with a girl who has a very popular blog on wordpress.com who has had millions of hits, with tens of thousands of followers and who still has a .wordpress.com free blog. I asked her if she hadn´t thought of having her own domain name and she said that she was now too scared to move as she would lose followers and hits.

    I guess really what I´m asking is this – is it worth writing your most popular posts if that popularity brings difficulties because you are outgrowing the (free) host you have?

  16. Gilber rono says:

    Thanks for this Darren, Awesome post. There is really no perfect post formula, all we have to do is just to let what we have flow. And i am also in support of the way you put it that we need to remind ourselves that the person doesnt really exist. Thanks for the post.

  17. My most popular post, by leaps and bounds, was the birth of my first grandchild yesterday. Can’t beat baby news!

  18. Jason Li says:

    I find that this one is my most popular post.

    I’ve only just started blogging and a friend who works for large advertising agencies said this is the post that intrigued him the most.

    http://antitransivity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/why-london-bridge-is-englands-worst.html

    I guess like you said above, it could be random or something maybe that’s not like your other normal posts.

  19. Nick says:

    We’ve been writing articles for Jagerfoods now for over a year and I really can’t find one post that has the feel of a home run. We’ll just keep plugging away at it and see what happens.

  20. infoinbulk says:

    popularity of our blog depends on us …how we respect our audience mind.

  21. Glynis Jolly says:

    Sometimes I’m formal in my writing. Other times, I’m casual. It all depends of the topic and the mood I’m in when I write it. I find it extremely difficult to write a certain way every time. After all, my personality is multi-leveled with a lot of different colors..

  22. James Dean says:

    great post dude, really like some wise man have said, there is no recipe for making every one happy. just like that there is no recipe for a perfect most popular post. all though you can name your next blog post as the most popular blog post of all time. :D

  23. There’s no such thing as a formula for a great post because only generic articles are written using fixed formulas. The best posts are ones that handle either trendy or classic issues within a given industry.

  24. Same says:

    Yes right there is formula for success but these days social media is the best thing to get popular and come in highlights… social media can do which is no buddy can expect.

  25. Shelby Roth says:

    This is amazing message any blogger would like to be inspired with! I was actually inspired and impressed with the quote ” Each new day brings a slightly different world, and we have to continually adapt to meet the needs of that world, and the readers who inhabit it.” This is so fascinating and educating write up I would always opt to! We don’t have to hold up what yesterday was when it is just today since each day holds up new things which we need to make use of them before tomorrow comes with the other! Otherwise people ought to be more interested in learning about everyday life and the things they would normally do if they visited other bloggers like this! Of course, your titles is awesome and attention-grabbing bravo for that!

  26. Aditi Datta says:

    Hi Darren,
    Well I think the first point that you have said is extremely perfect that there is really any perfect formula to write the most effective blog post. This is definitely important. In order to write an effective blog post, one need to think in a creative and unique way. This is really very important. We need to write for the readers and not for the search engines so that the readers find it easy and interesting to read. Thanks for the comment!!

  27. Daniel Hill says:

    Hello Darren, Reallly I can’t say anything about the Digital photography one, but at ProBlogger only you’re the reason of popularity of this blog and also you’re the reason of why your most popular post is popular.Thank You.

  28. Venkat says:

    Great post. I agreen with you.. there is no fixed formula.

  29. Mike Collins says:

    Blogging can be so unpredictable. I am often surprised when a post I didn’t think would be that popular receives lots of traffic while another post I was sure would popular barely makes a dent.

  30. Natasha says:

    Thank you!

    I will take this post and use it as my inspiration to finally make a blog that doesn’t end up as a colossal failure.

  31. Thanks for the tips, I’m thinking about getting into blogging and this info has been very helpful…

  32. Fahad says:

    Thank you so much! It really helped me a lot as I wasn’t sure as if there is a formula to write a perfect post or so. Great Post (Y)

  33. I have definitely noticed that the posts that I put most personality into are usually my most popular; the ones where I include photos of myself and my thoughts on certain things, rather than the more generic “here’s some lovely photos of this place I loved to visit” ones.

  34. Kiki Kater says:

    Thank you for the interesting article. Am sure this will act as a lead to all bloggers out there who were asking them selves a similar question.

  35. Saif says:

    Hey Daren,

    Yes there is no formula that you can wrote your most popular post, The best way is to write with a complete systematic way. Arrange every idea one by one.
    To make your post popular, you can make it viral on Facebook or twitter.

    Thank you

    Saif

  36. Kiran says:

    Interesting article. My most popular post last week was of an image I took of a rare Kelvin Helmholtz instability cloud. You can see the image at http://www.earthandsky.eu/kelvin-helmholtz-instability-cloud/

  37. Mohideen says:

    How to related post are getting most response from the readers thanks for the tip

  38. Auntie Em says:

    Darren, I found your site through a “what in the world do I do with Twitter” search, and found so much more! I’ve been blogging only a few weeks, so this will be a tremendous help.
    Thanks!
    Melinda

  39. Kim says:

    Darren, I’m reading your posts for a graduate level social media class. Thanks for this great advice. I’ll give it a try and see what response I get!

  40. Soumya says:

    Fantastic Blog. Your so right I quiet often ask this question to myself. I have got some crazy hits when I have some tips type blog post . Even how to blogs work well.

  41. Andrew says:

    yeah…awesome tuts…
    i want to try it

  42. asif says:

    Darren, i am new for blog . How to write a blog, the best way is to write with a complete systematic way. Arrange every idea one by one.

  43. Steve says:

    There is no magic formula. A style of post that works for one blog might not work at all on another. Even when I set out to write an article in a similar style to a previous posts, there always seems to be differences. Different day. Different mood. Differences that no doubt insure one is way more popular than the other. Don’t think about it. Don’t force yourself to write the perfect post. Just keep on writing.

  44. Yes!
    It’s a true that our readers and people as well are changed on a regular basis, what makes them like us? Is to provide them what their need is! If we want readers to come back, provide them something related to their needs. And it’s really not easy to know, what their need is. True.
    Start a poll for that, or a survey to know what they’re looking for. That’s all.

  45. Amy Harris says:

    Darren, I just finished reading your “Nine Habits of an Effective Blog Post” and I have to say, you practice what you preach. I decided to read this article because the title caught my eye. Then, your first sentence.. Being a question.,, left me wanting more, so I kept reading. Not only did I visualize hundreds of people on their iPhones and blackberries answering your post, but I loved the picture you used as well. In your original article, you said photos are optional as long as you can carry your reader visually through your words – well, I think you did both, and I am personally a fan of the use of photos, so kudos to you. The layout was also clean, simple and short – which is attractive to me, if it was any longer I wouldn’t have taken the time to read it. That being said, I will end this post with thanking you for your Nine Habits article – I am a new blogger and will be referencing your article frequently – thank you!

  46. Santosh says:

    Hi Darren,
    Thank for great post. Writing popular blog posts is really a challenging task. But following the points illustrated by you can really help to ease the task substantially. I do agree that blogging requires regular, concentrated and dedicated efforts to popularize a blog. Writing quality content and following promotional techniques can deliver the desired results.
    So you are write Excellent post indeed.