It's easy to forget that any success, income, or notoriety we achieve through our blog, we owe as much to our readers as to ourselves. Without them, our sites would just be digital diaries serving only to occupy our time and document our style.
We definitely have to be careful when talking about “readers” as a whole, because as you know each blog's audience is different. There are different demographics, different wants and desires that motivate them. (That's why there's room for all of us in this community.) Through some basic research, and based on conversations we've had with members of the community, we've been able to make some deductions about the general behavior of fashion and personal style blog readers.
Numbers are great and facts are important, we know this. What we sometimes forget is that each stat, each click, each view isn't just a number, it's a person. Someone who cares enough about what you're doing and saying to read it, comment on it or pass it along to a friend. Ideally, blogging creates a mutually beneficial relationship between the author and the consumer, where both are happy and satisfied. However, if the audience can't get their fix from you, they'll move on to somewhere (and someone) more accommodating.
Here's what readers want:
- Fresh content
- Credible information
- Great visuals
- To be entertained
- Something they can't get anywhere else
The above are some very simplified ways of understanding what blog readers want to see. The more specific answers to what your readers want lie in your analytics, your retweets and your comments. It's logical to assume that the posts with the most clicks and comments as well as chatter on social media are the ones your readers like the most. (For further reading on the importance of reading your stats, check out this post on studying your demographics and this one on studying your highest traffic-yielding posts.)
A quick example of this would be that recently The Man Repeller posted an interesting essay about the state of street style photography at Fashion Week, which has garnered 56 comments so far, whereas the previous post which rounded up various pictures of her from street style blogs around the web elicited 92 comments – nearly double. From this you might deduce that her audience responds more to highly visual, rather than written content.
Your credibility and authenticity as a source of original style inspiration for your readers are your two most important qualities. Maintaining these elements is no small feat when balanced in tandem with posting consistently high-quality content that is unique to your blog and entertaining. No one ever said giving readers what they want is easy.
What about what they don't want?
Often times you won't know what your readers don't want until you do something “wrong.” Taking a week off might tank your traffic, or publishing an unusual or off-topic post might turn off or anger some people. When it happens, you'll know. It's up to you to determine if it's something that needs fixing, or something your audience has to adjust to.
For example, at IFB, we consistently see a dip in traffic during New York Fashion Week, a time when we are posting on the site and updating our social media less frequently. That's something we take in stride, and make up for in the following weeks to get back on track. We also recently went through a huge learning experience thanks to our readers, prompted by a single blog post. The response from the community was unlike anything we had ever experienced, partly because the topic was one we had never broached before. This wasn't something we took in stride, and has incited changes to our content strategy and more.
What all this ultimately boils down to is how much you want to please your readers, and how much you want to please yourself. Finding the happy medium is the goal – but it will probably take some work. Don't be afraid of trial and error – it's how we all grow. If you alter your content from what originally drew in your readers, you may find the transition rough. However, losing one type of reader doesn't mean you can't or won't win over another. You shouldn't pander to the audience you've drawn in if it isn't the one you want to have. Establish a voice and direction for your content that you love – then keep it up to keep your readers happy.
As bloggers, we need our readers. They help us grow, they show us love – and they keep us in check. It doesn't matter if you have 5 or 500,000 – understanding your audience will help you become a better writer and a better blogger.