Why Answering This One Simple Question Will Get Your Blog Read By More People

Friedrich Nietzche once said:

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”

And today, I’d like to rephrase this quote for all those who’ve asked me how to increase their blog readership:

“He who has a why to blog for can bear with almost any how.”

You see, when I started blogging–before I asked how to increase my blog’s traffic–I asked myself this question first:

Why?

Believe it or not, it was the answer to this question that has led to my blog’s exponential growth.

I know. The question is so simple, right?

But I promise you that it’s answering this question that will lead to your blog’s success as well.

The Story of The Farmer And Her 201 Chicken Eggs

Let me tell you a little story to explain what I mean:

There was once a farmer who wanted to produce 201 chicken eggs.

So, the farmer started asking around:

“How can I make 201 chicken eggs?”

Sooner or later, the farmer ran into the best experts in the business who told her exactly how to make 201 chicken eggs.

“Get exactly 201 chickens,” the experts said, “make sure they’re all a foot tall and weigh five pounds. Make sure the chicken’s feathers are dark brown and really soft. Make sure you get a rounded chicken coop, and make sure it’s at least twenty feet high and twenty feet deep. Make sure the chickens are three feet apart from each other, and make sure to feed the chickens cornmeal. Make sure to the temperature is always at seventy-five degrees, and give the chickens water at least four times a day. Finally, make sure to check in on the chickens at seven in the morning, three o’clock in the afternoon, and then again just before sunset.”

After she receiving all this great advice, the farmer nodded and then went straight to work.

But even from the very start, the farmer ignored most of the advice given to her: she half-heartedly picked from the chickens that were available for purchase (she didn’t even pay attention to their color or texture). She forgot to put the chickens in chicken coops and instead put them in her attic. Instead of feeding the chickens the food the experts recommended, she feed them leftovers from her kitchen. She kept the attic at a freezing cold temperature, against the recommendations of the experts, because she liked it that way. She gave the chickens too much water, and there were some days when she completely forgot to check in on them.

Finally, after all of this, the farmer was dismayed to find that only one chicken egg was produced.

“What happened?” the farmer asked herself. “The experts told me how to do this. But how did I still get it wrong?”

The farmer went to bed that night feeling troubled.

Then, the next morning, a wise sage and his 199 followers came to visit the farmer at her home.

The farmer apologized to the sage because all she had was one egg to feed him and his followers.

The wise sage seemed very surprised by this and asked:

“Why?”

The farmer was puzzled. She said:

“I don’t know why. I listened to all the best experts but I was still only able to produce one chicken egg.”

The sage asked her again:

“Why?”

Again the farmer was puzzled. She said:

“Well, I had a lot of rules to follow, and I just couldn’t keep track of them all. The process was so overwhelming and exhausting and there were days when I just wanted to give up. It was really difficult.”

The sage asked:

“Why?”

The farmer was stunned by the sage’s persistent question. She said:

“Well, to be honest, it was so difficult because I didn’t know who the eggs were for. I mean, if I had known that you and your 199 followers were coming, I would have been more motivated to do what I had to do in order to make sure my chickens produced 201 eggs. Hmm. I guess I’m just going to have start this process all over again with you and your followers in mind.”

Finally, the wise sage smiled, rubbed his belly and said: “How?”

Before You Ask “How?” First Ask Yourself “Why?”

The story about the farmer and her chicken eggs teaches us an important lesson about blogging.

It teaches us that before we ask how to produce something we must first ask why we are producing it. The answer to the why question gives us motivation, and that motivation pushes us to exert the effort required to produce the results we want.

For instance, in the story I told you, if the farmer had known she was producing the chicken eggs for the wise sage and his followers, she would have followed the advice of the experts more closely, and would have been more effective. But because the farmer didn’t know why she was producing the eggs in the first place, she wasn’t able to be successful at it–even though she had received the how from the experts.

So, for those of you who want more blog readers, I ask you:

Why are you starting your blog? Why are you keeping it up? Why do you care about blogging? Why do you want to be a blogger? And, finally: why is it so important that your blog get more readers?

When you sit down and seriously ask yourself why you might find answers like these:

  • Because I want to make people realize that being a writer is who you are, not what you do.
  • Because I want to inspire, motivate, and “unblock” writers so that they can follow their passion with greater ease.
  • Because I want to help people live happier and fuller lives.
  • Because I want to make people realize that you can’t solve all of your problems with just your mind—you need a more holistic approach to life that utilizes your spirit intelligence, your emotional intelligence, your community intelligence, and your physical intelligence in order to overcome life’s toughest challenges.
  • Because I want to be a symbol of hope, love, optimism, comfort, and guidance in a world seemingly filled with so much hate, cynicism, neglect, greediness, and selfishness.

If you couldn’t already tell, the above answers are the answers to my why.

These are answers that have led to my blog’s exponential growth.

So, if you want your blog to be read by more people, ask yourself why first before you ask yourself how

You may surprised to find that, in the end, the answer to your why will help you bear with almost any how.

much love,

Ollin

Why do you want your blog read by more people? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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46 comments on “Why Answering This One Simple Question Will Get Your Blog Read By More People

  1. Nancy says:

    This post was so moving I had to read the Why list three times to fully absorb the whole truth of it. Now I’m motivated to share it with my students.

  2. inkspeare says:

    This is such an inspirational post and with such valuable advice. The other day, I asked myself a similar question. I was keeping two blogs on different sites. One was of a more personal tone, about my projects, green living … and the other one was more related to my work, which is the blog I keep here. Then, I realize that it did not make sense for me to keep to separate blogs since I finally understood that my work was my life and my life was my work. I decided to mesh them both and ended selecting Inkspeare as my only blogging platform, while importing the other blog’s content into it. This put a stop to the separation between my passion and my life. That made a big difference on how I feel about blogging now.

  3. Christina says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful, meaningful post Ollin:)

    It shows that we have to go beyond platform-building to get readers who will buy products or e-books or whatever and find the personal joy behind blogging.

    I also loved your post at Jane Friedman’s blog!

  4. Mara Rose says:

    Ollin,

    Your why’s are beautiful. I too have read them several times. Lovely, inspirational writing. Thank you.

  5. Rob F. says:

    This is some good timing, Ollin. I’ve been setting up a new blog and thinking about how I’m going to create content for it – which, of course, led me to, what sort of content do I want to create? Why am I about gettign 201 eggs laid?

    Funnily enough, I’m tackling that writing exercise where you write your own obituary. Because of that I’m really thinking about what I want to do with my life while I still have it. What do I want to be remembered for?

    Anyway, I’ll see about answering your “Why?” questions in a blog post of my own. Thanks for posting them! And the whole post – the fable is great!

  6. Simon says:

    Ollin,
    You put words together in a very powerful way!
    I have answers to my “why” and “how”, my challenge is the audience. I am trying to reach an audience in Kenya while also trying to reach another audience in the US with the same blog. How can I achieve my objective?

    Respect.

  7. facingmyfear says:

    Good story….

    Why do I want more readers? Not necessarily more.. but perhaps a particular audience? I’m writing to share a new and frightening experience and writing about it helps me clear my head, clear my thoughts and lets my closes family respond and encourage me.

    If this can help me, and I can journal my experiences, fears, and each stage of my journey to get “better”… perhaps I can also help someone else who may be going through the same thing I am.

    I know I am not alone. So hoping if one person reads my blog, but it doesn’t relate to them, perhaps they know someone to whom it does relate to and can pass it on.

    Thanks for this story….

  8. cplangford says:

    What great advice, and advice that’s applicable beyond the blogosphere (but I suppose that’s the point of your blog–one of your why’s–that everything is interwoven).

    • Ollin says:

      You got it. Every post on the C2C is deeper than it seems. That’s an answer to one of my why’s and it’s also what has made me successful. Smart of you to point that out!

  9. I’m not positive this is absolutely right, Ollin. I usually agree with what you write, but this time, I’m not sure that answering the question of “why” will get a person more readers.

    I’m speaking about myself here, of course. There are people to whom I’m sure the “why” question is very pertinent, because maybe they haven’t actually figured out the reason for wanting to blog quite yet. But I’ve answered my “why” long ago – I blog because I want to practice my writing, receive input on it, communicate with other writers, and spread my love for reading, writing and stories in general. This doesn’t get me a big readership, because I’ve found that people often don’t want to read fiction in blogs. They want to read anecdotes, real life experiences, inspirational posts – all those are very valid, but they’re not the sort of thing I often blog about. Sure, I mix it up and try to post some interesting stuff about my life, but it doesn’t get me anymore readers. Maybe my writing isn’t good enough yet, maybe my anecdotes aren’t interesting, or maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself for no good reason because while I have a small readership, much of it is very loyal and I’ve made some friends around here with whom I feel that I share a kind of community.

    • Ollin says:

      Why do you want more readers then?😉

      • Because every writer wants more readers. I also wrote above why I want more readers.

        Ollin – I hope you didn’t take offense at what I wrote, because that was seriously not what was intended.

        • Ollin says:

          No worries.

          I was simply asking you why you wanted MORE readers.

          You said you have readers already, and you said the reason you blog was to share you work with others. You have accomplished this, have you not?

          So there is no need to have more readers than you currently have.

          So that’s why I asked you, why do you want MORE readers?

          • Hmm. I see what you mean. I suppose I want more readers because I want to share my stories with more people. But maybe it’s just a stupid ego game – wanting to be “famous” on the blogosphere or something like that. I don’t know. Will give it a think.

            • Ollin says:

              Pay close attention to the part of the story where the farmer realizes that she has only made enough eggs to cover herself: which is one. I would argue that you aren’t playing an ego game or trying to get famous (but then again the only person who could answer that is you) but I would argue that you have accomplished what you set out to do.

              You have the exact amount of readers you need fro what your goal was. If you want more, yes, you’ll have to ask yourself why? I think that there is a good reason that you want more readers–a reason that does not have to do with your ego or fame. What I’m trying to get you do to is find that reason.

              Maybe you need to go deep into the question: why is sharing stories so important to you? to the world? why does this process need to be widely read? etc.

              I’m not saying your why is wrong or anything–I’m saying that it’s not fleshed out yet.

              Just so you know si, I think you are very talented and do deserve more readership. Please know I’m trying to help you get there by being a little hard on you.😉 Good luck to you!

  10. Great advice Ollin. I am not quite sure why I blog, though I at least know now what I do not WANT to do. For example, posts about writing: There are many others out there who are brilliant at that, and I leave that to them. When I tried writing posts about writing, I got bored quite quickly because I am not a “teacher” type of person.

    It is only when you find your “niche” that you finally feel comfortable…I’m still searching for mine…

    I think I would prefer to entertain people in some way, but that’s all I’ve been able to figure out…but it’s okay, it will come to me eventually🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Of course it will. Journaling has helped me sort things out. I write in my journal everyday. Maybe you can ask yourself in the journal and see what you find? Good luck.

  11. […] wrote in yesterday’s blog draft that Ollin Morales’ post asking why I blog was pretty good timing. Now I reckon I had no idea just what good timing it […]

  12. JennaBrooke says:

    I blog because I want to put a smile on someone’s face every day. I want to spread inspiration. I want someone to look at one of my posts and be inspired to write, draw, accessorize, photograph… create.

    As always, another moving post.

    JennaBrooke
    http://www.JUSTsomethingspecial.com

  13. I love the photo Ollin and your post as well. You’ve got to the crux of the whole matter – motivation. Your motivation comes through in your writing, as will ours, and it’s good to be reminded to think about it. I think the magic ingredient is caring more about your readers needs than your own. People respond to being cared for and we all want more of it, so we keep coming back.

  14. Great story! And great point! I think there’s another factor added to the mix of your success: you have a special energy.🙂

  15. […] to understand why I blog. I read this great article a couple of days ago and it resonated with me. Ollin Morales quotes Nietsche and then goes on to explain how it applies to blogging: “He who has a why to live […]

  16. Great advice. Though I might boil it all down to “I wanted to get writing again”, you’re completely right that that doesn’t fully explain why I care how many people read me or how many comments I get. There is more to it and it’s useful to unbury that. Thank you.

  17. Heidi Angell says:

    A wonderful article and reminiscent of a discussion my brother and I had recently. I started my blog at http://anangellslife.blogspot.com back in February. I am a writer and I wanted to share some of the insights I am learning about the publishing world as I am getting my first book published. I also had hopes of building my platform so when my book got published it would sell better. My brother decided in May to start a blog about fish when he heard that I was getting my first Adsense check. (It was a REALLY small check!!) He decided to go with fish because it was something he had as a hobby and it got A LOT of hits daily. He was convinced that I won’t make money with such a niche topic as creative writing. He “did all the research” and wrote every day as was told. He kicked butt for a month or so and was getting 1,000 hits a day to my measly 100. But when there was no check in the first month from his Adsense his site began to languish. He hasn’t written in over a month and I am still at it. I don’t expect to get rich from blogging (I expect that to happen from my books😉 ) I do what I do because my primary motivation was to help other writers. I am building my platform slowly but surely. And I make a little extra money on the side. I’m meeting my whys!

  18. […] week, I told you that if you wanted to get more readers to follow your blog, you should ask yourself why first. My argument was that if you found the answer to your why the how would come to you very […]

  19. Chris Rg says:

    Thanks again Ollin for being my symbol of hope, love, optimism, comfort, and guidance, love reading your articles as they always give me insiration, so i’m off to buy some chickens now, thanks again x

  20. Gargi Mehra says:

    Great post as usual. This is one that will have me thinking for some time about my Whys.

  21. How can I thank you for this timely post? So, so glad I read it – even though a few days late. I will never forget this story.
    Blessings,
    Debi

  22. clarbojahn says:

    I started blogging when told I needed to go on a blog tour for my children’s book. Now I need a platform but I don’t like sticking to my niche.

    I learn a lot from you. You are indeed an inspiration. And yes. Life does get in the way of writing- and blogging. Do you have a secret that would keep it from doing that?

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