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The Not-so-secret Ingredient of an Engaging Blog

If you read Lisa’s post on the Grace of Communication yesterday, I hope you felt as inspired as many of the commenters who added their thoughts to it.

Her heartfelt post really spoke volumes, and not just about social media. As I read it, it reminded me of a question that I see asked often in the blogosphere:

How can I make my blog more engaging?

What’s “engaging”?

If you’ve ever thought “I want my blog to be more engaging,” you probably had some idea in mind of what that means. It might be that you want to lower bounce rates, increase repeat visits, or encourage more comments on posts.

All of these are measures of “engagement,” but I find that the most engaging blogs I read offer something that’s intangible: a sense of rapport or personality. These blogs say something that interests me in a way I can relate to.

I think that’s something that’s close to the “grace of communication” that Lisa explored yesterday.

While the metrics are all valid, I don’t know if we can really measure this intangible value, which characterizes the most engaging blogs. While the stats do go some way to reflect engagement—and are very helpful to us as we try to grow our blogs—I don’t believe they’re the whole story.

The thing that’s got the greatest potential to engage your readers is you.

A more engaging blog

Yesterday, Lisa described the natural flow she sometimes achieves with her class. Interestingly, the way she explained it made is seem miraculous—something organic, which can’t be forced, but arises spontaneously when the conditions are right.

We can certainly work toward building engaging blogs, just as Lisa works toward building her fitness practice. But there’s an element of the spontaneous in establishing an engaging blog, too.

The key ingredient is you. I think the more of yourself you can put into your blog and your online presence, the better your chances of reaching that spontaneous communications flow, where readers read, share, and respond naturally, and almost effortlessly.

I’ve found Google Plus to be an ideal forum for creating the right conditions for a communicative flow. It allows for a rich exchange in real time, it makes it easy to follow that exchange and, perhaps most importantly, that kind of deep exposure encourages us as bloggers to be open and really “ourselves.”

And that, I think, is the pathway to greater engagement. By being yourself, you encourage others to be themselves: you create the sense of rapport that sets the scene for that spontaneous flow of communication.

Have you experienced that sense on your blog, or when you’ve been communicating with your tribe? Tell us about it in the comments.

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. Murray Lunn says:

    I think it’s virtually impossible to create a brand engaging enough to keep people indefinitely even when you factor in the “you” aspect – although, you can certainly keep people entertained and active with what’s being discussed.

    As I see it: it’s simply out of your control. You can do your best to keep contact with people, engage them because they find your genuinely helpful/entertaining/etc, but we all lose interest over time. What we enjoy one year may be completely different the next – we mature, there are new influences in our lives, we have a new set of goals, and more. Slowly moving away from people is just a natural process.

    So, in my mind, it’s less about how ‘long’ you can engage your community but of how much value you can deliver them within that limited time.

  2. Engagement is definitely what every blogger hopes for.

    Having just started about two and a half months ago, I am often at a cross-roads about how to reach out and create a following that will eventually become loyal and find what I have to say of some value.

    I am sure it will make more sense as I continue on this path. Thanks to the inspiration I find in following posts such as these.

    Thanks

  3. Binny Oinam says:

    Great insights. May be we have forgotten readers & bloggers alike are human with real feelings. We are basically and unfortunately tangled & lost with SEO, engagement, stats, traffic, analytics. I think we should build relationships with readers as we do with our friends & family. Thanks Darren, your post is definitely the gentle tap on the shoulder.

    • Pradosh says:

      Yes, good relation with reader is important and often increases blogs reach.

    • Kalen Smith says:

      Very true Binny. Despite all of the Google changes to get people focused more on writing for a reader than search engines, people just don’t seem to get it at all. :P

  4. money up says:

    just figuring this out

  5. umesh says:

    I also feel personality of blogger what he is his authority on articles is key in engaging visitors
    about google plus can you post article how get people into your circle.

  6. When I *got* that this would set my blog apart from just being another source of information, and then made the necessary changes, it was the start to my readership growth and obvious engagement. Basically it comes down to people wanting to connect with people – and in this cyber world that’s just as likely to be online as it is at a networking event or meeting.
    For me, Instagram is the new place to engage (off the blog) – probably because of the visual nature of what I blog about.

  7. Marlon says:

    Well for me I just like it when bloggers write something that’s down to Earth and people can relate to, that’s how I define engaging.

  8. Ask. Answer. Ask questions, share answers. Share your insight and allow individuals to share their take, too. Thanks for sharing Darren.

  9. Marc Ensign says:

    You need to add value in a lot of different ways…information, education, humor, entertainment, etc. People generally have the attention span of a jellybean when sitting in front of the computer which makes it that much harder to engage. With consistently good content and the commitment to see it through and keep pushing forward even when you are the only one reading your blog and your audience will show up. Then when they do, the next step is to make yourself accessible to them!

  10. Webly says:

    I couldn’t agree more about being yourself to engage with your audience. My most successful blog posts are the one where I simply come out and say “I’m not perfect just like you”. People like to relate to the author one way or the other.
    The sense of my blog I’ve experienced that I find rewarding is when I write something that was like an Aha! Moment that encouraged someone to be real and know that it’s ok to have their own Aha! Moment without fear of judgement.
    Great post, short and to the point.

  11. Spontaneous is what it’s all about. Provoking some interest in the reader in order for him to write or share something can never be done artificially. Sure, there are some ways where by doing this or that you can make a reader more engaged. But the most powerful form of interaction is when the reader feels that spark before starting a conversation, or sharing something of his own.

    Being yourself is the key. Heck, that’s why I’m reading this blog among thousand of others, and besides the fact it gives some great insights and tips on the “blogging thing” :)

  12. A few times. I’ve tried to recreate it, but it only happens when I stop trying to force it. I think it’s one of those things you can only improve with practice and an examination of past successes.

  13. Justin Mazza says:

    Most of my product sales are from people who never engage on the blog or other media outlets. Blogs about blogging seem to have a higher engagement because their audience is already comfortable engaging online. ie, they have blogs themselves.

    I do get feedback on FaceBook from people which is my best way for engagement.

  14. Ryan Hanley says:

    Darren,

    Do you get much engagement from non-blogger types… Say, small business peeps that are blogging on Google+? Maybe that isn’t your market… But I focus on helping small businesses get a blog going and making it successful.

    I don’t get much engagement from this group on Google+… I love the format and I do think that it really encourages engagement but it seems to only hold the hardcore blogger types.

    Thoughts on this?

    Thanks,

    Ryan H.

  15. Dragan Palla says:

    You have a good point Darren (as always),

    I had a posts telling people about things they’ve probably heard before without a personal touch. I must say I havent’t received any feedback, no body likes same old, same old.

    In my latest post two days ago, I tried to identify myself with my blogging. Strange thing happens. It’s one of the best visited posts of the month.

    Obviously, people like personal stories and somehow they identify themselves with you. I thing that’s the Grace of Communication.

  16. I agree that the “YOU” factor makes all the difference. Anyone can re-hash information — it’s floating all around us for the taking — but only you can put your unique spin on it.

  17. Guy Hogan says:

    I have a blogging persona, the Old Soldier, that allows me to speak as a world-weary but happy fellow traveler. I’m retired, a senior citizen still engaged in the excitement of living and writing. I think that comes across in the content of my blog and that get’s me at least 300 hits every day. I hope it will get me at least 400 hits every day by the end of the year.

  18. Marlon, I could not agree more. Relating is the key to engaging.

  19. Well put. I fully agree with you on the fact that google plus is basically ideal for discussing topics with people you wish because its true. I think because its so new, it is the perfect place to communicate how exactly you want and not have to worry. Twitter used to be like that, as did facebook, but then it grew far too popular and now nothing is truly safe.

  20. I agree that engagement is key. My readers know I understand their pain and expect me to share not only my experiences but realistic solutions as well. If they disagree with me, they let me know! lol I love that aspect of it, though.

  21. AkiraSabine says:

    I am a not so new blogger still struggling to increase my blog traffic. I don’t think I have very good writing skills nor am I informative enough to provide good contents. I don’t think it is a place where people would seek for information should they need any. It’s more like a blog where I share my passion/ views/ just simply reporting on my interests. How do I engage with such a blog?

    I guess, I will have to compensate my lack of content with personality, humor and entertainment?

  22. Glynis Jolly says:

    Although I will agree that Google Plus has a good atmosphere for bloggers, I do think time still needs to be spent at Twitter and Facebook too. The audience is different depending on what social site you’re out. To meet a variety of readers, I think all three need to be utilized.

  23. Angel Willis says:

    I agree with your points. Being personable creates a more interesting blog that is likely to engage users. I write about a lot of techie topics, but I find that when I address the topics using a story format I attract more readers then I do when I stick with “geek-speak”. Thanks for the insight!

  24. Ashley says:

    Thanks for yet another great post, Darren. I always learn so much from you. I have yet to start start a blog, but am planning to shortly. Question: Does a blog stand a chance without using Facebook? I don’t mind setting up it’s own page, but I’d rather not post it on my own personal wall? Am I being crazy or not?
    Thanks for reading this.

  25. I am new to blogging and currently learning about the art of engagement. I say art because the definition will be different for each blogger. I agree the most important factor is you.

  26. Darren, I know what you are talking about because that is the kind of engagement I have face to face as a therapist but creating in on my blog feels so different. I feel like my posts offer value and have good ideas but the traffic stays small.

    I forget to come to this site most of the time. That changes from now on.

    Thanks Darren

  27. I still haven’t been able to nail down what gets one of my blog posts more than 100 views in one day and another just 10. Part of me says it’s the headlines. Part of me says it’s the topics. But a lot of me says that it’s sometimes the lack of the truly human element in the post, the ingredient of the natural rapport I build into some posts than others. Thank you for this helpful post!

  28. I manage a corporate blog and we have experienced a breakthrough in our engagement level since we began encouraging inidividual contributors to let their own personal voices come through more in their posts. From a corporate blogging perspective, it’s tempting to hide behind the brand all the time, but that’s not always so appealing to readers.

  29. In my experience after 4 years of blogging, in able to create a successful blog with engaging readers, the first thing to do is to create a valuable content. After creating such content, promote the blog in as many ways as possible. If the readers will be interested with your content, there’s a high chance that they will subscribe and will become regular readers. Exchange of valuable ideas is essential to successful blogging.

  30. Not often we hear people say about social media and blogging that we need to look beyond the metrics to figure out what works–I love it! Interesting to hear how you like the Google+ platform to encourage authentic sharing, too.

  31. Great insights. May be we have forgotten readers & bloggers alike are human with real feelings. We are basically and unfortunately tangled & lost with SEO, engagement, stats, traffic, analytics. I think we should build relationships with readers as we do with our friends & family. Thanks Darren, your post is definitely the gentle tap on the shoulder.