That title could be quite funny with a misplaced comma or two… hyper, loyal blog readers. I’m looking at you Jen.
If you’ve been reading Blog Tyrant for a while now you will know that I have been lucky enough to own (and then sell) quite a few successful blogs in a variety of different niches. Some of them were very tricky, competitive niches.
And I seem to have tapped into the extremely over-crowded blogging niche without too much difficulty. But enough self aggrandizement – let’s talk about how it is done. What is the secret ingredient for creating hyper-loyal blog readers?
Its all in the words.
Why I’m writing this
As usual I like to start each post with a bit of a background on why I am writing the drivel I am writing on that particular day. Well, today it is because I got yet another email from a frustrated blogger wondering why no one was connecting to their blog.
For all intents and purposes they were doing everything right. They had a nice theme, lots of bullet points and easy-to-scan content and even a good looking profile photo. But the interaction was next to zero.
Well because they were totally missing this secret ingredient. And for all the SEO knowledge, marketing tactics and audience-growing techniques that I know, this one little thing makes the most difference. Every single time.
The secret ingredient
So what is the secret ingredient that most blogs are missing or not quite pulling off?
Its the story.
Now, when I say story I am not talking about having a nice personal history (although that can help).
And I am not talking about creative writing that would make James Franco’s knees bend. What I am talking about is making every single thing you write about on your blog have a personal perspective. An individual story that relates to you and your experience.
This can be done on almost every single blog with the exception of maybe a busy product review site.
A blog is like a restaurant
A blog is a lot like your favorite restaurant – cheesy simile I know but it might help get my point across.
Think about your favorite place to eat. I bet there are a few reasons why you chose that place and I’m betting that the food is only a small part. Seems crazy at first but recently I noticed that my favorite places to eat are my favorite because there is a beautiful waitress who knows my name and flirts with me every time I visit. Or, there is a hilarious cook who comes out and remembers my most eaten meal.
The place also has to have the right vibe.
Its not just the food. And like a blog, people don’t stay just for the information. People become loyal to other people. Not products. Not brands (with the rare Apple exception).
The best blog articles have a story. You get sucked in because you are interested not only in what is being said, but who is saying it and why.
I try to do that with almost every single post I do. Its not always possible, but it usually makes a difference.
Has this worked for you?
I’d love to see any posts you’ve done where a story was added and make it work. Feel free to post your links in the comments and let me know whether you think this works for your blog.
64 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
This relates to how readers respond so well to honesty. A little truth and an authentic voice trumps dazzling turns of phrase.
I’ve written a travel blog since 2004 called “Marcus Goes Global.” In that time, I’ve gone to amazing places, met remarkable people, and had adventures I’ll never forget. I shared all those things with my friends who read my blog.
BUT, the single most popular story on my blog was a trip where everything went wrong. This happened in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar):
The overwhelming reaction from my friends confused and humbled me. Yes, they liked reading about the magical moments and beautiful sunsets, etc. However, my friends loved that I was open about revealing how travel can go wrong as well.
My friends wouldn’t have stuck with my blog all these years if I only bragged about the places I visited. I really try to take them with me, see what I see, feel what I feel. The best compliments I get from fan e-mails isn’t about the quality of my writing, but when they say, “I felt like I was there with you.” It’s not about the language, but the tone under the language, if that makes sense.
When you make your writing for your readers, they can tell and appreciate that.
Another great post, Blog Tyrant! Look forward to your next one.
Nice one Marcus. Looks like you’re taking your readers on a great journey.
Hey, there, another helpful post, thanks. I’m new to blogging and I’m lost in the blogosphere. Would love you to check out my blog. I’m an author, songwriter and used to be actor. Do I have to focus on one of these skills in my blog? http://rebeccasimmonds.wordpress.com/, see what you think. Thanks again for your brilliant posts, bec.
In terms of what to focus on – what is your blog about?
I’m using it to promote the release of my book, trying to find a niche at the moment.
That’s great. I think you could apply the same philosophy to Tweets and FB status updates. If you’re not being personable or telling a story, no-one really gives a f#&k about what you’re saying!
I agree and disagree, it’s a necessity sure, but you can’t just tell a story without leaving the reader satisfied.
As in, you have to provide value, and the story adds a personal aspect of the site, such as showing you taking your own advice.
But you aren’t going to get away with just telling a story, unless you have one damn interesting life 😉
You’re right. What I mean is that you need to inject that story/personal element into the regular information.
lol at the how you said (with the exception of Apple). Anyway, what I have done so far and I belive is to reply to people who left comments in a very friendly and personal tone, so it’s worth coming back, having said that, use the ReplyMe plugin! 😀
Hey Harrison what does that plugin do?
seems like you’re interested 😀 well I don’t believe you’ve never heard it, anyway, if you had ever commented on Traffic Generation Cafe, whenever you post a comment and Ana replies to it, the pluginw will automatically send you an email that you can customize and it will increase the chances that people reply to what you have said:
I totally agree with you.
The most commented posts (both in the comments section and via email) of my blog are those where I tell a story about my own life.
In my opinion they’re not my best posts, but people seem to relate to them.
My conclusion is that people want to read simple stories, the ones that could happen to them. They can see themselves in your story.
People admire Bill Gates or Steve Jobs but they live in another galaxy, far away from “common people”.
The task is to get those stories in to ordinary posts I reckon.
P.S. My post: http://optima-lifestyle.com/working-home-kill-business/
I admit that there was I time I used to post as much product reviews as I can. But I realized that It doesn’t matter how many products that you post. The only thing matter is how you build trust with your readers (or as you said: How you build your restaurant). I am trying to build my own restaurant with personal stories so that I could make more senses to my posts and satisfy my readers.
You got it!
I use personal stories a lot, mainly because my blog is aimed more towards that. But my main strategy is to use humor to entertain and then squeeze in some serious issues such as women’s rights in other countries, lack of healthcare in the developing world, etc.
I wrote a serious post, Some Women Don’t Get to Celebrate International Women’s Day and started with a personal story from me, before segueing into all the other horrible stories that I hadn’t personally witnessed.
To this date, the day I posted it, got the highest hits on my site, it was retweeted and shared way more than I imagined it would be. I thought because it wasn’t my normal ‘funny’ post, people might not read it.
It’s been my experience, that if I include my own experiences about all the sad, bad, crazy stuff that is happening, people are much more likely to read about it than they are to read about it on CNN. And since I’m a real person, they’re more likely to care.
I’m really interested in women’s education. I go to India every year and see how important it is. Have you read about Kerala?
No, but I just googled it. It looks gorgeous- do you go there for tourist stuff or work/other stuff? Guess the flight is a lot cheaper from down under, huh?
Yup, I find the same thing works well.
I wrote a post about business tips I learned from running a half-marathon that went over really quite well. Here’s a link.
I figure if Jesus taught using stories and illustrations, then there must be something to it. We connect with stories. It’s smart and good. 🙂
Good to see another post from you. I’m hoping your lack of posts has meant you’re out enjoying life instead of hacking away behind a computer. 😉
This bit of drivel is the most popular post on my blog. I had just been called by a landlord who was complaining that the tenant I had placed was dirty. These people a nice young couple with a child couldn’t even put out their garbage and the entire place stunk.
This post here is my favourite and makes me laugh every time I read it.
I do have my share of hyper loyal readers, which is nice, I can now count on comments every time I write a post. I even have a tenant activist who comes by and writes me on my bad attitude.
I enacted your idea of commenting to every person.
Why do I love blog tyrant? Not sure, but the personal connection does come into it for sure. But mostly you get the feeling that the writer cares about you. See many of the other blogger bloggers just seem to care enough to write about what crap I should buy. Then others are just a series of guest posts by much smaller bloggers. There is no continuity.
I have to agree. Copyblogger and Problogger are a bit thrashed these days. Too many guest posts.
Glad I’m not the only one. I still find Copyblogger posts useful, but I rarely read the posts that hit my inbox from Problogger anymore. At this point, I basically scan the beginning to see if it’s from Darren and read those. The rest are a low priority to me.
It’s kind of Google’s fault, someone sent me an article with Google stats showing that posting multiple times per day increases your traffic tremendously. Yet one blogger would find it very hard to do that I think.
Well I guess you could do link kind of posts but that’s it. Not high quality in depth analysis.
So if you want your blog to grow according to the article multiple daily postings are key. Which naturally required more writers.
Do you have a link to that?
Here it is.
I totally agree. I get so overwhelmed with 5 posts a day coming at me, and most of the people guest posting don’t have any real authority on the subject.
Well I am lucky having a great story and find that it is the personal posts that have the most appeal. I have always loved that about your blog here, I can come and go like an old friend. My restaurant is casual, personal, friendly with food that warms the soul, and that’s just how I like it.
this is a link to a post that readers liked
ciao for now old friend
Nice to see you Lisa.
Wow you get pretty busy here BT! By the way my blog isn’t about a restaurant just using your example. Since starting blogging hardest thing is to keep up with everything eg reading the blogs I like, twitter, responding to comments, fb, posting, how do you do it all?? Do you schedule a certain amount of time for each…do you get distracted (yes you already said that you do!) How do I find a good balance and live a busy life with kids, selling a house, and moving countries???
There is no balance. Total anarchy.
Like the guy at church said, “He preached that sermon right at me.”
I have to agree with you, Ty, but if one can’t quite get how to tell a story, especially when there are no comments (except for tons from bloggers looking for backlinks) to respond to, then I think the sensible thing to do is find other work.
Who is this kind and wise person named Blog Tyrant, really? Sometimes I wonder if your mysterious persona doesn’t intrigue people to come back for more.
Maybe it is the lack of a person… Could be right.
The interesting thing in my story is, I’ve switched focus a little on what I’m doing and I get less comments but I’m making more money.
I’ve built a rapport with my audience and many of them email me questions and comments, even in regards to my articles.
Actually, another factor which has slowed the comments down a little on my blog is the fact that I moved my domain.
That’s never good.
Personal perspectives, like you said, really is that secret sauce.
How was the domain move?
The move went fine. What I lost was a lot of RSS readers.
But that’s okay. I actually don’t focus on RSS much these days, I’m more focused on my list as a means of communication.
Tsk, tsk, Tyrant. Why you gotta pick on the peep with ADHD? (Emphasis on the ‘h’ in that one.) 😛
For my part, the most success I ever had from telling a personal story was when I shared what it was like to be an empath before I knew empaths existed (aka before I could control it). That was more than 2 1/2 years ago and people are still sending me emails and leaving comments on that post.
I guess my shielding tips helped a lot of struggling and suffering people find a moment’s peace. Or maybe they just liked knowing they weren’t alone. I don’t really know.
I thought you’d like the mention! 😉
Maybe if you do it enough, your readers will actually remember who I am. *coughs* Martyn *coughs*
Who’s Jen? If she doesn’t weigh in, she’s in trouble. Heh.
Look at the comment abce ya.
Interesting…having a look at my blog stats, the most popular (which is an extremely relative term here!) posts are a tutorial post, and an on-going list of vegan craft supplies. Very little true story elements there, and not helpful with the point of my blog which is to promote handmade beads. Perhaps it’s something to do with the niche of crafting?
Lots of photos in your niche work well I reckon.
I think you’re right there – for various reasons, I don’t browse with pictures on, so I forget that pictures are supposed to be a big draw!
I’m running an iOS app review blog, so there’s not much I can do for story besides an About, and Editors page. I try to make up for it by adding some humor to my writing. One good for someone in my niche to get comments is to make a statement in your review that everyone will either agree, or disagree with, and no in between.
I don’t have a high-traffic site just yet, so I haven’t found anything hugely affective, but this definitely helps to get some comments. Write so that your readers will want their opinions to be heard.
Hi Dean. Yeah, it’s hard with those electronics.
I was thinking genetic engineering, but this works too.
Ha ha ha.
You’re right BT, there is a personal connection to be made to turn passive readers into hardcore ones.
On my site, I have a category called “Production Stories” which are first hand accounts of events that have happened to me in the filmmaking world.
Traditionally, they do not generate a lot of traffic. Sometimes they do, but I write them because I enjoy them and it’s nice to take a break from writing tutorials to writing something that feels more creative.
With that said, I asked my readers to do a survey not so long ago and, when asked which categories were their favorite, was surprised to see Production Stories in the Top 3.
It seemed my most loyal readers enjoyed those posts the mosts (for a variety of reasons) even though they weren’t necessarily the most popular.
Now I try to fit one in at least once a week to keep my loyal readers happy and because it keeps me happy.
Nice post, Tyrant. Glad to see you’re back with a little more frequency!
Thanks Evan. Don’t count on my consistency though.
I guess you just want us to keep begging for posts.
Seriously though I’d rather read one of your quality posts than 10 filler/SEO posts.
Another blogger that does this is Glen Allsop at ViperChill. He may not post on a schedule but you know when it hits your inbox it’s worth reading!
Absolutely, totally true. It took me a while to figure that out, and I’ve seen much better results since I have.
For example, my occasional “Three Things I’ve Learned” post series – in which I just talk about three things I learned from some interest or activity – seem to be very popular (and are easy to write, too). http://hypno.co.nz/blogs/series/3-things-ive-learned/
I’ve recently started a new blog (http://howtobeamazing.com) where I’ve done the story thing from the start, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I’m getting great engagement from the readers. My subscriber numbers grew by 150% last month! (From a low base, but still.)
Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out.
First time reader, Ty. Wow. I did not connect the idea of a restaurant with my readers. I was just focusing on burping out posts and let the chips fall where they may. Thank you for the great advice.
Did you learn this advice from personal observation or book recommendations?
Hi EJ. Just from years of writing blogs.
I really liked the restaurant analogy. It really points out that brand can’t usually do what personality can.
Example, there’s a restaurant chain where I live that’s pretty good … but when I get the urge for their food I drive past three of their outlets to the one actually farther from my house. Know why?
When I pay the bill (and remember, the cashier has my credit card in her hand, so no excuse not to know my name), she never fails to say, “Thank you Mr. Starr, nice to see you here again.”
All the money the other, closer, branches spend on their branding, advertising, special promos and other marketing gimmicks is wasted for one simple reason … they don’t take a few seconds to recognize me as a person.
Ever notice how the blogs you really like to read are the ones where you feel you know the blogger … even if s/he is half a world away?
One of my most successful, personal, story telling posts:
Not a big money maker, not much for innovation, Digg material or anything like that, but it always pleases me because I sat down and told my readers something about my own inner doubts, phobias, outlook on life, etc. In other words, I was me, for a change.
I advise anyone who doesn’t get personal to just try it, you’ll like it.
Nice one Dave. Thanks for posting it.
I love the power of a story well told. And not just stories about me. I found this story about Addie….and fell in love…How You Treat Others is a BIG deal…http://jbmthinks.com/2011/06/how-you-treat-others-is-a-big-deal-addies-story.html/
This secret ingredient is exactly what has created a following for my blog (although “small”) over the past year (1 year anniversary august 23rd). I honestly don’t do a lot right when it comes to all the rest. Or maybe I do, not really sure. But I have consistent readers because of the content, the personal aspect, and I continue that into Facebook and the real world.
I agree with you that readers are loyal to people, and not product. I think also that people will buy you more (if you are the product) when they start seeing your value growing everyday.
I am so happy to read this! My favorite blogs are absolutely the with writers who bare their personality and offer stories I can relate to or learn from.
I have a brand-new blog, and I’ve been trying to find my voice, and the right angle for my posts. I very recently decided to start taking my readers more through my personal journey (my blog is about being a freelance writer/aspiring author), and in just a few posts I have seen not just steady growth in traffic, but a more CONSISTENT level of traffic. It’s also made it so much easier to produce material for my blog, because everything comes from the bottom of my heart as a writer right to my readers, other writers. Here is a post where I opened up and started to share with my readers: http://danasitar.com/2011/08/29/bringing-it-all-together/
Thanks for the post!