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Blog Hooks – Elements that Draw Readers Back

After my earlier post about linkbaiting I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘hooks’. The idea of a developing a ‘hook’ (or hooks) for your blog is brilliant advice.

I remember talking to a successful song writer a few years ago and he said the same thing – all good songs have some ‘hook’ to them – whether it’s a guitar riff, a memorable lyrical line or one of those melodies that you can’t get out of your head – a hook is what gets people both into the song when they hear it but that also draws them back to it over time.

This is what all successful blogs have also. They have something about them that stands out, that draws you into them in the moment but that also draws you back to them over time.

We are blogging in a context where there are literally millions of blogs, in some niches there are hundreds (if not thousands) of alternatives for people to read. Successful blogs do something that makes them distinct from the rest.

They are not ‘just another blog on ((insert topic here))’ – they are ‘the blog that….((insert ‘hook’ here))’

Blog Hooks can come in all shapes and sizes – they can happen on both a micro level (ie hooks within posts as discussed in the linkbaiting article at performancing) but also on a macro level.

Some of the hooks that draw me into blogs include:

  • personality of blogger – I read a few blogs not because of what they have to say but because of who writes them.
  • design elements - I’m a visual person and love some blogs simply for the way they look and the feelings that they create in me when I read them.
  • readers participation and community – I have a few blogs on my daily read list that I’m probably more interested in because of the comments of readers and the community that they have than the posts of the blogger themselves.
  • thought leading content – some bloggers have a knack of continually breaking new ground in their field with new ideas and commentary. To miss one of their posts can mean missing a massive opportunity.
  • latest news – Similarly some blogs have a knack of being the first to break stories in their niche. If something is happening in the industry you’re certain that they’ll be on top of it and have links to the relevant news sources.
  • practical tips - I have a few blogs on my news aggregator that hook me into them by giving me practical tips that enhance my life so much that I don’t know how I ever lived my life without them. They are overflowing with useful tools and tidbits on improving a particular area of my life.
  • readership levels – There is something exciting about reading a blog that you know that thousands of others are reading. Some blogs draw people in just because that’s what everyone else is reading.

So coming out of this discussion on hooks an important question might be to ask ‘what is hooking readers into your blog?’ What is it about your blog that draws people back? Also What hooks draw you into other blogs? I’m sure I haven’t developed the definitive list here and would be interested to hear more of what you think.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dee says:

    ‘what is hooking readers into your blog?’

    christian fiction blog doesn’t just host author interviews or book reviews, but also provides latest news in christian fiction(movies, plays, books, gaming). thanks to you, Darren, this month we are holding a 30 day writing tip project parallelling with this month’s Nanowrimo project. We also have a discussion board and a free short story review session to help writers improve their craft.

    What is it about your blog that draws people back?
    we want them to believe that if they don’t come back, they may miss out on new publishing submission guidelines, literary agents asking for submissions, what’s selling in the market. we want them to use the blog as a tool to help them become successful, so we’re working hard at trying to build a reputation that we know it first. hopefully, this goal will be met in the near future, particularly once we upload our new website at year’s end(thank you darren for the tip that will lead to our move from blogger.com)

    Also What hooks draw you into other blogs?

    great information

    i like pretty pictures on pages

    i like to know what’s the latest hot thing in online media, so i’m always searching

  2. pcunix says:

    I’ve had a web page since 1997 – actually a few years earlier, but it was very small and mostly private until then. Anyway, over the years, I’ve had many comments, almost all positive. I collected a few at http://aplawrence.com/comments.html and I read them when I need cheering up :-) The common theme is “clear”, “informative”, “helpful”.

    What *I* look for is information and personality. I’d rather read about how someone struggled with a problem and fixed it than just read *how* to fix it.

    It’s personality that keeps me coming back to here – there are plenty of other sites that have similar content, but I like Darren’s style.

  3. I’ve found that personality is one of the things that brings me back to blogs over and over. Information can be obtained quickly using a search engine and much information contained in blogs is usually created using the same primary sources as other blogs use, i.e. news wires, corporate websites, etc.

    It’s the personality and style of the author that makes the raw information or news stand out. A blog author whose blog I often read has a criterion for judging blogs: passion. A blog will stand out if the author is passionate about what ever topic she or he is writing about.

    If personality and passion weren’t involved in blogging, people would just go straight to the primary sources to obtain their information. Blogs add value by allowing personality to shine through.

  4. DWB says:

    Hey there,
    I cant really comment about what keeps my visitors coming back because I’ve only got a few returning visitors and blog has only been running a few weeks.
    I’ve got no real plans to become a pro blogger anytime soon but find this site an invaluable place to start for blogging advice- keep up the good work!!

    Generally I will return to a site or blog if it has been intelligently written (without deliberate misspellings from the hip-hop fraternity such as wid’, wot, ‘bin, coz, nuff etc…), and makes me laugh/smile and has reasonable sized posts (not 2 lines but not 10,000 words).

    chow for now
    DWB

  5. Tim Houghton says:

    Definitely humour! I’m convinced places like Engadget and The Register became huge because of their wacky commentary. Another great example is that Manolo guy you interviewed here a while back. I couldn’t care less about women’s shoes, but his blog is still worth reading :-)

  6. Darren,
    You are already doing that. There are lot of hooks in your blog. It is basically simple language, useful tips / advice ( ex. Chitika, How to blog, Google Adsense tips etc.) and latest information and interesting topics related to blog.

    Regards

    Krishna

  7. Kevin says:

    As mentioned previously on this site, Top 10 lists work great as well. They are easy to read and fun to distribute.

  8. Kent says:

    My blog is about how to make money online and I have found that if you give readers something that they can take away and apply to their own situation they will generally want to read more. There is a lot of information out there that is flashy and has great personality but offers no real substance. I agree that personality is a big factor but I believe that if you give somebody an idea or advice that helps them make money that they can’t really find anywhere you will have succeded in becoming a credible source for good information.

    It also depends on what your blog is about. If you have a blog about gadgets, then the you would just have to go from one of the other angles but it all comes down to giving the reader something they can’t get anywhere else without too much fluff.

  9. ME Strauss says:

    Hi Darren,
    That post was a 10 out of 10. I’ve already said that when I linked it. I just think trackback are so cold. (brrrrr. :) ) So I’ll just tell you the other part I said:

    Some[of your points] appeal to readers who are thinkers. Some appeal to readrs who are feelers. All tell readers that their time is well invested. Every one in some way tells readers this is a quality experience.

    Imagine a blog that has 3 or more of Darren’s “hooks.” How could a reader leave without planning to return?

    Sometimes you have to say, “I wish I wrote that.” :)

  10. Humour is one of the most important things for me, and I agree with Tim Houghton. I absolutely love The Register, even though some of their articles are pretty bad. It’s just that their humour is great. Same goes with Engadget in most cases.

    I also love reading certain blogs just because of the person who is writing it. A good example of this is Ensight. If it wasn’t Jeremy who was writing it, I probably would’ve stopped reading it a while ago. But I still closely follow his blog, because I like his personality, and style of writing.

    I follow your blog (ProBlogger), because it provides so much excellent advice. Just take this post for a good example.

  11. For me it’s personality with a touch of humor that brings me back to a blog. That, and as pcunix (#2) said: I’d rather read about how someone struggled with a problem and fixed it than just read *how* to fix it.

  12. “readership levels”

    Exactly. I don’t want to compare myself to a sheep, but readership levels are a good indicator. One of the first things I look for in a blog are the comments (number and quality).

  13. “practical tips that enhance my life so much that I don’t know how I ever lived my life without them.”

    On topic or not, I think any blogs that important ought to be shared. How about a list?

  14. jesse says:

    original content, well-written, updated at least 5 times a week, and a good design. There have been blogs I have opened, and then not even bothered to read because the design hurt my eyes.

    On the flip side I’ve been spending about a week on a design trying to get it right, and it’s waisting my time

  15. markku says:

    A good number of my readers look for wordpress plugins and other open source applications I’ve written.

  16. I think the hook for my blog at http://www.hottestblogger.com is very obvious hehe.

  17. rich sense says:

    I am very new to blogging culture. But you know what, one of the reason i want to blog is because i have seen this website (http://lampusuluh.blogspot.com).

    I dont know about hook, but i really like his idea writing a journal episode (about 14 episode there) and, i follow it starting from his first episode, everyday until his very last journal episode (its like a drama you know :P).

    Everyday, i will go to his blog to check if he have posted the next episod of his journal. And, now, after making a little research, i beginning writing my own journal series. Today, i have posted my second episode of journal. Do come and see, if you can be hooked by my journal seris method :P

    p.s. Because i just started to blog, i have no knowledge to design my blog to be fancy. And i will learn from you guys, the pro blogger :D

  18. I love when the obvious shows up in front of me with a little bit of a twist to get me to stand up and notice. The twist you used was the word “hook” and not specifically stating, building your brand or developing your USP (unique selling proposition). For a lot of people in business this may create a place of safety.

    When I think of hooks, I see them as the obvious, yet something we often forget to be consistent about.

    I also think of the bigger picture…hooks aren’t just for my/our blogs, but are part of the foundation of our businesses.

    So thanks for the twist on perspective which allowed me to do some of my own thinking and inspired my own post.

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