What Readers Want: How to Please Them and Stay True To You

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:

  • Honesty
  • Consistency
  • 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.

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12 Responses

  1. Sikethia Williams

    Hello! Thank u so much for posting these tips! I am a fashion stylist blogger and I am trying to get my name and services out there. These are a great tips for a small town girl with a unique eye for style.
    be blessed!
    Stylishki

    Reply
  2. snowblackblog

    I often want to send out a survery to my readers to ask them what it is they want to know about me or for me to show them. Honestly ,I have no idea if what I blog interests them. On tumblr I get asked questions, but it’s mainly about my modeling and modeling advice. I want to speak more about fashion that my job, but I need to find a way to engage my readers more, but how?

    Reply
    • Meda N.

      I don’t see a harm with sending out a survey. If companies do it, why can’t you? 🙂
      Or you can do it via Facebook/Twitter. Wanting to know what your readers want will keep them coming instead of just having nice outfit posts!

      Reply
  3. Natalie Ast

    It’s a shame that most readers can’t adjust to written content. i often publish longer articles on my blog (as a journalist, I need the practice and creative outlet) but I never see high hits on posts about the fashion industry. However i’ve noticed that people respond to reviews – collections, movies and profiles pretty well – although most of the traffic is generated through search engines. I think this article is great at pointing out that you need to always provide fresh and visual content to your readers, but it’s important to be honest in what content you highlight as well.

    Reply
  4. Kathleen Lisson

    This is a great springboard to explore the value of comments on blogs. Plainly put – if a comment is just a few short words followed by a link to the blogger’s website, should it carry the same weight as a couple of thoughtfully worded paragraphs that offers the commenter’s point of view and explores the bloggers post topic?

    Do our blogs create communities or do they just offer visuals and gain only mini-ads for other bloggers in the comments?

    As one of the commenters on Man Repeller’s essay, I value her point of view as well as her fashion sense.

    Reply
    • Look Fabulous For Less

      Kathleen Lisson makes a great point – those kinds of insincere self-promotional comments really bug me. It’s like everyone pretends to care about someone else’s content, but really they just want more traffic. I’d rather no comments and my blog be a personal diary viewed by no one, rather than people just using it as a platform for self promotion.

      Reply
  5. Look Fabulous For Less

    I think it is important to stay true to you and have readers who genuinely care about what you care about. A blog and reader union is like a relationship. If you started going out with a guy who thought you were someone you weren’t but you felt that the only way for you to keep him was the continue the facade, most people would say he wasn’t worth the effort, he should like you for who you really are, and pretending to be someone you’re not is exhausting. I try and post once a day around a day job. This is demanding, but in the end, I am passionate about what I write about – finding bargains in charity shops, and so naturally recycling clothing without trying – if no one read it, I wouldn’t care, because I believe in what I am writing about. It’s less about self promotion and more about self worth IMO. So don’t let your blog be a demanding BF who doesn’t know the real you 🙂 x

    Reply
  6. Irene

    Informative post as usual from the brainiacs at IFB! Definitely one to bookmark.

    Reply
  7. irene enriquez

    Thank you so much for this post. I really want to maintain the balance between writing to please my readers and writing for myself. On my next posts, i will try to include more photos. 🙂

    Reply