Here’s How You Can Provide More Value As A Blogger

One shop with a dollar sign display

Photo: Alexander Popov

Do you have one of those giant pop-ups on your site that blasts your readers in the face before they even get to see how your blog looks like? Do you leave comments with links pointing back to your blog? Are more than half your posts basically just links to products you want to sell?

If you’ve said yes to any of the above, then we need to talk. Because this blogging thing ain’t gonna work for you if all you’re concerned about is taking and not giving.

Let’s do a little mind experiment. What goes through your mind when you’re browsing the WordPress Reader?

Are you looking for interesting posts to consume and participate in, or are you looking to buy a stranger’s five-page PDF teaching you all about SEO for an affordable price of $5.99?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new blogger or if you’re an established presence, the goal is always the same—to give more than you receive.

The sweet science

GaryVee’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook highlights the exact mechanics of giving before you ask. He likens giving to the jab and asking to the right hook which, by the way, is a misnomer on Gary’s part because as a combat sports fan, I’m pretty sure that the knockout strikes are the cross and the left hook (take that as a jab from me to you, I guess).

But back to the main point: you have to give before you ask, and in the world of blogging where the medium is asking so much of the audience, it’s doubly important that you figure out how you want to provide value so you can hook your readers from the get-go.

Imma come clean

Look, I’m not preaching from the comfort of my high horse. In fact, he’s actually pretty sober.

What I want to tell you is that I can relate. I’ve done it all before: the ‘follow and subscribe’ CTAs at the end of each article, the social media profiles that exist only as link forwarders, the status updates about how I’m available for hire…

Basically, I’d made the mistake of thinking people would give a damn about some random stranger asking for recognition in the virtual world.

But after spending some six years hovering at 200 followers before making the leap to 800 in the span of few months, I’m beginning to realise that it wasn’t the crowd who wasn’t getting me. It was me who wasn’t getting WordPress—and the world in general.

Value Woman - Frank Romero

So THAT’S what I was doing wrong. Photo: Frank Romero

No magic formula

People want to know you care before they care about you.

That’s as simply as I can put it. What that means is putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and writing stuff you think they’d want to read.

Yes, I’ve done my rounds on the Reader, and I’m aware that some of you write strictly for yourselves. But I’m not buying that one bit, because if that was really the case, you’d have set your blog to private, so let’s not kid ourselves here—you want an audience.

So if you’re going to post for the public but can’t be bothered about the user experience, then you’ve already showed that you don’t care about your audience.

Of course, if you don’t care whether or not your audience cares that you care, then don’t let me rain on your parade (though again, I’m not buying that).

But if you’re hoping to be the PoojaG (currently sorting out her blog migration issues) or Cristian Mihai of WordPress, then you best believe you’re going to have to care.

Value, the blogger’s way

All right, so you want to care and you’re ready to provide value without expecting anything in return. How exactly do you do that through blogging?

Fortunately for you, I’ve scoured the internet for some blog cred, and have come across a couple of people who know a thing or two about blogging, so I’ll let them do the talking.

Here’s a key point The Minimalists brought up in their article titled How To Start A Successful Blog:

“Your blog must add value to its readers’ lives. You want to help people solve problems. This is the only way you will get great quality readers to your site (and keep them coming back).”

If you were unsure about where to begin, that sentence in bold would make for a pretty good start.

But I know you’re not here for one-sentence solutions. That wouldn’t be of much value to you, especially if you’ve read this far. So here’s a set of questions from digital-marketing guru Neil Patel in his recent article on starting a blog.

I’ll paraphrase the questions he recommends you asking every time you sit down and think what to write:

  • What excites my readers?
  • What are the challenges they go through?
  • What traits does your audience possess?
  • What do they love about your niche?
  • What do they hate about your niche?

You’ll find these questions to be a good springboard to guide you through most of your blogging career. In fact, I still ask myself these questions till this day (this topic, after all, originated through my dislike of spammy blogs).

Value Present - Ben White

The key is to not expect anything in return. Photo: Ben White

In for the kill

Of course, it’s not going to be all about giving. There’ll come a time when you’ll have to throw your right hook, because no boxing match was ever won with just jabs.

The good news is, if you put out enough valuable content, you’ll have a thriving community ready and willing to support you, be it through donations or subscriptions.

There’s one caveat though, and GaryVee puts this more succinctly than I ever can:

“Creating great content, sending baskets of fruit, whatever your jab is, it doesn’t entitle you to land the right hook. It just allows you to have the audacity to ask.”

So yes. Like everything else in life, there’s no real guarantee that the thing you’ve strived so hard for will ever materialise, and you’re going to have to be okay with that.

That’s why it’s more important not to judge yourself by your results, but by the intent of your content. Will you teach your readers something new? Help them relate with tough issues? Brighten their day for a few minutes?

If your answer is no, and you’re still thinking about how to sell to the next person that lands on your blog, then maybe you need to go back to the drawing board and rethink your content strategy.

But before you do that, perhaps I could trouble you to hit that like and subscribe button?

44 thoughts on “Here’s How You Can Provide More Value As A Blogger

  1. Your first sentence shares a great deal of wisdom, Stuart. Thank you for your generosity in sharing the links. I love getting new ideas. I have one possible suggestion to add to your list. When writing, write to a handful of readers and imagine them reading your post. Trying to please everyone in a bigger audience is impossible. The rest will fall into place. I especially like how you discuss your philosophy of blogging and your “intent.” Thank you for many great gems in this post! Erica

    • Killing it with the awesome comments as always, Erica. Yup, having your ideal reader in mind is always a plus. This also ties in with not following your critics too much. It’s good to take in constructive feedback, but trying to appeal to the masses will just change you into anything but yourself. Love it when you drop by. Thanks for this!

  2. great post, Stuart. I like seeing Gary Vee and Pooja mentioned. It sounds like my blog worked something like yours. After four and half years, I had about 50 followers. A little over a year later, I have close to 940. I just decided to become more involved with the blogging community through commenting on other blogs, and it’s been wonderful becoming part of the community.

    And I think I see an opportunity here. I am going to start marketing a four-page guide to SEO for just $5.98. People will buy mine every time… :)

    • Lolol if you do, you can even throw your right hook right here in this comments section.

      Yeah, it really does make a difference when you interact on a platform according to its rules, doesn’t it? WP really is about enriching other people’s blogs as well as your own. Can’t take an Instagram approach here, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for dropping this great comment, Jim!

    • Aw yis, gotta walk the talk amirite. Btw, just a heads up, your Gravatar profile doesn’t point towards your website. It directs me to jacobfmarsh.wordpress.com whenever I click on it. Might want to update it to your current one? May be losing lotsa traffic there. Thanks for stopping by btw!

  3. You practice what you preach! I followed you because of a very encouraging comment you left on one of my posts. You’re spot on- it’s all about giving. ;)

  4. Brilliant observation this: “That’s why it’s more important not to judge yourself by your results, but by the intent of your content.” *2 Thumbs Up!!” Thanks for reminding me why I blog.

    • Yup, you seem to have your intent down pat, Kelvin.

      By the way, sorry for my tardiness in replying (certainly not living up to the post here) to our chat. I’ll be hitting you up in a bit!

  5. “Let’s not kid ourselves here, you want an audience” lol I had to grin at that one because it’s absolutely true. However I would like to add that while there is a lot of focus on the “giving and taking” part of blogging, you also have to reach a point within yourself where you feel genuinely satisfied or at least a little happy about what you’re doing. None of it will matter if you don’t actually care about the people you are writing for. I learned that lesson pretty much the same way you did. But the minute I started to stop caring about numbers, things started to improve. I have a much better idea of who my audience is (for at least two of my blogs) and that is a very important step – know yourself first and then you absolutely have to know your audience (and I mean that in every possible way). Great article with good advice :)

    • Yeah. Best part is, you don’t even need to stop caring about the numbers. You just need to care about your audience.

      And you can’t fake caring the same way you can’t fake your interest in whatever you’re writing.

      Thanks for these very valid points and adding to the discussion, Julie!

      • No worries at all :) I don’t think I’ve ever missed a reply or comment to any of my posts – then again I don’t have thousands of followers like some do here on WordPress. But I mean that is what I learned about blogging – you need to get something out of it as well as providing something to your readers otherwise it seems like a fruitless endeavour, at least to me :) Thanks again :D

    • An acquaintance of mine who runs her own marketing consultation company always starts with her 3 steps, of which the first is “Know yourself.” That’s absolutely the most important part of any journey, whether it’s a business or a blog. After all, if we don’t know ourselves, how do we know what we can offer others?

  6. Really great points Stuart. I have a question though. What happens if what excites your readers isn’t really what excites you? Do I just drain myself and write about what I don’t want to or do I just write for my ideal reader like you said in your reply to Erica?
    It’s all so confusing but I hope my question makes sense lol

    Also, I hope you’re doing much better and recovering from that injury!

    • Your question makes perfect sense, though I think that you should always write what excites you (even though the work of writing itself can be less than exciting).

      But writing what excites you doesn’t mean sacrificing value for your audience (clarity, informational, presentable, i.e. the things you’re already doing on your blog).

      You should always write for your ideal reader, and who that person is differs from article to article. But you should never take them for granted.

      Hope this helps, and do reach out if there’s anything else you wish to know. I’m sure there are many awesome people here who’d have their thoughts and perspectives to share as well.

      And yes, I can now take my dog for walks without strutting like a zombie, so that’s a plus.

      Stay safe with the new CMCO orders (you’re still here, right?)!

      • Oh wow! Thanks for the response Stuart. I’ll keep it all in mind and ask whenever I need to.

        Hahaha happy to hear you’re doing better!
        Yes I’m still here. Thank you and you stay safe too.

  7. Preaching to the choir here, I’ve been jabbing away, but still haven’t figured out what my right hook should look like. I’m not even convinced my jabs are adding much value yet. I am however going to keep at it till I figure it out!

    • At least you’re on the right path! I myself am unsure what my ask is going to be as well. I guess part of the fun is the journey to discovering that. Thanks for stopping by, Steve!

  8. Brilliant post! And I can so agree with your entire post! When I started my anti-bullying blog, my intent was to reach out to and help others who were being bullied. Thank you so much for the information! It will no doubt help me help more people!

  9. I’m really glad I read this article! I’m trying to figure out what my contribution to the blogosphere would be. I know I can’t build an audience based on my random posts alone. After reading this, it gives me a little more insight and a little more confidence to trek forward making a conscious effort to give more than I expect to receive. Thank you!

    • Aww. Even comments like this one can be considered as pretty awesome contributions to the blogosphere, so don’t overthink it, because you’re already providing value and don’t know it.

      Wishing you all the best with your blogging pursuits!

  10. You’re so talented and thoughtful. What you say is what I think….are you in my brain? lol. You’ve hit on some great points in reminding me to be more engaged. I have to keep in mind that I write for readers but also for me. We need to connect and be traveling the same wave length. Thanks Stuart. ox

  11. Stuart, thank you for reading my “Real Neat Blog” answers today and leaving a comment. That’s kind of you. I came over to browse a bit. You are a very accomplished writer, and I find you subject interesting and on point. However, due to my age probably, I get distracted at much more than three or four points and end up scanning. I am checking your follow. I’ll scan if even if I do not read thoroughly. I’m sure younger more serious bloggers find your points very helpful. I’ll be watching for more.

  12. Pingback: 10/17/2020 – Jade Rikert Writes

  13. Nailed it Stuart! You left a very kind comment on one of my posts and here I am reading yours. I’m very new to the world of blogging so I’m still discovering various things like how to project my posts to a wider audience and that’s just for starters! I’m writing to help other people that may have similar struggles to myself or indeed anyone really as life is full of challenges. Thanks for the support mate, really appreciated

    • Heya Adam! There are many people who go through the same things as you, and by sharing your stories, you’re already making them feeling much better because it’s good to know you’re not alone.

      At least you already know how it feels to fight daily, so you can apply that to your blogging as well. Am looking forward to you and your blog growing together!

  14. I have been writing here to express and what I have seen , experienced and felt strongly about in 50 years plus if my life. I do enjoy writing though do not get much traction…but I continue to write as it helps me express my feelings…WP is a great place to interact , maybe someday I will get my hook in place .
    Regards

    • Totally! I’m starting to see that the lessons I’m learning here applies to everything else in life too. Even in real life—where I’m sadly terrible at replying people—I’m seeing this. Thanks for dropping by and leaving this wonderful comment!

  15. This is a really interesting and informative post! Thank you for writing this. I love the point about wanting to help people solve problems being a great place to start.

    • I like that you liked this. And yes, thinking about others is always a good starting point, something that I consider before writing every blog post still. Thanks for stopping by!

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