Have you ever watched longingly as other bloggers flaunt their engagement with their audience, while you cry alone in an empty comments corner?
Ever wonder what you’ve been doing so wrong when you try to boost blog audience engagement for your clients (or for yourself)? Chances are, what you’re doing isn’t wrong, but it may just not be enough.
Maybe you’ve been admiring your audience from afar. Pull them close.
Perhaps you’ve been flirting coyly for a while from your blogging balcony. Take them by the hand.
But you just haven’t mustered the right energy to compel your readers to take the plunge. Kneel down and put a ring on it.
Keeping an audience engaged with your writing is a key skill that all clients need you to possess. It’s also the foundation upon which a deeper writer-reader relationship is built, which can be particularly important with ongoing projects and retainer clients.
It takes consistent commitment to deliver on your promise of engaging content, ensuring that your readers can comprehend it, relate to it, learn from it, feel something about it, and do something with it.
If you’re ready to hear your audience shout, “We’re engaged!” then you need these five tips:
1: Make it understandable
Fun fact: the number one couples issue addressed by relationship counselors is not sex or money, but ineffective communication. That pitfall is not exclusive to romance; a blog post also suffers when either the content or the intent of the writing is misconstrued.
For communication to be effective and successful, it needs to be understood. To avoid confounding—and losing—your audience, don’t use a lot of specialized jargon and obtuse analogies.
No matter how complex, in-depth or technical your subject may be, it is important to present it in a clear and logical way. Your audience can’t relate to what they can’t understand.
2: Make it relatable
Drill down to the core of your topic on a human experience level. Your reader needs to understand the concepts as well as the words. A well-placed anecdote or well-constructed analogy can bring a blurry notion into focus.
I know, I know. I just warned against obtuse analogies.
But vivid, valid comparisons to relatable everyday things can go a long way in helping your audience visualize an unfamiliar or complex idea.
Relatability makes the information you are presenting easier to comprehend. Your audience will connect with you and your content if you make it as relatable as it is informative.
3: Make it informative
Even the simplest words are meaningless if your audience doesn’t learn anything from them. But this doesn’t mean you need to make your writing more like a textbook.
You simply need to engage your reader by presenting them with something they have not yet experienced.
If you can’t inform your audience about something entirely new, try presenting a new angle or a fresh perspective on a familiar topic.
For example, many people understand the acronym “KISS” to represent “Keep it simple, stupid” – a design principle created for the Navy in 1960 by Lockheed engineer, Kelly Johnson. The KISS priciple is applicable to almost every endeavor, including writing.
I prefer to “keep information surprisingly simple” when I write.
The original is punchy, but I found it mildly disheartening—was I actually stupid for not writing more simply? Plus, the “see Spot run” style of writing is just not me. So I amended it for myself.
Just as little sweet surprises can keep a romance feeling new, a mild element of surprise in your writing can be refreshing for your readers.
They won’t be astounded by something old-hat, so evoke that sense of amazement. And then make them care about it.
4: Make it evocative
Along with the facts, you must provide the feels.
Data and statistics only tell a small part of any story. Evocative narrative is what brings it to life.
You see this all the time in news headlines— instead of remaining objective, reporters make a subjective appeal to their readers’ basest of emotions: disdain, disgust, dread and indignation. Consider these recent headlines, both covering the same content:
1 killed in 3-vehicle crash in Liberty County
Mother of 4 killed in Liberty County crash. Children were in the vehicle…
One provides basic, objective facts; the other subjectively invokes dread, sympathy and sorrow.
The first headline is a very Dragnet-style, “just the facts” presentation. It is informative, but not evocative beyond the reader’s presumed sympathy at the loss of another human being.
The second one hits the heart – we may envision our own mother being killed, or our own children being traumatized by being witnessing and experiencing our own brutal demise.
But evocative writing doesn’t need to be disarming or tragic. I prefer writing that fosters positive feelings like strength, joy, compassion, encouragement, optimism, motivation, hope and wonder.
Does it matter what emotions you evoke? Of course it does, and your subject matter will partly dictate the necessary trajectory. Always keep your goal at the top of your mind as you write.
Words, tone and intent matter.
Intense, aggressive, gloomy words prompt negative feelings and can result in retaliation – or worse yet, inaction. Pleasant, peaceful, passionate and poignant words are empowering and can inspire support and positive action.
Returning to our analogy, romantic relationships contain a similar dynamic; basically, you get what you give.
Even if your article or blog is heavy on the technical side, providing your reader with emotional insight on your topic tells them why they should care.
Why does that matter? Because you also want your audience to do something with or about your words.
People won’t act or react if they don’t care.
5: Make it actionable
This is a vital step some writers, unfortunately, overlook. Without a call to action (CTA), everything you write ends abruptly when the reader reaches the final punctuation.
Give your readers something to do.
It may be a call for volunteerism, how-to steps for a project, or a simple “be kind” reminder; but at the very least, you want them to share your insights (and your blog) with others.
You don’t want the reader-romance you’re building to go stale. The CTA reignites the spark you lit at the beginning. When readers act or react to your posts, they are happily shouting from the proverbial rooftops, “We’re engaged!”
Audience engagement is essential to a freelance blogger’s success, and an engaged reader is a sharing reader. More than 90% of people who share online content do so for the primary purpose of enriching people’s lives.
A sharable blog is one that informs your audience in an understandable way and appeals to them by being evocative and relatable.
Carl W. Buehner touted the importance of passionately effective communication when he said:
They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.
I hope this post has made you feel more confident about blog audience building. I would love to see examples of some of the ways YOU engage your audience – tell me about it in the comments box!