We spend so much time talking about how warm and wonderful our blog readers are. Are we just being polite? Or do most bloggers really not understand that their readers are selfish, and that how well we predict and cater to their sometimes seemingly trivial needs will determine our level of success?
Every visitor who arrives on your blog has one thought on his mind: What’s in it for me? This might seem like a harsh statement but it’s true.
If a visitor comes to your blog via one of the search engines that means he’s looking for an answer to a question. He is not coming to your blog to help you out or to become your friend. He’s coming to your blog because he needs something. If you don’t give it to him, he’s going to go somewhere else.
If a visitor comes to your blog using a referral link he found on another blog, or on his Facebook wall or in an email from a friend, he is not coming to your blog for a chat, and he’s not coming to ask you how your day is going. He’s coming to your blog because he heard you gave something of value to someone he knows, and he wants to get something of value from you, too.
In either case, each visitor is looking for something to satisfy his own need. If you have a humorous blog or you focus on some type of entertainment niche you might think your visitors are all coming to your blog because they like to have fun with you. But don’t fool yourself. They’re coming to your blog because they want something: They want to be entertained. If you don’t do it, they’ll go somewhere else.
When you go to a dealership to buy a new car you’re not there looking for a new friend and an entertaining conversation. You want information about specific cars so you can make an informed purchasing decision. If the salesman tries to make too much small talk or bond with you on a personal level, you just go somewhere else. You don’t need another friend and you don’t have the time to waste on chit-chat. You WANT him to be a sales person and tell you about his product. You be happy to buy from him if he’d just answer your questions.
We talk a lot about the importance of having social proof like lots of comments and counters that show how many shares and likes we have on each post, like all this activity means we’re all just one big happy family. We talk about different techniques for building communities and building stronger bonds with our readers, but those bonds and communities are just by-products that would not exist if we didn’t take care of our readers’ needs. If we didn’t answer that question: What’s in it for me?
Your readers may eventually care about you, after they’ve been visiting your blog for a while. But it will only be after they’ve taken care of their own needs first, and in the end, does it even matter? Because here’s the deal…
Every reader who comes to your blog is looking for some type of information that will eventually lead him to a solution for his problem. If you’ve targeted your traffic and you’re giving him what he’s looking for, then the solution is right there on your blog. All you have to do is make sure he can find it.
What’s the moral of this story? Blog readers are selfish. We sometimes spend too much time trying to bond with them on a personal level and forget we’re running a business. Spend less time trying to become your reader’s friend, and focus on providing the solution he’s looking for. You readers have plenty of friends, and that’s not why they came to your blog.