Faster Horses

Jan 7, 2013 | Better Blogging

You’ve heard the advice: Ask people what they want and give it to them. It makes sense, but what if it doesn’t work or doesn’t give you enough information?

That’s what happened when Karin Hurt asked for reader input with her post “Time to Grow: What’s Next for Let’s Grow Leaders.” The response she got is typical.

Most of the responses were not helpful. One reason is that readers only have your existing work as a frame of reference. So they ask you for variations on what you’ve already done.

Karin shared the most helpful response with me. It was long and thoughtful. That response took time to think through and to write. Most readers won’t put in the time. I suspect that there are many readers who say to themselves, “I’ll put this off to when I can think about it” and then never get back to it.

So what can you do? How can you improve your posts if you don’t get much by asking readers what they want?

Answer specific questions. Those questions may show up in email or they may come out of your experience.

Look at other blogs like your blog. Look for topics that generate the most comments. Read the comments. You’ll get some good post ideas.

Talk to some of your subscribers. In conversation, there’s a give and take that will help you learn where the hurt is. You can find out what problems and questions people have that you can help with. Push gently to discover what abstract words like “good” really mean. And listen for the emotion, that’s where the best post ideas come from.