Have you ever picked up a novel in a bookstore that just jumped out at you from the display and screamed ‘read me’. Perhaps it was the title that got your attention, perhaps it was the design of the front cover, or perhaps it was a recommendation that some newspaper reviewer had written saying how amazing a book it was.
Whatever the reason – you buy the book and take it home with anticipation of a great read – dreaming of taking the phone off the hook and curling up in bed with the book when you get home and spending the rest of the day there.
You open the front cover and eagerly begin to read…. expecting to be swept away to some wonderful fictional place…. only to discover that despite it’s wonderful title, great cover design and excellent recommendations from ‘experts’ that the author barely knows how to string two words together and that the book fails to interest you at all. It’s not long before you put the book down – never to pick it up again.
Getting Attention for your posts is a relatively easy part of being a persuasive blogger but in order to truly persuade your readers you need to go deeper and pique the interest of your reader.
Being an ‘Attention Grabbing Blogger’ is great if you’re interested in simply building up lots of hits to your blog – but visits by people who come and leave again in the blink of an eye is not what most of us are on about.
Without interest in what you’re writing your readers are unlikely to read beyond the attention grabbing title and first paragraph of your post and you have no chance of getting them to take any sort of action what so ever.
Generating interest is the task of convincing your reader that they should ‘read on’ because what you’re writing about is on a topic in which they have some sort of need that you might be able to help them with.
The interest that they have might take different forms or emerge for different reasons:
- it could be a personal/hobby type interest
- it could be an interest out of a work related need
- it could be an interest out of some research that they’re doing
- it could even be an interest coming out of a need for fun/entertainment that they have – etc
Whatever the motivation for or type of interest – you’re unlikely to convince someone to read beyond a few paragraphs unless your reader feels some need to read on.
How to Pique Your Readers Interest:
State the Benefits
In the early moments of reading a post your reader has not really invested much into the exercise of reading your work and are likely to have an air of indifference to them and whether they should read on or not. One of the key ways that you can convince them that your post is worth reading is to simply tell them what they’ll get out of it.
This can be done in many ways ranging from incorporating it into the title with a ‘How to….’ type heading through to starting with a short list of things that you’ll cover in the post below through to explicitly saying ‘if you read on you’ll get X Y and Z.
Focus on the Reader
Show the reader that you know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Getting personal in this way and showing you’ve been where they are adds a level of intimacy to your post that can be quite intriguing and make them want to know more about who you are (after-all you’re just like them – or were).
State a Problem or identify a Need
While some people aimlessly surf the web just to see what they can see – many people use the web to research or find answers to specific problems or needs. State the problem or need that you’re going to provide answers for early in your post and you’ll definitely pique the interest of those who have that need. You might do this by sharing a direct question that someone’s asked you, by sharing a problem you have (or used to have) etc.
Dave Taylor does this well in his questions blog – every post he writes starts with an expressed need from a reader (a question). People work out very quickly whether it’s a post that interests them or not.
Tell a Story
Story telling is part of being human. People have done it for centuries and while the mediums have changed for telling stories there’s something in most of us that like to hear them – particularly if they are stories of people like us.
Telling your own story can be particularly useful when trying to persuade someone of something – especially stories of change or discovery. Telling other people’s stories can also be powerful as can telling other ‘random’ ones that illustrate a point.
A word of warning though – don’t just tell a story for the sake of it. Choose them carefully, don’t get too wordy with them and make sure there’s some sort of point to them.
Keep in Mind
Your role as a blogger is not to convince every person to read every post you write. I’ve never found a blogger who has a 100% strike rate for writing interesting posts for my particular needs.
What you want is to find people who do have a direct interest in the topic you’re writing about and convince them to read on. This is why I like Dave Taylor’s question blog. I know the instant he publishes something on his blog whether it’s something that I’ll want to read more on because his titles and first paragraphs are so explicit in what they are about. Rather than trying to get me over to his blog on every post to read his posts he writes in a way that gets targeted readers. Filtering his readers in this way is good both for the reader (they only read what they are interested in) but also the blogger (he gets targeted readers on the topics he writes about).
Tomorrow I’ll continue this series on persuasive blogging by talking about moving your readers from Interest to Conviction.