Want to grow a successful blog? You need to teach your readers a few things.
As my blogs grow (this one in particular) I realize that there are a few key lessons that I need to teach my audience if I want to succeed.
In this post I’ll talk about what those lessons are and why they are important.
The balance between teaching and traveling
I have always thought that the best voice for a blog is one of a fellow traveler.
That might seem ironic given my site’s name, but I still really try to stay open to new ideas. In every single blog post I will ask a question or request help from my wonderful community.
And so before launching in to the lessons I wanted to touch on the subject of voice and say that we are not ordering our readers or lecturing them like a father. We need to be skillful in the way we approach these issues.
Some finesse and creativity is required.
5 things to teach your readers
As always, if I have missed out anything I would love to hear from you in the comments.
1. Teach them how to use your site
One thing that you need to remember is that a large segment of your readers are newbies. Only a very small part of even the most successful site’s readership is returning readers.
That means you really need to educate your new visitors on how to actually use your site.
This might seem a bit silly; surely everyone knows how to navigate a blog right? Well, no.
Pat from Smart Passive Income does this extremely well with his “Start here” section that you can see at the top of his home page. Not only does this introduce his new readers to how the site works, it also acts as a trust builder as people get to meet him right away.
He also mentioned that this particular page gets him a lot of new subscribers.
Teachings your readers to use your site is so important for stickiness. You want your readers to stay as long as possible so why not give them a tour or an introduction?
2. Teach your readers how to share content
One of the big learning curves for me is that not everyone knows/wants/could be bothered sharing your content on Twitter and Facebook. You need to show them how.
Some people aren’t on Twitter so you need to educate them on the benefits.
Others don’t like retweeting content and so you need to teach them that it is an excellent way to make new and important alliances.
I’m not just talking about a 101 lesson on how to click a Share button here; I’m talking about creating a community where people want to thank you for your work by sharing your stuff. This has a lot to do with writing amazing content but it also has a lot to do with showing your readers that you are thankful for their sharing.
Some things you can do include:
- Saying thank you
Try and thank every single person who Tweets your content. They’ll be more likely to do it.
- Share their stuff first
Create some good karma and teach by example.
Don’t be afraid to drop a few hints in your articles. I do this all the time. On of the best places to do this is right after the sign up to your mailing list. Just let them know that you appreciate any shares.
Don’t assume that everyone knows how to do these things. Help educate.
3. Teach them about backlinking
In my recent post on blogging SEO I talked about how important it was to link to other sites.
The next day I got more backlinks from reader sites than almost any other time. I was quite amazed at how well this subtle indication had worked.
Now, you have to be creative about doing this. Especially so if you aren’t in a blogging niche. For example, a fitness blog can’t exactly do a post on the benefits of backlinking.
What you can do, however, is run things like contests that encourage people to link back to your site without appearing spammy. My friend James Chartrand is doing that right now with her Damn Fine Words contest.
Does this count as an entry, James?
4. Teach them about value
One of the most important lessons you can pass on to your readers is the idea that value is key.
This lesson has two parts: teaching them how to recognize value and teaching them how to provide value.
Why is it so important?
Because when your readers become more successful, you become more successful.
When your readers make more money, you make more money.
When your readers recognize value they will possibly pay for it.
Now you might think that this just applies to the blogging about blogging niche but it doesn’t. By providing great value on any blog in any niche and educating your readers about what value is you will be more likely to sell a product at launch time or grow your reputation over the years.
Let’s take a fitness site as another example. You provide a lot of value and then some of your readers get inspired and decide to lose some weight. They succeed and then start a blog about their journey and reference your blog as a source of inspiration. The value effect has flowed through.
Some ways to teach people about value include:
- Less small update posts
I abandoned small little update posts a long time ago. Save your blog posts for amazing, detailed and highly valuable content. It will teach people that everything that you write is worthwhile and rare.
- Be altruistic
Make sure you do everything with the motivation to help people. When readers see that you are about helping them get results instead of just getting their wallets out they will associate you with value.
- Solve problems
Value is all about solving problems. If you can solve a problem with every post, paragraph and comment you will be well on your way.
Help your readers to not only provide value on their own sites, but recognize value on your own. When they see how well it works for them they will love you even more.
5. Teach them about the people above you
The last lesson I wanted to talk about is the fact that you really need to start educating your readers about the influencers in your niche.
The more often you can refer to the big players in your niche the more likely you are to get on their radar. This is especially true if you can mobilize your “army” and get them talking about and sharing those guys’ content. They will be grateful to you.
This is a wonderful way to build relationships and trust as well as developing new deals, getting guest posts, etc.
Don’t just reserve your Facebook posts and Tweets for your own content. Be generous and share a lot of stuff from your idols, mentors and even competitors. They will, in turn, share your content and thereby help to grow your brand and business.
It also brings the other points in to play by teaching your readers about good value, how to Tweet and Share and how to backlink.
What have I missed?
What other lessons do you think we need to teach our readers? Do you have any good methods for teaching via a blog so that it is more effective and less pushy? Leave a comment.
35 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
The “teach them about backlinking…”, you really think that works outside of the blogging/social media/marketing topics?
I ask because I’m attempting to rank for “electronic music blog” for my… well, electronic music blog, and I’m wondering if it’s really worth asking readers to do this, or if they are just going to blow it off.
I think you have to really get creative with this one. Contests and what not are a good place to start.
That’s what I was thinking, I hear you on discussing this when the blog is about “long article” types of content, but for entertainment sites I think a direct approach will get ignored.
Sure that is really a challenging one
Thanks for another great update, Blog Tyrant!
I have a blog in one market where social sharing isn’t so common. Getting people to FB Like, Tweet etc a post is more difficult than the “make money” market.
I’m sure there’s something I could have added to the end of each of my posts that does better to educate and encourage social sharing.
Any specific ideas?
I once heard a marketer say that sharing icons and what not are largely useless because sharing is already so easy. So its more about why aren’t people doing it.
One thing you could try is what Ana does over at Traffic Generation Cafe at the bottom of her single posts. Take a look at the Twitter thing.
Great advice Tyrant. Everyone should know about this, so I’m tweeting and sharing it. Heh
I think the value part is super important. Many of the best bloggers I’ve seen at work are good at reminding their audience about the effort they have made to provide the resource. If you can do it in a natural way that helps others realize your effort and the value you are providing, then it will likely go a long way to helping with shares and links as well, no matter what your niche is.
Although he is ridiculously good at what he does anyway, Glen from Viperchill is quite good at telling (or showing) people about the effort he puts in and value he provides. It’s definitely hard to do it at that level, but I think it is a good model all the same.
Shuan how do you pick up any lessons from Glen? I’m always so tired from the massive amounts of reading that I can’t figure out which way is up.
Kidding. Love him.
Haha! He sure doesn’t hold back.
The stuff about karma and value are so true. I can’t remember where I read this quote: “The secret to getting what you want: help people get what THEY want.” It’s a virtuous cycle that benefits everyone. I love paradoxical quotes like that. Another one: “If you want be a leader, serve others.”
A friend passed on to me this great interview with George Lucas (creator of Star Wars). The whole thing is worth reading. However, this page where Lucas talks about his past and how all the struggling filmmakers helped each other out is so relevant:
I can think of an example from my own travel blog. I wrote up a huge post about studying Chinese in Taiwan vs. China.
Even years later, I still get e-mails from people thanking me for sharing that information. Getting reliable data on a foreign country can be difficult, so I assembled everything I knew in one convenient spot. For me, I was amazed that anyone read it to the end. It was that long. Goes to show that people will read anything regardless of length, if the content is useful.
I read all your comments. And they are huge!
Thanks! Ha ha, yes my comments are long. Some members of my online entrepreneurs meetup group have encouraged me to start my own blog. They want to read my thoughts on my own site, not on Meetup.com. Working on that.
I think it is a great idea.
i really like the example of SPI you have given in the post. Pat is surely one of the most successful internet marketer today and the above example shows why- because he just do not concentrate on making money but helping the readers
Yeah Pat is a champ. Really nice guy and very hard working.
Great post, thanks. Getting people to share, tweet, like your content is quite a challenge. I think sometimes they mean to but don’t get round to it, other times they just don’t know how, can’t be bothered, or don’t see the value.
This might be an interesting topic to look into for a blog post, I feel one forming in my mind! Is providing excellent value posts enough to motivate people to take that extra step and share your content? No, so what more can we do. Your post makes some great points but I think there’s more to explore…….
Yeah lots to think about Cassie. Thanks for the comment!
Awesome read as always, Tyrant!
I learned a lot from this post. And really do hope to apply it my own blogging style.
#1: I have never actually thought of point number one. Guess, I should really work on it (But, I am unsure whether I could do much now, especially because I closed down my old blog and replaced it with a new one).
Point number two is also a great one.I do try to say thank you and try networking with the people who leave comment and/or share my content (Especially, because my blog is about networking).
I also appreciate you including three different points about providing more value to your readers (it helped me to understand what “value” really meant).
I believe in considering my readers as my best friends (it helps me to write better posts and provide them more value through my posts).
Anyways, thanks for the awesome article 🙂
Jeevan Jacob John
Thanks for the great comment!
One of the reasons that blogging is such a successful media for reaching customers is that the free exchange of information does not impart skill, or experience.
Reading a medical book does not make you a Doctor.
Certainly among businesses there is a fear of being transparent, honesty, and if you give them the information customers will do it themselves. I disagree on three grounds.
One – If they are specifically looking on your site for DIY information they are not your customer. Give them a break and help them out.
Two – The practice and experience will win out over someone giving it a go for the first time after reading your site.
Three – Some people just don’t want to do it but may be afraid to hire someone they do not know. By demonstrating your subject matter expertise they can evaluate you.
In a sense there is no TMI when it comes to the internet. Check out Khan Academy and now MIT has put lots of their degrees online. You don’t get the paper but…you can learn everything they teach at the university.
Don’t teach your readers only 5 things…teach them infinity infinity things 🙂
Damn it Rachelle do you have any idea how long it would take to write infinity?
Teaching my blog readers about sharing (#2 on your list) is one I am adamantly working on. Thank you for the fantastic info!
Articles like this one are so helpful to budding bloggers like myself.
Keep up the most excellent work!!
Thanks Vaughn. Glad you liked it.
As a graphic designer I find that many people miss step one! Each site is different and it is amazing how the things we find intuitive can be very confusing for our visitors. Thanks for reminding us about the need for an easy to use design!
No worries Will.
If we as bloggers are able to inform our readers in a positive way, I think we will eventually be a regarded as very important part of the Internet world. What we do daily, I believe, have the potential to make all of us great influencers.
Hey Tyrant, sorry for me preaching here 😀
No worries Martin. Always enjoy your comments.
I’m getting ready to launch my blog in a few days but I just wanted to drop a line to say that I appreciate everything your site provides. It’s actually the reason I had the confidence to start my own blog.
I have a lot to learn about how to run it but I’m confident that with people out there like you to help me along, I’ll be able to become a success.
It’s nothing like the great sites you all have put together, it’s a blog about my life as a father, but I’m still excited to get it off the ground and see where it takes me.
Anyway, that’s all I had to say. I’ve even managed to figure out how to backlink to one of your articles already 😉
Thanks again, keep up the great work!!
Great work Chris.
I really appreciate that feedback. Makes it all worthwhile.
You obviously write from the heart so I’m sure your blog will be a success.
I just launched today and have a LOT to learn. I figure I can learn as I go. Next up, how to get the FB and Tweet links onto each post. It’s a big internet, lol.
Thanks again Tyrant, truer words could not have been spoken. I’m certainly guilty of assuming way too much, that just because I know something that everyone else must know that same thing. I also participated in #3.
This article, Tyrant, is more important than I would have imagined a few months ago. When I work on my site I become blind to how it looks to others. Also, on portable devices, certain parts don’t show up. The reader needs guidance to other parts of one’s site. I’m still working on that. One thing I have done: started making the point that if they Tweet and article on which they’ve commented, more people will see their comment.