Blogging series: Five Ideas for “hooking” your readers

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:

“Traffic” image credit Przemek Baginski


Comments

  1. says

    This is a newbie question I’m sure, but if I’m writing a post about, let’s say, the children’s museum, can I use their logo or a picture from their site? This seems to be standard on other blogs, but now I’m not sure if it’s really o.k.

    In terms of hooking readers, one thing I’ll add is that I get hooked on blogs if I know they’re updated often, or at least on a regular schedule. I’ve found some great blogs over the years that I’ve quit reading because I never knew when they would have anything new, and eventually they just kind of fell off my radar.

    I definitely agree with your other points, and I know exactly who the Proverbs woman is….heading over to Melissa’s site now!

    • arussell says

      Great question!! From everything I’ve read it’s OK to use a very basic product or logo image in a post. Where I personally would NOT use a logo? Let’s say I’m ranting about a company or saying something negative about their brand. In that instance, I may be less inclined to use the image. For some of my affiliates (think Eversave, Restaurant.com, etc), they may provide specific images or banners I can use. And other times, I may just take screenshots of my computer screen for images (for instance to illustrate the checkout process). If the picture looks like someone took it (for instance, someone’s picture of their huggies shopping trip vs the huggies logo), I don’t use it. I hope that clears things up a bit?

      Great point on consistency too. In my niche, we post quite frequently. I usually post about 4-6 times a day. In your niche, once or twice a week may be the norm. The idea is to set a course and be consistent. This is another great reason to do a weekly feature. If folks know you’ll be vlogging each Tuesday or writing about some controversal parenting issue each Thursday, this will help hugely. And WHATEVER you do, for the love of everything that’s good in this world, do not, I repeat DO NOT write a post apologizing for not writing. No one wants to read that dribble! They are awkward to read. (You know these posts…”I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile….”)

    • says

      Just wanted to add…piggybacking on what Ang said…a lot of sides have “media” pages, where you can snag a photo to “embed” in your post. Obviously, those companies want you to use their images.

      I’m not sure what Ang thinks of this idea, but I know a lot of bloggers in my niche only post on average 3x/week and they say this in their about page. I’ve only visited your page a few times, but I was wonderin if you’ve ever thought of doing some kind of calendar so folks could quickly see what was already posted? It could have hyperlinks to the posts. Just a thought. :) Good luck!

  2. says

    Wow! Thanks for the mention, Angela. :) That post was fun to write. Actually, I think that’s a huge part of catching readers…enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re bored by your content then chances are others will be also. Can I tell you again how much I’m enjoying this series?

  3. says

    This has been so helpful for me! Now, I need to ponder this…and I need to think of some helpful stuff I can offer…

    And thanks for the hint about stock.xchng — I wasn’t familiar with that!

  4. says

    Ang, you kinda touched on this in another post, but I was wondering if you have advice for how to write a sticky post. I think this is another way to hook readers-by getting them to read more than just your post for that specific day.

    You said before that winning blogs “link internally to other things they’ve written.” Just wondering how you go about linking internally-how do you know which posts relate to your current post? For you, this may not be as arduous to just look at all posts for Walgreen’s or Point Defiance Zoo. But, if I’m wanting to link back to “ideas” in other posts, how do I remember what posts have these ideas? Does this question make any sense?

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