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More on How to Build Anticipation on Your Blog

Build Anticipation on Your BlogOver the last couple of days I’ve been writing about growing the numbers of people subscribing to your blog.

Lets do a quick recap:

Today I want to share 5 other techniques that I’ve used to build anticipation on my blogs.

1. Write a Series

One of the most obvious methods of convincing someone to come back to your blog tomorrow is to write posts that build upon one another as a series. Not giving everything you’ve got in one post gives readers the need to come back tomorrow to get the full picture. The key to growing subscriber numbers with a series is to make it clear that there are more posts coming together – you might also want to try highlighting your actual feed to give them a way to subscribe.

If you want to explore how to do this check out my post with 10 steps writing a successful series on your blog

2. Plan Your Next Posts

Many bloggers blog very impulsively. They sit down to blog with no idea of what they’ll be focusing upon on a given day – let alone what they’ll be covering next week. Taking a little time out to plan your next few days (or weeks – or even months) can be a very beneficial exercise on many levels – one of which is that you can share your plans with readers and show them what they’ll get if they subscribe. The other benefit is a lot more subtle – if you know where you’re headed with your blog in the future you’ll write in a way that builds momentum – something that I think readers pick up on and are energized by.

3. Competitions

Running a competition on your blog can have many potential benefits – but one (if you run it correctly) is to see an increase in your subscriber count. I learned the power of this last year in running my $54,000 birthday bash where I saw a sizable jump in subscriber numbers. The key with using competitions in this way is to create anticipation by pre-launching the competition and having it run over numerous days and giving readers ways to ‘enter’ over time. My birthday bash did this by running a series of mini competitions over a week, thus creating a need to be on top of when new posts went up on the blog. For more on running blog competitions check out How to Run a Successful Competition on Your Blog.

4. Invitations on ‘Hot Posts’

One of the main ways that I’ve grown my subscriber numbers is simply to include very general invitations to subscribe on ‘hot posts’ on my blogs. This simply involves doing a little analysis of which posts are getting the most traffic and watching for sudden spikes in traffic to key posts. When I find these ‘hot posts’ I simply add a text link that says something like ‘get more tips like this one by subscribing’ or ‘enjoy this post – get more like it by subscribing…’ These invitations in hot posts snap first time visitors out of the ‘now’ and put thrust the possibility of similar ‘future’ goodies from your blog.

Want to see an example? One post that gets significant traffic on ProBlogger is How to Write an About Me page on a blog. You’ll see at the top of the post a section like this:

Subscribe

That section is key for subscribers. Yes I could run it on every page on the blog – but by highlighting the hottest posts I only have to do it on a handful of pages that convert best.

Similarly – if your blog gets a spike of traffic to a particular post from a social media site or a bigger blog you can easily add a similar invitation to subscribe. This means having to be on top of what’s getting traffic on your blog at any given moment – but it pays off.

5. Use ‘Future Oriented’ and ‘Permanent’ Language

The web is a very transitional and temporary space. Sites come and go (and readers come and go to them). However using language that tells your readers that you’ll be around tomorrow (and beyond) can effectively help them consider that your blog could actually be a place that they could return to rather than a place that they visit once.

I’ve experimented with this at DPS a bit lately – talking about upcoming posts, future features, asking readers to submit questions which I’ll base future posts upon etc. I believe that this type of language shows your readers that you’re in it for the long haul and gives them some incentive to keep tracking with you.

I have also been quite conscious in using the word ‘community’. This word is what I describe as a ‘permanent’ word as it siganls that a site is more than just a one off sharing information but that it’s a place that people can ‘belong’. When I talk about the site and have found that quite a few people have subscribed because they didn’t just want information – but a place where they could learn with others.

A word of warning

You can overuse the technique of Building Anticipation on a blog. Do some of the above too often an you run the risk of annoying readers – particularly regular readers who have already subscribed. I’ve been known to unsubscribe from a blog or two that leave virtually every post hanging on a key point or dividing what could easily be covered in a single post into long and unnecessarily drawn out series of posts. By all means use a series of posts – but I’d advise making sure that each post in the series has something worthwhile in it that makes it of value whether read in the context of the full series or not.

On that note – I think I’ll end this mini series and hand over the sharing of tips for building anticipation over to you the community of ProBlogger. How do you build anticipation on your blog?

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. Thank you so much for these tips Darren!

    I enjoy reading your blog because you really do want to help unlike others!

  2. Geek Riddles says:

    Another great post Darren.

    I particularly like the idea of mini-series. I’ll soon create a mini-series of frog riddles on my blog :)

    Cheers!

  3. Ali says:

    Something that’s worked well for me — at least, February’s numbers are up! — was a post at the end of January

    http://www.theofficediet.com/2008/01/31/a-month-of-the-office-diet/

    This accomplished several things:
    - Highlighted key posts from the previous month (thus creating a sense of expectation that there’d be more good stuff to come)
    - Encouraged readers to draw friends into the blog (trying to create a sense of future, permenance and community)
    - Gave “teasers” of what to expect in the coming month at the end of the article.

    It’s led to a boost in both reader numbers and emailed feedback.

    Ali

  4. Wayne Liew says:

    Continuously creating good contents and writing in a memorable style will make readers keep on coming back.

    Also, I do find that if we show off our most popular articles (not by ourselves but according to the stats) and our archives, we tend to send out a message like “I am capable of producing articles of such quality”. This also helps building the anticipation since they are hoping to see articles of such quality is being produced by you once again.

  5. Excellent points! They are obvious elements, but now that you’ve laid it out structurally, it all jumps out to me.

    Of course, the value and relevance of blog content, combined with the power of anticipation, would make a subscription quite irresistable to readers. We would probably need to understand our readers, to be able to “guess” the topics they would be anticipating from us.

    Cheers,
    Samatha
    http://www.what-sells-online.com

  6. Syiru says:

    thanks for the tips… I’m surely will try this out….
    Darren always give a good point about this… thanks Darren…

  7. Syiru says:

    thanks for the tips… I’m surely will try this out….
    Darren always give a good point about this… thanks Darren…

    http://nitebloggie.blogspot.com

  8. suresh says:

    Nice article and saying that running a competition is a good idea.

    Having a opinion pole and responding to responding to the comments of visitors also makes a difference.

  9. jacky says:

    Agreed, good advice

  10. Darren, I like the point about the way we can use language to show readers we’re in it for the long haul, creating a sense of momentum and incentive to stay in touch, and building a sense of community.

    Thinking across to your other post on ‘do you call yourself a blogger’ I guess these are ways that we ‘signal’ that we’re writing a blog – a place that’s worth coming back to – even if in the eyes of many casual visitors it’s just another website.

    Joanna

  11. The suggestions you presented I think are very important tools.

    I currently write a weekly photo blog with several images and text to support a central theme.

    For planning purposes, since at the moment I am only using my photos, I use excel spread sheet to plan about 8 stories in advance.

    I constantly review my images and drop the relevant ones into a column for possible use under a theme title. I keep adding more photos under the theme heading and as writing day advance I select the preferred images and order them to best fit the subject.

    This allow me to visually see ahead to even plan the stories better.

    My weekly blog will run about 6-10 pages if in word type document and takes a fair amount of time if I need to mark up the images to address creative aspects for image enhancement.

    I have been thinking about writing more but I was not sure If I could commit the times to more than once a week on a permanent basis. I have therefore decided and have been preparing a 10 part series for a mid-week story. I will not officially announce this until most are complete because I do not want to start and then have some delays in creating the later articles

    Niels Henriksen
    .

  12. Cris Lim says:

    Thanks for sharing these points. I would love to have student subscribing to my blog to gain and learn more knowledge on effective studying! :)

  13. Jen says:

    genearl invitations makes me think of STDs

    And it isn’t the first typo this week by any means. Please don’t get sloppy Darren – you’re my favourite writing blog.

  14. Very informative, I am going to implement this to my blog. As always thanks for the great info.

  15. Another great post, I like the fact of giving people a preview about whats to come in the next month or so…with that being said, I am eagerly awaiting the next ProBlogger group writing project! The last one was awesome!

  16. Chetan says:

    Thanks for the re-writeup Darren :)

    Your post “How to Run a Successful Competition on Your Blog” has been one of my favorites.

    Darren, can you tell me one thing?
    For a new blog which is couple months old, would the sponsors really believe in them when the blogger asks them to sponsor the competition prizes?
    Like if i come and ask you to become a sponsor, then would you be believing me? As my blog is new into the blogosphere and might not have that great buzz yet in the blog world.

  17. Simon Fry says:

    I find the two most important techniques you mention planning ahead and your idea of community. While I plan my posts a week ahead, I’ve been planning them to include several topics, rather than just one.

    Given the nature of my site, although it goes against the current niche syndrome, I believe that if I write about tech for four days in a row, I may lose the other readers. Like the rest of us, I’m learning every day. How do you go about building anticipation when the site covers different topics? I like the idea that Leo Babauta uses for Zen Habits where “every Thursday is happiness day.”

    Community is so important because it’s building that relationship with your readers. I like Ali’s idea of asking readers to share the site with their friends. It’s a great way to build community because they can then discuss the posts together. My clients requested a weekly newsletter but I chose the blog path (although I never use the term blog) which allows them to have both. I believe I can do a lot more to build a sense of community spirit on it. Thanks for the great tips everyone leaves in their comments here.

  18. David Lano says:

    Darren, Great Post!

    I especially liked the idea of planning ahead. I totally agree with you, I think the tendency for many blog authors is to publish articles based on the here-and-now approach instead of thinking ahead and developing an overall strategy and purpose. Especially when we have the fast paced and dynamic online culture staring us in the face.

  19. Orfej says:

    I know that cometition, better anticipation and hot posts are my final cause but I think that sometimes lucky has important role.Prizes and hot posts can help a lot and I need to ask can you recomand good wordpress plugins for better blog anticipation.

  20. One thing that is a sure fire way to get people to skip to the next blog in their news reader is to write a series.

    (Sorry Darren)

  21. Thanks Darren…it’s been tough waiting a few days for this second post on anticipation. I’ve been checking my feed hourly and even set the alarm to get up each hour at night to see if you had posted. This anticipation thing really works. : )

  22. Catherine L says:

    Thank you Darren – I haven’t had as much time to read other blogs as usual lately but, I’ve been glued to this series.

    For me it has been amazingly helpful. I was writing far too many long posts. Then I asked readers what they would like to read about, and panicked because I knew I wouldn’t fit some of the topics into just one post.

    Lucky for me, you wrote this series at the exact right time, so I’m trying to learn it as I write my series!

  23. Darren Rowse says:

    Chetan – I think the key with getting sponsors is to be honest and transparent. If your blog is new and you don’t have heaps of readers – don’t pretend anything different and don’t expect massive prizes. Keep things relative and everyone’s expectations on the right page.

    Domestic Divapalooza – that hasn’t been my experience. I actually find that a ‘good’ series (ie good…. one that helps people) actually increases traffic and engagement. Sure those who are not interested in the topic will skip over it but if you pick the right topic it can actually bring your blog to life.

    For me it’s about knowing your audience and then knowing how many posts on a series is enough. I find it interesting that you say that people skip over a series – yet you obviously read this post to know what it was about…. and it’s the third post in a series :-)

  24. Dave Conrey says:

    I’ve always wondered about the validity of asking people to come back again by using the “check back tomorrow for more info” tactic. It always seemed valid to me, but I wondered how the readers felt. I’ve never actually tested the theory, but I’d be interested to know if you had more or less folks read this post today than yesterday’s post.

  25. Video Blog says:

    Great post, very informative. On a couple of my blogs ive began using the plan ahead approach, its taking a little getting used to

  26. Katy says:

    I like what you said about “permanent”. I’ve subscribed to blogs, and then a few weeks later, there updates stopped. It discouraged me from subscribing to others.

  27. Well up until i read this series of posts, i didn’t really have any idea on how to build anticipation for my blog. Ive followed this series, and have created a series of my own where i have tried to build anticipation from each post. Whether i’ve done it successfully or not is another matter, but whilst i’m trying, i’m also learning .

    Thanks for all the great advice Darren.

  28. Chetan says:

    Thanks for the comment Darren, i think i have to learn to create good Buzz with my blog first before taking any actions about contests etc.

  29. Great, but I am still trying to figure out if my particular market niche, i.e., the High End consumer of Fine Art, ANtiques and Collectibles are yet to even use blogs.

    Conway’s Vintage Treasures
    http://www.cvtreasures.com

  30. vutha says:

    That is great idea. I never think that i have to write the series of post on my blog. Thanks !

  31. Marty Weil says:

    Good news, Darren. The “Sneak Preview” post technique I tried as a result of reading your series on increasing feed rates resulted in a 14% increase in my feed subscriber base during the past few days…thought you’d like to know.

  32. alanw says:

    Thanks for a good set of posts.

    I’d like to add some additional ideas:

    You can take “Step 2: Plan Your Next Posts” a little further. Not only can a blogger plan posts in advance, but write them in their entirety and submit them to the blog with staggered release dates.

    Imagine if you promise something tomorrow, but find that you don’t have the opportunity to write and release what you’d intended. You’ve still got the expectations of your readers to manage. Darren’s already compared writing styles in “10 Steps to Writing a Successful Series on Your Blog”, but in the case of promising a new article, I’d lean towards having written the articles before making any promises. Be interesting to hear whether Darren wrote these in advance.

    Secondly, when building anticipation, I believe bloggers should take more time to read the comments resulting from the anticipation in case readers teach them that the following planned article is no longer appropriate.

    Thanks again

  33. Leo says:

    Hi Darren, just thought I would let you know that this post my made my top five posts over at: http://www.workconnexions.com/blog/Leo/LeosTopFive.aspx

    Great stuff..

  34. DJInBoise says:

    Thanks for the tips and tricks. I really like Crazy Egg and will start using it on several of my sites.

    With regards to building anticipation, I did that recently on my Blog combining video with text. I’ve been playing around with video lately. So I created a video on “How To Place an Ad on Craigslist – Part I”. Placed the address of the blog in the video and ended it with Part II coming in January. I’ve released Part II http://webguyguru.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-to-place-ad-on-craigslist-part-ii.html along with writing some specific points in my blog. You just want to make sure if you make a promise that you deliver on time or else risk your reputation.

  35. Jon says:

    Great stuff here; I’m already plotting how I could turn various ideas I have for posts into a series, Thank ya. :)

  36. Kemi says:

    I like all your suggestions, but especially the first “write a series”. I have one on my blog titled “our love affair with wordpress” a sort of why we love wordpress and how to get the best out of wordpress, and so forth. I suppose I find writing the series useful for the same reason I love blogging, I have a lot (and perhaps too much!!) to say…and I don’t want to say it all in one ridiculously long post!

  37. JK Swopes says:

    Darren, you hooking me in man…I feel like I’m falling in a black hole, every post leads me to other top notch info that I feel I can’t do without…..crap, I’ve been on here for a while…..how dare you! :)

    I will be looking at a lot of your info and seeing how I can implement it into my own blog. Thanks.

  38. Irma says:

    I enjoy your blog and I am glad
    I found this today.
    thanks

  39. I’ve got to start incorporating anticipation into my website and blog. Never really thought about it before now. Maybe I’ll start doing series or parts as recommended. Not sure how to incorporate into a website that isn’t a blog, though. I guess you can incorporate to get visitors to click through to the next series.