Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

The real reason nobody reads your blog

T-shirt: Nobody Reads Your Stupid BlogTo those of you who have emailed me lately, asking if I have a moment to have a look over your blog and offer some suggestions for improvements, I have to sadly decline. Unless you’re happy to pull out the checkbook. I don’t want that to sound mean, I just want to keep my priorities in order. That said, I do have something very important to say to you…

In fact, this post is dedicated to anyone who is grieving over the fact that after months of intense blogging (the massive effort of concentration, the lost hours of sleep, the painstaking search for the ideal accompanying picture, the link-building work and slice after slice of cold pizza…), after all that effort, the stats keep telling you that no-one is coming. There’s just nobody out there!

And you’re left asking yourself what on earth could the success formula be, that explains the meteoric rise of a (seemingly) lucky lucky few, and the slow realization of the great majority… that they’re going absolutely nowhere.

(I can imagine the pained strains of a Wagnerian requiem in the background as I write this!)

Well fellow try-hard bloggers, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s the real reason why nobody reads your blog:

  • it’s not the content, assuming your writing good meaty stuff;
  • it’s not the inbound links, assuming been diligently submitting links back to your blog here and there and everywhere;
  • it’s not the consistency, assuming you write a half-decent blog post more or less every 36 hours;
  • it’s not the readability, assuming your blog doesn’t have red text on a black background;
  • and it’s probably not the SEO, assuming your blog is not extraordinarily badly constructed and promoted…

No, it’s probably none of those things, the things most people blogging about blogging carry on about endlessly.

The real reason why nobody reads your blog is this: massively successful blogging is about establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. It’s all about who you know. Really!

Here’s the guy who (I think) makes a perfect case in point…

Tony Hung’s First Fifty Days

Now, compare your first 50 days of blogging to Tony Hung’s. Tony has had a stellar rise to fame in tech blogging circles. He’s the Assistant Editor over at The Blog Herald, he’s a B5 Media blogger who took over from Darren Rowse in the hotseat over at ProBlogger earlier this month, and he blogs prolifically and insightfully on his own blog at Deep Jive Interests. (If you read my blog you need to be reading his blog as well. Good complimentary content.)

In mid-September last year, after 50 days of blogging, Tony wrote a summary post covering the highlights of that first month-and-a-half-or-so of blogging. Because I’m making such a point of analyzing what he writes I am reproducing all 21 points he makes here:

Ok. Read through all that? Now, read it again and identify how many of those bullet points have nothing to do with other people. Read it again.

Now, there is no doubt Tony is a great writer. No doubt at all. But I have a question: did all these people just find his blog, fall in love with his writing, start spontaneously showing him with awards, and invite him to join their networks? Is that what happened?

What proactive steps did Tony take, by way of an initial approach in their direction? Whatever the answer to that question, I want to highlight a general principle, which is key: that your big early successes as a blogger — the successes which will dramatically drive up your traffic levels and bring in a lot of “organic” inbound links — will come from the efforts you make to get to know the A-league bloggers in your niche, and the subsequent referrals to your blog coming from them.

Alister Cameron’s First 30 Days

My first month of aggressive niche blogging is recounted in a previous post, but I want to go back there to reinforce this principle of relationships again.

Chances are you would never have found my blog or be reading it now, were it not for the ton of inbound links I have received over the last month. These links mean that there are more and more people talking about and linking to my site (to various posts, not just the front page), but where did it start?

Well, I started by writing really meaty posts that had link-bait written all over them. And link-bait posts are fine as long as they’re legitimately of value to your readers. But from day one, behind the scenes I started:

  1. dropping emails to a select few high-profile bloggers in my niche, inviting them to consider if my post might be of relevance to their readership. Never an explicit request for a link. Never. Never a request for feedback (I assume they don’t have the time… and who am I to them, anyway?);
  2. surfing the big blogs in my niche, looking for opportunities to add comments that gave me a legitimate (non-spammy) reason to add a link back to my post.

What happened? Well, some of these guru-type guys liked what I wrote enough to link to me. Not a whole post dedicated to me, but a “speedlink” or a mention at the end of another post, maybe. Or they saw the link in my comment under one of their posts, and thought enough of the post of mine to link to it in a subsequent post of their own.

I can assure you, my emails and comments are always carefully worded. For example: I posted this comment to Gord Hotchkiss‘ blog regarding SEM Search:

Hi Gord. I took Lee’s list and created a Google-powered search engine out of it. Initially, for my own purposes but then I realised it probably had value to others:

I will be keeping the list of indexed sites up-to-date with Lee’s list. The cool thing, from my point of view, and the reason I created this, is that the RSS feeds are blog-only content, yet these blogs are often components of wesites that have a lot more good stuff on them and I wanted to be able to search “it all” in one hit.

Hence the “Search Engine Marketing Search Engine”!

Gord “took the bait”, followed the link, liked what he saw, and wrote this post a couple of days later:

Don’t you love one-up-manship?

I posted earlier about Lee Odden’s must read search blog list. Now, Allister Cameron has turned it into a search engine, complete with code you can cut and paste on your own site. Pretty cool. It searches the content of all the sites Lee included on his list.

Now, given the audience, will we become obsessed with improving our own rankings on this niche engine?

Every time I post something half decent, I go looking for places to drop comments, gurus to email, etc. I’m not obsessive about it and I’m careful not to hammer any individual person, but I am consistent and determined. Why? Because I know the future of this blog is entirely dependent on qualified traffic, and by far the easiest and best way to get it is via a referral from a guru blogger in whatever my niche is.

So here are some question you must ask yourself, and get really creative about answering:

  • Who are the guru bloggers in your niche? List them. Bookmark them. Have them all in your feed-reader.
  • Write posts that link to them all (eventually). They will see the trackbacks. Yes, they will! So you’d better say something insightful 🙂
  • Comment on their posts. A good comment on a heavily-trafficked guru blog will easily generate you more traffic than a post of your own. Think about that! So, if it makes sense, don’t just rely on the link under your name, but drop a link into the comment itself to a relevant post on your site.
  • Ask yourself how you could serve a guru blogger. What do they need? Offer them help of some kind. They just might take you up on it.
  • Go to the same conferences and events they go to. Be ready to say something better than “Hi, I really like your blog” when you meet them. And definitely meet them; don’t just stand at a distance. Network network network.
  • If an A-league blogger lives near you, ask him/her if there is a local blogger meeting they attend, or a place they hang out where informally they’d be happy to meet you. Some have coffee shops where they go to blog and are happy to have you rock up for a drink and a chat. Ask first.
  • If you’re up for it and you can be very specific about your area of interest, ask to interview someone. You’ll want to have had some sort of interaction with them before that, but why not give it a try? The worst they can do it say no.
  • There’s more… I’ll keep thinking about it…

Are you hearing me? It’s about relationships. We are humans… we’re created to relate. You MUST get past the fact that all your blogging happens on a computer, to realize that it’s just people, really! If you’re a hermit and you can’t relate to people, you’re going to be in trouble.

Follow the Trust Meme Links

Have you noticed the trust meme going around at the moment? It’s an absolutely BRILLIANT game/meme because it lets you and me get behind the top blogs to the people themselves, and to the most important connections between the A-listers. So you wanna know who the guru bloggers are in the SEM/SEO/SMO area? Follow the trust links

Start here. Map it all out on a piece of paper. Research the people if you’ve never heard of them. Understand that what you have here is the top SEO guys telling you who their most important relationships are. Gold!

The Inestimable Value of a Picture

I’ve mentioned the guy putting together the 2000 Bloggers photo-wall. I don’t know how popular his project will get, but if it travels all over the blogosphere, I won’t be surprised. Why? Because he’s got the same secret ingredient that makes MyBlogLog so addictive: people’s faces.

I don’t fully understand it myself, but I know that there is something about seeing another person’s face that gives their blog immediate warmth, credibility, approachability, etc. We can see so much in a person’s face and it makes it so much easier for you as a blogger to build a “rapport” with your readership when they’ve seen you. It just does.

So, if you don’t have your face on your blog, do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t look like a supermodel, it matters that you are revealing yourself from behind the relative “inhumanity” of a webpage. There is a reason why most of the top bloggers have pictures of themselves. There’s a reason why 99% of social networks invite you to upload a picture of yourself as part of the sign-up process.

Your Story

How has the “relational dynamic” helped you grow your blog? How have you gone about building relationships with A-league bloggers in your niche? Don’t tell the story in the comments here. Instead, write a blog post about it, then come and comment here briefly, with a link back to your post. I’ll write a “highlights” post in due course. This is your chance to back me up on my thesis!

Over to you…


  1. Jan. 24, 2007 – I should do better research before I post! There’s a great series of posts over at ProBlogger (of course there is!) about this subject of blogging and relationships. You need to go over there and check it out, as it rounds this topic off really well…
  2. Jan. 24, 2007 – Also found a nice piece by Liz Strauss talking about the relational aspect. Great post, Liz. A completely different take on it, which is great.

blogging, link-bait, linking, seo, sep, smo, relationships, guru bloggers, darren rowse, tony hung, deep jive interests, link building, blog marketing


Note: Commenter website links are not no-followed, in case
you were wondering... I believe in rewarding commenters!

  1. Posted 14 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Very nice and in depth post.

    I think it is very beneficial for many people whose dream of becoming super blogger goes nowhere.

  2. Posted 14 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    Wow! I am so glad I stumbled onto your blog! You have so much great information here.

    I have grown my blog significantly over the last month and half, but it’s not easy on the promotion end. It takes a lot of time. I’m hoping to find some efficiencies in this area.

    And I also want to put some energy into making the blog more attractive. If anyone stops by my blog, please feel free to give me a critique and I’ll stop by yours to do the same if you’d like.
    Best regards to all.

  3. Posted 14 years, 1 month ago // Permalink

    I think you need this way if you don’t have you own particualr theme and area of interests. Otherwise Google optimisation will bring you enough of traffic.

  4. Posted 13 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    I think the mistake I made was not actually choosing a niche or topic.
    Still, I might add a picture like you suggest… maybe someone will actually care about what I think if they can see how haggard and unkempt I look.
    Pity reads for the win.

  5. Posted 12 years, 10 months ago // Permalink

    Commenting formed the backbone of my growth strategy. In addition to the backlinks it generated, I formed real relationships with the folks I was exchanging comments with. This led directly to work requests, invitations to join networks (I was one of the very first members in, national TV interviews, and more.

    I'm not bragging here. Rather I'm underscoring the importance on relationship in building a blog's success.

    Success of course means different things, according to your own goals. In the case of a service provider like myself, success means targeted traffic, not mass numbers. While relationships can certainly create traffic, I find that the real strength of building a blog this way is in the quality of that traffic, rather than its total size.

  6. Posted 11 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    I truly enjoyed and learned a lot from your detailed article. I appreciate the fact that you pointed out each and every single point that bloggers like me sometimes put in a lesser priority. Thanks for an eye opening article. I appreciate it. Thanks

  7. Posted 11 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    no problem.i read your blog.

  8. Posted 10 years, 9 months ago // Permalink

    I don’t think most bloggers care about who reads their blog. For me it is just a platform to express my thoughts and frustrations. Heck, the lesser people know about it the better.

  9. Posted 10 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I have gone down the track of getting high profile clients on for free (but keep that a secret) to help build my brand initially.

    Once you gain momentum you can then look at converting them.

  10. Posted 10 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I am just getting started with blogging and plan to read yours regularly. I need to network more as this article makes clear. If I put some time into writing, that would help of course.

  11. Posted 10 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    Too words “who cares”? is it really a persons “main” objective to get notice when he/she blogs? Not me. I just do it for fun.

    Complaining about “sniff sniff” no one reads my blogs” is pathetic. Get out there in the world and do something for yourself. Life isn’t just on the internet. Enouh said.

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  3. […] Probably the most important thing to remember about blogging is this: “… massively successful blogging is about establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial rela…“ […]

  4. […] Probably the most important thing to remember about blogging is this: “… massively successful blogging is about establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial rela…“ […]

  5. […] Probably the most important thing to remember about blogging is this: “… massively successful blogging is about establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relation…“ […]

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