Today I’d like to continue the series on blogging by sharing some simple ways to “hook” your readers.
Why you need your readers’ attention
Let’s take a moment to establish why this is an important goal to have.
First, you probably realize there are a LOT of other blogs out there. Some of these blogs may have similar content or ideas as you. Your readers may be following you on Google Reader, seeing your post title next to hundreds of others. They may be following you on Facebook, where your status update is one of many. Or Twitter. The idea is that people are busy and there is a lot of information out there.
If you are interested in really connecting with your readers and building loyalty to your blog, you’re going to have to find a way to say “here I am! click on my post today!”
Five ideas for “hooking” your readers
I’d like to share five ideas I have for getting readers onto your blog and digging into your content.
1. Write a compelling post title. My goodness, I can’t say enough about this one! Write a boring, non-descript post title and you stand a fair chance of not getting clicked on at all. And yours could’ve been the greatest post known to mankind and no one will know because you gave it a lame title. So let me give you an example of a great post title: I hate the Proverbs 31 woman. What made this post title interesting to me? Well, it was written by my good friend, Melissa, who happens to be a Christian blogger. I immediately wanted to read this post. How could she hate something from the Bible? Would I agree with her? Where exactly was she headed with this? I had to find out, and I found myself clicking on it right away.
In my niche, I find it’s most helpful to title my posts that appeal to my readers’ interest (saving money). I also find the more information I can give (dollars/cents/shipping/etc) in the title, the better chance I have the post to get read. So instead of “great deal on shoes!” I call my post “Today only: 50% off shoes at Crocs with free shipping.” See the difference? The idea here is to title your post something that will “pop” out from the crowd and get your readers onto your content.
2. Create a post series or weekly feature. Give your readers something to look forward to! In reading through the comments left on my Amazon giveaway, I was delighted to see how many of you have enjoyed my Adventures in Produce series or the coupon Christmas story I ran in December. If I hooked you on looking for a post everyday, well, that was part of my evil plan. (Twirls moustache.) In all seriousness, think of what content you could create on a recurring basis. New recipe Thursday? Funny story Tuesday? Places I want to go when I become as rich as Oprah Monday? Be creative. And be consistent.
3. Use great images. I used to poo-poo images and web design. After all, I’m a writer and it’s all about content, right? Content does matter, yes, but don’t forget that reading a blog is a very visual experience. Going back to my friend Melissa’s post, check out the image she selected. It’s a 1950′s style homemaker laughing with her child as she prepares a pie in the kitchen. The image was a great addition to her post, and indicated to me I should expect a very tongue-in-cheek tone. (Seriously, go read her post when you get a few minutes.)
Now you can’t outright steal a photo from another site. I personally like using stock.xchng for photos since you can use them royalty free. I also take many of my own photos. I don’t own a fancy camera (here’s what I own in case you’re curious). I’ve just learned how to make the most of the settings on my camera. I also had a photographer bud of mine give me some tips on composition and lighting. Even if you aren’t a photographer type, learning a few tricks can make a huge difference!
4. Keep ‘em guessing. I am a huge believer in keeping things spicy. By that I mean doing things a little different from time to time. Am I a coupon blogger? Absolutely! Is it my mission to help you save using coupons? You betcha! But if all I did day in and day out was write deal after deal after deal, I’d get bored and I’m guessing you would, too. I like doing things that are sometimes unexpected for my blog or my niche (like the time I wrote about the time I forgot about the box of leftovers propped up on my car or the deal I found on a NASA space shuttle). I believe there should always be an element of the unexpected. Something that makes your readers wonder what they will find next. What can you do to make your site memorable, fun, or different?
5. Creating helpful content. It really does come back to this, doesn’t it? You know what the #1 most visited feature on my site is? If you guessed the free Savings Tracker download, you’d be absolutely correct. It occurred to me last year, hey, maybe I should charge money for this. After all, it’s popular and I spent a lot of time on it. But I quickly decided against that. What I decided was more important than making a quick buck was finding ways to attract new readers and deepen connections with the ones that have been following me all along.
Put time into creating really helpful content on your site. I can’t stress this enough. This could be any number of things: tutorials, downloads, videos, posts. Then once you’ve found something that has resonated with your readers, find subtle ways to play it up. Talk about it. Make a button for your sidebar. (Just don’t annoy your readers, please.) For some blogs, being helpful might mean being entertaining as all get out. Great! Then create a list of “best of” posts in your sidebar. Determine which posts have received the most comments, tweets, or traffic and put them prominently on your blog. Make them “sticky.”
I would love to hear from you. What other things have you done to engage your readers? What things have you seen other bloggers do that have worked for them? If you are a reader of blogs, I’d love your opinions, too!
Other posts in this series, in case you missed ‘em:
- Five questions you should ask before starting a blog
- Seven qualities of winning blogs
- Creating a mission statement and values for your blog
- Making inroads with other bloggers
- Growing your blog
“Traffic” image credit Przemek Baginski