Bloggers: What are you REALLY offering people?

fashion blogger flowers

I love to pretend that people come to my site because I'm awesome, charming, a wee bit stylish, and they can relate to me.  In reality, our presence on the internet is based on what we have to offer.

As a female-dominated niche, I think it can be hard of us to answer that question.  Women tend to speak up less (or be humble) about their accomplishments, and as a result, its hard for us to think quantitatively about what we're offering the visitors of our sites.  Even to ourselves.

It's hard to think of our blogs, which are something SO personal to us as something so transactional, but think about how you use the internet.  When you visit a site, what's the reason?  Because the site has something you want.  It has something to give you.  Whether it's a pair of new shoes, the phone number to or reviews for a restaurant, or what books you should read before you die, you're visiting websites because you're in need of something.

What can you offer… your readers?

While we love to think our blogs are for us, if we're hoping to have and grow an audience, at some point we have to accept that our posts are as much for us as they are our readers.

So what are you honestly offering your readers with each post?  Are you explaining how to do something?  Are you sharing where to buy something?  Are you opening up emotionally, so that there is a sense of camaraderie or shared experience? Am I providing inspiration on X, Y, or Z?

If you've gotten to the end of your post, and you can't answer, “What is this giving my readers?” maybe you should rethink the angle, do a little editing, and revise it.

What can you offer… brands?

Over the 6 years I've been blogging, I've worked with dozens of brands.  Yet, whenever a new one reaches out and asks, “What can you give me?” I hesitate to respond. What can I offer them?

If you want to work with brands, it's a great idea to track the work from each project.  How many comments do they receive?  How many times do you tweet about it, and what kind of response do you get?  You could do this in a document or spreadsheet.  What are the page views of that post for the week it's on the main page?  Even if prospective brands never see the document, it helps give you the courage, confidence, and data to back up what you CAN give them.

What can you offer… other bloggers?

Oof. Y'all, this is a hard one.  I'm a huge advocate of building genuine, heartfelt relationships in life.  Yet I often see members of the IFB community complain about being spammed by other bloggers, expecting other bloggers to act as a mentor, or promote the hell out of their posts on social media, and I ask myself… Well, what do you have to offer?

I don't mean that in a mean way, but the heart of most relationships is that we have something to offer our companions.  Maybe your best friend always makes you laugh; you feel unconditional love and support from your boy/girlfriend. You can always meet the new girl at work for gossip and laughter at the water cooler.

Building relationships with other bloggers happens the same way; what can you offer other bloggers that no one else can?  Maybe you always leave long and thoughtful comments to their eloquent posts.  Maybe you're a rabid retweeter, loving their playful witticisms and the links they share.   Building a great relationship with another blogger isn't about what they can do for you– it's about what you can do for them.

This idea– what I can offer others– has been one of the hardest lessons I've learned as a blogger, and one I still struggle with to this day.  But as I seek to reshape my blog, being able to honestly answer this question (to myself and to others) has given me a new kind of insight into how to make my blog experience more rewarding.

So… open up with me. With the rest of IFB.  Are you REALLY providing value to your readers, the brands you work with, and other bloggers?  What can you do to offer more to those you interact with?

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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21 Responses

  1. kate

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been working super hard on my blog all summer without it going anywhere! I comment like crazy without a single thank-you from most bloggers. Its disheartening, and sometimes I feel like quitting , but I tell myself no. I enjoy blogging and talking about fashion and makeup and even doing simple diy’s. Even if no one is listening!

    Reply
    • Nancy

      Keep it up Kate. I’m sort of in the same boat as you. I’d love to check out your blog. 🙂

      Reply
    • Barbara

      Same here Nancy, same here. I work with brands off and on and so far all I can offer them is simply awareness and some versatility with their products by virtue of the fact that I am a professional makeup artist.
      *sigh*

      http://www.barbara1923.com
      Lagos, Nigeria

      Reply
  2. Justine

    Great post! I think one of the great things about blogging is that it’s easy and fun to make connections wit other bloggers. Especially if you use websites like IFB. Personally, I think it’ll be difficult for me to make relationships with brands and answer the question “What can I give them?”

    Reply
  3. Megan Jedlinski

    This post could not have come at a better time! I will go ahead and say that I do not think I’m offering as much as I could be offering my readers, fellow bloggers and brands. I definitely need to take the time to really identify what purpose my blog serves and how to communicate that purpose. As a newer blogger, I have been a bit hesitant in putting myself out there, but know that once I do, that’s when I’ll really have something unique to offer:) Great post!

    Megan

    Reply
  4. annu

    Great text. Seth Godin wrote something quite relating to this in his blog as well. Very important topic.

    Reply
  5. Sharron Miles Gilty

    As I plan to launch my blog in September and a new member of IFB, this post has come at a great time. As I am writing my launch posts and beyond this idea of what I am offering is forever on my mind. When in think about my posts in thinking of me as the reader and how the words read can make me “take action”. Thanks soooo much this is awesome! I have appreciated all of the responses above. Greetings to my fellow Chicago blogger!

    Reply
  6. Sharron Miles Gilty

    As I plan to launch my blog in September and a new member of IFB, this post has come at a great time. As I am writing my launch posts and beyond, this idea and question….What am I offering is forever on my mind. When I think about my posts I’m thinking of me as the reader and how the words read can and will make me “take action”. I believe that when we give our readers a responsibility to “do something” even if that something is have more confidence in themselves and their look everyday. Thanks soooo much this is awesome! I have appreciated all of the responses above. Greetings fellow bloggers! Looking forward to interacting with you all.

    Reply
  7. Paige

    you bring up such a good point! sometimes its hard to take a step back and look at our blogs with a critical eye to try and see what we can improve on. I know that often, my posts are just a photo diary of an adventure I had but there is a better way to make it more informational and to seem like I am offering something more to the reader! something that I actually took the time to create a post for!! This totally is making me rethink my content!

    Reply
  8. Jean

    This is definitely coming at the right time for me. I want my blog to both be for myself but I want to offer MORE things to readers so they stay and become regular readers! This was great to get me thinking on how to properly do that. Thanks!!

    Reply
  9. Anne

    Great post! What sets a blog apart is a blogger taking his readers into account and designing the blog according to them instead of being completely self-centered. Bloggers who are starting out should ask themselves what value they bring to the readers. For example, I remember seeing blogs with reposted editorials only, bad quality pictures / writing, nothing informative. Who would want to stick to that? Even if you don’t monetize you’re blog, you should have a business mindset, look at stats and think of what you bring to the table.

    Reply
  10. Yen Birao

    This is very helpful. Thanks! One thing I learned in the world of fashion blogging is that we just have to enjoy the process. We are all going to get the results that we want as long as we never stop doing it out of passion. Everything comes after. I would love to get to know as many bloggers as I can! Haha Let’s all be friends, shall we? Internet support! <3

    http://yenbirao.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  11. Gemma Savage

    Thank you for a great post. I think a lot of people think far to much about them self and ask the question “what can you do for me?” when really they should be saying “this is what I can do for you” not only will it help to build stronger relationships but it will add value to the community as you aren’t simply considering yourself but everyone.

    I also think a lot of people are quick to dismiss there own value and have a mindset where they believe they couldn’t do anything to help or have anything of value to give to anyone. You need the power to believe in your self and maybe then someone will believe in you.

    Reply
  12. Lucia

    Thank you for the insightful post. I initially had started my blog as a creative outlet from the pressures of the corporate world, plus as a way to show everyone that corporate dressing could be fun 🙂 I am quite new at the blogging experience and have definitely hit some snags and continue to learn new things. Your post definitely helps in the editing and posting process which is still quite the hurdle for me!

    PearlsandMangoes.com

    Reply
  13. Em k

    I wonder about this a lot, what do people get out of my blog, what am I providing? On one hand I do personal posts once a week because I enjoy them and my family does too, but my main posts are outfit posts and this whole what do people get out of it is difficult to pin down. The number one question I’m asked when I mention I have a style blog is why, why do people want to read it?

    I think the answer is that people want creative ideas on how to style things and they want to see what affordable clothing looks like on someone who doesn’t have a model’s measurements, to give them an idea on what it might look like on themselves.

    At least that’s why I think people visit and what I’m offering!

    Reply
  14. Sary

    I work hard with my blog and aim to provide at least a little bit of value in every post. Outfit posts may be a little different since it seems my readers enjoy a little bit of eye-candy rather than a ‘how can I wear this?” kind of thang.

    But it seems that a lot of other bloggers in my community seem to look down on me because I take blogging a lot more serious than they do (most of them don’t blog at all anymore and continue to start new blogs of which they never post anything). They believe that because of my motivation I’m not enjoying blogging which is silly.

    Anyway, I’d just like to say that it’s funny that a little thing like value in posts can really alienate you from your community.

    Reply