Gini Dietrich

Attracting Blog Readers through Great Content

By: Gini Dietrich | December 15, 2009 | 

Based on the feedback from “Tips for Starting a Blog,” it sounds like you’re ready to attract readers. So let’s get started!

My friend Jeff Lipschultz commented on Monday that he was going to be brash and suggest quality is key to attracting readers. And he is 100 percent correct!

Quality, value, and “what’s in it for me” are what attract readers. If you followed the steps I suggested on Monday and asked your network – your friends – to read your blog and pass along to their friends (assuming they liked what they read), then you already have a base of readers. Don’t worry about the number of readers you have on your blog. Worry about providing great content and your friends will be happy to send your blog URL to their friends. And their friends will send to their friends. And pretty soon you have lots of readers who keep coming back for the great value you’re providing.

So how do I provide great content?

I said this on Monday, but it’s worth repeating. IF YOU BLOG, DO IT CONSISTENTLY. A few argued this point in the comments section and that’s okay. My point here is not that you have a blog. My point is that you become a blogger. And to become a blogger you must post at least three times a week.

A few tricks of the trade that make it easy to provide great content and write multiple times every week:

* Make the copy scannable, which means create lists, use bullet points, insert pictures, use headings and subheads and write about only one topic.

* Write short posts. Research states the average blog reader only stays on the same story for 96 seconds so write for that person.

* The copy only needs to prove the point in a very comprehensive manner. Give readers a reason to comment and, if you have extra points to discuss, do it in response to comments.

* Write a title that is both catchy and has search engine optimization (the blog post you can find here on Thursday will discuss how to do this so check back). Your blogs will last for eternity online and you never know when someone, even two years from now, may want information on your topic. Think about how they might search if they’re doing research on your top

* Link to other blogs and news articles that support your thinking. If you do this, find bloggers who aren’t typically quoted or linked to – share the love so the A-listers aren’t the only ones always quoted.

* If you’re passionate about something that is hot in the media right now, wait a week to write the post. It’s hard to gain awareness when you’re in a sea of others writing about the same topic. For instance, if you have value you can add to the Tiger Woods discussion, do it via your blog… and now (two weeks later) is a good time to do it.

* Avoid jargon. Remember the rule of life: Keep it simple, stupid.

* Make yourself uncomfortable. If you’re not making someone mad with every blog post, you’re not doing it right. Get out of your comfort box. Write controversially. But do it professionally.

* Ask for guest bloggers. My friend Harry Brumleve is going to write Thursday’s post on SEO for me. That’s one less post I have to write, but it provides value to him because you now are aware of him and it provides value to you because he’s an expert on the topic.

* Ask questions. People love to provide their thinking and insight. And through their comments, you learn more and become that much more wise.

Always, always remember: This is about your readers. This is not about you. Do not be self-serving or promotional. You are providing your thinking. You are providing your intellectual capital. You are providing your passion. And you are providing all of it for free. If people find value in your thinking, they will come back for more.

For those of you who already are bloggers, what would you add to this to create value in order to attract readers?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Well said – I agree with every point. I’d like to amplify the point you make at the end.

    I work with companies to help them develop messages that resonate in the market, and then further drive the sales process to shorten the sales cycle and expand margins. The single biggest sales and/or messaging mistake is that the business focuses on what they are writing or saying, rather than focusing on what the reader is reading or hearing.

    Simply viewing your blog from your desired readers perspective will enable you to create compelling content that people come back to and talk about.

  • That’s another great post about blogging. The one thing that called out to me was to be controversial. I find that really challenging. I have some critical things to say on my blog topic, but I don’t want to end up being another negative-toned blog. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Great article. Good tips on making our blog stand out.

  • Gini’s previous post on blogging points out that writing about topics that you are passionate about is the foundation of having a good blog. This is true. But don’t expect that you will automatically get a large following through passion alone. You will get some–the ones who like your topics. If you are writing about a topic many don’t care about, passion or not, you most likely will not get a lot of followers. Choose a topic that you AND MANY OTHERS are passionate about.

    Gini’s blog has a strong following for several reasons, but one of the key reasons is:

    The information she provides HELPS her readers.

    Topics have included how to better run a business, how to leverage the many communication channels available, or simply how to be a better person.

    “Value” can be defined as how well something can be used for someone’s personal gain. As you write your blog, (take Doug’s advice above) ask yourself if the reader is gaining something from your blog. What will they take away from the experience?

    By the way, there is sometimes simply entertainment value, but this is harder to pull off (consistently) in terms of value.

    Be a tough critic and ask your friends to be one, too. As you start out, ask for feedback on your style, conciseness (I’m still working on that), humor, and most of all the perceived VALUE.

    Blogging is a time consuming job. Make sure you’re spending your time wisely.

  • I agree with the emphasis on consistency. How many good blogs have I seen waste away because the writer just runs out of steam. You have to be like that little engine that could. Just keep chuggin along and if you find a base of readers it will slowly expand so long as you CONTINUE TO ADD MORE CONTENT.

  • Good tips here, as always. Consistency is my biggest weakness (and I am planning to blog more often next year). And that’s a big tip: have a plan. As you suggest, know your audience, read other blogs, ask questions, picking topics are all part of a smart blogging plan.

  • Gini – Fantastic advice, as usual.

    Jeff — I largely agree with your point, but I have a small exception. A blog can be a great way find and engage with others in a niche passion.

    For instance, I have a small blog on interior design and related items. This may not be the best example, but part of the reason I started it was so I’d stop boring my friends and family with all my talk about fabric. I don’t need thousands — or even hundreds — of readers to fulfill my blog goal, which is to find kindred spirits to talk about design with.

    While much of Gini’s content is geared to building your business, the same concept applies. Not everyone needs to go big or go home. It’s critical to know WHY you’re blogging so you have the right metric in place to measure your success.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Melody – I am pleased to see you got out of your comfort box and blogged today about something that made you a bit itchy. People loved it and you had a lot of great comments!

    Brigitte – Great insight on finding your voice to match your passion and attracting readers with your same passion, no matter if that’s five or 500,000.

    Davina – You have such a great written voice! Make it a New Year’s resolution to blog at least twice a week!

    Jeff – You bring up a good point that is REALLY uncomfortable to most. Giving away your intellectual property in order to help your readers is not an easy thing to do at first. But the karma it creates is worth the effort…100 fold.

  • I abandoned this article about three quarters (96 seconds) through. 🙂

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  • Gini – thank you for posting this!

    I’ve been wrestling with the consistency monster, too. I’ve been throwing myself so deeply into my new job that my posting schedule suffered as a result.

    I love the hint about waiting for a week. It’s a great idea, not only because it enables you to stand out from the crowd but because it also allows for a little distance and perspective.

  • Nate – This is coming from the guy who writes for three hours. Pblttt!

    Patrick – I actually schedule my blog writing time. It helps.

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  • Stay true to your reason for having the blog in the first place. I recently had someone criticize my blog for being to personal. He said something like “If you’re writing about yourself, don’t blog, get a diary.”

    So I asked my readers what they’d like to see more or less of, and the vast majority responded that they wanted it to stay just as it was. Most emails said that they valued that I was doing something different from other bloggers.

    In thinking about it, I realized that the GUY who made that comment was totally coming from a male perspective, and that most of my regular readers are women. Female types like personal stories.