Note from Raelyn: Today we have a guest post from Mecyll Gaspary, who is a full-time content writer, to teach us the art of writing engaging content. Enjoy!
Let’s face it.
We’re bloggers. We’re writing content to tell something, to inform our readers about the latest tips and trends of anything across the world.
In the rough and harsh realm of blogging, creating engaging content to excite our readers is vital. In fact, it’s the blood of blogging.
But, here’s the problem.
You don’t know how.
You’re so desperate to hook your readers until the end of the post without leaving your page. You don’t know how to attract and invite them to actively engage.
That’s the reason why you’re here, aren’t you?
Before we go into it, let’s first ask ourselves what attracts them to read your work.
One word, emotions.
As Copyblogger defines it, stirring up your reader’s emotions is a vital component in the decision-making process.
Basically, you’re blogging not only to talk about a new craze or your new course but to become responsible for the emotions you want your readers to invest in your post.
You aren’t simply telling them about your product, rather, you are telling them why they need it.
If you agree with this premise, I have 30 tips for you to create engaging content that excites your readers and hook them to your offer (whatever it is) at the end of your post.
These are the same tips I learned over the years as an online content writer in various categories.
1. Provoke them.
In what way? In any way possible.
Start with a challenging belief to provoke their values.
For instance, “Isn’t another World War a great way to renew the world and start a new beginning?”
Or maybe, “Blogging is dead. If you plan to start now, forget about it. It won’t bring you good but exasperation. Sighs.”
Of course, they initially snort. If they do, your attention grabber is effective. Now, they’re going to read your whole post either to prove you wrong or to open themselves to a new possibility.
It would be uncomfortable for them, obviously, but that’s your goal. To challenge them.
In their minds, they’re in a battle with you. They will try to read every word in your post and see if there’s an illogical phrase within your post. Isn’t that a great engaging method with your readers?
2. Start with a surprise.
“It seems Apple dies soon. This is the fact.”
What do you think of the sentence? If you start it that way, what do you think your readers feel? “Come on, I don’t think it’s true.”
Let’s have another example.
“Mothers today gives so much importance on social media than rearing children. They rather hold their smartphones than their children’s little hands.”
A series of reactions. Certainly, this gives them a shock if they read it the first time.
What comes next is predictable. They’re going to read the whole post to learn your argument. They want to know your opinion.
From there, they’re going to scroll down to your offer. This could be a course or signing up for your email list. They’re going to see it and decide to sign up or not.
3. Tell a real-life touching story.
Telling someone’s inspiring story – be it negative or positive – will provoke your reader’s emotions. Especially if it’s about your past struggle and how you overcome it with your head up high.
One great example is Jon Morrow’s popular post published in 2011 that brought him millions of views and cemented his reputation as one of the most sought bloggers of today.
“After all, that’s the dream, right?
Forget the mansions and limousines and other [trappings] of Hollywood-style wealth. Sure, it would be nice, but for the most part, we bloggers are simpler souls with much kinder dreams.”
(Excerpt from his post, ‘How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World.’)
4. Start with action.
That’s why we’re here, right?
We want our readers to take action. So, it’s best to emulate that with our writing. From the beginning of your post, they should feel that from you and your sincerity to help them resolve their problems.
If not, it will be another BS for them. In that case, they’re going to leave your post midpoint. They won’t return to your page again. You’re a boring blogger after all. You don’t simply tell them about your new course but the “why.”
“I feel bad that someone stole our dinner. Everyone in the family thought we’re going to starve for the night.”
The first example is boring. To put emotions to it, we rather put your intro this way.
“I couldn’t forget the time I cried while seeing someone stealing the last squash in our garden. That’s supposed to be our dinner lost into thin air. Just like that, my family thought we’re going to starve tonight. But not me.”
How is that? A simple revision makes a difference. Again, touch people’s hearts and you’re changing the game of blogging.
5. Use the classic: brutal honesty.
Many people hate this. If you’re a self-development blogger or any niche that gets personal, brutal honesty isn’t something they easily accept.
Yet, they want to improve their lives, hence, they muster their courage and read your whole post.
For example, rather than saying,
“It’s already 2019, there are many people in the world fail to make a change for themselves. They remain stuck in a rut and couldn’t move on.”
Yes, it’s true. Majority of the population tend to stay within their comfort zones and complain about their miserable life. But the way you say it is a bit…er, lame. It’s better this way.
“Do you think you have the right to complain about your miserable, dreading 9 to 5, well, in fact, you’re there, sitting in front of your computer and do nothing but scrolling updates on Facebook?”
Which of these two examples provoke them and will likely trigger suppressed emotions? You’d say the second, right?
6. Forget creative writing.
You aren’t here to showcase your creative novelty but to hook your readers to engage in your content. Not even the usage of gargantuan words to prove how you are compared to them.
“The flashing, flickering flashlights flashed through my eyes as I flick my head down the height of my nose. All of a sudden, the words I saw in the magazine had me in a blank state.”
It could possibly be a great technique to get your readers’ attention. But if you excessively use this in your post, it would annoy them in the long run.
7. Show how passionate you are [in the topic].
When you know your topic, your readers detect it. They can smell how knowledgeable and well-acquainted you are in your blog post from a distance. They don’t even have to read the entire post to confirm it.
For years in blogging, this is what I noticed. People in your target niche tick the follow button if they feel the person behind this site, for example, knows what she’s doing.
This is why it’s easy for us to follow J.K. Rowling versus a newbie author like me. With a few words, a few tips from her, they will believe it immediately compared to anybody in the room.
Yet, even if you aren’t an influencer, as long as you show how dedicated you are in your niche through writing epic posts.
Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, started from scratch when he built the site. But his passion for teaching SEO to beginners lead him to become an influencer within a short span of time.
How does he do it? Epic posts. For years of blogging, he only has *drum rolls* approximately 40 posts published on his site. You say, “What?”
He told in one of his video tutorials on YouTube that the quantity of your posts doesn’t quantify traffic.
Even if you have 500+ posts within 4 years of blogging doesn’t mean you’re in a position of influencing others.
You wrote crap. You spent so much time writing posts nobody cares about.
Even if they did care, you didn’t bother researching more than others and you keep relying on what’s in there, what’s available or researchable online.
To show your passion in one blog post, let’s say, make sure you write an epic post. That means it should contain at least 3,000 words with an ample amount of external and internal links.
Furthermore, there should also be consideration of SEO basics such as the keyword targets, stuff for your Google snippets, alt texts, images, opt-in buttons, etc.
The longer your posts, the more epic it will be. Note: This shouldn’t mean you can write all you want without taking care of the readability of your posts.
What I’m trying to say here is to fill your post with irresistible content that they absolutely cannot bring themselves to leave your website.
8. Start with a positive note.
Lore Deschene, the founder of Tiny Buddha, is one of the masters of this technique.
When you try to scan her site, you see how her intro goes. It always starts with positive quotes followed by a positive summary of the post before the whole content.
Why does she implement consistency at this?
We’re already living in a world of too much negativity. We only hear about wars in different parts of the world, corruption in government, rallies, etc.
Subsequently, people subconsciously search for a haven. A place where they could forget the bad vibes and read something nice and inspiring.
Instead of putting up their inadequacies, why not encourage them to change their perspective and live to strive for success?
There are many people, thirsty for words promoting a positive lifestyle. You see, there is a dramatic increase number of bloggers tackling minimalism.
Why do you think so?
We live with so many emotional pieces of baggage. As a blogger, you’re not only selling your product by telling them how great it is.
You’re telling them how this product helps them solve their problems. You’re helping them. You’re trying to. That’s why you build your site and blog and tell them about things.
You’re here because you want to help them. And starting with a positive note at the beginning of your post is a quick start.
9. Don’t preach.
Instead of telling your readers what to do, let them figure out themselves. For writing fiction, it’s “Show. Don’t tell.” In blogging, it’s showing how the readers’ lives improve by reading your post.
To succeed, you need to give concrete examples or descriptive consequences of their decisions. That is if they choose not to follow what you have written.
But that doesn’t mean you coerce them to do something. What you’re providing is a mere suggestion and nothing else.
It’s up to them to follow or not.
10. Tell a sad but inspiring story.
Many bloggers tend to use their past experiences of pain to share how they faced and overcame them in such a way that they made their readers shed tears.
As a writer myself, I tend to use that in most of my posts not only because I want to share it.
As Raelyn puts it, sharing personal stories build rapport and personal connection with them at the same time.
Rather, I want to use my pains, my failures, my negative encounters as a clear picture to my readers regardless of the post. It’s best to share a bit of your life to connect with them.
Just so you know, your influence initially depends on how vulnerable you could be by showing your sincerity to them.
As a return, they will support you tirelessly and follow you all the way through, especially when you publish posts.
11. Focus on love.
We already have so much hate in the world. We only see the negative sides of everything.
To engage your readers and invite them to read the rest of your posts all through to the last word, it’s best to have a vibe of love and positivity throughout your blog.
It doesn’t even matter if your niche is lifestyle or business. What matters is how your post could resonate with them and make an impact on their lives.
12. Touch human virtues.
In relation to the previous point, one of the most effective ways to engage your readers in your blog posts is to start with a hook that touches human virtues. There are 73 known human virtues you can use.
13. Ask to share on social media. (inline buttons)
Well, this isn’t new but this remains an effective way to let your readers have a bit of cooperation to return the favor of providing great content. Especially if you impressed them. They won’t fail to share your post in their social media accounts.
However, you need to keep in mind not to do it too much that it annoys your readers.
Quicksprout wrote that 99.9% of them will choose to leave your page even if your content is great because of too much engagement.
What are we talking about here?
The improper use of pop-ups. Although it’s a great way to invite them to whatever offer you have, if it distracts them from reading your post too much, they won’t give a damn about sharing it.
14. Start with a quote.
According to The Edublogger, there are 6 reasons why placing quotes into the blog posts is powerful, leaving a great insight to your readers.
One of those reasons is to provide alternative viewpoints and to encourage your readers to reflect depending on the subject you talk about.
At the same time, it improves the readability of the text without compromising the credibility of your content.
Problogger stated that it would leverage your blog posts, looking more professional as you write it in “more journalistic approach.”
While this may sound simple, you shouldn’t be using this method too much. You need to know when, where, and why you place that specific quotation in the post.
15. Provide statistics from beginning, middle, and end.
Showing figures and other forms of statistical facts do trigger the emotions of readers. Everyone wants the truth, right?
No wonder this traditional technique of hooking them to reading your post remained one of the most effective ways to engage them.
16. Be brief in writing sentences but filled with emotions.
There are times I couldn’t contain myself from writing clauses in paragraphs because of too much time spent on novels.
You know, in writing fiction, this isn’t something you should mind too much about. But blogging is a different thing.
You need to cut down the sentences, shortening them to make your point brief and concise.
Remember, you’re trying to hook your readers to read the entire post. And writing a whole 20-sentence paragraph won’t be a good move. Otherwise, they will immediately leave, increasing your bounce rate.
17. No jargons at the beginning, please.
Who wants to read a blog post filled with scientific names? Obviously, nah. A content rich with jargons overwhelms your readers. Certainly.
If you can’t help it, having a finance blog, for example, you can start explaining the difficult terms in the middle. But definitely not from the beginning.
Introduce the post with a personal testimony or someone’s personal story alluding your point before you discuss the problem and the solution.
At this junction, you include the technical terms without pushing your readers away and finish the post instead.
18. Use case studies.
One of the 45 types of blog posts Raelyn compiled is writing a case study. How is this related to analogies?
Having case studies make your point believable rather than theoretical.
19. Use pop culture as a reference to your post.
One thing I observed from most of the blog posts published nowadays is that they are using this technique not only to attract fans but also to exemplify a post.
Names like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, among others come into the picture. In blogging, I often see the names of influencers in headlines to attract readers on Google search results and click their posts.
Blog titles like “Blog Like XXX” or Use XXX To Engage More Readers” are the most used formats.
20. Start with a controversial statement.
Recently, I read one of the classics, “Catcher in the Rye,” written by J.D. Salinger. He introduced his book in a way that strikes controversy.
He did it this way,
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied before they had me, and all the David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
What matters in this technique is it should make your readers turn their heads and get caught up in disbelief, leaving them curious of what you’re going to say after writing the strikingly strong words at the beginning.
21. Give them a sneak preview of your solution.
If you want to engage your readers from the beginning, give them a sneak preview of whatever concern you’re trying to resolve.
“If you think you’re not a good writer, stop. Do this instead.”
Placing that at the start of the post, doesn’t it stir curiosity from your readers? Yes, it does.
They’ll be reading the whole article to see what you have for them. This is effective even as a blog title, and even more as an introductory hook?
22. Develop storytelling techniques.
As I’ve mentioned in certain points earlier, people love to read content that tugs at their emotions.
If you blog straightforwardly and tell them straight in point-to-point basis, they wouldn’t bother reading the whole post.
However, if you effectively write a story by letting them know the personal reason for writing your post, they will stay. Especially if you succeeded in some kind of difficult situation, they will want to know how you did it.
Sharing your personal experience within your points shows an affectionate connection between you and your readers, which is more effective blogging than simply explaining concepts.
23. Use screenshots as proof in content.
Neil Patel, a social media influencer known for SEO, wrote that by showing screenshots within the content improves readability and cements the theories you discuss within the post itself. This is great whenever you write a lengthy post like this.
24. Provoke curiosity.
It’s easier said than done. Now, how can you provoke curiosity to your readers then?
Psychology and economics professor George Loewenstein defined the 3 triggers to provoke high-level curiosity, namely: 1) Violating the right expectations, 2) Tickling the “information gap,” and 3) Knowing when to stop.
Amy Harrison of Copyblogger discussed these 3 important – and probably the craziest – strategies you’d do in your post that stir readers’ attention.
Instead of saying this in an introduction,
“You can succeed in blogging if you learn and master how to write a cornerstone content.”
You can do this,
“You’re here to learn how to boost your blogging and improve your traffic 150% after publishing 1 cornerstone content.”
Which of these 2 do you think readers will like to read more?
25. Use negative [in contrast to #8]
In contrast to my 8th point, you can also use a negative statement at the beginning of your post.
This is to simply hook their interest and trigger the necessary emotions involved. Fear, for example.
I saw this in one of Jon Morrow’s sample headlines, “What [Negative Event] Can Teach Us About [Positive Consequence].”
If we replace the brackets with a certain negative event with a corresponding positive consequence, then it would look like this:
“What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Survive A Blogging Crisis?”
26. Maintain a conversational tone in your post.
Don’t speak like a robot, speak as you would to a friend.
This is a mistake that many bloggers make – they start writing like a huge corporation in an overly formal tone.
People get bored and click away.
27. Challenge their fears.
Aaron Orendorff of Smartblogger wrote that fear can be a great way to invite readers to click on your post. Once they’re into your page, they will be too scared to ignore whatever you have to say. That is if you properly write your post.
He wrote, “Fear is the most universal, dominant, and primal human motivator.” That means you can make use of this strong emotion and treat it as your best friend to keep your readers read your post.
One of the best examples for a fear-fueled post will be like, “You have this great blog. Lots of readers land into your page. What you don’t know is they’re not actually interested in your post. Rather, they read a bit and leave without a word.”
This would be great if you are trying to talk about bounce rates.
28. Challenge their dreams.
Most writers use this technique to test your commitment to something.
Let’s say in blogging:
“Are you really sure you’re going to go through this hellish online world and get hurt by rude comments from people you never even met?”
People hold their dreams close to their hearts, so challenging their dreams would certainly engage them.
29. End post with a bang.
Remember to pay a lot of attention to the end of your post because this is where readers where start thinking about what to do next.
It is recommended to give a call to action for them to apply the lesson you’ve just taught them.
In most cases, bloggers take advantage of this by placing their offers at the end of every post as Raelyn and I do with our blogs.
30. Ask them to comment. [True proof of effective engaging post].
If you successfully urge your readers to leave a blog comment, it means your post has engaged them.
There’s no other – and better – proof to show than this.
These are the 30 tips to create engaging content I learned over the years as an online content writer.
Apply them with consistency in your blogs and you’ll see the difference.
Mecyll Gaspary is a blogger and full-time content writer of one business website. If she’s not at her desk writing the whole day, she spends her time reading, thinking stories, and play with her dog. Visit her blog at www.mgaspary.com.