I love a good television series. Scandal, American Idol, Nashville, Castle, Elementary, and The Killing are some of my favorites. Hell, I even DVR AM Style on QVC each week. I know, I know, who DVRs QVC? This girl. Anyway, I set my DVR and look forward to these shows each week so I can luxuriate in my hour or so of window shopping, thriller, or guilty pleasure, and I return season after season to follow along.
I like to think of blogs in the same way. While I follow lots of bloggers on social media, there are a select few who I subscribe to via email or Google+ notifications to get their new content pushed to me. When I get a post from one of my favorite bloggers, I look forward to it and await the time when my kids are sleeping or occupied so I can read through it at my leisure. (And yes, washing dishes with the computer on the counter is "my leisure.")
Image: Vinoth Chandar via Flickr
One of the best ways to become THAT blog to people is to take a page from the world of television and create a weekly or monthly series on your blog. I’m talking about a topic that you cover every week, every other week, every month etc., that your readers can look forward to. You can also consider a mini-series, where you choose a topic and create a certain number of entries that you will spread out over a period of time. There are several ways your blog can benefit by including a series. There are several ways your blog can benefit by including a series:
- Predictability: While your readers will start to expect your series posts, it also gives you, the author, predictability with your subject matter. This allows you to plan ahead and make the content gathering part of your everyday routine, since it tends to be in the back of your mind as you go about your daily life. This is especially true when you publish on a certain topic repeatedly.
- Branding: When I first started blogging and checking out other bloggers, I found that those with a blog series were the ones that I was able to identify and ‘brand’ the most in my mind. Stephanie Sprenger? Oh yeah, she’s the Parentz Bop lady. Blog Clarity? They do the weekly 10-minute blogging tips thing. Etc. Take it to the next level by using a repetitive logo, image, hashtag etc. around your series, you can further build your brand by associating your blogging persona with your series over time.
- Anticipation for Reader: Creating a series that your reader loves lets them begin to anticipate that it's coming. When they anticipate, they don’t want to miss it. When they are afraid they might miss it, they are more likely to subscribe and follow you. This is especially true for someone who may have never visited your site before but finds and enjoys your series. If they know there is more to come but have never been on your site before, they are more likely to note who you are and not become just a one time visitor. This can be especially applicable with search engine driven traffic or traffic from social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon that otherwise might just read and move on, never to return again.
- Participation: When your readers start to use your series to identify you in their minds, they are more likely to participate because they recognize situations and see things through the lens of your series as they go about daily life. This may make them more likely to feel they have something to share in comments vs. just moving on.
Let’s look at a real life examples that encompasses the four elements above.Things I've Learned This Week
Nucking Futz Mama’s series, Things I’ve Learned This Week, is a short, bulleted list of the mostly humorous lessons she learned through the course of the week (for example, “I wish my kids spent as much time organizing their rooms as they do organizing the apps on their phones.”). I look forward to these, and it is probably an easy and fun post for her since she probably jots things down all week as thoughts occur to her (I’m guessing).
While I subscribe and read all of her posts (series and non-series), in my mind, she’s "The weekly funny list lady," and I picture her blog and those funny posts first and foremost in my mind when I hear her blog name. I have read her lists so many times, that as I go through my week, I often think, "That would be a funny list entry!" This makes me more likely to comment on her post with my own additions and/or share her post on social media with my own funny comment about something I learned this week.Craigslist Chuckles
I currently have a series on my blog called Craigslist Chuckles, where I pick a city every week and pull seven or eight hilarious listings and comment on them. This is fun, easy and predictable for me, which is a big plus—especially on Friday, my publish day. Another benefit is that I get lots of positive feedback, comments, requests to spotlight specific cities, and good traffic. Although I am only on my sixth week, my page views increased 10% month over month in the first month I ran my series. I continued doing the three posts I had already been doing per week, and just replaced one post with my series post.Parentz Bop
Parentz Bop – Parentz Bop is a fabulous series from Stephanie Sprenger of Mommy, for Real. Stephanie asks readers to submit funny parody song lyrics related to parenting ("You Can’t Always Poop Where You Want," for example) and she performs and records them. I love that she uses her musical background and involves her audience. I also love that the finished product is a video so I don’t even have to use my brain to read anything! Since these are fairly in depth to produce, they roll out about once a month. I am giddy every time there is a new one.10-Minute Touch Up
10-Minute Touch Up – Blog Clarity publishes a weekly post that provides tips which allow you to improve your blog in 10 minutes. Since I’d rather spend time writing than tweaking my blog, the fact that these are a quick and easy once a week offering really appeals to me.Blogging Betties Podcast
Blogging Betties Podcast – The Blogging Betties are new, but they have really sucked me in with their weekly series featuring an interview with a different blogger via podcast. I love reading so many blogs, but sometimes it is refreshing to hear from bloggers via something other than writing. I read and interact via social media with the Blogging Betties, because I have branded them in my mind as "the blogger podcast people" and it drew me into everything else they offer.Fashion Friday
Fashion Friday—Although I get my QVC on from time to time, I’m really not too into fashion. In fact, I am really the last person to read anything called Fashion Friday. (If you could see me now, you’d know why.) I recently read The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle, a hilarious book about marriage, where she briefly mentions the Fashion Friday series on her blog. I checked it out and found it to be short and sweet with lots of pics of cool clothes and accessories as well as sale call outs. I realized that maybe I can make a little room for fashion in my blog reading after all. In this way I was able to extend the pretend friendship I formed with Melanie while reading her book to her blog as well!Getting Started on Creating a Series
If you would like to add a series to your blog, but are unsure what it should be, my first suggestion is to go back and look at your old posts. Is there something that stands out as far as reader engagement or feedback? Is it something you could make into a series or maybe spin an idea off of?
If you don’t have a lot of readers to give you that kind of data yet, try picking something you’ve enjoyed writing about the most and go in that direction.
If you blog about food and particularly enjoy coming up with recipes, maybe you ask a friend or reader for three of their favorite ingredients each week and come up with your own recipe using them. If you blog about humor and especially enjoy writing about your young kids, maybe you could do a formal interview with them each week on a timely topic and share their responses (if they are under five, it is pretty sure to be pretty funny). If you love to blog about fashion and shopping, put together a weekly post called 5 under $50 (five fabulous finds under $50) or maybe an outfit you put together under $50 total (or whatever the cost). These are all things that should be repeatable of interest to your readers. These are just examples, but you get the idea.
What is your series or your idea for a series? If you are stuck trying to find an idea or want to bounce your ideas off someone, add your idea in the comment section below and we can do some brainstorming.
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