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GRAB Your Reader’s Attention and HOOK them into your blog

Hook-1Do you want to learn how to SNAP readers out of their zombie like surfing and HOOK them into your blog?

If so – read on….

Image by Essjay in NZ

Before I was a blogger I did a lot of public speaking. I did a number of courses in public speaking and used to spend a lot of time with my head in books on the topic.

One of the techniques that I was taught that I found to be very helpful was to include something at the start of every presentation that was there unashamedly to grab attention and create interest.

The theory was that in most presentations (whether it be in a work context, conference, church, school or even in a social context where a speech was given) the majority of your audience quickly will slip into a zombie like trance even as you’re getting up to speak. The act of sitting down and listening to someone speak in a monologue is not really something most of us are wired to do.

So to snap your audience out of this state where they’re incapable of comprehending your 16 point presentation the theory is that you do something, say something, show something or claim something that grabs their attention.

Whether it be a joke, question, controversial statement or claim, powerful story, funny title slide or intriguing and surprising opening line – the primary aim in the first moments of your presentation is to grab attention and create interest in what you’re about to present.

This same principle applies to blogging in two ways.

1. Grabbing Attention on a Post Level

Let me start with the more obvious place that you can (and should) be thinking about grabbing the attention of your readers – within each post.

Every time a reader see’s one of your posts in their RSS feed, stumbles upon it in search engine results, spots it linked to on another site or even sees it on your blog – they make a snap judgement whether they’ll read it or not. This is based upon a number of factors:

  • The post’s title
  • The opening lines of your post
  • An intriguing question
  • A Story
  • The topic being covered and how relevant and useful it is to the reader
  • Visual cues on the page (pictures, sub headings, comment numbers, page design)
  • A controversial statement or bold claim
  • A great promise
  • The voice and style you’ve written in

We could probably add a lot more to this list – but I guess the point I’m wanting to make is that ‘grabbing attention’ is something a blogger needs to think about in the writing of each post.

2. Grabbing Attention on a Blog Level

While grabbing attention on a post by post level is important there’s another one that is worth thinking about also – on a bigger picture level as you think about your whole blog.

What hooks a first time reader into your blog?

Not just into the post that they’ve arrived on – but to your whole blog?

I’m not just talking about how to make your blog sticky (although many ‘sticky’ techniques will help a lot) but I’m talking particularly about getting ‘attention’ of readers.

Many of the points on a post level (point #1 above) come into play on this as they will be the first thing that a new reader sees – however there are other factors too – particularly:

  • Clear Communication of Topic – Communicating what your blog is about, who it is for, what needs it will fulfill etc all can potentially hook a reader.
  • Distinct Site Design and Branding – Whether it be a bold logo, distinct colors, an eye catching picture or some other factor design can stop readers in their tracks momentarily and get them to take a second look at your blog.

What attention grabbing techniques have you tried on either a post by post level or a bigger picture blog level?

PS: As I’m hitting publish on this post I’m reminded of a great little book – Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy.

This book looks at a variety of buttons (or hooks) that marketers use to make customers buy. While this might not seem that relevant for blogging – I found that as I read the book that a lot of the buttons described were similar to what I’d seen work at engaging readers on my blogs.

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. Excellent post, as usual. I need to work on incorporating more subheaders into my blog, maybe even highlight the titles with different colors

  2. Brian says:

    Great tips

    Agree post titles are very important when attempting to grab readers.

    But no matter how you grab them – you still need great content

    A good usuable site with obvious and clear navigation will aide your readers and will make them want to come back if they can find things easily

  3. Shanel Yang says:

    Great topic and post, Darren! Two things I thought I never wanted to be when I grew up were stand-up comic and salesman. However, I’ve discovered almost too late that the impressive and highly desirable skills required for both of these trades/professions are exactly what everyone needs to succeed in life — blogging is no exception!

    It’s all about entertainment. If you can educate or persuade with it, so much the better! : )

  4. Todd says:

    Great post. I’ve been battling with this issue for the last couple of months. I’m having a hard time figuring out a way to convert my organic search traffic into return readers. Every day hundreds of folks find my site and most never return. I’m sure my design have quite a bit to do with that.

  5. Nicki B. says:

    Very smart post! My issue has always been creating a captivating title – but what ends up working is just writing everything first, add in some visuals, and then, the very last thing I do is get a title. Somehow it all works out. Thanks for the great tips! I will be using these -

  6. jaklang says:

    You are very knowledgeable!!

  7. Yes, this is one thing that so many bloggers forget. It’s like writing an essay. You want to grab your readers attention right away so that they just don’t get bored. This is the same way with writing a post on your blog. An interesting title or an interesting first line will grab your readers attention. At least this will get them to read the article. The next thing you have to remember is that the rest of the post is good content.

  8. Cowy says:

    Nice Topic, Darren! However, I don’t do a lot public speaking before I blog.. However, when I make blog at the same time, I also write a book and because I have to do some promotion, I also forced to be public speaking

  9. Another excellent post. These are the type of valuable tips you keep coming back to over and over.

    Thanks!
    Marlene
    The Savvy Seller
    http://www.the-savvy-seller.com

  10. I’ve noticed that I get more comments from new readers when I ask a question and ask readers to participate and share their point of view.

    I also can’t emphasize enough that in my own blog reading I will leave if the blog is poorly designed and hard to read. This blog and unclutterer are two that come to mind that are clean and simple and make reading a pleasure.

  11. Marvin says:

    Hi Darren,

    As I learn more about blogging, strangely the more I can relate with it. I’ve been reading your articles and it feels like, “Hey, I do this…Hey, I do that!” Only this time I’m doing it the Blog way.

    I’ve been coaching officemates, superiors and subordinates about this stuff that I’m writing about in microsoftofficetips.net and it just feels good to realize that I’m really doing the same thing. Only the method has changed: from verbal to typing.

    Thanks for your articles Darren. They make me feel more at home.

    My only concern now is, since I have a full time job, which requires me to use my laptop, doing blogs mean additional strain to my eyes. Any ideas how to cope with it? Anyhow, you may have covered this already and I’ll just search for it. If not, I would love to hear about it.

    Marvin

  12. PPC Fool says:

    Yes, something I need to work on, informational titles vs. attention grabbing titles.

    A great way to learn to write titles I’m discovering is readng the headlines on CNN, Yahoo, Digg, etc…. there all written with 1 thing in mind, for you to click on them :)

  13. Totally agree with everything offered here. I use a few extra techniques that seem to help:

    1. I’m prepared to be aggressive or nasty about a product. I make sure my argument is based on fact or worthy of discussion, and I am prepared to be humble if I someone can argue for or against my opinion.

    2. An image from one of my photograph-galleries gets appropriate placed. A great way to break up the flow, thereby encouraging the reader to jump from paragraph to paragraph. This works as long as the para-breaks have statement-style sentences.

    3. Writing in the style that I talk. Like writing a document for a new-user, it’s a sure way to encourage someone to keep reading through to the bottom of a page. Lots of paragraphs, quick yet full explanations.

    The one thing I’ve only recently started doing is hooking back to previous posts. This is definitely a great way to get noticed by search-engines, particularly technorati.

    People who say they don’t do public speaking or never have: You are doing it now. Writing online is just the same as speaking in front of a crowd: But now there are 2 billion rather than 200 nak3d people in the auditorium!!

  14. What blogs have done is draw into sharp focus the poor writing ability of the average American. There are more blogs than good writers.

    You spend a lot of time here at ProBlogger coaching people on how to be better/interesting writers. It seems like that’s about 20% of your focus.

  15. Very helpful post – I am continually surprised by how many of my blog readers stay subscribed but don’t read my posts!

  16. T Edwards says:

    This is very informative. As a new blogger, I’ve got lot’s of ideas and notes that I’ve yet to post and I never put a lot of emphasis on the headlines. I will certainly pay more attention to this from now on and I also appreciate PPC Fool’s idea to watch how the big boys like CNN and Yahoo do it.

    Great lesson for today!

    T

  17. This post reminds me of something I have been pondering recently: how important are images in blog posts? Some of my favorite bloggers to read (The Simple Dollar, Frugal Babe, Paid Twice, Ask Moxie) rarely if ever use photos or images in their posts. I know lots of others do and some (Simple Mom and Squawkfox) use them to great effect.
    My gut feeling is that, for me at least, finding and incorporating really good images is not the best use of my limited time, I’d rather be writing good posts.
    Good posts that might not be receiving new readers, if I can’t ‘hook’ them into my blog.

  18. aronil says:

    Would’ve been great if it was a bit longer :) the first two are without a doubt.. but I think the hard part is coming up with something witty or interesting enough to capture your readers attention.

  19. Images are important, but I agree wtih Kelly above, you still have to balance your time. Especially for bloggers who are managing multiple blogs. Great tips for those who want to step up their game.

    Maria
    Marketing Masters Guide

  20. I liked Shanel’s comment above, about entertaining the reader. It is especially relevant to me as a celeb blogger. I found myself writing with a bit snarkier tone (must be my mood) on my posts a couple of days ago, and that didn’t seem to detract from my blog, in fact, yesterday, traffic broke another record on my blog!

    Also, it helps when reading competitor blogs to know that other bloggers are making the same observations about a particular topic that you are. I was happy to see that I wasn’t alone in my opinion.

    But back to the hook–thanks for the reminder, Darren. I need to vary my posts and make them more interesting and perhaps provocative.

  21. Jumblespot says:

    This is what i was really looking for in your blog last week. Hope you will come with your own tips on this topic Darren.

  22. David Porter says:

    Darren,

    I just published this article warning against Internet Porn.

    http://www.boomerinthepew.com/2008/08/internet-porn-.html

    I appreciated your worthy comments, on writing style, and will definitely give them great consideration as I continue in my blogging journey.

    David Porter
    http://www.boomerinthepew.com

  23. James Kolacz says:

    I’m working on doing something eye catching with my site now. I’m implementing a whole new design for the posts.

  24. Ebony Jones says:

    I agree that article title and the overall look and feel of your blog are the top things that make your site sticky.

    Catchy titles really help out when your article hits Digg or Stumbleupon…the title is the sometimes the only thing they will see.

    A nice template with a clean layout gives the reader a sense that you are to be taken seriously…that your opinion matters…and they are more likely to read the article and browse around for awhile.

    We did a facelift to our site…and within a week our traffic went up nearly 30% , just because we changed from a more personal blog layout, to a more clean news layout.

    http://www.urbanswirl.com

  25. When you read something like this you realize how much room there is to improve in your blogging efforts. Thanks for the great refresher… It’s pretty easy for anyone to start sounding like blah, blah, blah, after awhile.

  26. Patricia says:

    I found this to be another great article that was a learning experience for me and I am nearly 2/3rds of the way through the book and learning a great deal. My website and business cards are getting great comments in person, and the counter says I am getting at least 15 hits per day. I can’t get folks to subscribe or comment on my site. I come to the point that my blog is running like my life – it takes people awhile to get to know me and then I get known best by referrals. When I give a speech or preach a sermon, I can feel people turn off their brains as I approach the lecturn – If I can just say the right thing immediately, I can hold the whole room. I have written and performed over 200 weddings and people are so complimentary about my words and ceremonies – I have quite a following of brides and grooms who still write to me for advice and suggestions. I was let go from the college I taught at because students were over enrolling in my classes and not in the PhD’s classes – and were passing their state exams, having a great time, and learning a great deal which was not happening in the full faculty positions. No one wants to take my classes when they first meet me – so I thought by having a good artist design my web site I would attract readers and commenters,
    I am kindness from my very core – I suspect there is plenty of room for Kindness on the Internet especially when combined with intelligence, skill, compassion, and competence. I just don’t think it GRABS?

  27. I never thought about using the first few paragraphs of my blog posts as a “hook” to keep the reader reading about my topic instead of skimming through the post. Most of the time I focus solely on the title, since that’s the most important IMO. You mentioned plenty of great suggestions – I’ll be busy all weekend! :P

    Though… I seriously wonder how successful people who use original blog designs are vs. standard, default blog designs are, even if there’s just a little discrepancy.

  28. Rosabel says:

    Thanks for your tips. I do follow those guidelines while writing my articles. However, I’m still struggling to get in more readers. My blog is just two months old but readers are just few..I wonder if anyone can tell me what have gone wrong with my blog…

  29. ITrush says:

    Another great tips, thanks for sharing.

  30. Great tips Darren, and nothing works better than making a controversial or intriguing statement right at the beginning of a post, works for me and works great when writing article for article marketing as well.
    Thanks,
    JR

  31. JQK says:

    Darren-

    You bring up an important point, which may be simplified, condensed and paraphrased in a single sentence.

    (If you neglect to bait your hook when you fish for your dinner…you are destined to go hungry!)

    JQK

  32. Great Post. I have to admit that your posts are the first I read when I sit down at my computer. Thank you for all the information.

    Glenda

  33. As I’m primarily a playwrite I too have been inspecting this conundrum: how do you, in the title and one sentence max, blow up the oil facilities, discard the scuba gear, dry suit and have an imaculate tux underneath to join the elite party, all punctuated by the most exciting Rolling Stones theme song.

    You used to get 20 minutes now you only have 10 to grab a persons attention in a movie. Actually it is 10 pages where each page equates to a minute of movie, and that is the time you have to tempt the reader to continue reading the screenplay. No movie gets made unless some potential filmmaker reads the script and likes it, thinks it is a winner and that it will make money at the boxoffice.

    The top film producers at Ken Rotcops Pitchmart will only promise to read the first 10 pages and only will they continue reading if they are hooked into interest by then. This is down from the 20 that was acceptable as late as a decade ago.

    Evidently society is now media wise, catch on fast or get bored quickly. The net has such impossibly high volumes of data and trafficers to it I’m sure it is the same in the blogosphere, no one has time to be bored when there are so many fast and exciting impressions available.

    This post caught my attention with the picture of the wicked block and tackle. That’s a well done hook.

  34. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WROTE THAT

    .. as well as you did. This is the old marketing trick, and it works for sure! Newspapers use it all the time in their mastheads. As long at the hook doesn’t dupe the reader, then it’s fair game I think.

  35. christopher says:

    Wow that was a great article now i know what i need to do to my blog.

  36. Justin Levy says:

    Thank you for such a great post!

    This article and the one about how to make your blog sticky are among my two favorite because of both are tips to help improve your blog/writing. By doing both of these things it will help build your reputation. I think that having a strong reputation helps the reader choose to select your blog out of their reader among the host of other blogs they subscribe to.

    I know there are blogs (like this one) that I read as soon as I see a new post and others that I choose for when I have some free time. This is usually based on the fact that I know I am going to get to read great content which is focused, well written, insightful and helpful.

    Again, thanks for another helpful post!

    -Justin

  37. Andre Thomas says:

    Awesome tips. I love the “how to make your blog sticky” post and the list of tips. Cheers.

  38. arthurficial says:

    whilst the post is most informative, i think the title of this post actually grabs the attention, but fails to deliver on the HOW..?

    i would think that is the first and maybe even ONLY reason anybody would continue to read the post.

    Some expounding would be appreciated.

  39. Patricia says:

    arthurficial,
    mix this post with the how to make your blog “sticky” and I think you will find your answer and the expounding you are looking for in your comment.

  40. Paula says:

    You’ve made me think (and no it didn’t hurt) about my blog and how it doesn’t really grab attention at a blog level. I think some work needs to be done.

    And just in addition to your post above, I also think you need to grab your visitors attention through your 404 error page as well. It is often neglected but a well drafted page can keep your visitors from clicking away. I just did a post all about this today as I just recently deleted all of my posts (yes, on purpose) so I had to ensure that the 404 page was as good as it could be. A lot of people will be hitting that page for at least a while until Google deletes all of my old pages from their search engine so I don’t want them running away.

  41. Patricia says:

    Paula,
    This was a good article and I thought you were brave to delete your posts if you thought it necessary. I was also intrigued by your referral to the 404 error page as invaluable…but I can’t find it to discover if it might assist me? could you?

  42. Peter says:

    Great Post. It seems that some old marketing ideas schould be transfered to blog posting. Lets try

  43. Patricia says:

    Thank you to all the folks who let me know where to find the 404 error page and I am very happy to say – I have already taken care of that problem on my blog. It is so good to learn something new everyday

  44. Chris Wood says:

    A good example works wonders too. One thing I found, when I was an English teacher, was that offering some intriguing tidbit, explaining it and then bringing its relevance to the fore was a very effective way of grabbing their attention.

    PS Please visit by blog – it’s only been up one day!

  45. Very important topic

    There is always a fight between getting a great headline that sucks people into reading a post, and a headline that will see some search engine love…

    I think it is always worthwhile to search out a long tail expression for your niche, with some traffic but not excessive competition, then try to work it into the headline.

    Some of the golden oldie headlines work…

    Do you make these mistakes with (niche expression?)

  46. Titles are really important and you have made good points. I sometimes use controversal questions to encourage readers.

  47. shannon says:

    Its always easier to keep a reader than find a new one. great tips.

    shannon
    mktg web
    http://www.eighthorses.com/