"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

5 Ways to Read the Pulse of Your Audience...




Do you blog for your audience or just for yourself?
If you’re like most bloggers you’ll no doubt respond, “My audience, of course!” There’s nothing wrong with blogging for yourself as well, but your readership should be of paramount concern. Learning how to read the pulse of your audience can help you write a better blog.

Here are five ways to find out what your audience wants so you can adjust your content accordingly, and “win friends and influence people.”

1.  Eyeball the competition. You may think you have no competition; think again. There are millions of blogs on the Internet, and hundreds of thousands of niches. It’s unlikely that yours is totally unique. Find out what similar bloggers are doing and the responses their blogs are receiving. Read the blog comments and look at the available analytics. Examine their topics, writing style, length and format of posts, as well as graphics and design. Take a close look at posts highlighted as “most popular” to get an idea of the types of posts that attract the most comments and social shares. You don’t want to be a copycat, but it never hurts to check out what’s working and what isn’t. “Don’t reinvent the wheel.”
 2.  Ask your readers what they want.
The direct approach is one of the best ways to find out what people really want. Use a blog post or even a tabbed permanent page on your blog to invite reader feedback. You can also create a survey, either via social media such as Facebook, or a dedicated site such as

SurveyMonkey.com. Promote your survey by providing a link to the survey page on your blog, your social media sites, and your web site (if it is connected to your blog). You can also post an email inbox on your blog, and/or use your email registration responder, particularly if you regularly send out an e-newsletter.

3.  Mine the comments (but moderate!).
Comments are like the after-party, and can be as engaging as the post itself (in some cases even more so). Comments can really add value to your blog, both for your readers and for you. Readers may offer constructive criticism in their comments, and as time goes by you can also see which types of posts create more responses, which will help you plan your posts accordingly. One caveat: moderate comments. It’s not censorship; it’s just a way to prevent spammers and nasty trolls from taking over your conversation – something that neither you nor your readers want.

4.  Mind your metrics.
Both Blogger and Wordpress provide great analytics, and if you’re serious about improving your blog you will make it a point to track relevant results. Readers’ comments and survey responses are helpful, but the proof is in the metrics. For instance, research keywords and terms that attract readers. Also realize that many factors can make a post more or less successful, including the title or even the timing. Look at your usage charts and you’ll discover a pattern.

5.  Go social.
Remember that the world is bigger than your blog. Make sure that when you publish a new post, you also post a link on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites that are connected to your blog. On all of your social posts, let your friends and followers know that you really want their feedback on the new post. Encourage them to write comments directly to your blog. And, of course, pay attention to the responses!
The most crucial thing you need to learn when you’re writing, particularly if you want to generate an income from your efforts, is that it’s not all about you.
Whether you’re writing a blog, magazine article, or book, your first consideration should always be your target market. Even if your blog is a personal blog and is based mostly on your own experiences, you should always write with the goal of informing and/or entertaining your audience and adding value to their lives.


Your turn.
Thoughts? How is your blog's direction dictated by your readers' feedback? Do you factor that in to planning your posts?

Author Bio:
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org, a
people finder site. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.

13 comments:

  1. Very interesting article. Thank you. Best regards and go on with this blog.
    Stella

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  2. Jennifer - another thought provoking article, thanks Sarah for this guest post. I'm a little stumped on tip #2 as it seems simple but is hard to get a response. This is to ask your audience what they want. I do...all the time...in different ways - and still no input? I wonder then, do readers wait to read our work, like it or not and move on to read other things.
    I would really like to know how to get people to suggest topics of interest to THEM, I can only guess, right? But I would prefer to hit the mark a bit better for my target audience. I await to see if anyone has further comments to help solve this puzzle. Thanks! Maribel

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    Replies
    1. Maribel,

      It's a tough nut to crack! :-)
      Good question.
      I've had some success; but certainly not as much as I'd like with readers suggesting topics. Perhaps someone else here will have the answer. I greatly appreciate YOUR feedback and your questions. Muchas gracias! :-)

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    2. I'm with Maribel, I often ask people questions and I can't say that I hear crickets...Nothing. However, I do get responses from people on my e-mail list and through conversations. What's interesting is, the same people who express what they want through conversations are the same people who never respond to my inquiries via blog or e-mail.

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    3. I'm with Maribel. People never respond when I ask them on my blog or via e-mail but they will tell me what they want in casual conversations.

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    4. Marcie,

      "Don't it make your brown eyes blue?" Thanks so much for joining us today.

      Glad to get your "response." :-)

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  3. Thanks for this (guest) post, indeed Mining Comments can add value, and can help learning about possible new angles on a topic. Combined with the passing of time it can also frequently help inspire to come up with ideas for new blog posts that you can expect to get readers feedback.

    Talking about response, thanks for reminding me to look at the Metrics, because I noticed that there actually have been keyword searches for the keyword phrase: 'Electronic Gadgets for Writers' so since that seems to be a ('long tail') search phrase that works, - besides having those words in a blog post title - you now can also actually find those keywords (and a few others) it in my blogs Side Bar and on some other pages in an effort to add more value to my blog.

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    Replies
    1. Welcome back, H.P.
      Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. Thank you, Sarah. I particularly like your advise to use social media. I always post a link to my blog on Facebook, but neglect other avenues. Why do I do that?? Ugh. I'll take your points to heart and try to change that!

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  5. It's nice to meet you, Sarah. Appreciate the insight and advice. Thank you, Jen, for hosting!

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