Do you have sticky readers?
Margaret Andrews, 2011 winner of KCRA’s A-List for Best Local Blogger, had me wondering just that last Thursday night during her presentation at The Sacramento Bee.
Were my blog visitors “zero-second hitters” or did they stick around to actually READ my posts? From beginning to end?
Did all the research, brain drain, and good will that went into my posts amount to no more than a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear?
Part of me was screaming, “But I haven’t been blogging that long. It takes time to get one’s name out there. It takes time to build a loyal audience. I’m doing the best I can.”
The other part of me was soaking up Margaret’s ideas like a parched thistle during a summer rain.
- Grab the reader from the beginning. As with a novel or short story, your post’s title and first sentence must hook the reader. No exception. Waste this opportunity and you lose. Click. Visitor gone. Yes, even friends and family. Especially friends and family. Why punish them for being nice. Why turn them into fickle readers? Margaret suggests starting with a question or a top ten (or 7 or 5) list.
- Engage your audience throughout your blog post. Ah, ha, now for the nitty gritty. Again, think of your post as a story. How do successful writers keep their readers reading? Margaret suggests using specific details that appeal to the senses. Show readers what you’re talking about and then draw out a visceral response through their sense of taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Yeah, hit them in the gut–the second brain, which controls the emotions. My favorite of Margaret’s many tips is to take a camera where ever you go and shoot pictures to share on your blog. Your very own picture is gold–it’s free, it shows, it tells, it encapsulates messages words often miss. It may also give you ideas for future posts.
- Avoid the top ten mistakes that drive readers away. This list is worth the price of the book (Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better, $7.99 Kindle). My favorites: Don’t waste precious introductory space. No background music.
Following Margaret’s advice, I took a camera on my three-mile walk yesterday. Notice the photo of the parched thistle above? Mine. And see the shadow on the corn stalks. Mine.
Forget farming. Forget writing. Photography may be my true calling.
Oh, and just in case you want to know if Margaret Andrews practices what she preaches, visit her humor blog Nannie Goats in Panties.
Better yet, buy her book.