Digital Marketing Blog

Doing Blog Engagement the Right Way

Oct 7, 2013 Aaron Agius 20 Comments

Anyone can write a blog. Just put one word in front of another until you reach the 500 mark. Sprinkle in a few keywords, buy a stock shot and you’re all done. Right?

WRONG!

Creating a piece of blog content that’s engaging, relevant and interesting to your audience takes careful consideration. For bloggers old and new writing a post that generates an avalanche of likes, tweets, Google Pluses and genuine comments can be a real struggle.

That’s why the team at Louder.Online have created this easy checklist to help you create super engaging blog content, first time and every time!

Step 1: Do your research

Before you start your blog post it’s important to do a little research, consider:

  • Checking out what your competitors are writing about.
  • Googling possible post titles and read what you find.
  • Playing around in Google Adwords to see if there’s a new way to approach a well-trodden topic.

Think about creating a file on your desktop where you save your favourite posts for later inspiration. Or set up a spreadsheet to store links, research and title ideas.

Step 2: Consider your objective

We often hear about people writing blogs simply to please Google and improve their ranking. If that’s your objective, stop right now. Your aim should always be to inform, engage and entertain your readers. Put humans first and Google bots second and you’re onto a winner.

Step 3: Choose a subject you’re passionate about

Obviously it makes sense to write about a subject matter you know well but possibly more important is to write with true passion.  Enthusiasm often speaks louder than facts and figures. By choosing to write about a topic you really love, you’ll find the words flow easily and you never experience the dreaded writer’s block.

Often a way to inject passion is to make the post personal. No you don’t have to spill your guts about a traumatic childhood incident, but you can give your opinion and perspective.

Readers respond to real posts that are written from the heart. Tweet This

 Step 4: Create a blogging template

Few or us are so lucky we can just sit down and ‘let the magic happen’. So it’s a good idea to create your own blogging template or structure that includes:

– Title: Create a short and snappy title with the most important words at the start. Use this fun title generating tool to help you get some ideas.

Portent Content Idea Generator

 

– Snippet: Write a short 50-word intro that can be used as your excerpt.

– Pull quote: Try to write and pull a special quote from the article that sums everything up nicely.

– Intro or teaser: Outline what you want to discuss in 50 words or fewer.

– The middle bit: Consider starting the core of your blog with a personal or true story. If you’re writing about how to deal with difficult clients, share your story of a dreadful client you once worked with. Not only does this give the blog some context, it draws readers in.

– The bigger picture: Once you’ve told your personal story, ease into the bigger picture and discuss things in more general terms all your readers can relate to.

– Further reading: You can either save further reading for the end of your article, or add it throughout. Make your argument or discuss your issues, then offer the reader opportunities to read more.

– Conclusion: Sum up your article and answer any questions you raised in the intro.

– Questions: Pose a question to your reader. What was their experience of the issue? How do they feel about your suggestions? What would they do differently?

When you work with a set blog structure, it’s easy to manage even the most difficult subjects.

 Step 5: Choose an awesome image

Along with your blog title the image is the most powerful way to encourage users to click on your blog and read. So it’s vital to choose an impactful (good word creation here right?) image. There are several ways to find great images for your blog:

– Sign up to some free image stock suppliers or invest a small budget in more high quality paid image sites like istock.

– Look for images with no copyright restrictions or a Creative Commons license on Flickr

– Create your own images and illustrations

– Use a great free photo editing tool like PicMonkey to give your pictures a unique style.

Step 6: Mix it up a little

A really great blog has a mix of content lengths and types. So if you’re always posting 2000 word how to style articles then consider a shorter post that gives your personal opinion on a contemporary issues. Other idea for mixing it up include:

– Interviews with relevant personalities in your industry

– Question and answer type posts

– Reviews of products or services

– Photo blogs with minimal writing

– Controversial posts that attack an established view point

By shaking up the format every once in a while you’ll attract new readers and encourage more sharing and caring.

 Step 7: Make a video

Video blogs are a great way to increase engagement and time on site (both things that Google loves). It may be too daunting to consider a talking head style videos but don’t worry there are other options. How about using a screen capture tools to create a simple how to video? We like to use Screenflow, here’s a great little video on how to use it.

Step 8: Learn to link

You might think including links to other sites is a bad thing, but it’s not. Including links to further reading shows you’re genuinely trying to you’re your readers useful content instead of just keeping them trapped on your site. Just be sure to:

– Launch links to external sites in a new window.

– Underline words so your readers know where to click.

Another great idea is to create internal links from one blog post to another. Check your Google Analytics to see which of your blog posts are achieving high traffic and then link the to new post where relevant. Not only with the SEO juice will flow through but your readers will enjoy an easy journey through your site.

Step 9: Ask for feedback

Make sure you ask for feedback at the end of your blog post. You can do this by raising a question or starting a debate. But have realistic expectations: the rule of thumb is that for every 100 readers, only 1 or 2 will actually take the time to comment.

Make sure you the question you ask is easy to answer questions like ‘what drives you crazy about xxx’ or ‘what’s your favourite way to use xxx’ require almost no thought to answer and so they get heaps of comments.

When people do comment, it’s important to deal with their comments in a professional and considered way. Here are some recommendations:

Respond: Answer each comment quickly and politely. Address their points and, if possible, encourage them to comment again.

Be humble: No matter how much you know about your subject matter, the likelihood is that, collectively, your readers know more.  If a commenter challenges your thinking, don’t take it personally. Instead, be thankful rejoice in the fact that they’ve taken the time to share their thoughts with you and thank them.

Handle trolls with care: If you receive a rude or aggressive comment, don’t rush to press the ‘delete’ button. Instead thank them for their contribution and respect their opinion. Don’t add fuel to the fire by challenging them (unless you have some time on your hands).

Step 10: Share everywhere!

Once you’ve written your blog, you’ll obviously share it across your social networks. But look for opportunities to share it elsewhere. If you’re a member of a group, community or forum, why not share your blog post as part of a relevant discussion? Just remember to respect the forum rules, and never spam people.

Also be sure to make it easy for your readers to share your content:

– If you’re using WordPress there are a stack of sharing plugins, one of our favourites is Shareaholics Sexy bookmarks or Digg Digg.

– There are heaps of other free sharing tools such as Addthis and

Why go to all the trouble?

By following these ten simple rules every time you create a blog post, we believe you’ll be well on the way to creating great blog content.

But it seems like a lot of effort, right?

Believe us, it will be worth it.

Getting comments and share isn’t just about improving your sites position in the ranking. It’s good for your own motivation. Often writing a blog can feel like shouting into the wilderness: “Is anybody out there?”

By generating more likes and comments and this will boost your blogging confidence. You’ll know people are reading and enjoying your posts and that what you’re writing is touching people.

We all need a little pat on the bag now and again right? That’s what engagement is. It’s digital affirmation that we’re doing things right.

But here’s one more thing to think about.

When you finish writing your blog post, sit down and read it out loud.

Then ask yourself, “Would I share this blog with my friends if SEO wasn’t an issue?”

If the answer is yes, then you’ve done your job. Well done.

If the answer is no the, sorry, but it might be time for a rewrite. 

Over to you

Do you follow these steps when writing your blogs posts? Are there any steps we’ve missed you think are essential?


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  • Ben Kniffen

    I could not agree more with these tips, especially the tip on creating a blogging template. So many times I get ready to write a post and I just throw ideas on the computer screen and think it’s going to be amazing, only to find out that it’s just a bunch of rambling. Using a template to create blog posts helps keep me more centered/focused when writing and even saves me time as well.

    • Good points Ben. You should keep an eye out for an upcoming released from us of our full content strategy and research document that we use with our clients. It provides a fantastic outline for full research, strategy and writing of great content for the blog. Opt in to our list to get access before it goes public.

  • Matt Kersey

    This is a great summary on how to go about writing good content for the web.

    Much like songwriters I’ve found my best content ideas come when I least expect it. And, when something hits me, I quickly jot it down somewhere.

    It’s important to keep blog posts conversational, interesting and as succinct as possible as well. And, always make sure to proofread your copy before you post it.

    Also, people don’t like to read a huge block of text. I try to make sure my articles have enough white space and I avoid huge blocks of text. With so many choices on what to read people usually choose to read things they can quickly digest. I’ve found bullet points or a top ten list of best practices also helps increase engagement levels.

    Keep up the great writing Aaron.

  • Thanks for the comments Matt.

    One thing you touched on about white space is really important. With so much content out there, people skim posts nowadays. By breaking up paragraphs and leaving white space, peoples eyes are automatically drawn to the beginning of each new paragraph, so it’s a way to keep people reading more of your post before clicking away.

  • Thanks Aaron, great article, this is something i definitely don’t do nearly as well as i should! A question, considering time is always something i don’t have, how many blogs should i aim to create per month for my site?

    • Thanks for stopping by Gary. To answer your question, it’s more of a case of quality versus quantity. There are some awesome blogs out there that post very infrequently, but what they do is create awesome posts that educate, entertain, inform and generally provide great value to their readers. They then spend the bulk of their time actively marketing the posts to get as many new readers to the blog as possible. Once the readers are there, the content is great so people are sharing, liking, and linking to the posts directly, which then continues to feed the cycle of traffic by helping the posts themselves rank well in the search engines and driving search traffic.

      To put it simply, focus on massive amounts of quality and then spend 5 times longer promoting the posts than you do actually writing the posts.

  • Dayne

    This is very similar to the approach I take with blog posts. The only one I would add would be to come up with titles ahead of time. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with an idea for a post, do the research and write the post all at once. Creating a backlog of titles can help spread the work out a bit.

    • Couldn’t agree more – thanks for stopping by Dayne.

  • Some great tips, a lot for one blog. I think the most important one is the why and most people don’t get that, or don’t get it right. The reason is of course different for many people. It could be sharing a passion or it could be to get new business, but there are many more reasons. The reason is pivotal when measuring ROI. Sales, comments, reads, clicks on links, people coming to you from search engines, geography etc.

    Another thing most people don’t understand is that even when you get it totally right, it can take a long time and a lot of blogs to gain a following.

    • Yea, this is certainly not a quick win here. It takes hard work to ensure all the right elements fall in to place, but when they do and your posts start to gain traction and start to reach those desired levels of engagement, it’s all worthwhile.

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  • I agree and congrats to an excellent post Aaron. The title generating tool is nice. I think most think blogging is very easy, just write a post and they will come. Everyone can write a post, but very few understand how the stand out of the crowd.

    • Hi Apollo. There is also a further step this post doesn’t cover which is all about blog post promotion. Look out for a post on this coming up soon.

  • I couldn’t agree more Aaron. It amazes me how companies think that just by producing content, they have solved the puzzle. I wrote an article that outlines how I promote every piece of content I create http://stuartjdavidson.com/how-to-promote-new-blog-posts/.

    The last point of my article fits in nicely with the topic of your post – engagement. By far, my biggest metrics are the cause of engagement.

    Let me know if there are ways you promote your content through engagement that I’ve missed in my article.

    • Hi Stuart – your article seems great. I’ve actually got a huge resource on blog marketing coming out in the very near future so be sure to check back in to get your hands on it as it launches.

  • Very useful blog post and some great resource links, thanks

    • Aaron Agius

      You’re welcome – thanks for stopping by.

  • Agree and honestly I dislike the cliche that “content is king”, it is only when all the rest is done properly.

    • Aaron Agius

      Thanks for stopping by. Quality, engaging content is the only sort of content that will make any decent impact anymore.

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