Can you Answer This Essential Blogging Question?

    blogging question - question marks

    When you sit down to write a blog post, do you ask yourself ‘how can I help my readers today?’

    This might seem obvious to some, but it’s not really apparent to many bloggers. I can’t count how many times I’ve read a blog post that obviously took a different route, or how many times I’ve read blogs about blogging that encourage people to ask different questions.

    Other questions that bloggers commonly ask, but that they shouldn’t concern themselves with as much, include:

    • How can I make more money with this blog?
    • How can I get popular on facebook or quora?
    • How can I get 10,000 subscribers?
    • How can I make a name for myself?
    • How can I promote my product or service?
    • How can I show off how great I am to my readers?
    • How can I get rich?
    • How can I write a post today, just so that I can say I did a post?

    There are many more questions, but you can see my point — none of those should matter, ultimately. All that matters: how you can help your readers.

    Why is this so important? Because readers come to your site not because they want to help you reach 10K readers, or buy your product, or read about how great you are … but for their own reasons. They might want to get fit and in shape, they might want to learn to be a better writer, they might want to be a better parent, a better worker, a better person … or maybe they just go to laugh or be entertained or be informed. Figure out what those reasons are, why people come to your site, what they’re looking for.

    When you help others, it’ll come back to you. It’ll help you, in the long run. That’s not the only reason to help others, but it’s a nice side benefit. Look: when you help your readers, they will keep coming back. They’ll share it with friends because they want to help their friends. They will share it on their blogs or on Twitter, because it’ll help their readers too. They’ll bookmark it on delicious, because it’s so useful they’ll need it later. Helping your readers will help you achieve other goals … but you have to ask yourself how you can help them first.

    And there are millions of answers to that question, that will be answer differently by each of us. Just a few ways you can help your readers … remember, these are just a few:

    • Show them how to do something they’ve always wanted to do.
    • Show them what mistakes they might be making.
    • Ask them a thought-provoking question.
    • Share useful resources.
    • Be entertaining, funny, informative.
    • Show them why they should care about something important.
    • Answer questions they have.
    • Provide inspiration.

    Notice that selling them something, promoting something of yours, promoting yourself … these things aren’t on the list. Help your readers first.

    So, how can you help your readers today?

    About the author

      Leo Babauta

      Leo Babauta is the blogger behind the superblog, Zen Habits, which is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of life.

    • WestOcean says:

      A fascinating post. The great paradox is that everyone wants to be a content creator, but the pressures of modern life mean that few have the time to truly appreciate quality writing. A Luddite might argue that the Internet has devalued information through cheapening access to it and obscuring the concept of “authority” by letting a billion blogs bloom. I prefer to see it as an information reformation – the priestly caste of published authors have been dethroned by the blogger and the tweeter! Hooray!


    • krissy says:

      Answer questions they ask you in your comments section. You can make a blog post from ther comments. Questions in your comments section will be a good indicator of what they are thinking about.

      krissy knox 🙂
      follow me on twitter:

    • Hi Leo,

      Thank you so much for writing this post. This is a message that so many writers need to follow because it truly does make a difference. I am so happy to know that someone of your success advocates this perspective.

    • Leo,

      I’m actually writing on this thoughtline… Well done. Right on writer dad, community first and everything else second. 🙂


    • janice says:

      A life-affirming, uplifting post, Leo. Thank you! I smiled when I read it. Your second list looks like my unwritten manifesto! People listen to your voice, so I’m really glad you shared this here.

    • It’s sort of like a squeeze page or a sales page. Or a rabid dog with one purpose. To shred everything in site with its foaming jowls and yell,

    • Jen Tuzlak says:


      just wana say u make so much sense in everthing you say and your always to the point (not easy to do)! its so nice and refreshing to see…
      keep up the good work.

    • Writer Dad says:

      Beautiful Leo. To the point and right on. The second list will make the first list happen. Blogging is first and foremost about community. Build that, and with the right edge, and everything else will fall into place.

    • RR Jr says:

      Excellent, just what I needed to get started today on my blog – always an inspiration Leo – one of my first reads on the internet. Keep up the great content!

    • Julie M says:

      I am always thinking about my readers. Have you read my blog yet?? They may not always be steps to take or “do this” type advice. But, I share my experiences and hope to provide inspiration. I don’t make money on my blog. I will never be a Problogger or a Zen Habits. And I don’t aspire to. I just want to find a way to make readers feel, “Ah, yes, I have been there. Thanks.”

      Hopefully I can and do.

    • It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own desires as writers, isn’t it? Being useful is a great way to act, in blogging and in life. Thanks for the excellent post. You’ve created another great blog, Leo.

    • This is exactly why some of us love to blog and would do it for free!

      Stumbled and tweeted…


    • Josh Moore says:

      Great post Leo. One thing I have noticed is that this is true not only in blogging, but in every business and all aspects of life.

      I think it was Dale Carnegie who said ‘Talk in terms of the other persons interests’, which is essentially what a blogger wants to do in order to be able to help give readers what they are looking for, while building long-term relationships.

      @ Mary Jaksch: I totally agree. I would further that and say that unless we as bloggers provide readers with the ability to act and/or make a difference in their lives then we are essentially wasting their time, which is not beneficial for either party.

      Thanks again Leo!

    • I love this post, Leo!

      Holding a focus of ‘being insanely useful’ is something I’ve learned through working with you on Write to Done.

      It’s taken me a whole year of blogging to understand that ‘interesting’, or even ‘fascinating’ is not enough. Everything we write needs to be insanely useful.

      Thank you for reminding me of this!

    • Vikum says:

      An excellent post. This is what every blogger should think about. If something provide me value, if something make me feel like coming again, definitely I’m visiting that site again.Those will be the feelings of an average reader like me.Maybe that’s why I’ve used to visit Zen Habits 🙂
      Thanks Leo for sharing.

    • Leo, this is a wonderful way to look at it… and a lot more specific than the usual advice that’s out there: write great content. I love the idea of framing each article around this question. Sounds like a win-win for everyone.


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