Great posts often get ignored.
It shouldn’t happen. Literary masterpieces should be revered but that just isn’t the case in the blogosphere.
On a blog, a post has a few seconds to capture and pull in a reader. The writer needs to state their idea and immediately begin to persuade, entertain, and motivate.
For many, writing a successful post is a game of chance. They write hundreds of posts only to see a few do well. On the other hand, some seem to have a gift a supernatural ability to publish one blockbuster after another.
What’s their secret?
After spending more hours than I can count analyzing popular posts on top blogs, I’ve been unable to unearth a pattern. I saw that the best writers consistently followed a blueprint for increasing their post’s chance for success.
After studying this blueprint, I found seven factors that can immediately pump more power into your posts. Take a look…
1. “I” focus instead of “you” focusOne unsavory quirk about human beings is that we instinctively focus on ourselves first. This means that your visitors immediately start scouring your blog for posts that mean something to them. If you start your post with:
“I just spent the day washing my kitchen floor.”…your readers will ignore it. After all, the post is about YOU and YOUR kitchen floor and not about them.
Try this instead: Start your posts with a statement or question that uses the second-person perspective:
“Do you hate washing your kitchen floor? Is a mop the last thing on Earth you want to hold in your hand?”See what I mean?
2. A focus on solving problemsHuman beings are natural-born problem solvers. From the moment we wake-up to when we lay down to sleep we are finding answers to problems. Your readers will adore you if you can solve a problem that has been haunting them. Work hard to find these solutions and offer them often.
On the other hand, if your blog posts are getting ignored, it’s likely that you are solving your own problems and not your readers.
Give this a try: take out a sheet of paper and write down 11 big problems that keep your readers up at night. Now think of five posts that you can write for each of those problems. Sit back and look at your list of 55 blog posts. That looks like a solid editorial calendar for 2011, doesn’t it?
3. One idea per postResearch has shown that most people can’t hold more than one or two ideas in their head at one time. The more ideas you try to stuff in, the more likely you are going to get ignored.
Focusing on one idea is a sure-fire way to immediately boost the punching power of your post. If you have more than one then consider writing a series of posts. But, whatever you do, don’t shoehorn a thesis into your post. That’s a certain recipe for obscurity.
4. Excellent packagingYou know what? Blogging is a visual game. If your post is packaged well, it will get read. I’m sure you’ve found yourself reading a poorly written post wrapped in a great package! So, at least spend a little extra time to clean up look and feel.
A few pointers: use short paragraphs and one-line sentences to make your paragraphs visually interesting. Add mini-headlines throughout your post to help people who skim before they read. Last, find a picture (preferably of people) that grabs attention and helps tell your post’s story.
5. Down-to-earth practicalityBlog readers are a practical bunch. Like you, they want to be able to use what they learn. That means, they absolutely hate Ph.D. dissertations in blog-post clothing. Dense, fact-laden, verbose, diatribes repel readers and get ignored. Save this document for the place where it belongs: in an academic journal.
On the other hand, work to place relevant and practical information in each post. Your goal should be to illustrate your point in simple how-to pieces. Not only will people thank you in the comments, but they will also share your content.
6. Careful researchI’ve made the mistake of thinking that my readers shared my interests. I was wrong. The ghost town around my blog post provided all the proof I needed.
Research is the process of pinpointing what interests your readers. These days, research is pretty simple to do. You can simply ask for topics on Twitter, do a Google search with your topic and the word “help”, hang out in online forums, or survey your own readers.
Once you get the research right, you’ll soon be perceived as the go-to person in your niche. You’ll have the answers and your posts will attract eager readers by the bushel. Trust me. (By the way, if you are competing in a competitive niche, research is the number one way to get an advantage)
7. RapportWhen I started writing professionally, a mentor told me to write as if my reader was sitting on the bar stool beside me. That advice has been worth a fortune to me.
The best way to build this type rapport is to write with your natural voice. You know, the voice you use when you talk to yourself in the shower. The voice you use when you want to say something snarky but think better of it. Yep, that voice.
Once you start using it, your posts will stick in the minds of your readers. Lurkers start commenting and people start sharing. Got it?