Blog posts can be a little dry; excuse me, I meant, web writing can be a little dry overall. Blogs aren’t the only online medium to blame. One problem is that blogs and online articles have gotten so SEO friendly. Some bloggers are excellent at making their posts search friendly AND personable. However, if you’re just focused on SEO, it’s easy to spot, annoying, super boring to read, and won’t lead to long term readers.
Another problem is that there are so many darn blogs around. Anyone can offer information on say, coffee or computers (and tons of bloggers do) but when you’re competing for readers to stay and read your post on coffee vs.the other guy, you better inject some life into your post in order to gain reader attention and keep it.
What attracts readers can vary, but here are some good ideas (i.e. tactics that gain my attention and keep me reading your posts):
You’re funny – but not mean funny: I like smart and funny bloggers who tell it like it is without being overly mean. I can deal with a little mean, but if rude is always your means to funny, it gets old.
You write about what I’m looking for: Obviously people want to read what they’re looking for. If you write for a main stream topic blog (say cooking) and yet you ‘re always writing about obscure irrelevant topics like shoes, OR bizarre food tips, such as snails in homegrown basil, you likely won’t get too many long-term readers. If I hit a cooking blog it’s because I want tips I can use.
You write about an obscure topic: I KNOW I just said above not to do this, but in some cases writing about something new and cool or odd is a great way to gain come-back readers. Using the cooking blog example again, you could have an entire obscure cooking blog, and that’s what you’d be known for. This is using odd topics to your advantage. There’s a fine line between drawing folks in with weird topics and still giving them info they can use though, so be careful.
You are human: I hate blog posts that offer up fact after fact without ever getting personal. I don’t need to know everything about you, but some personality is nice. When I’m reading about a topic at a blog, sure, I’m interested in the topic, but what keeps me at your blog vs. the other guy’s blog is that you have an opinion about your topic.
Your posts are visually pleasing: You hit enter, add relevant well-placed images, use bold text when necessary, and keep the posts easy to scan. If I cringe when I look at a blog, I leave and look for info elsewhere. Maybe that makes me a visual snob, but I’m betting I’m not the only one.
You are passionate or can fake it: This sort of goes along with the human aspect noted above, but there’s a little more to it. Even if you inject personality, you may not keep my attention if I can tell you’re bored or uninformed about your topic. I’ve written on topics I’m not personally passionate about, but one, I always feel like people can tell (I hate trying to fake it) and two, I never last long. I get bored and quit OR worse the blog suffers. Blogs written by folks who aren’t passionate, or who can’t fake it well just seem like dead space trashing up the blogosphere.
All of the above gain my attention. What gains your attention?