“I’m feeling discouraged today after publishing another post to little response.”
This is a comment someone made to me recently. They were tired of writing blog posts nobody reads?
Writing a blog post you feel is really going to help people, only to discover they don’t seem interested, is discouraging, isn’t it?
I know. I’ve been there…
I started my first blog with the goal to teach copywriting skills and techniques to people who wanted to write blog posts that sold their products and services.
That was my goal.
This was back in 2011/12. Copyblogger.com was already a big, popular blog writing on the same topic, with a huge audience. So I knew there was a market for my topic; a ready-made group of readers who wanted to know how to write popular, entertaining content (or copy).
I had my own ideas and skills and knowledge and experience of what it took to write content or copy like this. I was passionate and I had excitement and enthusiasm about this topic. I still do, by the way
I knew what bloggers needed to do, how to do it and why. I wrote blog posts about how to write headlines that grab attention. How to write opening sentences and paragraphs that pulled readers in to the rest of the post.
I wrote posts about the techniques, tips and tricks for creating a sense of “buying urgency” in readers and carrying them to the end of each post where they would be compelled to hit the “buy now” button.
I wrote about how to write blog posts that spoke to the reader. Why it was important to know who your reader was and what they wanted to buy. And how to use words to invoke “buying modes” etc…etc…etc. All that good, copywriting stuff.
I was excited about the success I could bring those bloggers I was writing for. Thrilled to have such knowledge to pass on to them. I knew there was a market for it. Not only because of blogs like Copyblogger but because Internet Marketers were always talking online about these techniques, holding webinars, selling courses and products teaching it, often for huge price tags. My goal was to eventually offer a copywriting course of my own.
The future of my blog looked bright.
— Tom Southern (@CopyByTom) January 20, 2016
But hardly anyone read anything I wrote.
My blog posts got one or two comments, a share on Twitter here and there, that was it. I wrote post after post for a month. The response I got was not only disappointing, it was downright frustrating.
After a month or two, I gave up, embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed. Here I was with copywriting skills that I knew from using them to write adverts for business opportunities and books that got praise from advertisers but nobody read my blog posts.
Blogging, I decided, obviously wasn’t the right way to sell copywriting skills, knowledge or courses – or probably anything else.
I thought at the time that blogging and making money online were little more than get-rich-quick schemes, such as those “make money while you sleep business opportunities” advertised commonly in the classifieds of daily newspapers, pre-Internet days.
But, it’s not true.
Blogging is just as good or as bad as any other method of building a business. What stops it working is that you (and I) forget the most important fact of all:
If readers aren’t interested in what you’re writing about, you’ll never get them to read what you’re writing.
Even if you and I think they should because what we’re writing is full of good stuff – everything they need to know to be, do and have what they want to be, do and have.
That’s the stone cold, hard fact.
People have to want to read your blog posts. If you want them to read your blog posts you have to make them want to read them.
Not by force. Not by manipulation. Not by endlessly tweeting links on Twitter and Facebook, or whichever social medium you use. Not by irritating popular bloggers in your niche with emails telling them “Hey, here’s my nice new blog post. Please link to it.”
Advice that tells you these kind of techniques work are wrong. They don’t work. Not in the way described in many “How–To” posts you see. This is the kind of advice that Corbett Barr calls “boilerplate tactics”.
These are tactics that, when put into action, are clearly just following cut-and-paste templates. There’s no soul. No creativity. No thought. Just “give me a link God dammit ‘coz I wants Traffic!” thinking that gets ignored.
This kind of advice also often misses out a vital step.
This vital step being that if you want to get a response after publishing your blog posts, you need to write content that people want to read.
So, how do you do that…?
Step 1: Find People Who Want To Read Your Blog Posts
How? Go to the places where people who are most likely to want to read your blog posts (your potential readers) are venting their frustrations and disappointments already.
Those places where they’re asking questions, joining in conversations in forums, chat rooms, Facebook groups, in the comments sections blog posts. Places where they’re engaging each other in conversations about topics you want to write about. If you’re not sure where these places are,this post will help you find them.
Go there, mingle, get chatting with them. Spend time finding out as much as you can about their woes, their likes, dislikes, their wish this was different, or their “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?”. Or “Can anybody help me sort out this (really frustrating problem)?, “Dear God! You had that problem too? Wow! How did you solve it?”
Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean by “mingling” from one of the Facebook Groups I’m in currently…
It’s a private Facebook Group so as you can see I’ve blotted out the images and names of other members, except for mine. (I’ve also truncated this discussion post because it’s too long to add complete in an image.)
In the top red box you can see a question asked by a member of this Group. Included in the answers this member gets is mine. You can see the short conversation that takes places between us in this red box too.
I then went into more detail in answering this member’s question in a couple of Private Messages in Facebook. Our conversation also continued in the Facebook Group as you can see in this next screenshot…
Note that I helped this member out further and only invited him to check out a blog post of mine that I thought would help him further. I haven’t charged him any money. I haven’t cluttered up our conversation with links to my blog. I’ve just offered help that’s been welcomed.
And this is how you establish yourself as someone helpful to your potential readers. Someone who has answers they’re looking for. A genuine person with a goal to give real solutions. Someone who’s blog posts they should read.
Once you’ve established yourself in your readers eyes as someone who helps them, has got really good advice that works, then they’ll be more ready and willing to buy.
Wherever people are discussing topics you want to write about, and getting together, you need to be there too with helpful advice, solutions and answers. As Justin Jackson says:
Understand from your target market (or potential audience, readers, whatever you prefer to call them) what it is they want to know so that you can give them that information.
And keep going there. Let them tell you what they want to read. If you then write about those things, they will read it.
Check out this short video I made to go along with this post. You’ll discover further steps inside the video too…
Don’t ever assume you know what it is your readers want.
That was my mistake. When trying to sell my copywriting skills and know-how, I assumed I knew what people wanted to know. I thought I knew better than they did.
Because if you do, you’ll miss out on writing blog posts they want to read…
If I’d paid attention, I would have noticed that the people I was trying to talk to about copywriting were interested in grammar (yes, believe it or not! The last thing I’d have guessed they wanted to read about) and writing well and becoming better writers.
If I’d paid attention and had known how to relate deep heart pains to copywriting, I’d have noticed that posts about grammar, writing well and becoming a better writer on other popular blogs in my field got a lot more readers, likes, shares and comments than other posts on those same blogs.
If I’d paid attention to these signposts, I wouldn’t have kept writing posts about “Why you need to know about your reader”. No. Instead, I would have noticed they didn’t want to know about their readers. At least, not before they’d got what they did want to know.
I thought I knew best. I don’t. And you don’t either.
Yes, we can both think we know. But until we have it from them, we’ll just be preaching rather than teaching. And that’s not good. Because when you’re trying to get people to read your blog posts preaching fails.
Where do they go to vent?
That’s what you have to find out. Your first port of call are blogs that write about the same subjects and topics you do.
Why? Because their readers include people who are most likely to be struggling with problems you can help them solve.
You may know these blogs already. You may read them yourself. You may already read the comments other readers are leaving about they’re having.
If you don’t start now because comments can be really useful ways of finding out what readers want to know.
Or the questions they still need answering.
Questions asking for more information, more detail, or questions like:
“This is great but I still want to know is how to do (thing they want to do).” – Insights like this is gold, because this is what they really want to know. It’s what will drive them to your blog to read your posts.
They’ll not only read them, they’ll probably tell their friends about them. You know, “I’ve just found out this really great post that tells you how to do (thing they most wanted to do)”. Or you’ll get comments from them like this:
“The timing couldn’t be more ideal.”
“Very timely for me”
What was this post I wrote that was so timely for these readers? It was this one here.
And they’ll probably share your helpful posts too.
Because they’ve finally found what they were looking for and they’ll be in such a good mood about it, they’ll want to let other people know about it.
That’s the power of finding out what people want to know about so you can fulfil their wants in your writing blog posts.
Take time to get to know people in those places where you’re mingling with them.
For example, it took me a couple of weeks in one new forum I joined, before I started joining in threads, because I wanted to get fully familiar with the kinds of things people were talking about there. And how they were talking about them.
Also, I wanted to know if this was the right forum for me. And this is what you should do too – although, you may find it tempting to get stuck in straightaway in answering questions or joining in conversations.
Which brings us onto how you turn what you learn in these places your future readers are venting, into blog posts they want to read…
Step 2: Find Out What Their Frustrations And Disappointments Are
Those frustrations and disappointments you can solve because you know how.
Either because you’ve experienced them yourself, or you have had training in how to solve them. Or you know someone who helped you that you can introduce to them via a feature in a blog post.
What you’re looking for are cries for help. Or what I call “deep heart problems”. These are questions, comments, statements, like these…
“I’m just trying to figure out my target audience, and it has been frustrating.”
“Can anybody tell me how to upload a word doc to kindle that looks anyway like it’s supposed to? I’m not a tech-minded person so please be gentle with me.”
“I have just about had it with [frustrating blog theme]. Anybody out there know why I keep getting Comments in my sidebar? I don’t want them there.”
“Anyone know how to stop a three year old throwing her food on the floor all the time. I’m running out of ideas.”
These are just examples of some of the comments or questions, frustrations and so on, that you should be looking out for.
And, if you see them and they strike a chord with you, you have found your “Common Bond Audience”.
What’s your Common Bond Audience? This is what I call those people you focus on finding and attracting back to your blog with posts they want to read. Because…
Not only do you have solutions to end their deep heart problems…
You also share a common bond with them in that you have experience of , or very similar experience to, those same struggles they’re going through now.
This experience means you can relate closely to them.
For example, maybe you write for Parents. And maybe your three-year-old threw his or her food on the floor all the time, exhausting you of ideas to stop them doing so and, instead make mealtimes less stressful…
But, joy of joy, you eventually found a solution and the food throwing stopped. Now your three-year-old is now a happy sitting-at-the-table-like-an-angel-for-every-meal four-year-old.
How did you do it? What’s your secret?
All stressed out, idea-exhausted parents of food-throwing toddlers want to know. Oh! – and while you’re about it – how did you manage to get all the stains out of the carpet?
How do you take this kind of need for answers and turn it into a blog post they (your common bond audience) wants to read? How will this relate to your particular topic?
Step 3: How To Turn Their “Deep Heart Problems” Into Blog Posts They Want To Read
You start with the headline.
Move on to the opening sentences and paragraph. Through the rest of your post, explaining each point you need to explain to make your post useful.
And you end with a closing paragraph that doesn’t just encourage them to take whatever action you want them to take, like opting into your email list, or to click the download button for your free e-book, for example, but compels them to take that action.
So, let’s start with the headline using our example of the three-year-old food thrower…
Our headline could be:
It’s a good bet that anyone going through this problem with their child, whether they’re three years old, or not, will notice this headline.
If you’ve seen someone asking this – or similar – in a forum for example, in these words, it’s a good bet also that they’ll be more parents desperate to know how to make it stop.
If there are several people asking this question – even better. If you had an answer, you’d get writing a post to give them that answer.
Remember, it has to be helpful and useful. Maybe break it down into more than one post if you need to.
A headline that reflects back a deep heart problem is more likely to get noticed, clicked on and shared. And read.
Then, moving on to our opening sentence and paragraphs…
You can’t sell all your products or services at once. So stop trying.
You see, you’re task in drawing in readers beyond an attention-grabbing headline is to make them want to read that first sentence…
Then the next…
Then the next…
Then the next paragraph…
Then the next…
Right up until the last sentence when all they want to do is sign-up for your free ebook, or to your email list for more gems of useful, sought-after advice they’ve been after for years.
Quotes help too if you can include any. If not, its okay.
If you can include a quote or two or three, great! Because people love quotes. Quotes from influencers or famous people. Quotes from people who have gone through similar experiences. Quotes – sh*t people say – when they’re in situations their common bond audience recognises.
Here’s a real life example of a deep heart problem solved by a blog post (allbeit, a video blog post, a.k.a. vlog)…
I’d been searching for a couple of years for information on how to format a document into a Kindle book before I hit upon this video by Tom Corson-Knowles: How to Format an Ebook for Kindle – Ebook Publishing School 2.0 Video Training.
Until I found it, not being able to find out what I needed to do, or how to do it (in simple, easy-to-follow steps) frustrated the hell out of me. It also kept me from my goal of writing and publishing a Kindle book.
Yes, I’d tried searching the internet for how to do the formatting but was stalled by articles that merely put me off, because they went on about needing ePub software, to convert my text to Mobi, etc…etc… how so many Kindle books had crappy formatting no one was reading them. And so on… And so on…
Then, joy of joy, I found Tom Corson-Knowles’ video step-by-step instructions and lo! – it’s so much easier than I imagined (Now all I have to do is write my book )
Do you think I shared this video on Twitter? You bet. Several times. Not only that, so thankful am I for finally finding a simple, how-to explanation of how to format a Word document for Kindle, I bought his Kindle Publishing Course [NOT an affiliate link].
This is why it pays to know what your potential readers are struggling with. Why spending time finding out what their deep heart pains are is so important.
This is why you need to find out what is keeping your potential readers from reaching their goal https://t.co/fQGcUSoYcP
— Tom Southern (@CopyByTom) January 20, 2016
This is why you need to find out what is keeping your potential readers from reaching their goal.
Because if you help them get their goal, they’ll trust you, they’ll stick by you (unless you do something rotten to them, of course, like ‘em junk).
And, when you have something to buy (especially, if it shows them how to more of what they want), they’ll buy from you too.
Ideally, you want to find deep heart problems that make you say:
“Oh yes! I know how that feels. I’ve had that problem too and it frustrated the Hell out of me – until I found out how to solve it.”
If no one is reading your blog posts after you hit publish, it’s because you’re not solving real problems for people.
Not just any people – your Common Bond Audience people– your readers.
Even if you have no readers yet
Because your blog is new or you have yet to get readers, you need to be writing blog posts that directly solve their deep heart problems.
By “solve”, I also mean answer their burning questions too.
You’ll know when you’re on the right track because they’ll tell you how much you’ve helped them.
You’ll start getting emails from them, or tweets, or comments from them saying how much a blog post you’ve written (or video you’ve made) has help them.
It’s priceless when this happens. It makes you feel like you’re finally making a difference, finally helping them, like you wanted to.
The more you write content directly in response to their problems, the more they will want to read your blog posts.
Give them “timely” solutions and answers and they’ll come back for more.
Your job now is to find them and their deep heart problems so you can make that happen for you – and for them – at last.
Hi! I’m Tom Southern. Enjoyed this post? Enter your main email address below for more insights into getting traffic most blogging advice leaves out…