Have you ever started a blog, been really dedicated to it for a few months, and then given up when it didn't seem to have any traction? Nobody was reading it and you poured hours and hours into it. It's easy to feel like, what's the point?
And what are elite bloggers doing that you are missing?
After all, you see these insipid posts all the time with crummy content that have a thousand shares and dozens of comments. What are they doing that you are not doing?
The answer is that they work smarter, not harder.
Successful bloggers know exactly what their audience wants to read and writes to that audience desire every week. Amateur bloggers write posts haphazardly about whatever strikes their own fancy in the moment.
So if you want to move from being an amateur blogger to an elite pro blogger, how do you find out what it is your audience wants you to write about most? And how do you keep track of how well you are delivering on their desire?
The thing that separates amateurs from professional bloggers is their incessant desire to please their audience coupled with detailed tracking on the progress toward that effect.
Setup a mailing list.
A mailing list is the backbone of any successful blog out there. If you don't have a mailing list, it's like owning a lawn mower that doesn't have a pull starter: it will never turn on. With a mailing list, the moment you publish your post, you can reliably send a barrage of traffic to it.
Whether you post to your own blog, to LinkedIn, or Medium, or Huffington Post, being able to reliably send a bunch of traffic to a post is a huge asset. On places like LinkedIn, they will notice when a post seems to be doing well and promote it to others automatically, making it even more popular.
Ask new subscribers one question.
When people sign up for your mailing list, you should have an auto-responder with just one question: What is the biggest challenge you are facing with X? with X being the general topic of your blog. Make the email short, but personal. Include something personal about yourself in it. For example, it could read like this:
Thanks for signing up! You know, when I was first getting started weaving baskets underwater, I thought I would never ever be able to hold my breath long enough to make any progress.
I would stay up at night crying to my wife until one day she said: Come on, stop being so lazy and start practicing holding your breath instead of complaining about it.
Sometimes it takes that encouraging voice to help you get over your challenges in life, so I'd like to offer you that opportunity now. If you tell me your biggest challenge with underwater basket weaving, I promise to get back to you with a potential solution.
Just reply to this email!
The response rate for this kind of email will surprise you and the honesty will touch you.
And also it will fill you with new ideas. You will start noticing trends of the things people have the most trouble with, and can fine tune your posts to target the biggest concerns your customers have.
To learn more about this technique, take a look at Ask by Ryan Levesque.
Follow-up with net promoter score.
Many of the best bloggers I know have a mailing list and know their reader's biggest problems already.
But only the most successful bloggers know how to measure their success and fine tune their message using Net Promoter Score.
With Net Promoter Score, you ask just one question, but a different one than when you first signed up: On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend my blog to a friend or colleague?
If you want to know how to calculate your score from all the responses, just follow this easy guide.
But the most important information for a blogger comes with the follow-up question: What is the biggest reason you gave me that score?
Notice that this follow-up works well whether the score they gave was good or bad. If it was bad, they will tell you what you are doing wrong. If it was good, they will tell you what they like best.
The biggest difference between elite pro bloggers and everyone else is their obsession with understanding their audience and delivering to them exactly what they want to read week after week.
The problem is that most people don't know how to begin understanding their audience better. But now you have three key tools that will bring you light-years closer to this goal.
Setup the mailing list and start building real relationships with real people and your readership will take on a life of its own.