How to Make People Love Your Blog
Think back to your days in high school for a moment. Do you remember the popular kids in your class? Why did they always seem to attract the most attention? Were they good looking, funny, smart, athletic, or controversial? Did they offer something unique and buzz-worthy? Whatever they did have to offer, many of the kids in school either wanted it and/or looked up to it.
These same exact principles can be applied to blogging and, more specifically, your blog site. When you are successful at creating a popular blog you really do become the "cool kid on the block."
Making sure your blog's design is fresh and accessible is no different than getting into those name-brand jeans and putting on some lipstick before heading to class. Creating valuable content is just like being the leader of the conversation; the person everyone turns to for the latest gossip. So, how do we mere bloggers ascend to such heights? Well, there are several things you can do to make people love your blog. It does take some hard work and dedication, but after all, it's not easy being the cool kid.
Write With the Internet Reader in Mind
Few people realize how different it is to read text on a digital screen when compared to print. Internet readers behave altogether differently, in fact. For example, Yahoo! performed an eye scan study to see what webpage viewers were looking at most often. The results were fairly predictable:
- The title of an article was heavily viewed.
- Far more clicks were performed "above the fold" (what a visitor saw before they scrolled down a page).
- Readers looked at the main section of an article to decide whether it was interesting.
- Most viewers made the decision to stay or leave within three seconds of visiting the page.
- Some viewers did not have a clear Internet connection, and were more likely to click away if a page was slower to load.
Earlier this year, Lauren Bailey wrote on Web Tech Wise about Blogging for the Internet Reader, recommending that bloggers write compelling titles, keep articles brief, and use breakers like headers, bullets and numbered lists to create white space in content. While good advice, it's just not enough anymore.
There's a reason that titles implying lists (like "Top 10," or "10 Ways You Can") perform so well with readers. We have been conditioned to assume that these articles are short, punchy, and packed full of bulleted information. However, you don't have to make every blog post you write a top list. Rather, you can simply apply some of the basic principles of these articles to your own writing. The top 3 ways to juice up your content for Internet readers are:
- Use other media than the written word liberally (pictures, videos, widgets, infographics), but don't make the images so big that they take up more space than the words around them.
- Put your most important content in the top left corner of the page. You might consider adding a summary of long articles in this section.
- Make each title have three important elements: A target audience, a problem, and a solution. For example, which article sounds more informative and interesting: "How to Save Money on Car Insurance" or "How College Students Can Use Student Loans to Cut Car Insurance Rates"?
Embrace Your Unique Voice
The Internet would be a pretty boring place if there was only one article on each subject. The blogosphere operates on a deeply social level - readers like to connect with the blogger. Remembering your interactions with the popular kids in high school, try to mimic what brought those people all their attention:
- Don't be afraid to talk about your personal life sometimes. I avoided writing in the first person for a very long time, until I realized that (when not overused) it could be a powerful social connection tool.
- Embrace your writing style, not the style you think your audience should have. Write naturally and let your humor, sarcasm, or whatever it is that makes you unique shine through.
- But don't forget about your audience's expectations altogether. Remember that they have their own personalities, and being sarcastic about an issue important to your readers can be a disaster.
- Don't write a rich, scholarly article for every post. Sometimes, readers just want to know what you're doing today. Did you always talk to your friends in high school about the cosmos, life and death, and politics? Probably not. If you really are interested in the topic you blog about (which you should be) you should have something interesting to share about your normal, day-to-day experiences with the topic.
Write Thought Provoking and Valuable Content
One of my favorite quotes is from Lord Alfred Tennyson, who said, "I am a part of all that I have met." I find this quote thought provoking - it reminds me that we are all somehow connected and act as costars or cameo appearances in the thousands of dramas taking place around us. However, there's nothing complicated about that quote - it's really pretty simple. But perhaps that's what makes it so important to me.
Try to accomplish the same in your writing. You don't need to cure cancer to impress medical readers, and you don't need to write a thesis every time you explain how to do something. But your readers will expect you to be a source of information that they can't find elsewhere - a reason to keep coming back to see what you've added.
Blog readers also enjoy content that makes them think, or creates a discussion. Try to present alternate viewpoints to your readers, or new ways of thinking about things. Try to avoid looking at other blogs for ideas too often. The ideas that you generate on your own are often better for your audience.
In the end, almost everyone wants to be popular. But it's not easy. You have to be approachable, friendly, interesting, and confident. It's difficult to keep working on a blog when you haven't built an audience yet - especially if you're working hard to create valuable content. But if you can truly find something unique and valuable to offer an audience, they will find you eventually. In an Internet flooded with poor content and marketing ploys, valuable content doesn't stay hidden for long.