How to Build the One Thing You Can’t Blog Successfully Without

friends

Have you noticed that I do a great job at connecting with you? So much so that it feels like you actually know me?

It didn’t happen by accident. When I started Quick Sprout, my goal was to build such a strong bond with you that you would listen to the recommendations I gave you. On the flip side, when you tell me something, I listen to your input.

In essence, we’ve built a virtual friendship. I’m here to help you, and you’re here to help me.

It’s been so effective that over the last 30 days, I received 9,572 emails from you. I responded to 7,837 of those emails. In turn, the Quick Sprout blog has received 106,516 comments in total.

It’s not just with Quick Sprout either. I’ve started another marketing blog on NeilPatel.com, which gives you step by step tactics on a variety of internet marketing topics. Even though the blog is new, and I have no email list, I’m already getting great engagement.

Download this 4 steps cheat sheet to learn how to build the one thing you can’t blog successfully without.

So, how do you replicate this growth in engagement with your blog readers? All you have to do is follow the steps below:

Step #1: Open up

When you read a blog, how much do you really know about the person behind the blog? Very little, right?

If you are lucky, the blogger may have a bio and a photo of herself in the sidebar… but that’s pretty much it.

You can’t expect your audience to connect with you if you don’t open up. You can accomplish this through an About page. Not one that is about your blog or your company, but about you… the person behind the blog.

If you have a corporate blog, you can create an About page for each author on your blog.

To create an effective About page, you should consider doing the following:

  1. Tell your complete story – from birth to today, give details of your life.
  2. Don’t hold back – from the moments you are ashamed of to the moments you are proud of, share them all. It will allow people to get to know all sides of you.
  3. Include a picture – people won’t be able to connect with you unless they can see you. You can place a photograph of yourself on your About page, or you can create a cartooned version like I have.
  4. Talk about your goals – just like you are helping your readers with your content, they too can help you. Discuss your future plans and goals within your About page. Mine is to start a non-profit one day.

If you want to see an example of a good About page, check out mine. It has 1,000 comments on it. The page is so effective that when I travel around the world to speak, people mention elements of my life, which they got from my About page.

Step #2: Care about your readers

Your readers are people. If you aren’t willing to help them out and go above and beyond of what’s expected of you, how can you expect them to stick around?

A simple way to show that you care is to respond to comments. Every time a reader has a question, make sure you answer it.

But don’t stop there. You should be doing the same throughout the web. From responding to random questions on Twitter to giving detailed answers on Quora, it is all about helping others out. Some of those you help will eventually become readers and share your content.

In addition to helping them with topics related to your blog, you should also try to help your readers with their personal problems. For example, I had one reader who was trying to save his dog last Christmas and couldn’t afford the surgery the dog needed.

The reader didn’t ask me for help, but he did ask if I had any ideas about how he could raise money for the surgery. So, I gave him the idea of crowd funding – asking others to donate.

He was only able to raise a few hundred bucks out of $3,500 he needed. So, I just wrote him a check for the difference.

Helping your readers doesn’t have to involve money either. For example, another Quick Sprout reader was looking for a night-time job within the Seattle area. I connected her with one of my friends who owns a bar, and she got hired.

I could tell you many more stories like these. But you get the point: I relate to my readers like they are my family. Granted, I can’t help solve all of your problems, but I do try to help. And I know you would be there for me if I needed your help.

Doing more than what’s expected of you shows that you care. And when you care for your readers, they will do whatever they can when you need help.

Step #3: Create an open line of communication

What’s the one page that most blogs don’t have? It’s a Contact page.

Why? Because most bloggers don’t want to be disturbed.

I take a different approach. You can find my phone number online if you Google it, and I have a contact page where you can reach out to me. And yes, it goes directly into my inbox, and not my assistant’s.

If you don’t have an open line of communication with your readers, it will limit how many of them you will actually get to know. And if you are strapped for time like I am, tell people what they shouldn’t contact you about to help reduce the number of emails you get.

Just look at my Contact page: it is a friendly infographic. I even tell you to not waste your time contacting me if you are interested in pitching a PR story to me or are looking to advertise on Quick Sprout.

If you aren’t willing to get emails from your readers, then you shouldn’t blog. Blogging isn’t a one-way street, where you shove information down people’s throats and hope that they buy something from you.

It’s a two-way street. Help others, and you’ll see an increase in traffic and sales as a result of your goodwill.

Step #4: Don’t ever expect anything

If I didn’t make a penny from blogging, it wouldn’t bother me. Why? Because I don’t blog for any financial benefit.

I blog because I love helping and connecting with people.

This may sound foolish to you, but the thing that makes me the happiest in life is seeing a smile on someone’s face. Although I can’t see your smile through the computer, I do enjoy getting thank-you emails.

That’s why I blog. I love making other people happy.

Yes, you can make money from blogging, but if that is your primary goal, you are already starting on the wrong foot.

Most popular blogs in this space, such as TechCrunch, Mashable, Copyblogger, and Moz, all started because they wanted to fill a void in the marketplace and help others. They do make money now, but it is a side effect of helping others.

Conclusion

If you do all the things I mentioned above, you won’t just gain readers, but you’ll also gain friends.

These friends may or may not spend any money with your business… and that’s all right. But if you are unable to convert your readers into friendships, you’ll find that your blog won’t flourish in traffic, and you’ll probably generate little to no cash from it.

Don’t start a blog to gain more visitors to your site. Create one to build friendships.

So, what else do you need to have on your blog to make sure it thrives?

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Comments

  1. again a good blog thanks so much for sharing neil. Step No 4 & 2 are best way.

    • Christopher Pontine :

      Hey Gadgets Help <—- Hope that's not your real name 🙂

      I totally agree that "Don't expect anything" is the way to blog. How can you go wrong with expecting nothing. A great thing. Just to ask real quick, do you open up quite a bit on your blog?

      Thanks,

      Christopher Pontine

    • GadgetsHelp, Glad I could help. Those two steps essentially boil down to being confident and sharing your thoughts.

      • totally agree with @christopher and @Neil great thing again, specially the paert one… Open s very very important to have a followers for your real you!

        Altamash Sid
        (personal branding advisor)

  2. Great Neil,
    Your 4 great points worth to read and follow.

    Thanks

  3. Great post about blogging Neil.

    I also believe in putting up an About Me widget (with the shorter version of your About Me page) in the sidebar – that helps readers connecting better with the author.

    In my personal experience, “about me” widget on the sidebar helps create better connections with readers than “about me” widget below the posts – may be because readers are now used to seeing about me sections all the time below posts. I am not sure, though.

    My first blog was about Linux sysadmin troubleshooting which I started to document my works as a sys-admin in my undergrads school. Did not start it with the intention of making money, but once I saw the traffic and the good money rolling in through ads, consulting services and ebooks – I started new blogs about my other strong-knowledge areas such as personal finance, facebook marketing, gadget reviews, poor college kid hacks, etc. and followed the same path for success:

    1. Put your heart out in the content you write
    2. Ask readers for feedback and reply to their comments
    3. Help them out more with your premium content!

    For eg. one blog that I run is about helping students from India into grad school – I started this blog just to document my experiences while selecting and applying to grad schools in the US and Germany which gradually went on to become a great community with highly focused readers!

    Thanks,
    Debjit

    • Debjit
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They are always quite informative.

      I really enjoyed reading your story. It’s great to see that you went through all the obstacles you outlined to get to where you are now.

      I particularly liked how you outlined the strategy of “path to success” I feel like I have placed a priority on the first two things you mentioned.

      Keep up the great work. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  4. Christopher Pontine :

    Hey Neil,

    When you state “Have you noticed that I do a great job at connecting with you? So much so that it feels like you actually know me?” Your right you do a great job. In fact, I got a notification that you update me VIA my inbox of this article cause I subscribed to this blog.

    The thing, is you do a great job relating to all, because you have tested and been there where some of us have been. And well you put it perfect when you say “I blog because I love helping and connecting with people.” I applaud that sentence because you make some great revenue from this site.

    I think with this attitude you almost can’t fail because you put yourself right out there. Good article, and well, most of all a great motivation statement.

    Thanks,

    Christopher Pontine

    • Christopher, I think at the end of the day blogs are all about making something relatable.

      Making connections has always been my MO. It’s the best way to collaborate and share ideas.

      At the end of the day it’s never about money, it’s about the connections you make and the people you help.

  5. Ngwu Chinedu Joseph :

    Hello Sir Neil.

    I enjoyed reading every sentence contained in this article. Building a cordial relationship with your readers and fellow bloggers as well is something every blogger must strive to achieve.

    I love the area when you made mention of not having money as your basic objective, but rather helping others. Yes, a blogger is meant to assist his or her readers, to solve their problems because that is their reason for paying visits to your blog. Just as it is stated in the Bible ‘ Seek first the Kingdom of God and every othe thing shall be added unto you” When you seek first the satisfaction of your visitors, every other factor, including money will be added unto you.

    This is actually worth sharing, i will just head straight to my Social Media accounts and share this.
    Thanks for making such an informative revelation, i really appreciate.

    • Ngwu,
      Glad we could relate. At the end of the day money should never be a motivator for anything. The basic objective as you mentioned is to help others out.

      Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing much more from you.

  6. Hi Niel,

    This post really has the right approach for success in blogging – as well as most things. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom.

    FYI, the 2 bottom boxes on your blog after the post need to have a maximum width set on them so that they respond properly for the mobile sizing.

    Thanks,
    Vi

    • Vi,
      Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading — I look forward to hearing more from you.

      Thanks for the suggestions on the mobile sizing. I will have to look into it.

  7. Ps. Sorry for misspelling your name. I realized it right after I hit submit.

  8. Thanks Neil for the post.

    I can think of three cases when your personal story from birth till now starts to interest others:

    1. you provide great content, and people like you through your content and they want to know more about you personally.

    2. People heard a recommendation about you and want to know more about you.

    3. Your about page is an interesting story itself that draws people attention.

    In many ways, I guess, people are not very interested in your story if they don’t know anything about you yet.

    And I think of a tip to help your blog or product thrive – include a feedback from a known person to your website.

    • Michael,

      I think personalization is key. Thanks for breaking everything down for me systematically.

      I always try to personalize the experience for others so they can replicate my method and success.

      Always appreciate our feedback.

  9. Nice one Niel..thumbs up

  10. Adarsh Sojitra :

    Boom…… Best article again…..
    .
    This 4 steps are awesome and effective….

    • Adarsh, glad I could help. Definitely looking forward to hearing much more from you. Which step did you like best, just curious?

  11. Hi Neil,
    As always, i learn new ideas from every article you write and i see that this article speaks about the most important thing in internet marketing” how to deal with our site readers” and i see that the fourth step is really important because everyone’s main goal from blogging should be how to benefit the readers and give them the value they need”.

  12. A good one again Neil, such posts really keep the spirits high for bloggers. And “not to expect anything” while blogging is a real saying.

  13. Eventhough I don’t comment, I’m here everyday to checkout your new article.

    This one I had to comment on, it shows a more human side and I like it. And I have to agree, it feels like I know you and this makes you a lot more approachable than your average blogger.

    • Rednasil, glad you took the time to comment.

      Feel free to comment more. I am always here to respond and help out.

  14. Hey Neil,
    It is really great blogging tips. Today I learn how to convert a reader to a friend. Really I am personally greatful to you for teaching me.

    I am detarmind to follow all of your guideline to reach the success.

  15. I really like the way you’ve designed your about me page. It is kind of Biography of Yours. Such an About me page not only helps readers get to know about but also motivates for Blogging.

    • Rachit, glad you liked it. I think About Me pages are essential because they give you a relatable persona that people can attach to.

  16. Matt Auckland :

    Good post, but I would disagree with the about page.

    I agree with the principle of opening up, and explaining who is behind the blog, but length is a different subject.

    About page shouldn’t be a multi-page epic, but instead make it an engaging, punchy, and friendly read. Not too long as spill into multiple pages, but also not as short as a profile biog on a social network.

    Key point is, the longer it is, the more likely some will simply click off.

    • Matt, thanks for your feedback.

      I definitely think you bring up some great points. You want to make your about page as unique and informative as possible. I think you are right on point when you say it should be engaging.

  17. Neil. Why you so AWESOME?!

    Seriously… you’re my #1 marketing crush. I gush about you to everyone looking for a way to get started.

    Forever adding to your time-on-page,

    Alycia

    • Alycia, thanks for the kind words of support. I am very humbled by your kind words. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  18. Great points. I never thought about spelling out my about page in such detail, but I guess I can see how that would make you feel more connected to the blogger — especially if the blogger has taken the time to be authentic.

    • Stacy, anything you can do to be relatable helps. I think you’ll see great success if you personalize the experience.

  19. Vasile Mironeasa :

    Usualy , Mr. Neil , you are right , but it all depends from what point are you seeing the things , because there are unlimited points .

    My respect to all of you !

  20. This is such great advice for anyone building a business/site in literally any niche market. If you don’t let your readers get to know you, how do you expect them to give you anything back or engage with you and your site? You have to “let them in” and show that you have good intentions and truly want to help. If you are transparent and looking out for the best interest of your readers, the rest of your business will naturally fall into place. If you try to ram products or up-sells down their throats, they will very quickly exit your site and never return. Trust is everything and it must be earned. It is earned by genuinely being in service to your readers, providing value and being open about who you are and what you are trying to accomplish.

    Your newsletter and blog are a prime example that shows the proof is in the pudding. I get a ton of different newsletters about Internet Marketing and/or sales pitches about the latest and greatest product that I “must” have to be successful and most of them get very quickly deleted. Once upon a time, I fell for every “shiny object” that existed and it left me broke, feeling cheated and in many cases, literally was a misleading scam. I know how it feels and I know I want my business and my sites to provide the complete opposite and deliver true value without “hiding” behind slick program names, sales copy, or pseudo names. In many cases, I unsubscribe to those types of newsletters now, as it causes me to lose focus on my business and therefore, my readers.

    However, your newsletter and blog are different. It is very rare that I don’t open an email or read an article that you share because you consistently deliver very useful, quality information that can truly help my business. If I don’t open it, it’s usually because I’m too busy or away and I save it for a later time. I have only been signed up for a short period of time and already associate your name and your e-mails with quality and value. That means you are doing something right, especially coming from a guy who is a natural skeptic from past experiences. I feel there are few people that seem to be able to accomplish what you and someone like Pat Flynn have accomplished. I am not speaking in terms of monetary success. Quite simply, it’s trust and authority and it seems to have been accomplished by keeping things open, honest and transparent with people, while providing high quality, valuable content.

    I am still in the earlier stages of developing my business and my site, but I am seeing some pretty decent early success. It is advice, like you have shared here, which I try to implement into my own business. It is so incredibly important to personalize, communicate, and relate to your audience and deliver that value without “expecting” a return. The return will come because people believe in those that they genuinely trust and have seen continually deliver value, without asking for anything in return. That type of connection is truly priceless and seems to not only make you more successful in your business, but also seems far more gratifying, when you know you are truly providing value and have nothing but positive intentions. If they don’t relate to you, they will lose interest or feel that you have negative intentions. I see far too many Internet Marketers who don’t have the patience to develop the relationship, become forceful in trying to promote, get lazy in providing valuable content, and then can’t figure out why their business failed. The concept is quite simple, but it requires hard work, positive attitude, and patience.

    I look forward to reading more great tips from you. I haven’t commented on a lot of your posts, but you have shared many valuable pieces of advice that has not gone unnoticed. Thank you and I look forward to your next one. All the best!

    Howie
    Focus Here and Now

    • jenny j robert :

      Well! You have said it all. I wished to say the same. May I know the address of your website Howie?

    • Howie, that was one of the most informative and in-depth replies I have ever gotten — loved the time you took to articulate all of your thoughts. I think at the end of the day engagement matters. You have truly hit that metric by commenting in such a thorough manner. I look forward to hearing much more from you.

  21. jenny j robert :

    I have been a silent visitor for months but, this post enforced me to write a comment. You are right Neil!. I have seen you using these recommendations and if these tips have worked for you they, will surely help me. It is a great blog filled with helpful tips and it is the only blog that I read 3 times in a week.
    Thanks.

    • Jenny, glad you are no longer silent. I like when people comment and engage. Let me know if you need help with anything at all.

  22. best of luck 🙂 neil your going well

  23. Hi Neil,

    Wonderful post again! I liked the way you explained here. I would love to improve my about us page like you.

    You are so true that we have to focus only on blogging rather than thinking about money.

    This can definitely improves our readers list as well as friends list.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing trick. Have a nice day!

    • Nisha,
      Glad I could help. At the end of the day, as I mentioned, it’s all about focusing on engagement metrics. Money should come secondary. I look forward to hearing much more from you.

  24. Kirsten Schuder :

    Amen!

  25. I agree wholeheartedly on helping your readers with their personal problems and connecting with them, making it a 2-way street. But don’t you think it could get a little messy if you help people out with issues concerning money? Just wondering..

    • Jeremy, I tend to not get involved with money issues. I try to help people learn new skills so they can become self sufficient.

  26. I’m new to blogging and it hadn’t really crossed my mind to create a specific about me page, however after reading this post I’m going to be getting to work on it tonight! Although it seems obvious and makes complete sense to have one after reading this post, until now it’s merely been side thought that I didn’t think of as particularly necessary.

    Thanks for your continuous help! Love receiving your emails!

    • Kate, awesome! Glad you decided to go focus on your about page. I look forward to hearing much more from you. Let me know if you need any help along the way.

  27. Priscilla (Book Blogger) :

    “Don’t start a blog to gain more visitors to your site. Create one to build friendships.”

    I gotta remember this! 😀

  28. This is great piece of content, Neil!

    I totally agree with you. Blogging is all about giving value to other people. It’s giving them information they need to know.

    Cheers,
    Niño Natividad of RichJuan.com

    • Nino, glad I could help. I look forward to hearing much more from you. Let me know if you need any help along the way.

  29. I have seen some blogs who owners write about: the most stupid question that they receive or they say they aren’t a ONG to help for free.

    that’s why admire your humble please don’t change ever. 🙂

  30. Wow…it is fantastic, Neil. I do remember advice. I will cover all of these in my blog very soon :-). I am from Cambodia and I am going to start a blog about travel tips, info, destinations etc in Cambodia and in my neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.

    Thanks for such wonderful content!

    • Sinal, awesome! I think you’ll have a lot to write about in regards to engagement. Let me know if you need any help along the way.

  31. what if you have multiple corporate bloggers? How do you recommend managing that on the side bar?

  32. Hats Off.. Boss.. 🙂 Great Points.. 🙂 Awesome Stuff

  33. Samuel Sofunde :

    Ever great post Neil, what can we do without your insightful contributions

  34. Babyhazelgames :

    Hi Neil,

    You’re a prolific blogger. And your topics are so practical and useful. This one was great.

    Do you have any secrets for producing good quality long posts so quickly?

    Thanks for continuing to produce such helpful articles.

  35. Nick Bentley | Bentley Capital :

    Neil-

    Great post. Been following you a long time and everything you have to share is useful.

    Thanks for the content

  36. Awesome post. very relevant and practical. good reminder for me personally 🙂

  37. Vahid Chaychi :

    Hi Neil,

    I rarely leave a comment, but I follow all your posts religiously. I enjoy reading your posts, because they really help. They are not written to attract some traffic and clicks. They are really written to help people. Your words sit in my heart, because they come out of your heart. You are the man of honesty. You are a blessing by God.

  38. yea totally agreed with you Neil..Great research work 🙂

  39. Wow not only did I enjoy reading your post and about your life I actually find it very insightful. Thanks for sharing Neil. In fact I believe my “About Page” May need a facelift”

    • Julie, glad you found it helpful. I think it’s always good to focus on the about page to make sure it has the most up to date information.

  40. great stuff neil, i like to visit you blog

  41. bisnis tiket pesawat :

    awesome research work neil, thanks for share this very helpful

  42. Joaquin Haukaas :

    Nice post. Its really nice informative for beginners . All in One SEO Resources. Keep it up. 🙂

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