It seems like everyone with a keyboard and Wi-Fi is contributing to the already massive number of mediocre blogs out there. If you want to rise above all of the competition, you’ve got to make a concerted effort to connect with visitors. Whether your grandma is your only reader so far or you’re fortunate enough to have a few hundred willing to log on, it’s essential to make sure your content is always fresh and engaging. The minute your site turns stale, your readers will bolt.
Know Your Demo, Know Your Voice
Writing a blog whose content is all over the place can deter readers from sticking around or returning. Stick to your subject matter and know your demographic. That means that you shouldn’t be writing as a twenty-something slacker when you’re running a blog about finance. The more professional you sound the more trust will earn from your readership.
However, if you’re aiming for a casual, observational tone, then by all means throw down the lingo. Knowing the mindset of potential visitors will enable you to engage with your blog’s readers on a personal level that makes them feel akin rather than apart from you. Once you get a visitor feeling like you’re talking to them personally, they'll be hooked.
One of the best ways to keep any demographic engaged is by avoiding or minimally using content written in the first person. It may be warranted now and again (mostly if you are a celebrity blogger or professional in your field) but a majority of readers do not want to be overrun with “I think,” “I want,” “I did.” Writing in the third person will offer the reader a professional, journalistic voice that allows them to feel they can form their own decision about the subject matter rather than be forced to follow yours.
The Draw In
People want to visit a blog that promises something concrete. Whether it’s high quality, thought provoking content or humorous videos that they want to share with friends, finding ‘the draw in’ can make your blog shine like a diamond in the rough. Here are a few ideas on some appealing tactics that just might have visitors scrambling to their ‘bookmark’ tool and “like” button:
- Pose a Question - Many times when a reader is offered a question at the end of a post with a platform to answer, they will be apt to revisit to see other responses as well as their own.
- Guest Post - This can be tricky as you do not want your readers leaving your page to read more of your guest poster’s work. Yet it does show your comfort with bringing other professionals or colleagues onto your platform and opens the door for you to guest post elsewhere. If chosen carefully this can be a win-win for all involved.
- Miscellaneous Fun - Creating clever contests or self-imposed polling platforms can considerably increase visitors. People want to have fun and engaging readers in unique projects that are ‘hands-on’ makes them feel as if they are part of something.
- Social Stream - This should be a no-brainer but your blog must be plugged into every social media outlet available. If you think you are going to ‘draw in’ visitors by word-of-mouth you have another thing coming. Include social media profiles by Tweeting blog snippets and re-Tweeting other admired bloggers; keep your Facebook page updated; Instagram all day long.
There is nothing more engaging than getting a response from someone you admire (or despise). Responding to your visitors’ comments, Tweets or even email is the perfect way to reach out and show your visitors not only that you have something in common with them, but that you actually read what they write. It creates a much more personal environment, even if it is in regards to a particular subject. Be careful, however; never let your emotions take over your keyboard because the minute you lose your temper and engage in potentially aggressive, profanity-ridden exchanges those written words can haunt you forever. Stay professional and positive.
Fix It For ‘em
Consider taking inspiration from the steady success of “how to” books. Dedicating your blog to addressing or solving particular problems can turn it into a very sought-after tool. People are always searching for easy DIY and other ‘how to’ content to make their lives easier or simply to challenge themselves. If you are able to offer tips, advice or instructions in a simple step-by-step format or a well researched, chock-full-of reputable facts layout, it can become a real home run.
Text can be visually cumbersome after a while if you don’t add any engaging visuals. The eyes need a break and if you can include relevant pictures or videos your visitor will appreciate it without even knowing it. Spend a little extra coin and include high quality, appropriate visuals that convey creativity and professionalism. It’s about more than drawing in your reader, it’s letting them know that you value their time enough to go the extra mile and give them the best possible visiting experience.
All it takes is a little intuition and creativity to tap into these strategies for engaging with your blog’s readers. Take some time to step away from your own thoughts and read through your blog as if you were visiting it for the first time. Ask yourself if it’s something you would return to on a regular basis. If you don’t give an enthusiastic ‘yes’ then keep the above tips in mind and start making some positive changes.
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works to help bloggers stay informed about personal finance topics.