Very good results and positive feedback for my last week's post surprised me. Why? I knew what I wanted to say, but had a hard time putting it "on paper". When I was finally done, I wasn't sure if readers would get my message, whether you'd be interested in it at all. But you were. And then...
This has happened to me before. A few times. Because I was so surprised of the “success” of that post, and in a way as an editor I shouldn’t be, I started to think and went back to see what posts seem to be the most popular and engaging. Not just on this blog.
I perused, observed, analyzed and then it dawned on me that I already know well what posts attract readers, what kind of posts are engaging, interesting, read, and shared. I should never be surprised again (though I will be). If I didn’t know how to write an interesting post, I probably wouldn’t be in this business.
To increase blog engagement, always check whether it satisfies the following 3 criteria:
1. Does it include a (personal) story?
Write about stuff you know well, you have experienced or you’re doing. The post I mentioned in the intro was based on my own personal observations and frustrations.
Always (as much as it’s possible) start with a personal story. Make your readers identify with you. You don’t need to always write in first person; you can ask your readers whether they’re familiar with a specific situation.
The best blog posts are those that start with a story. I remember how I wanted to change an intro to a post by Swizec and he asked me not to do it, “I don’t like those fluffy intros,” he wrote. And he was right. He attracted the attention of tens of thousands of readers by beginning the post with a personal story.
Think about it. What posts attract your attention the most, grab you and don’t let you leave until the very end? Yes, an author, topic, etc. are key variables too, but there’s something about the post based on a personal observation, experience, personal story, that your readers can identify with. It always works.
2. Are you transparent?
I’ll never forget Marcus Sheridan‘s presentation at Content Marketing World in Columbus, Ohio, when he told the audience of 1,000+, “You don’t have a secret sauce. So, why do you pretend to have it?” I’m familiar with his writing, so this part made me laugh out loud.
Whenever I talk to brands, I face their genuine fear that someone out there will steal their secrets. And I always reply, “So what?”
Indeed, what secrets? My alma mater “hides” full course descriptions because “other universities copied ours”. And I am like, “So what? Let them.”
Don’t hide, show.
Don’t be selfish, share.
Readers, your prospects/buyers, can detect when you’re not transparent.
3. Be conversational
Write like you talk. I love English for that. No matter what industry you’re coming from, write the way you talk. Writing blog posts is like giving advice or/and making a point. I came across strictly medical and even law-related blogs and they are written the way we all talk and understand.
Your goal is to be understood. You want to get your message across. You can’t do so with a cold, bureacratic-like language.
You may think I wrote nothing new.
You may think these criteria are self-explanatory.
They may be, however, my experience is that this has to be made clear. As many times as possible.
I faced so many organizations where people seriously believe the more “sophisticated” “cold” writing is, the better it is. Frustrated people from some of those brands approached me and told me that their bosses are afraid to allow any texts that are “too easy, too conversational”.