Almost any blogger will tell you that one of the most important things to do is write what your readers want to read about. This is especially important if you are blogging in a niche area where you can spend a blogging lifetime focusing on one aspect of a topic when another is what interests people.
But how do you find out what your readers want you to write on? When readers find what they want on a site, they tend to stick around. When they don’t they tend to leave within a few seconds. This can create a self-feeding loop of not really serving the majority of people who visit your site while still getting positive feedback.
So how do you fix this? Well, it’s hard to reach out to people who only spend a few seconds on your site, but you can certainly try and you can also glean clues from your regular readers.
On that front, here’s five easy ways to learn what to write about and, perhaps, get a little help overcoming writer’s block along the way.
1. Ask Them
It seems so simple, asking your readers what they want to see on your site, but so few people do it. Many just put up a comment form and a contact page and hope for the best.
You need to actually ask. Consider, at the footer of your post a request for feedback or suggestions for future topics. Alternatively, considering adding a poll or a survey to your site, for either PollDaddy is a great choice.
While you shouldn’t appear desperate for feedback, asking directly and politely is a good way to hear what people think and how you can improve, including what topics you’re missing.
2. Get Social
Many people won’t feel comfortable telling you an honest opinion if you’re a faceless person. This means, first and foremost, that you should always try to make yourself personable on your site, with both an image and a good bio.
However, you might find it easier to get honesty from your readers off your site. Make your Twitter, Facebook and/or other social networking info available on your site and let people talk to you there. You’ll likely find that people are more open and honest away from your site than on it.
3. Check Your Keywords
Your site’s statistics can be a wealth of information about what people want. One of the most important, however, is the terms that people use to find your site.
If people are searching for the term “widgets” and finding your site, they want to read more about widgets. If they’re leaving quickly, they aren’t finding what they want. Maybe you should look at writing a longer, better post about “widgets” and seeing what happens.
Also, consider related keywords to the ones that are popular. If “widgets” are big, perhaps you should consider writing about”sprockets” and other related terms.
4. Current Popular Posts
Going back to your site statistics, what are your most popular pages? What posts, despite being older, still receive traffic and comments? This can be a good clue into your “hits” and can guide you to future topics.
If you have a post that’s particularly popular, why not write a follow up post to it or talk about something related? If people are still interested in something thats months or even years old, they’re likely ready for a followup.
5. Other Sites
Through pingbacks, trackbacks and referral stats you probably have a decent idea of who is linking to you and these sites can be a great source of honest feedback. Someone who might be timid about speaking their mind to your face or on your own site might be willing to do so on their own.
Read what they say about your site and make a note of what they link to. Articles that get a lot of links are generating interest and that should serve as a giant arrow pointing you to write more of that content.
Listening to one’s readers is tough. Not only do most readers not want to talk but most bloggers don’t want to hear what they really have to say. Though we all love praise, its criticism, that is much more useful.
If you want to improve and hone your site, you need to not only focus on what you do well, but also what you need to improve on. That requires listening to your readers and getting them to talk to you.
It might seem like trying to pry open a bear trap at times, but it is a crucial part of improving and growing your blog.