Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Five Ways to Avoid Writing Lazy Blog Posts

This one tweet from @wilsonellis during Sun nite's #blogchat sparked a lot of discussion, and a bit of debate on its merits. (BTW here's the transcript to #blogchat)

Her point was that every post you write should ask for the reader to take SOME action. Now I think some people didn't like the term 'Call to Action', so I asked if maybe 'Call to INTERaction' would be more appropriate. But the thought is, you want to create content that sparks the reader to want to take SOME action. Otherwise, they will just come, read your post, and leave. And probably start reading other blogs that are interesting enough to spark them to take some additional action.

So drawing inspiration from Debra, here are some Calls to Action (or Calls to INTERaction) that you can add to each and every post.

1 - Ask for comments. If you want an interactive blog, the four most important words you can learn are 'What do you think?' And this ties into the most valuable lesson you can learn; your readers, as a group, are ALWAYS smarter than you are. So the more input you can get from them, the smarter you will be AND the more interesting your posts will be.

2 - Ask for emails. Believe it or not, some people prefer to talk just to you, and via email. Give them this option. And maybe you prefer this as well.

3 - Ask for subscriptions. Chris Brogan does this well, check out this post. Hey we are all in a hurry, and sometimes it helps to make it painfully easy for someone to subscribe. What better way to remind a reader to subscribe, than writing a post reminding them to do so? Oh and notice that at the end of Chris' post that he asks his readers what they want to see more of in the future. Perfect!

4- Ask for newsletter signups. If you offer a newsletter, ask readers to signup for it, and explain why they should read your newsletter in addition to reading your blog.

5- Ask for the order. Now stop wringing your hands! Yes you can ask people to buy your stuff on your blog! No one is going to throw you into Social Media Jail so calm down! I think the key is the CONTEXT in which you ask for the order. If you end every post with 'Hey! Hire me!', it can get a bit irritating. But if I write a post on '10 Steps to Launching the Perfect Business Blog', and at the end of the post remind my readers that I provide these same services for clients, and tell them how to get in touch with me, then I've asked for the order in a CONTEXT that makes sense. But if I wrote a post on how I use TweetDeck, then at the end pitched my ability to launch a Facebook Fan Page for your company, it looks out of place.

Now to be clear, you shouldn't attempt to do each of these in every post, but the idea is to start thinking about giving your readers a sense of direction. Give them a reason to interact with you, it could be to write a comment, send you an email, or buy your product. But if you're writing a blog that your readers don't care to get involved with, then they won't be your readers for very long.

What do your favorite blogs do to keep you engaged?


Eric Brown said...

Hey Mack,
Not sure if others are noticing the shift that seems to be occurring, but there seems to be a drifting toward "Marketing Something" on blog posts.

Or "Selling Something" or a lot of chatter about how it is OK to "Monetize"

BTW, I am OK with all of this, and can only assume that bloggers are getting hungrey, and need to buy shoes and are perhaps tiring of producing all Free Content.

The Consumer, Your Followers, Your Tribe will decide if it is OK, or if you are selling something, and turning the sacred Social Media Space into a marketing and selling extravaganza, as we all struggle to see what works and what doesn't

Mack Collier said...

I agree Eric, I am seeing it too. And a lot of these efforts (mine included) are often really really bad. Why? Because many of us were told for so long that it's all but a sin to attempt to monetize your social media efforts, so we have zero experience in doing so. Now that we are trying it, we are stumbling and making the mistakes that come from trying something new and not having much experience.

Everyone will get better, and the efforts will be less intrusive, and more valuable to readers.

Damond Nollan said...

I suppose I tire of people who only want to sell me something. Some of the best bloggers continuously provide valuable insight into the industry. While I cannot speak to people's motives all of the time, it shouldn't look like one is trying to sell me.

Outside of that, a call to (inter)action is fine.

Jamie Search said...

I found this post really interesting. I agree with Damond, I prefer it when bloggers provide you with valuable information on your industry, that way you are at least going to find out new things which you other wise might not.

Mark said...

If I came across a blog with every post asking me to do something, I wouldn't come back.

Promotional Products said...

A call to INTERaction...I like that. Creating a motivation is so important for comments, traffic, and lead generation. These are all great ways to do so, especially if you are able to generate subscriptions. This could be very helpful to your future profitability.

Unknown said...

So you mean now we can actually "sell" :-) This is the greatest news I've heard in a long, long time! To tell you the truth I was really beginning to get tired of the hypocrisy i.e. pretending we do not even intend to sell anything to our readers. But of course, we still have to be tactful...