Janet Kobobel Grant
Last week a client who is just beginning to blog asked me how he could improve his work. As I responded to him via email, it occurred to me that each person who blogs has learned certain “tricks” that enable him or her to find and to engage readers. In the spirit of Christmas giving, I thought we could all benefit from sharing something each of us has learned.
I’ve listed some of my tips here. In the comments section, please share some of your savvy advice with the rest of us.
As background, let me tell you a little about my client. He has developed concepts, based on his doctorate in organizational design, that enable a church or ministry to move past the disruptions rampant in our society to create relevant connections within the church, the community, and the world. So his topic could easily tip into talking about abstracts rather than concentrating on how pragmatic his approach is. His blog readers are church and ministry leaders.
Use a gripping title. One of his blog titles was “Systems Give Life to Your Vision.” I proposed “Why Do Visions Fail?” as more enticing.
Takeaway: Think about your blog readers. How can each blog post speak to a felt need or raise an interesting–even controversial issue–in your title?
For example, as you might recall, I recently wrote a blog entitled “What I Wish Publishers Would Do Differently.” I don’t think that’s the best, whiz-bang title I could have come up with, but my point in the post was that publishers sometimes fail readers, and I explored in what ways they do. It probably would have been better if I’d been more straightforward and entitled it, “How Publishers Fail Readers.” Alas, hindsight. Anyway, I was being a teeny bit edgy by criticizing publishers on an agent’s blog. I was grabbing attention.
Ask a question or two at the end of your blog that gives readers an opportunity to engage in a conversation with you and with other readers. As we’ve seen here, a community forms when you invite give-and-take.
Takeaway: Be sure that you respond to everyone who writes a comment. Most commenters are surprised and pleased to find out the person who wrote the blog wants to converse about the subject.
Use tweets and Facebook entries that link to your blog in intriguing ways. Please avoid advertising about your latest blog entry by shouting out, “I have a new blog post.” Yawn. Instead, entice me to your blog. Give me a reason to click on that link. Suggest how the post will meet my felt need or that the post will be of interest to your intended audience.
Takeaway: Know your blog readers well enough to have a sense of the topics and type of writing that will draw them to your latest blog post. If you don’t know who your readers are, ask them what interests them. It’s a conversation!
Add a photo, a chart or some visual to every blog post. Many photos are available for free. Just type “free digital photos” in your Google search and start looking at what’s available.
My client’s topic tends toward the abstract; so I suggested that, to find strong visuals, he create blog posts using analogies in his writing. For example, he could write that changing the “climate” (how participants feel) in worship services can be as easy as adjusting a thermostat. And then show either someone who is hot or a photo of a thermostat. (Pics of people usually are more engaging than of objects, especially when you’re writing about an abstract topic.)
Takeaway: Remember that photos can draw people into your blog. Pick those that are relevant to your topic, might add a touch of humor, or surprise the viewer.
Keep it engaging and fresh. Sometimes you can freshen up your blog and move beyond the expected by creating a vlog (video blog), using your computer’s camera to film. Not a 20-minute presentation, but a few minutes of some attention-grabbing info that would benefit your readers or tell a funny story they would connect with. It would be a very personal way to connect.
Takeaway: Post regularly, but toss in the unpredictable every now and then. A perfect example of this is Rachelle’s blog on six-word memoirs (here). What a great change of pace!
If you take the time to write blog posts, you’ve created the structure to gather folks.Now it’s a matter of providing them ways to engage with you and with each other. Often that starts from their felt needs.
There’s so much I haven’t even mentioned such as frequency of posting, Search Engine Optimization, linking to other blogs, commenting on others’ blogs, conducting interviews of well-known individuals, etc. But now it’s your turn.
What’s worked for you to draw readers to your blog and keep them coming back for more?
Draw readers to your blog–and keep them coming back. Click to tweet.
How to find readers for your blog. #blogging Click to tweet.