Blogging need not be intimidating.
The more you can think of blogging as an extension of your actual self, and less of a business activity, the more likely you are to create and maintain an active, engaging and memorable blog. The best blogs can act as both a creative outlet, and driving force to connect you with your community. Creating compelling content is one of the best ways to turn your readers into subscribers, and eventually customers.
Here are 6 great ways to use your blog to create engaged readers, loyal email subscribers, and happy customers for your business.
1. Blog as a Conversation.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of using a stiff, “professional” blogging voice, as though people will only read on, if you come off as studious or serious.
But there’s too much competition on the Internet for you to hold a reader’s attention if you aren’t engaging. Humor and authenticity sell way better than seriousness. As social media wiz and author Rachel Thompson says in an interview at Project Mavens, “If there’s one hard lesson I learned from my 18+ years in soul-sucking Big Pharma, it’s that relationships matter, and sales cannot be forced.”
You wouldn’t stand up and give a lecture to a bunch of people at a party, you’d just talk real talk. Readers are drawn to vulnerability, to enthusiasm. Think of that section in People magazine called “Celebrities, They’re Just Like Us!” Even in the case of our celluloid gods, we want to know that they go to the grocery store in their sweats like the rest of us. People want to relate. They want to connect and feel seen and understood.
When trying to generate ideas, don’t stretch so far past your own interests; think about what excites you as a creative person. Chances are, that excites a ton of other people, too, and here is your chance to reach them by getting in deep about your interests.
A great example of a personable blogging voice is Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds. He’s an author who blogs about the writing process and offers expletive-laden, and hilarious but true writing advice, and sometimes just rants when something in life has bothered him (warning: many f-bombs). People come back to his blog because you don’t feel like you’re being sold a product—you feel like you’re having a conversation with a funny, foul-mouthed, but ultimately savvy dude.
Another of my favorites is Jenny Lawson, otherwise known as The Bloggess. She puts her vulnerabilities out there on display, talks about her struggles with mental illness, her biases, her opinions, but does so in a way that invites dialogue (even if only in your own mind).
In a nutshell: Be personable, funny, interesting, and someone people just want to read.
2. Offer Exclusive Content.
You’ll find lots of differing advice on how often to blog. Some say you should blog as frequently as possible, others say you should not. However, when you do blog, you may find offering something exclusive that your readers won’t get elsewhere, is a wonderful way to continue to draw them back for more content in the future.
This could be a serialized story—a new installment offered on set days of the week. This could be a free eBook or an exclusive tip. This could be an image your readers can print for free. This content can also be seasonal or timed to a promotion of yours, especially if you’re trying to generate traffic during a specific period of time. You can also tease readers with a preview of something you’ll publish later.
3. Share Your Platform.
A certain amount of consistency and frequency of publishing are important, not only to keep readers happy, but to keep your blog search engine optimized. Yet you might not be able to keep up such a busy blogging schedule, so it’s often a great opportunity to invite other creatives in your field who have something to say (and tastefully promote), to guest blog on your site. Of course, you want to vet these guest bloggers, so that their tone and message jives with your own, but it’s a wonderful way to keep your blog fresh when you’re otherwise preoccupied.
Another way to go about this is to do Q&A interviews with people you admire in your field. With this strategy, not only are you offering fresh content and promoting other creatives, you’re potentially driving more readers your way when the guest-blogger shares the interview with their social networks.
Meredith Resnick is a writer whose blog The Writer’s [Inner] Journey features something called “The 5 Question Interview.” Pretty self-explanatory, short and sweet. It’s a wonderful way to learn more about other writers, while keeping her own site readers engaged.
If you happen to have a sizable following, when you invite others to publish on your platform, you’re offering them a leg up and championing fellow creatives.
4. Make it Interactive
If Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that people love to take quizzes and answer questions about themselves. They’ll stop what they’re doing to find out which Orphan Black clone they are, or which spirit animal watches over them. There are multiple ways to bring an interactive element into your blog—some of which may require a little more savvy web coding know-how (or a good web person), from Google forms to short videos.
At the bare minimum, you could invite your readers to share answers to specific questions on set days of the week. At Writer Unboxed, a popular writer’s blog, every guest-post comes with a discussion question for the audience, related to the topic. Quizzes, free “mini-courses,” and more can make your blog a destination that feels “alive,” and stands out in the static of the Internet.
5. Be Resource-Full.
For every creative pursuit, there a hundred helpful resources we all need. Links, articles, and book titles that we’ll get to when we have a spare minute. Except, spare minutes are often hard to come by in the life of a creative entrepreneur. If you use your own blog as a repository of great information, even if you only share one new resource each week—you might be amazed how quickly this brings readers running.
Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer is the go-to guy for everything you could possibly want or need to know about self-publishing. Saundra Goldman, whose blog Creative Mix, a resource for creative women, is responsible for the creative movement known as #continuouspractice.
6. Inspire Others.
Lastly, in our ever-busy lives, people seek inspiration all the time.
Bite-sized quotes, memes, funny cartoons, and things that help put the difficulties of the human condition in a positive light can be a huge driver of traffic. The popular website Sweatpants & Coffee has made a following out of promoting a love of coffee and comfort, positivity and goodwill.
Once you find the message that fits with your own creative work, you could customize your own messages of inspiration that all creative need to hear, such as persistence, balance, beauty and truth.
Join our class on How to Write Blog Content that Drives Traffic and learn first-hand from the world’s most prolific blogger, what it takes to create engaging content.