Usefulness – Principles of Successful Blogging #3

Today we continue my series in principles of successful blogging by looking at something that is at the heart of my own philosophy of blogging (and business) – usefulness.

I’ve said it many times on ProBlogger but if your blog is not solving a problem or fulfilling a need or desire among your readers then you’re unlikely to see them return.

The needs, desires and problems you can be meeting need not be large ones – but if you’re connecting with people on these levels you’re being useful and this goes a long way towards making the type of impression on someone that draws them into a loyal relationship.

Better still – if you’re useful to someone they’re often going to tell others about it which is a big part of the growth of many successful blogs.

Examples of Useful Blogs

Being useful can take on many different forms. Lets looks at some examples of fairly well known blogs:

  • Mashable – gives people the latest news on Social Media but also teaches them how to use it.
  • Boing Boing – a blog that gives a laugh and looks at curious trends in technology
  • Lifehacker – helps people become more productive and be better at different technological pursuits
  • TMZ – feeds people’s desire to know the latest gossip and celeb news
  • Seth Godin – teaches on the topic of Marketing
  • I Can Has Cheezburger – gives people something to giggle about
  • Treehugger – resources people to live green
  • Seeking Alpha – gives financial news and advice
  • Zen Habits – helps people be more productive
  • CopyBlogger – helps bloggers write better

Now you might not read all of these blogs (and there are many thousands more that we could use as examples) and are unlikely to find them all personally useful (I certainly don’t read them all) – but they all have many thousands of devoted fans and daily readers, because they’re producing content that meets some kind of need, fulfils some kind of desire or solves some kind of problem.

The ways a blog can be useful are many – but here are some of the basics (taken partly from ProBlogger the Book):

  • Entertaining – increasingly blogs are being used as entertainment. People are going to them for laughs, for gossip and for fun conversation.
  • Educational – many successful blogs teach people to do or be something
  • Informational/News – these blogs might teach you any practical skills but they keep you up with the latest on a particular topic, location or trend
  • Thoughtful – some readers want a place where they can have their minds open to viewpoints.
  • Debate – some blogs serve as places for people to come together to have dialogue and debate around a topic.
  • Community – many blogs are build more on people having a sense of belonging and feeling that they’re a part of a community than the actual content.

Of course this list could go on and on and will vary from blog to blog with some meeting multiple needs and others just targeting one.

How is Your Blog Useful?

This is a question that I think bloggers would do well ponder before they start blogging as well as during the blogging process (in fact it’s probably a question to ask every day before you publish anything). Strive to meet a need and enhance people’s lives in some way and you’ll be taking a step closer to connecting with people in a way that will hopefully be part of a lasting relationship.

Further Reading

  • How to Get in Tune with Your Readers Needs [and Produce Compelling Content]
  • Solve a Problem – 7 Ways to Identify Reader Problems

Read the full series on how to build a successful blog.

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