Asking this question is sort of the same as asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? Of course your readers influence your blog, if you're paying attention, but to what extent? And when do you actually ASK your readers for input or feedback?
My blog has changed a lot in the last ten years, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is to make the experience better, and more rich, for my readers. Over time, by analyzing your statistics, and trying new things you can start to learn the types of things you can tweak to make your site easier to navigate, more appealing, to keep your readers around longer, and get more clicks.
I've changed my blog design more times than I can count. Sometimes I ask my readers for input before I do a major re-design (from blog to magazine style, or vice versa), to see if they have any strong feelings one way or the other, and most of the time, they do not. I've found that regular, engaged readers come through RSS or email links, or will come to your site anyway, so the design doesn't matter to them as much. Design tends to matter more to new visitors – which means it's incredibly important to have an easy-to-navigate and well-designed site to keep them there AND coming back.
Some design cues you can take from your readers:
If you notice that your images are getting pinned, make it easier for your readers to do it directly from your site by adding a plugin.
Notice in your analytics where search engines are pointing new readers, then make that content easier for them, and readers already on your site to find. For example, if you talk about a certain designer a lot, create a tag or category and consolidate all of your content in one section, then link to it from your sidebar (I like to make graphics for this) and/or in the post that gets the most search engine traffic for that designer. That way, even if a new reader enters your site via a search for that designer, they'll know there's much more content on that designer than just the post they landed on.
Also, Make your most popular pages & posts more prominent, and then refresh older, popular content frequently; don't just forget it.
Did you notice that you got more traffic and reader engagement when you started posting outfit pictures? or video reviews? Did your posts start to go viral after you wrote more opinion pieces? Then do more of that! Let your readers influence you in this way; give them more of what they're looking for and they'll not only stick around, but they'll bring their friends.
Clicking on Links
With regard to affiliate income, do you make your money with text links? or image links (widgets)? Which type of link are your readers more likely to click on? Do they shop more from personal style (outfit) links, or from a curated selection of items you found online? Use this information to make your blog more appealing, and to enhance your income-earning potential.
Over time you'll start to notice which days you get the most engagement on your blog, and how the frequency of your posting influences that. Maybe you only need to post 3x a week to get the same engagement you were getting by posting 5x a week. Maybe Wednesdays are slow traffic or comment days for you. If you are really inspired to post every day, then definitely do so, but if you're not, a little analysis and observation of trends on your blog could work in your favor if you take the time to do it.
You can also “train” your readers to a certain extent by putting the content you want them to see in front of them more prominently. Ultimately, assuming you want your blog to become a place where you can share your passion with like-minded people, you will have to take into consideration your readers' needs, as well as your own. Work to find the balance between inspiring and getting inspiration from your readers. It'll be better for everyone in the end!
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]