In this guest post Jonathan Fields from the Career Renegade takes a look at three types of blog posts that will Engage your readers.
Engage. Engage. Engage.
It’s the rally cry of great blogging. Heck, it’s the touchstone of powerful writing in general. When it comes to blogging, though, three major types of engagement-oriented posts really shine. Done right, each does a phenomenal job of drawing readers in and turning them into repeat visitors and evangelists.
1. Prescriptive Posts
Thoreau said, “”A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must lay it down and commence living on its hint. . . . What I began by reading I must finish by acting.” This is what prescriptive blogging is all about.
Engaging your reader with a topic that is directly relevant to their interests, then delivering a prescription that gives them something to do beyond just reading the post. The meat, in a prescriptive post, is in the advice.
Prescriptive posts often follow the format of a “tips” or action-list post. ZenHabits.net’s Leo Babauta is legendary for his tips posts. As is The Happiness Project’s Gretchen Rubin and, Lifehacker is known for offering up a tremendous library of things to do to make your life better with technology.
If you choose the prescriptive route with a post, make sure the advice you deliver is:
- Detailed and
General advice, without steps to take often reads as more bothersome than helpful. And, if you’d like to increase the chances of that post getting socially bookmarked and going viral, go beyond the standard 5-10 tips and deliver a laundry list of killer actions to take. A prescription so packed with things to do, readers will want to tag it and come back to it over and over.
2. Immersive Posts
On the other side of the engagement coin lie immersive posts. Rather than delivering things to do “beyond” the post, immersive posts “are” the thing to do. They are complete experiences with a beginning, a middle and an end.
Immersive posts draw the reader in, sweep them along, wrap them with emotion and sensation and deliver them into the post as if they were there, side by side with the author. They may serve up a moral at they wind down, but it’s not about what comes next. It’s about what just happened.
Immersive posts can be incredibly powerful. But they often also require a level of writing and storytelling ability that goes beyond what’s required from a solid prescriptive post, where the quality of the advice matters more than telling of the story.
3. Feedback Posts
Liz Strauss taught me about this a few months into my career as a blogger. If you want to engage your readers, give them the space to participate in the conversation.
We often feel like we should be delivering complete posts, packed with all the answers, roadmaps and conclusion. But, reality is, many times our readers have even better information and insights than we have. And, they’re happy to share…if we just give them the chance.
So, consider exploring posts that ask a question, offer “some” of your thoughts on the question, then turn it over to your readers and let them to finish the post for you.
The first time I did this was when I was writing a post that I’d planned to be a set of funny rules for my then 6-year old daughter. My intention was to write 10 rules. But, then Liz’s voice popped into my head and I stopped writing at 6 and turned it over to the community to finish and what unfolded in the comments was amazing.
Wrapping it all up
Whichever approach to engagement you choose, next time you sit down at the keyboard with the intent of engaging your readers, think about deliberately choosing either a prescriptive, immersive or feedback post. Then, rise to the challenge of delivering on the promise of your chosen format.
Look at each post as another opportunity to engage, uplift and enlighten
So, I’m curious. Which do you tend to write?
And, which do you prefer to read?
Share your thoughts in the comments…
[Bio: Jonathan Fields writes the Career Renegade and Awake@TheWheel blogs and is the author of the forthcoming book, Career Renegade: How To Make A Great Living Doing What You Love]