Does finding the sweet spot for your blog sometimes feel like tuning an old radio?
You’re trying to get that perfect connection with your readers, but you can’t seem to cut through the noise.
It’s frustrating. You know you’re close. You know some of the signal is getting through. But it’s not loud and clear.
And no matter which direction you turn the dial, you can’t find the perfect position.
But it’s taken weeks, months or even years to get this far. How much longer must you wait to break through?
Luckily for you, a small adjustment is often all you need – a subtle shift in direction that allows your blog to finally resonate strongly with your readers.
Great Content, Design, and Other Blogging Myths
Great content isn’t enough to make your blog a success.
You’ve probably found plenty of great content that you haven’t done anything about. You didn’t share it, you didn’t comment on it, and you didn’t subscribe to get more of it.
Let’s face it, great content is everywhere you look. Seemingly endless lists of great content are available. Some sites are dedicated to lists of great content.
It’s the same with great design.
Based on how often blogging and marketing sites talk about design, you could think it makes a huge difference. But it doesn’t.
Of course your site should look good. If it looks like it hasn’t been updated since the ’90s, people won’t expect much from your content either.
But be honest – when was the last time you subscribed to a blog simply because it had good design? Exactly. Good design is simply a given – an expectation you have to meet. But it doesn’t give you an advantage.
The Shocker: People Don’t Care If You’re an Expert, Either
If you find a site run by a recognized expert on the topic, it doesn’t mean you automatically subscribe. Even if you think the topics might help you, too many “experts” are sharing their ideas for that to make a difference anymore.
The same thing causes many businesses to struggle with sales.
For example, webhosting companies always claim to have lightning-fast and reliable servers. So, it’s just an expectation, which doesn’t have much weight in the decision-making process.
You need more to get excited enough to take action. And so do the people who find your blog.
The Handful of Reasons that Motivate People to Do Anything
We all like to think we base our decisions on all available information. That our decisions are carefully considered. That we don’t jump to action just because someone pulls at the right strings.
But that’s rarely true.
We make decisions based on what we care most about. And, clearly, we can only care most about a handful of things.
Let’s say we’re in the market for a new car.
If we care about looking cool, we buy a Porsche instead of a Toyota.
If we care about having plenty of space for the kids, we buy a wagon instead of a coupe.
If we care about the planet’s health, we buy a hybrid.
Sure, you likely have more than one reason behind every decision you make. But the list is rarely long.
When people consider if they want to subscribe to your blog, only a handful of reasons truly make the difference.
I call those reasons your value proposition. It’s the combination of the best reasons your target audience has for paying attention to you, sharing your posts, and subscribing to your blog.
Usually, only 3–5 reasons push people over the edge. They might have more reasons, but a few key ideas carry almost all the weight.
So What Makes You Different?
Think what sets your blog apart from the competition.
For example, do you provide more in-depth content than others? Or is your content more straightforward? Easier to implement? More entertaining? Or do you have specialized expertise or authority others in your field lack?
Do you focus on solving more specific problems? Or help a more specific group of people? Or help in a way others don’t?
Something has to make you different.
The good news? Usually only a small adjustment is enough to make your blog worth the attention you desire. But if you don’t make that change, you have a squirrel’s chance on an eight-lane highway to build up a significant audience.
The 3 Crucial Steps of Fine-tuning Your Blog Topic to Get More Subscribers
If you have a blog and a target audience but you’re struggling to unite the two, the following steps will help you make the adjustments you need.
#1 Choose One Audience
Let’s say you blog about marketing.
Well, a seemingly endless list of blogs about that topic are out there, so you’ll struggle to interest anyone if you don’t do something to stand out.
As long as your visitors can easily think of other blogs with a similar focus, they have little reason to pay attention to yours.
The first step is to get clear on whom you’re writing for. Figure out what kind of people you help.
And yes, you may have to narrow your initial target audience. If you don’t, you’ll struggle to capture anyone’s attention.
This means the audience for your marketing blog should be more precise than simply “people interested in marketing.”
Instead you could focus on helping consultants, freelancers, or entrepreneurs with their marketing.
And you should make sure your audience is already targeted by other popular blogs. Otherwise you might find you’ve picked an audience that’s too small or is not very active online.
Of course, you don’t have to help this audience with the same topics as these other blogs, but when others feel it’s an audience worth going after, that’s a positive sign.
And you should always focus on an audience you have some affinity with and one you feel you can help significantly. If you try to focus on another target group, you’re making things unnecessarily difficult for yourself.
When you know the exact target audience you write for, study them. Discover where they hang out online. Which sites they trust. What problems they’re trying to solve by reading blogs.
And most importantly, figure out what topics they’re interested in, so you can narrow your focus.
#2 Approach Old Topics from New Angles
Let’s say you blog about health and you’ve decided to focus on helping people with weight issues.
You need to find an angle to the topic that makes you different from your competitors.
Start by looking at the other sites that are directed toward the same audience. What topics get the most attention? What questions come up repeatedly? What creates the strongest emotions (for and against)? And if you already have some readers, what do they ask you to help them with?
Focus on something you know better than most people within the overall topic.
Let’s take the weight loss example.
If you personally enjoy the benefits of a meat-free diet, you could help people lose weight by adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.
If you love to travel and you’ve seen how people around the world lose weight and stay fit, you could make your site about just that – taking the best healthy eating and exercise habits from around the world and introducing them to a wider audience.
And if you’re new to the topic, you must come up with a different reason for people to be interested in your thoughts. Maybe you read the most important books about the topic and post summaries with all the key ideas, so your readers save time.
Or maybe you write personal stories about trying different methods to lose weight and make them so comical that readers end up in tears when they try to contain their laughter in public places.
You don’t have to turn your blog into something “radically different.” But if people feel like they’ve already seen the same ideas elsewhere, delivered in the same way, they won’t stick around your site.
As your audience grows, you can expand your blog to include more topics. But with a few thousand subscribers or less, you should stick to a specific topic and angle on that topic.
However, knowing your audience and focusing your topic is still not enough for you to dominate your niche.
#3 Work Out What Your Audience Craves
This is the tough part – the one that few people really think about.
What would make the biggest difference to your audience? What do they desperately desire?
Let’s say you blog about personal development and you’ve used Step 1 to refine your audience from “anyone interested in personal development” to “married women interested in personal development.”
And using Step 2 you’ve narrowed your focus from all personal development topics to helping your audience with relationships, and specifically improving their relationships with their spouses.
If you can give your audience what they crave around this topic, they will pay attention to you, share your content, join your email list, and ultimately buy your products.
In this case, it could be that the audience craves specific, practical advice in contrast to bigger ideas that are harder to implement.
On the other hand, they might be desperate to hear real-world stories and examples from other people that will shed light on their own marriages.
Or they might simply want someone to be brave enough to talk openly about topics that others avoid (e.g., sex in a failing marriage).
These “cravings” are the reasons people will read your blog, share your posts, leave comments, and subscribe.
So what are the reasons your readers will stick around? In other words, what is your value proposition?
Realistically, your readers will only notice 3-5 aspects about your blog that separate it from all the others in the same field. So, those aspects must come across loud and clear, and they must interest your visitors enough to subscribe.
And crucially, people should understand what your blog is about when they first visit it. The reasons for them to stay must be crystal clear.
If you don’t know what your reasons are, you can’t help your visitors figure them out either.
You can’t just copy what makes other sites worth subscribing to. You must do something more – your value proposition must give people clear reasons to read your blog and subscribe to it.
And the only way to figure out what those reasons are is to get inside your readers’ heads. What do they want but can’t find elsewhere? What are the best aspects of other sites they’d want to see all in one blog? What can you do that others can’t? And what about your blog is already exceptionally good?
When you know what those reasons to read your blog are, that is, what is your value proposition, you must make sure people understand it.
How to Make People Understand Why They Should Pay Attention
So you’ve figured out what makes you different. And written it down, so it’s not just in your head, right? Because it you haven’t written it somewhere, chances are the idea is less than perfectly clear.
For example, it could be something like this: “My blog helps classical guitarists improve their technique, so they can play the songs they really want to play without their technique limiting their interpretation. I give them practical, interesting exercises that they can easily add to their practice.”
The point is, you must already have it clarified for yourself. If you don’t, you’ll struggle to make your visitors understand why they should pay attention.
This core message is your value proposition – the best reasons your target audience has for paying attention to you and joining your list.
You need to focus everything on getting that message across. Every aspect of your marketing needs to support it.
Even the content you share in social media and your guest posts should work hard to make people understand your value proposition.
If anything isn’t in line with it, people won’t get a strong “signal” because you’re not consistent. And then, again, they have little reason to stick around reading your blog.
But getting it across isn’t as complicated as you might think.
The Few Topics You Should Create Content About
You can only get people to understand your value proposition – and share your posts, comment on them, and subscribe to your blog – if your posts support it.
Anything that doesn’t fit that message confuses people and makes them wonder why they should take any other action besides leaving your site.
For example, if you narrowed your blog topic from “photography” to “nature photography for beginners,” you shouldn’t publish the occasional post about local politics – or even portrait photography. At least not unless you can tie it clearly in with nature photography.
Stick to the topics that fit your focus.
When you have a large audience and the resources to create plenty of content, you can start expanding, though even then it’s risky. But until then, the lack of focus in your topic selections guarantees you won’t see the results you’re after.
If you know what topics you’re focusing on and you don’t stray from them, people will notice. That is, if you narrowed down your focus enough.
The harder part is to create content that fits in with the finer points that make people practically addicted to your content.
If a part of your allure is to be practical, for example, you have to make your content so practical that every visitor notices that it’s practical.
If you’re counting on people perceiving your content as unusually in-depth, then all your content has to be so in-depth that people can’t possibly miss it.
Or if you’re all about tackling topics others don’t dare to touch with a 10-foot pole, then don’t venture into topics that every blog in your field is comfortable with.
As the general rule, if a piece of content doesn’t help you make people understand the best reasons for paying attention, sharing, commenting, and subscribing, you shouldn’t publish it.
Dominate Your Niche
You know what compels people to pay attention to you, share your content, leave comments, and subscribe to your list.
You publish content that your target audience has been craving and would be willing to jump through flaming hoops for.
And all your content is focused on making people understand your value proposition.
Things start rolling. People start subscribing. They share the content, so more people find you. Even Google understands you better when your content is focused.
You’ve found just the right position for the dial, and the signal is clear.
But all that happens only when you’ve discovered your value proposition – what are the best reasons your target audience has for paying attention.
So, take out some paper or a open a blank document right now and note down what makes (or what will make) your content worth drooling over.
About the Author: Right now Peter Sandeen is dodging icebergs while sailing with his wife and dogs on the Finnish coast. But you can download the 5-step system for finding the core of your value proposition quickly, so you’ll know what makes people notice you, share your content, and subscribe to your blog.From Zero to Hero: Make These 3 Small Tweaks and Dominate Your Niche by Peter Sandeen