Popular blogging platform WordPress reveals that its users produce about 500,000 new posts every day. Given that number, don’t you sometimes wish the Internet had a loudspeaker system, one that only you could use?
But you, unlike spammers, exercise restraint. You don’t want to be that person who uses capital letters in tweets or solicits e-mail addresses for shady Nigerian trust funds or Viagra campaigns. You want to earn attention and keep it.
Given the fierce competition, how can a blogger set herself apart? Below are five strategies bloggers can use to engage an audience without being demanding, annoying, or spammy.
1. Be As Specific As Possible
Most human beings have voyeuristic tendencies. So why not appeal to them? Being nosy is how we learn about the world and also how we gauge whether or not we’re “normal.” If you bait your reader with a personal anecdote, developed with rich detail, the reader will gladly enter the world you have created. For example, instead of writing, “I went to the store,” you could write, “I jogged to the nearest 7-11 to pick up my favorite celebrity tabloid.” Which statement piques your curiosity?
2. Avoid “Talking Down” To Your Reader
Even an expert in a niche field should spend time practicing how to explain challenging and/or complicated concepts in lay terms. Don’t assume the reader understands what you mean; he or she can’t stop and ask you a question. If you don’t often have the chance to discuss your work outside of the workplace, you may want to ask a patient, willing friend (who’s not an expert in your field) to interview you. If you can find a friend who works in a communications-related field, that’s a plus!
3. Use Transitions And Section Headings When Possible
Transitions are words or phrases that help your reader follow your train of thought. Examples include “for instance,” “on the other hand,” and “similarly.” Using transitions in your writing will also help you make sure that your ideas are arranged in an understandable pattern. Section headings, usually bolded titles that break up a lengthy chunk of text, will help your reader skip to relevant information and absorb the main ideas.
4. Make Use Of Rhetorical Questions And Quotes
A rhetorical question is a question the writer asks the audience without expecting a reply. The question is not necessarily answered in the text but is used to make a point and to slow the pace. Use rhetorical questions sparingly but remember that they can make a big impact, especially in an introductory paragraph. Also, consider quoting thought leaders or other experts in your field. By supporting your own thoughts and opinions with the thoughts and opinions of others, you are demonstrating that you’ve done your research.
5. Incorporate Multimedia Wisely
Think of your favorite teacher or class. Did that person spend the allotted class time simply lecturing? Most likely, your teacher incorporated elements like images, videos, and group discussion. In your blog post, media shouldn’t substitute for good writing, but it can definitely enhance it and keep the writer interested. Choose media like images, video, and sound wisely and use restraint.
Try it now: brainstorm an idea for your next blog post. If you don’t have a blog, think about your next form of professional correspondence, maybe even an e-mail. How can you incorporate one of the above strategies into your writing, and what response do you hope to elicit from your audience?
In the past, have you had success with engaging an audience, whether through written or spoken word? Share your tips, too!
Join the discussion 26 Comments
Laryssa, welcome to Carol’s home. Great post by the way and I’ve always loved instilling a little bit of curiosity into content or posts.
Of course I’m not the “heading to the store” kind of gal. I post about things that others can hopefully sink their teeth into or just have some fun with. I’ve been told my writing is top notch but to me there is always room for improvement. I do write so that my information is understood because I’m no technical genius so I even have a hard time understanding some things.
I appreciate you sharing these tips though, good ones for sure.
Hope you ladies are having a marvelous week.
Thanks Adrienne, I think you’ve got plenty of experience engaging! Curiosity is a big one. Sometimes when people write it’s so bland and boring so it’s important to inject some interest, and even personality. Which you have plenty of!
Thanks, Adrienne. I’m glad you found the post useful. I think every writer, even the professional ones, can improve!
I don’t remember the last time (if ever) a blogger recommended using rhetorical questions in a post. Great idea to get us thinking more deeply about what we are writing.
Questions are good for readers and us, too – they can spark ideas we didn’t even know we had!
Thanks! Questions are definitely great tools in moderation. Don’t want to use too many of them or you’ll seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about!
As a writer I really did enjoyed those tips. I do use rhetorical questions, because I agree with you they work well.
I do not presume that my readers will understand any kind of jargon, so I always try to use common words that everyone understands.
Those tips are definitely the tips of a writer. Great job and than you 🙂
I like to be very specific, too. As a teacher I always had to be clear and that just carried over. Sometimes maybe I go overboard in the other direction…. a little too much explaining! But hopefully you can always say you understand what I’m saying!
Thanks Sylviane! I’m glad another writer can relate. 🙂
Some good reminders here. I love the rhetorical reminders tip, and I do this, too. I don’t think you can have a successful blog without using visuals and/or videos of some sort. Thanks for another great post!
Thanks, Geoff, I like videos in posts as long as they complement the post, like Laryssa said, and don’t take the place of the actual writing. I’m not a fan of listening to a 7-minute “video blog”. I could scan that and read it on my own in half the time.
Glad you liked it, Geoff! Even in my writing classes, I always remind my students to consider the power of visual aids. They are often overlooked in academic approaches to writing.
Thanks for the great tips. I do not think of myself as a writer and have had to find my way and voice in blogging so I appreciate tips like this.
Well, Sue, you’re a writer now, lol! You’ve got a good understanding of how to make things interesting and how to explain things to people understand them. That’s so important. You can always pick up a tip here and there along the way!
Hi Sue, you’re welcome! Well, I can understand your comment very clearly so I’d say you are an effective writer! 🙂
If we really want to get huge audience and engagement then the most important factor that I think is Content. If your content is not engaging, interesting enough then just forget about audience.
The second most important factor I think which help us to build strong engagement is connection, relationships. Connect with bloggers, establish a relation comment on their blogs and they will comment on your blogs.
The third most important factor is care. Many bloggers forget about replying to comments and that’s completely wrong. Reply to each and every comment you get on your blog.
Most importantly be actionable don’t say that I’ll do this, I’ll do that for my blog. Don’t say it, start doing it.
And the one advice I liked in your article most is Be specific. The best way to be specific is be real you.
Don’t try to be jack of all trade, try to be specific, try to share what you know.
BTW, Awesome post. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂
You’re definitely right about relationships, Romy. Without them your blog is just floating in empty space. Once you’ve figured out how to get good content out there, it’s really important to start getting to know your readers.
Hi Laryssa I try to always think of myself and how well I would understand what I wrote. It took me a while to learn WordPress and there is still much I have to learn, but when I pick up something, I always pass it on. Why? Because I know someone out there is like me and either didn’t know or hasn’t heard of it. That ends ups being my best posts because I can give something back and add value to each post I write. That’s my approach. I loved your tips!
Sonia, that’s such a great point – imagining yourself as a teacher and a student at the same time can really help you make sure you’re getting your point across! 🙂
Hi Romy, I really like all your insights! They are all very true. If you don’t have the content then you can pretty much forgot about all the tips I listed in my post. Glad you enjoyed it!
thanks for sharing your advice about increasing our readers’ engagement. I found out that a conversational style works very well. And rhetorical questions play an important role in it. We need to remember that internet users are in a borderline hypnotic state so we need to kind of wake them up from their hypnosis.
Take care and have a great weekend ahead
That’s an interesting perspective, Oliver, and you’re right! I bet people click click click and are just zoned out in front of the computer so we really need to say something that will zap them back. I like that idea!
One method I haven’t made great use of is the rhetorical question. I’ll have to try that out & see how it works! Thanks for the nifty idea. 🙂
I find most of my rhetorical questions are sarcastic so I guess I’ll have to work on that one 🙂
I love reading your blogs as it helps me to think of things that I can write on MY blog. I often run out of things to write about… I hate writers block. Thanks for the tips.
Glad you found this helpful, Paige. Sometimes I get ideas by reading other people’s blogs and then expanding or sharing my own take on the topic.