How to get your audience to actually read your blog
These days, there's no question of whether or not to have a blog for your business. Companies know that a continuous stream of content and real-time interaction with their customers is an essential part of any modern marketing strategy. That being said, it's also fair to note that the issue of content overload has become a bit of a hurdle to overcome.
When I first started blogging, I was so excited about all the information I found online that could help me with every aspect of the writing process: idea creation, editing, marketing and social media. That excitement lasted for about a year, and then the honeymoon phase was over.
The biggest reason for my disillusionment? The fact that I was writing in a vacuum. I had spent so much time researching and reading a bunch of "how-to" articles, that I wasn't really paying much attention to what I was already doing. Coming up with content wasn't the problem. It was coming up with content that people actually wanted to read.
Of course, there was a fair amount of denial before I finally came to that realization. As bloggers, we tend to sometimes romanticize being an "idea" person or an innovator; a visionary, if you will.
Sound familiar? I know. Creativity and innovation are great, but, on their own, not much help for getting eyes on the page — unless the ideas you're expressing resonate with a particular audience.
Let's face it — it stinks when we put our heart, soul and energy into what we believe to be a great piece of writing and then — crickets. We hear zip, zilch, nada. Not a peep from anyone on the gazillion social media outlets that we've shared the content on.
So how do we make the transition from online zero to hero? Well, that expression might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it does contain some little nuggets of truth. People's interest in our content has a lot to do with how tuned in we are to their needs, wants and curiosities. Essentially, as hard as it may be to face, blogging is not so much about us as it is about our usefulness to others.
For the most part, people are initially interested in what value we can bring to their lives. There's a good reason that blogs have become so popular so quickly: People love to make personal connections online and to feel like they've somehow widened their inner circle. Our job as bloggers, then, is to learn how to interact with readers in a way that creates trust and encourages them to let us into that circle.
1. Ask questions
Trust is a big deal to most internet users. With the growing number of marketers and media companies vying for clicks, many people feel it's difficult to differentiate between real, useful information and cleverly disguised sales pitches. In a recent research study cited by The Guardian, more than 40 percent of British internet users feel a sense of content overload and prefer to get product recommendations from friends on social media rather than by searching online themselves. Fortunately for content creators, this offers a great opportunity to use social media as a listening tool. As you listen in, you can begin to formulate questions for your potential readers that speak to the concerns and interests they've been expressing online.
2. Forget what's trending
Focus on your own stats, no matter what trending stories seem to be flooding your space. A lot of businesses think that they have to hop on trending topics and write about what everyone else is writing about. The problem with operating that way is that it's too easy to get lost in the crowd.
Instead of trying to compete in a sea of over-saturated sameness, spend some time browsing through your blog and social media statistics to see exactly which segments of your content are getting the most attention from readers. Infintech Designs, a New Orleans-based web design firm, stresses the importance of writing to targeted interests, saying "Instead of publishing content that you think your readers might enjoy, you need to make sure that you are actually producing content that is relevant to their needs."
3. Speak the right language
You may be a writer, but as a blogger and content marketer, your overall goal shifts a bit from wooing your audience with flowery words and a few turns of clever phrases. Writing as a creative endeavor is a bit different than writing a blog post to promote your business or brand. To build a loyal following, you have to not only know who your audience is but you also have to know what they like. Understanding their lifestyle and their way of interacting with the businesses and services they use will ultimately help you relate to them, and therefore reach them, in a much more organic and meaningful way.
As an op-ed commentary on MediaPost is quick to note: "It's not about making stuff [your readers] may like; it's about working with the people or other brands they already like."
Tisha Berg is a blogger, content marketer and founder of the website ThriftyTravelist.com where she writes about travel, fitness and family recreation. In addition to her work on Thrifty Travelist, she is also a regular contributor to the Working Mother mom blog and to Care.com. You can find out more about her writing work and portfolio by visiting TishaBerg.com.