What I wonder is why people shoot themselves in the foot like it feels good. They work on mediocre content and publish it on their blog. After that, they clog the interwebs with click-bait headlines the jaded internet ignores.
When no one reads the post, they fire up their computer and start the process all over again.
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It’s a problem every blogger has faced. Most are still facing it.
The issue is how do you get people to read your blog and get hooked? How do you make them continue to come back for more?
That’s no easy feat. People are busy and their attention is divided. Millions of posts are being published every blessed day. Subpar work won’t cut it.
Let me be clear, this isn’t so much a problem with getting traffic to your website. It’s more of a problem about how to make content sticky.
In this post, I’ll focus on how to make mouthwatering content. How to create content that’s worthy of yourself and your tribe.
This is your first consideration.
When you’re staring at the white screen of death, your question shouldn’t be “what should I write about?” It should be, “what do the people visiting my blog want to read about?” “How can I add value and enrich their lives?”
The questions appear identical.
One is me focused and the other is you focused. Most people on the web skim your articles and most page views don’t last more than fifteen seconds.
Attention spans are the same length they’ve always been, but only when you’re giving them what they want. You’ve watched a 2-hour movie right? Then why can’t people read a 10-minute article?
The simple answer is because the article isn’t relevant, doesn’t deliver on its promise, or is a drag to read.
Let’s tackle relevance.
Here’s the funny thing. You don’t always choose your topics.
Do you know why? Because you’re not the one reading it. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the exact article you want to read is the exact same article your audience wants to read, but it’s unlikely.
Because a teacher knows what she’s about to teach.
There are so many ways to understand what your audience wants; all you have to do is listen.
My favorite place to start these days is Quora. People give me more fodder for blog posts than I know what to do with. They ask me questions directly.
In lieu of that, you can still get massive value from the platform.
Type the name of your niche in the search bar. It should be a topic. Play with different keywords until you find one that meets your needs.
After you’re on the topic page, there are two sections you want to look at. They’re called read and answer respectively.
On the read portion of the page, you’ll see popular answers. Determine when the questions were asked, how many people are following, and how many views it has.
If a lot of people are following and viewing the question, you know it’s something with potential. Keep scrolling to check out the different questions until you’ve compiled a list you can narrow down later.
This one looks promising and conforms to the golden ratio you should be looking for (I discuss how to use Quora in my book Use Quora to Build a Brand and Business Like a Boss)
Scroll back up to the top of the page and click on the “answer” tab. These are the most recent questions being asked. Here, you want to look for patterns.
You should see a few that fit the criteria. Note those down for later.
Irrespective of how you feel about Reddit, 1 I have mixed feelings about the platform. I’ve been praised and cursed. it’s a great place to gauge interest.
They make it easy for you.
There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of subreddits. Type in your relevant keywords in the search bar and get to work.
Click all the subreddits that are relevant to you and open them in a new tab. At the top of the page, there are multiple options which include new, hot, and controversial.
View the hot and controversial threads. You’ll understand why the controversial section is important later in this post. Let’s just say it lets you know the topic has a key element of the best content.
Got through the threads, read posts, and the comments. You need to understand what was written and how it was received.
After a few threads, you’ll have solid topics you can expand on. At the same time, you’ll get an idea of what people like. That could be personal experiences, case studies, or heavily researched information.
On a side note: Regularly reference other sources in your articles. It comes with a lot of benefits both tangible and intangible.
You’re bursting with ideas about what to write but it’s not time to open your word processor. Those topics need to be vetted for potential.
For this, I suggest you do some topical keyword research to make sure your topics have wider appeal. Keyword research is beyond the scope of this post, but let me refer you to this guide by Brian Dean of Backlinko.
After you’re done with research, it’s time to get down to crafting the type of content that’ll get people to read your blog and keep coming back for more.
I know, how can content solve a problem without being actionable? Well, the mistake is when you tell people what to do and not how to do it. I just showed you how to find topics to write about with examples.
I could just as easily have told you to go to Quora and search for your topic or go to Reddit and troll a few subreddits. The what without the how.
Some problems can be solved with a little information. Others need a more hands-on approach. Stroll around The Research Corner and you’ll see the articles contain actionable steps.
When I’m learning, you’ve got to explain it to me like I’m five.
Not because I’m thick, but because I want to make sure I understand. I know I’m not alone in that department. Since you can’t ask me questions while reading a blog post, the necessary insights need to be there. When you close the page, you have the playbook.
Your content solves the problem while giving actionable steps.
Facts tell but emotions sell. In a study by Antonio Damasio it was discovered that people who sustained damage to their orbital frontal cortex 2 the part of the brain that deals with the complex processes that regulate emotions had trouble making even the smallest decisions.
Have you ever read or watched an emotional piece of work? You remember it long afterward and trigger words or phrases can make you feel the same way after long periods of time have passed.
Have you gotten charity solicitations in the mail? If so, you know they’ll choose a picture of the most pitiable child they can find. You can’t help but go weak at the knees and send them half your paycheck. You don’t even do the basic research you would when making other purchase decisions.
Emotional writing contains power. It moves us to acts we’d only dream of beforehand. It can make us cry, it can make us evangelists, and it can make us open our wallets.
We justify a decision with facts. Without the facts, we can’t handle buyer’s remorse. In the critical moment, our emotions are the determining factor.
Emotion runs the gamut and the one you elicit depends on the situation. The controversial section of any subreddit is a great place to find emotionally charged topics.
Sometimes, you want people to get angry like when they’re cutting down all the rainforests or about to send a species to the grave. Other times you want them to be sad or empathetic like when you’re championing a charity.
There are a few ways to write with emotion:
Humor has a place in all human interactions. Beyond its use in fun and games, sociologists say it serves essential life functions. One function is to enable us to bond with our tribes (social circles) the other is to reduce tension and anxiety.
There’s no easy way to talk about death and dying. But, if it’s your story, you can always inject humor. No one can judge you or say you’re being insensitive when you’re the one who went through the fire.
It’s not about being the next Dave Chappelle or Kevin Hart (love those guys). It’s about enhancing engagement and improving readership. If you want to make a career out of it, I’m not the most qualified teacher.
The best humor is natural. If you’ve got to force it onto the page it’ll lay there lifeless and useless. It’ll take a bit of trial and error. It’s worth it.
We come for the content but we stay for the authority. What’s the difference between a website in the vast desert that’s dying a slow death and one that was built to last?
Even when they cover the same topics, it feels like a breath of fresh air. They have a unique spin, deep insights, and easy language. I don’t need to tell you how to be an authority in your niche, you already are. I’ll tell you what it takes to reflect it in your writing.
A word of caution: don’t add facts just to add them. Make sure they advance your train of thought.
Anyone can write a five hundred word blog post about a broad topic. Few people can write a 3,000+ word article about a narrow topic. Don’t confuse length for authority. Filler content exists. Instead, look at the quality of the content you’re producing.
Authority is a term we throw around a lot. It’s what everyone wants. The problem is most people don’t put in the work. It takes effort to be recognized as an authority. These tips will help you get there faster.
What’s the difference between the one thousand dollar shoes and the two hundred dollar shoes? Is it the material, the production process, or the colors?
To be honest, the cost to manufacture them won’t be much different. The two hundred dollar pair may cost $10-15 to manufacture. The one thousand dollar pair may cost about double that. The final sale price is a difference of five times.
Because of the box it’s wrapped in. They say don’t judge a book by its cover. No one listens, we all judge books by their cover.
The box you wrap your blog and content in includes design, imagery, elements (popups, forms, etc.), and formatting. The better it looks the more likely people are to come back for more (or give it a chance in the first place).
When you’re designing your blog to get more readers, think about what they’ll expect to see. Do they want a minimal website or are they used to a cluttered interface? What kind of imagery do they expect to see?
If you’re a fashion blogger, you create higher quality imagery. Throughout this post, I’ve been using memes that catch my fancy. I get to play around.
You’ll also notice my posts are easy to read. The sentences are short, there’s white space, and I don’t have a sidebar. You’ve likely encountered my slide in popup and a traditional popup. You won’t see much more than that.
Otherwise, it’s a clean, branded, minimal experience that focuses on the content.
It’s hard to get people to read your blog when it’s new. Hell, it’s hard to get people to read an old blog. Once you surmount that challenge, your next challenge is to make them come back.
In this post, I’ve laid out strategies to find the right content to create and also how to make it head and shoulders above the rest.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Browse places like Quora and Reddit to get insights into what you should be creating. Once you’ve got the ideas, create content that solves problems, is emotional, uses humor, shows authority, and is wrapped in a nice box.
Let me know how you’re getting people to read your blog in the comments.