Blogging

Your Blogging Goals From Your Readers’ Perspective

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A lot of blogging “experts” insist that there must be specific goals in mind when one starts a blog. But what the majority of goals don’t have as primary motivation is the one thing we should consider focusing on.

Consider the most often-heard blogging goals for a moment. Whether they involve achieving more page views, more time on site, more newsletter signups or more comments — or something else completely — the goals seem to always focus on what we as bloggers do to attract and keep readers. Most of the time, this involves us creating some sort of “call to action,” another of those phrases I’m tired of hearing.

During Sunday night’s Blogchat, the discussion focused on how we present the blog to have our readers do something.

It’s still about what bloggers do. But sometimes, we have to detach ourselves from our blogs completely and focus on how they’d look to our readers. When we do this while keeping in mind the things we want our readers to do, what our blog looks like might change.

One of my goals was to expand my community on social media.

I can post, from time to time, links to, say, my Twitter account and humbly ask you to follow me. But what if I don’t mention that account on the post you happen to read when you are in a mood to follow me?

My solution to this was to add social media buttons along the very top line of the blog so you can follow me more easily on the social networks in which I have a presence.

Another goal was to increase social media shares of the posts I write.

I can easily share my posts on my Facebook page, my Twitter and Google+ accounts and even on other sites like Pinterest if I find the time to get there. But I’d love for you to share one once in a while if you really enjoy my take on something. I actually joined a few “tribes” on Triberr in which circles of people share each other’s content among their respective audiences. Presumably, those who share your content at least read that content there, even if they don’t make it specifically to your site. But if you come here, I’d like to make sure it’s easy for you to share it, too.

My solution to this was to use the SexyBookmarks plugin and place those buttons both above and below my posts. I don’t want you to have to search for them if you decide you like something enough to share.

One of my biggest goals, however, involved the subject matter of this blog.

Specifically, my “non-niche niche.”

I blog about multiple topics. Sure, there’s the bigger “umbrella” niche of common sense; specifically, I try to find common-sense solutions to problems and disputes whenever I can. But sometimes, I write about blogging. Other times, I write about faith. Still others, I write about a variety of hot-button topics, which I refer to as “talkers.” If you come here looking exclusively for content about faith written by a fellow Christian, you’ll find that here, but on the front page, you’ll find other topics, too. When I put myself in the place of my readers, who might be searching for specific topic areas, I realized I would want easy-to-find, bold navigation to narrow down the kind of content I was looking for.

My solution to this was to find a theme that offered a bold, clear navigation bar that not only allowed me to highlight multiple categories, but would also spotlight the categories in which individual posts were already included. That’s why, on this post, you’ll notice that Blogging is already highlighted orange in that navigation bar: if you want to read more about my take on blogging, that button is already highlighted. If you decide you want to read a different topic, choose one that isn’t highlighted.

It can work for you on your blog.

It’s difficult, sometimes, to remove yourself from your own blog’s design, because we put so much of ourselves into what we do. But if you can, you can begin to see problems that may be keeping you from reaching goals despite actions you’re taking behind the scenes to meet them.

A great way to help you get that reader’s perspective is to spend some time with a real-life friend, in person, and have them explore your blog for five to ten minutes. Give them time to themselves: don’t talk to them, say absolutely nothing. Don’t watch them. Leave the room and give them the freedom to explore wherever they want to explore on your site.

At the end of that time, ask them what they liked and what they didn’t. And ask them what that things they’d want to find and whether they could find them easily.

When you build your design based on what your readers want, you’re likely to create a much better experience for them. And that’s likely to make them feel the desire to return.

Have you ever adjusted your design based on reader feedback or on imagining what readers would want when they visit your blog? If so, how did it go?

2 Comments

  1. I generally ask for feedback when I change the design of my blog – and sometimes I actually get it.  Mostly I’m concerned about whether or not it is easy to read and not so busy that it is distracting.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.