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Engaging Readers

Blog Content Ideas

If you are blogging for a purpose it is not enough just to attract attention, we need things to happen as a consequence. That means at least providing the right content to the right people.

As I have said many times before, while many people are looking for “traffic”, you can often be more successful with a smaller audience.

One of the challenges we face when launching a new blog is what our theme or subject should be. What will attract a good audience for what we have to offer?

The simple answer is to follow the diagram at the top of this page

  1. Find out what readers want to know
  2. Narrow it down to what you can credibly provide
  3. Provide it
  4. ??
  5. Profit

It can be that simple, but to be truly successful, and to really stand out from the crowd, and actually achieve the goals you set out, you need to do more.

What is that missing element? Engagement.

What is Engagement?

I was going to say “not in the marriage sense” but actually that’s not a bad way of looking at it. You want your audience to stay with you in a relationship for the long haul, not be casual here today gone tomorrow flings!

Most blogs, in fact most websites, have that hit-and-bounce-away effect. We need to create an environment where people want to stay around.

Attract attention, employ occupy (person, powers, thought). Emotional involvement or commitment
— Oxford Illustrated Dictionary.

the act of sharing in the activities of a group; “the teacher tried to increase his students’ engagement in class activities”
— Princeton.edu

Engagement is simply the elements of your blog that cause readers to be more involved:

  1. Motivation – Rather than talk to “interest”, can you answer a real need?
  2. Attraction – While traffic isn’t the only answer of course it is part of the mix
  3. Incentive – What do the visitors expect to receive in return for giving you that attention?
  4. Encouragement – How well do you get your readers involved?
  5. Interaction – Is the blog a two-way discussion or a one person soap box?
  6. Value – Are you providing real and original value?
  7. Community – Do people feel a part of something?
  8. Loyalty – Is there a willingness to return repeatedly or even bring friends?
  9. Connection – How much of a connection do people feel with you?
  10. Experience – Most important, is frequenting your blog a positive and rewarding experience?

If you can answer all of those ten points positively and confidently you are onto a winner. Otherwise you need to work on developing your blog into a better culture. Blog culture begins with you and it requires you to be

  • Present
  • Involved
  • Interested
  • Open

It’s about putting yourself into your blog and not seeing it purely as a cash delivery device but as a way to interact with your audience and provide them with what you promise. It’s about valuing and respecting your reader.

When you succeed in creating a valuable, interactive, welcoming resource that meets your readers real needs that is when you create an engaged and loyal community.

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Comments

  1. Engagement is a lot harder than attracting traffic. You must listen to your readers and pick up on their concerns, questions, and even motives for being on your site.

    All of this isn’t easy. But if you want people to return and remain loyal to your blog then it is certainly necessary.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  2. Engagement is a lot harder than attracting traffic. You must listen to your readers and pick up on their concerns, questions, and even motives for being on your site.

    All of this isn’t easy. But if you want people to return and remain loyal to your blog then it is certainly necessary.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  3. Yup, the best idea is to START with your audience, rather than twist and tweak your approach later, if you start and continue with your reader in mind the road is far easier.

  4. Yup, the best idea is to START with your audience, rather than twist and tweak your approach later, if you start and continue with your reader in mind the road is far easier.

  5. While this is something I feel like I already know, you’ve laid it out really well as a great reminder. As The Masked Millionaire said, it’s the engagement that’s hard. But the fresh content of giving reader’s what they want make all worthwhile.

    Thanks for the reminder Chris, I really seemed to have needed it today and now feel a bit inspired.

  6. While this is something I feel like I already know, you’ve laid it out really well as a great reminder. As The Masked Millionaire said, it’s the engagement that’s hard. But the fresh content of giving reader’s what they want make all worthwhile.

    Thanks for the reminder Chris, I really seemed to have needed it today and now feel a bit inspired.

  7. Chris –
    Great visual – it reminds each of us to meet readers on common ground and go from there. Also by meeting on common ground you establish trust with your readers.

    Good Job!!!

  8. Chris –
    Great visual – it reminds each of us to meet readers on common ground and go from there. Also by meeting on common ground you establish trust with your readers.

    Good Job!!!

  9. Hi Chris

    Have been Tweeting away this week as a Twitter newbie. And from my observations there I would like to add one more point to your points above on engagement – “Entertainment”. I wouldn’t call myself a “frivolous person” at all but several times I have found myself following marketers there purely because they make me laugh! And I have to say the funnier conversations are the more magnetic ones, because they make me feel good. What do you think? And where can I find you on Twitter?

    @juicygina

  10. Hi Chris

    Have been Tweeting away this week as a Twitter newbie. And from my observations there I would like to add one more point to your points above on engagement – “Entertainment”. I wouldn’t call myself a “frivolous person” at all but several times I have found myself following marketers there purely because they make me laugh! And I have to say the funnier conversations are the more magnetic ones, because they make me feel good. What do you think? And where can I find you on Twitter?

    @juicygina

  11. Excellent article!

    There’s a saying that goes KYC – Know Your Customers. My saying is KYR – Know Your Readers. You must listen to your readers to find out what they need to know or find interesting. Now that I started my blog, I will keep this in mind.

    Giselle Conyette

  12. Excellent article!

    There’s a saying that goes KYC – Know Your Customers. My saying is KYR – Know Your Readers. You must listen to your readers to find out what they need to know or find interesting. Now that I started my blog, I will keep this in mind.

    Giselle Conyette

  13. As a new destination blog writer I am noticing that getting the readers involved is a bit of a challenge (if comments are any indication).

    I am starting to believe that some blogs are destined to be resources rather than conversations – what’s your take on this?

    If you agree then how do you know if you are involving your readers enough or even catching their interest? Otherwise, how do you get them more involved?

  14. As a new destination blog writer I am noticing that getting the readers involved is a bit of a challenge (if comments are any indication).

    I am starting to believe that some blogs are destined to be resources rather than conversations – what’s your take on this?

    If you agree then how do you know if you are involving your readers enough or even catching their interest? Otherwise, how do you get them more involved?

  15. Chris,

    I saw the title and diagram and I thought wow! That says it all. You actually could have just posted those and it would be self explanatory. I did read the rest though.

    One thing that interests me is the difference between what readers want and what they need. They aren’t necessarily the same thing and of course giving readers what they want will satisfy them initially but they might realise later that it wasn’t what they needed, and of course if you give someone what they need but not what they want they might feel that you are too controlling.

    Do you have any thoughts around this, does it make your brain explode thinking about it?

  16. Chris,

    I saw the title and diagram and I thought wow! That says it all. You actually could have just posted those and it would be self explanatory. I did read the rest though.

    One thing that interests me is the difference between what readers want and what they need. They aren’t necessarily the same thing and of course giving readers what they want will satisfy them initially but they might realise later that it wasn’t what they needed, and of course if you give someone what they need but not what they want they might feel that you are too controlling.

    Do you have any thoughts around this, does it make your brain explode thinking about it?

  17. @Katy – “inspired” is good, I would call that a success ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Terry – Thanks, I think a lot of the time we stress so much about our side of the equation we try to push extra hard from where we are instead of meeting our audience where *they* are

    @Gina – My twitter is over in the sidebar. Entertainment is definitely a way of engaging, even some politicians manage it. Humor is at the very least a great ice breaker but very often you can educate while keeping people entertained too.

    @Giselle – Yup, two ears one mouth, work to that ratio and we don’t go far wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Shane – Some blogs will be very much resources but the way to get more involvement is to start asking questions, invite people to add their input, comments, or questions back. Ask questions that anyone can answer without fear of looking wrong or stupid (I would never answer a math question for example!). Engagement grows both with opportunities to engage and evidence that the readers engagement is welcome.

    @Richard – What readers want will attract them, getting value is what will keep them, so if you provide what they need in a way they can see a benefit then they will be pleased. Having said that, I tend to provide what I think is important and what I believe in even though I know that has limited my blogs growth when I could have been doing constant link baits and brain candy ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a balancing act but in the end you have to know you have produced something that is not just “popular” but worthwhile too, otherwise what is the point?

  18. @Katy – “inspired” is good, I would call that a success ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Terry – Thanks, I think a lot of the time we stress so much about our side of the equation we try to push extra hard from where we are instead of meeting our audience where *they* are

    @Gina – My twitter is over in the sidebar. Entertainment is definitely a way of engaging, even some politicians manage it. Humor is at the very least a great ice breaker but very often you can educate while keeping people entertained too.

    @Giselle – Yup, two ears one mouth, work to that ratio and we don’t go far wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Shane – Some blogs will be very much resources but the way to get more involvement is to start asking questions, invite people to add their input, comments, or questions back. Ask questions that anyone can answer without fear of looking wrong or stupid (I would never answer a math question for example!). Engagement grows both with opportunities to engage and evidence that the readers engagement is welcome.

    @Richard – What readers want will attract them, getting value is what will keep them, so if you provide what they need in a way they can see a benefit then they will be pleased. Having said that, I tend to provide what I think is important and what I believe in even though I know that has limited my blogs growth when I could have been doing constant link baits and brain candy ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a balancing act but in the end you have to know you have produced something that is not just “popular” but worthwhile too, otherwise what is the point?

  19. Thanks for your response Chris….hmmm you’ve inspired me to try something new. I’m going to have to think more on it but something like a periodic solicitation to readers for questions on the destination or things that they want to learn more about.

    But what do you do if you don’t get any questions? Doesn’t that just make you look silly (and heaven forbid, unpopular)? How long should you give something like to catch on?

  20. Thanks for your response Chris….hmmm you’ve inspired me to try something new. I’m going to have to think more on it but something like a periodic solicitation to readers for questions on the destination or things that they want to learn more about.

    But what do you do if you don’t get any questions? Doesn’t that just make you look silly (and heaven forbid, unpopular)? How long should you give something like to catch on?

  21. Often if you say “ask me questions” you will get them, especially if people can submit questions privately through a contact form and without making their name public. I would start though with just getting people involved, polls, comments, that kind of thing.

    If you are afraid you won’t get any response at all, try starting a discussion around it at Twitter. People love to converse at Twitter, especially if you bring up interesting questions. People will either reply in a tweet or some will comment. You can incorporate the Twitter responses as updates to the post so the reader can see the discussion.

  22. Often if you say “ask me questions” you will get them, especially if people can submit questions privately through a contact form and without making their name public. I would start though with just getting people involved, polls, comments, that kind of thing.

    If you are afraid you won’t get any response at all, try starting a discussion around it at Twitter. People love to converse at Twitter, especially if you bring up interesting questions. People will either reply in a tweet or some will comment. You can incorporate the Twitter responses as updates to the post so the reader can see the discussion.