We’re spoiled as bloggers in lots of ways, but I’m talking about what happens after we’ve built an audience of any size.
When we’re trying to grow our audiences, we work hard on headlines that get people to click to begin reading. And if we’re smart (and we are), we also work hard to make the first line of a blog post draw our readers in to keep reading. But what happens after we’ve built a community we’re proud of?
Folks tend to make our regularly posted thoughts part of their daily beat, so traffic is pretty stable. And if we’re part of a tribe (formal or informal), we can count on enough shares to make us feel good about ourselves. And depending just how large we’ve grown, those shares can number in the hundreds.
Pretty good, eh?
But at the same time, we’ve slacked off on enticing new readers because we’re content with our community, who we know will come anyway. So headlines like, “It’s Happening Again” or “Just A Note” are followed by inside jokes, personal reflections, and other items that have no relevance to a first-time visitor.
Is that a bad thing? I say no, with the following qualifiers:
It’s rude to publish post after post that has nothing to do with your blog’s goal without explanation or a redirect to something more relevant for new readers. When I subscribe to your blog, it’s because I saw plenty worth reading, and had hopes of more of the same–at least for a while.
When your blog is a powerful platform, you have a lot to prove every time you post. So give us the lighthearted fluff, but add a pith that makes it worthy of your brand or you as the blogger we’ve come to love.
Make sure your first line draws in at least the people who read your stuff every day. So it may not be relevant to new readers, but it should be relevant to your readers, somehow. This is where the inside jokes come in–and invite new readers to laugh with a link for context.
Every blog post is an exercise in starting all over again as a writer. We go through the overconfidence, the self-doubt, the pre-publication jitters, and the publish chills every time we pull up the post editor. So no, we’re not always perfect.
We can use each blog post to keep the zing that brought in new readers fresh, and keep our writing skills sharp. But if you blog for a living or for your business, you also need to make sure your marketing muscle doesn’t get flabby. That means every blog post is also an exercise in building your readership to make progress toward your social media goals.
Have you thought about the techniques you use in your headlines and first lines to draw in readers, old and new?
Thanks for the impetus to write the post percolating for a while, Margie Clayman!
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Great observation! After you've been around for a while (right @bdorman264 !?) you can become a bit lax and lazy. Not a good idea, I agree. We have to remember that every post may be the FIRST post for some reader(s). The early-day excitement has worn off so I think the challenges is in finding a way to keep that excitement alive.
I'm not very good with headlines, and never have been. But I've not thought a lot about the first lines and will now.
Great points Shakirah. One major consideration that affects some of my titles is SEO. I will often use a less "catchy" headline in order to include a targeted phrase. I try to find a balance -- some posts I just go for the "grab" but sometimes I rely on traffic down the road at the expense of more clickthroughs after publication.
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