Want to be a Good Blogger? Be a Good Reader

One of the most important concepts in producing successful creative works is to know your audience. If you know what they want, and what will encourage them to do what you want, then you know what to produce.


Photo by delgaudm via Flickr

In blogging, once you get going, you can know your audience by their comments. But what about the early stages, before your blog has many commentators? The simple solution is to become your audience — read widely in the niche that you want to write in, and then think about why you act on them in the way that you do.

Ideas to Try Out

Subscribe to a few blogs in your niche

Check out any link roundups, and think about whether you want to subscribe to the blogs linked. Use Social Media sites, vote up and down based on what you like.

Go to actual blog sites in your niche

What are you drawn to, how have they structured their information, what interests you, do you want to subscribe, and if not, why not? what do you want to know on your first visit? do you want to comment on a post? did you actually leave a comment? how do you find new blogs?

Using your experiences, look at your own blog as you were a first time visitor

Click on all the sidebar links and check that they go where you want them to. Think about where someone would naturally look to contact you, find out more about you, or read more posts. Look at how your commenting is set up. Compare your content to other people’s content that you like in your niche.

Real Life Examples

Social Media

Normally, I’m not a very visual person, and when I started blogging I didn’t really use any pictures. As I became involved in StumbleUpon, I noticed that one of the features that encouraged me to read the post were the pictures at the top of the posts. After a while, text all looks the same, whereas pictures are much more eye-catching. Since then, I’ve started using pictures more and more on both of my sites.


I started blogging because I started commenting. I used to read a lot of great posts, but would always be put off when you had to log in to comment. I felt like the writer was telling me that I wasn’t important enough to be allowed onto their site, and I didn’t register on a single one of those sites. When I started my blogs, I made it as easy as possible for someone to comment — there’s no registering and no default captchas.

Technical Stuff

When I first started Plonkee Money, I didn’t know anything about RSS, other than that it was a good thing to have. So, I burnt a feed at FeedBurner and then collected some HTML code to add to my blog. Unfortunately, I generated code that linked not to my feed, but to the FeedBurner home page by mistake. It stayed like this for at least month.

I may never have realised that I done this if I hadn’t looked at my own site as a first time visitor might and clicked on all the buttons. Once I realised what I’d done, it was very easy to fix, but no wonder I didn’t have any subscribers for a long time.

If you want to be a good blogger, become a good reader.

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5 Responses to “Want to be a Good Blogger? Be a Good Reader”

  1. Shanti says:

    This is very good advice, but finding the time to actually read all the blogs I want to read I hella hard 🙁

    Right now I have so many bookmarks to posts I want to read later and my bloglines accounts is…. Well the point is I really doubt I will ever read all the blogposts that I have planned to. Most of them are very interesting and hold my attention but I honestly do not have the time 🙁

    Soo many blogs and so little time 🙁

  2. Pinyo says:

    Shanti — You and me both. Right now I rarely have time to read other people blogs. My strategy is subscribe to all the blogs that I like, write about a topic, then do a search in Google Reader to find related posts that I can link to and/or comment on.

  3. Shanti says:

    Nice I should try that, Thanks for the advice 🙂

  4. Laura says:

    Great post! It’s well thought and I love the way that you share your own personal experience.

  5. At one point, I stopped reading newspaper and other blog for about 2 weeks because I didn’t have enough time left. After 2 weeks, I noticed that my level of inspiration was going down and I was running out of idea to write.

    I went back to my old reading habits and everything went back to normal.

    Great tip!