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Blogging for Change (3) – Indifference to Interest

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This is the third part of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Before reading on you might like to read the introduction here.

Stage 2 – Indifference to Interest

Your witty, controversial, intriguing title and first sentence has grabbed the attention of your reader. They have made a mini commitment to you and are considering reading past the first paragraph. You’ve won the first battle of taking them from ‘Rejection to Attention’ but their filtering system is still on and your second task is to take them from ‘Indifference to Interest’.

At this stage listeners have given you their attention, but are somewhat indifferent to you and what you have to say. They are reading, but things are hanging in the balance, they are waiting to see if what you have to say is going to be of any interest to them. Will it be relevant? Is what you have to say worth them giving the next few minutes of their time to or should they go back to the search engine and find something else more interesting to read.

Give them a need to read more. If you want to bring about lasting change in your reader it is essential that they feel what you are writing about is relevant to them and their world. Think about the websites that have impacted you most over the past few months – more often than not they will be sites that meet some need that you have (whether explicitly or not) – perhaps a need for information, entertainment, community, inspiration etc.

Make it clear early what need your post will meet in your reader and you increase your chances of them reading on and being influenced by what you have to say.

You might do this by:
- Share a need you personally have had – people feel less threatened when someone else opens up about something that they too face. This builds trust between you and your reader.
- Telling a story that your reader will relate to. Better still tell half a story that will be finished later that makes your reader want to know what happens.
- Make a big claim that will, if true, have an impact upon your reader.
- Ask questions that highlight a relevant problem or issue – don’t give all your answers away yet.
- Make your reader a little uncomfortable about the issue you are posting on. There is a fine line here – tread carefully.

This task is about making your reader think ‘I have to read the rest of this’. Bring them to a point of wanting to explore your topic more because it has relevance to their lives in some way.

The steps in this process are:

1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change (2) – Rejection to Attention

200608202135This is the second part of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Read the introduction here.

Stage 1 – Rejection to Attention

The first task of the blogger wanting to have a lasting influence on readers is to get their attention.

In today’s world the average person is bombarded with thousands of competing messages daily. As a result most people have pretty good internal filtering systems (or crap detectors) to help sift out the junk and find the worthwhile. In a sense most of your potential readers will be in some state of rejection to your blog whether consciously or subconsciously. If you don’t work hard to make your post attention grabbing you will not earn the right to say anything that will bring about change.

Keep this in mind as you blog. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes – What would grab your attention when it comes to the topic you are writing about? What would make you want to read more?

Titles and first sentences are important attention grabbers. They act as mini advertisements for your post on the front page of your blog, in search engines and news aggregators. Keep them simple, punchy, informative and get to the point.

Don’t fall for the temptation to trick your readers just for the sake of getting their attention. A title like Sex Tips on a post about your pet rabbit might get attention of your readers but it will not keep it – in fact it is likely to deepen their sense of rejection to your blog.

Some other things to try to gain attention in your title or first sentence or two might be to:

- Be a little controversial (be careful with this – don’t just be controversial for the sake of it unless you are willing to deal with the consequences)
- say something puzzling (but don’t keep your reader in the dark too long or you’ll frustrate them)
- make a claim (tell your reader the answer to a question that they might have)
- talk in terms that your potential readers will relate to (don’t be arrogant – be personable – be relatable)
- use humour (if you make someone smile or laugh you are part way through their filtering system).
- ask a question that draws your reader into your post and makes them want to respond
- intrigue your reader – tempt them by dangling something that will somehow draw them into your world.

Lastly make your entry Scannable and easy to read. If your entry looks like hard work to read you are unlikely to get many readers attention.

Work hard at getting the attention of your reader and you’ll be one step closer to having some lasting impact upon them.

The steps in this process are:

1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change

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Why do Bloggers Blog?

Is there some underlying thread of motivation that we all share?

This is the introduction for a 6 part series on how to blog in a way that brings lasting change.

Each blogger writes for their own unique set of reasons and motivations. Some do so as a hobby, others to express their creativity, many to share their views, some as a therapeutic way of getting things off their chest and a few as a means of income. The combinations of reasons for blogging will be as many as their are bloggers. In my opinion this is good – as humans we are each unique and blogging should and does reflect this.

One of the underlying motivations of many (if not most) bloggers have is that they want to bring about change.

Perhaps a slightly different way of putting it is to say that we seek to have ‘influence’ through blogging. As I reflect upon this I suspect that it is a common thread of motivation that runs through most blogging genres. Lets consider a few:
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How to Write Better Blogs

Dennis A. Mahoney writes a great article entitled How to Write Better that picks up a number of things that he believes bloggers need to be encouraged to do. It focuses mainly on writing. His headings are:

- Professional vs. Amateur
- The Rules
- Offer Something New
- Amuse your Readers
- Beyond Wired
- Successful Weblogging

There are some great things there to keep in mind for any blogger whether experienced or just starting out.

Blog Content Tools

Finding good fresh content for your blog will make it more attractive to your readers. There are a number of great online tools that I have used to come up with up to date content that might be useful for others.

Let me say first up that the relevance of these tools will vary from blogger to blogger. Most of them will probably be of less use to those writing Personal Journals than to those writing K-logs or filters. Personal Journals will probably draw more upon the brain of the writer as a tool than anything I share below.

The following tools help you to see what else is happening online – if current up to date information is of relevance to your blogging you might find them interesting. It is not a definitive list so please feel free to add your own tools in comments and if appropriate I’ll add them to the following list:
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The Rhythm Method of Blogging

One of the keys to blogging is frequent posting. This is what distinguishes weblogs from from static websites.

The average blogger posts once every 14 days – personally I tend to mainly visit bloggers who update more regularly than that. As a blog reader I get to know the rhythm of the blogs that I read. I don’t mind if they are daily, weekly or even fortnightly bloggers – but whatever their rhythm I find myself loosing interest if they disappear for unexplained periods of time. So get into a rhythm of blogging.

I personally blog daily and dedicate 15 minutes most mornings while I drink my coffee to write something. I also often post last thing at night.

I read somewhere recently that if you write for 15 minutes a day you will have written the equivalent of an average book in a year. Set yourself some sort of goal like that – but don’t fall into the temptation of writing just because you ‘have to’ – your content will suffer.

One way to help each ‘bloggers block’ is to keep a file of ideas to blog about. Rather than posting about everything that interests you in a day, keep a few ideas in reserve so you can post them quickly on a day when you otherwise might have been too busy or unable to post.

Lastly – if you keep forgetting to blog (a common problem) you should check out this amazing new Blogging Reminder System – The NoemicsPad. Its a revolutionary idea that could change the way you blog forever!

Blog Content Tip – Titles are Everything

After slaving away on your latest blog post pause before you hit that ‘publish’ button and consider your title. What does it convey to your potential reader? Titles can be the difference between having your post read or ignored. Of course there are No Rules that will guarantee your post to get noticed, but you might want to consider some of the following.

Simplify – Studies show that blog readers prefer straightforward, short and simple titles to cute or cryptic ones.

Communicate – In a word or three tell your reader what the post is about in your title. Most people will not take the time to read something unless they know what it is about first.

Key Words – Try to incorporate words in your title that are likely to be searched for by readers in search engines. Get into their shoes — what search term would you use if you were wanting information on this topic? If you’re writing about Britney Spears – put her in your title and you’ll increase its ranking in the engines.

Grab Attention – A good title draws your readers into your post. Your post is likely to be one of many on the same topic. Your title is an opportunity to distinguish it from others like it. Imagine yourself searching for articles on a search engine or news aggregator — what would make you click your link? Intrigue your reader, draw them into your post, make them want to read more!

Of course Titles are NOT Everything you still need to post something worthwhile under them. But a title is not just the start of your post, it is an invitation for people to engage with your ideas. Put some effort into developing it and you’ll find people take that all important step into your virtual space.

Get to the Point

The average person reading speed is 200 words per minuteWhat’s Yours? (The speed reading record is 1347 wpm)

In 96 seconds they will read 320 words.

So keep things short and to the point. I know this sounds crazy coming from me – but the stats show my longer posts are often largely are ignored.

EXTENDED ENTRY – If you’re going to write a long post – consider writing a punchy introduction that makes your main points so that when your reader gets the ‘itch to click’ they’ve grasped your message. After the introduction refer your readers via a ‘read more’ link to another page for the rest of your post if they want to know the details. (MT’s Extended Entry feature is handy way to do this automatically).

MULTIPLE POSTS – consider breaking your long post down into multiple entries to be posted over a period of time – be sure to link them to one another.