11 November 2009

How to Get In Tune with Your Readers Needs [and Produce Compelling Content]

Source : ProBlogger

Principle #1 – Being In Tune with Your Readers Needs

For content to be compelling it needs to connect with needs of those consuming it.

Whether those needs are for entertainment, news, inspiration, community, instruction, intellectual stimulation, a laugh/or a cry etc – if your content meets the need it goes a long long way to being compelling – after-all, who pays attention to something that has little relevance to them?

Staying in tune with these needs can be done in a variety of ways including:

  • watching the comments section of your blog for questions and problems
  • watching your metrics to see what words people are searching for in search engines to arrive on your blog
  • watching what people are searching for when they are on your blog using your internal search tool
  • running focus groups with loyal readers (something I’ve done a few times with real success)
  • keeping an eye on what questions are being asked on other blogs, forums and on social media sites
  • writing a post asking your readers for their questions or giving them an opportunity to share their needs

3 Hot Tips For Connecting with Reader Needs

Hot Tip #1 – Best and Worst Posts

I’ve recently asked my readers to share their ‘best and worst’ aspects of blogging at the end of a week. One of the benefits of doing this (and one I didn’t anticipate) was that it identified some common and recurring problems that my readers were having. The comments on these posts have led to me writing numerous posts that directly seek to solve their problems.

Ultimately your goal as a blogger should be to produce content that adds value to people’s lives. Produce this and you’ve got a great foundation to build a successful blog upon.

Hot Tip #2 – Ask So What?

I love the question that Chris Garrett (the co-author of the ProBlogger book) encourages bloggers to ask every time they write a blog post.

The question is – ‘So What?’

This question is all about asking yourself whether a post actually matters – does it have any point? Will it help people in some way?

Write it out in bold lettering and put it somewhere prominent in the place that you blog. Before your hit ‘publish’ on any post ask it to yourself – ‘SO WHAT’? Does your point have a point? Does it meet a need? Who will it help?

Hot Tip #3 – Solve your Own Problems

One of the best ways to ensure that your content is meeting real needs that people have is to Solve Your OWN Needs and Problems.

An exercise that I do every time I start a new blog is to not only brainstorm a list of topics I have expertise on and things that I can help others with – but I also create a list of things that I need to learn for myself on the topic. What don’t I know yet? What challenges do I currently face? What aspects of this topic do I ask others about?

Once you’ve got that kind of list you have a list of real needs that people have and your goal needs to be to learn more in order to be able to answer them or to find someone else to help you write content on those topics.

Another useful list to create is a list of problems that you have previously had and have overcome. Think back to when you were just first exploring your topic (or if you can’t remember put yourself in the shoes of a complete newbie who has just started out). What questions did you have? What mistakes did you make? What challenges did you not know how to overcome. These beginner questions and needs are GOLD – write them down and write posts that answer them.

Homework – Go Do This!

Take 15 minutes to go on a Reader Need Hunt

Your goal is to spend the next 15 minutes compiling a list of needs that your current readers and/or potential readers might have.

Start in your blog’s own comment section and hunt for questions and then proceed through the list mentioned above. If you don’t have any readers or those you have are not verbalizing their needs yet – focus upon the last two items on the list.

You can’t find enough of these types of problems and needs. Compile them all in a list and keep it somewhere that you can begin to work through.

What You Said on the Topic

When I asked you what compelling content was to you the themes I’ve explored above came up a lot – here’s some of what you said on the topic:

  • “Content that teaches you something that you can walk away and hold onto. Any bit of information that you can apply to your life.” Mitch
  • “It helps me solve a problem that I have” – Jan
  • ” it needs to be a useful or helpful to the targeted audience. People likes to learn something useful or helpful” – Bash Bosh
  • “Helps me solve a problem that I have” – Dave
  • “The important of audience is pretty obvious – write what appeals to your readership.” – Jeffrey
  • “I enjoy content that logically lays out a problem and then shows me how to solve it.” – Jarie
  • “To me, compelling content is content which falls into one of – 1) Educates me on something I am interested in. 2) Provides insight into something I am interested in. 3) Helps me solve a problem” – Wesley
  • “Helps me to solve an issue or makes something easier to deal with, whether professional or personal. Sometimes its even straight forward advice you read and then think, this is it – this will work – this is my answer! These are often called my “Lightbulb Moments.”” – Denise
  • “For me, compelling content answers a question, solves a problem, or teaches me something I need to know.” – Judy

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’ll feature more in coming days as we explore more on the topic of how to create compelling content.

1 comment:

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