How to Create Content that Engages and Converts

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quillAs a longtime and prolific creator of content myself, from back before the times when blogging in its current form even existed, I sometimes wonder what impact my content has on my readers.

Once upon a time you could tell, because your readers would comment under the blog post, and there are still some blogs like some of my favourite content creators Smart Passive Income Blog and Viperchill that get a tonne of comments on any post.

Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week blog posts get hundreds and hundreds, as his audience is SO huge.  I’m also a big fan of the WPCurve blog that Dan Norris launched, and he’s grown his company so fast because he’d previously built a great following with some awesome content on his blog.

For the rest of us “mere mortal” bloggers, we wish longingly for comments while counting the number of social media shares!

I always try to write about things that I’d like to read if I were looking for inspiration or instruction.  At the same time, I do realise that most of my subscribers, and even customers, are either repelled or attracted by the content that I publish.

That’s kind of the point of blogging.  Hang “your arse out” as one of my earliest business mentors, Chris Barrow, told me to do, and see who likes your style!  Check out Chris’ straight talking dental business blog here.

So let’s talk about creating good content – the kind that engages the audience and converts viewers into subscribers and even, one day, customers.  I often write “straight from the hip”, particularly my Business Diary blog posts, but more often than not, I plan a piece of content before I publish it on a mindmap, so I wanted to share my own system of thinking and writing.

1. Write specifically for the internet

People’s reading habits differ from one medium to another. They may not mind large paragraphs in books, because they are captivated by the plot and storyline, as well as the descriptions, and the dialogues between the characters. Online, things are very different.

My readers take a look at my blog posts during their coffee break, on their way to work in the underground, or during a cab drive. They’ll probably skim through the blog post and decide whether it’s worth their time right there and then.

If they can’t find anchor points such as subtitles, bullet points and other artifices to break up the text and create a good print/white space ratio, they’ll lose interest and postpone reading to later. Maybe, they won’t come back to it, at all.

Keep your writing clean and appealing – you have a very short window of time to “hook” your reader.

2. Speak in a friendly, personal manner

I always use the first person in my posts, because I am expressing my own ideas and I want you to feel that I am talking just to you.  I do exactly the same in my autoresponder messages – visualising my ideal clients one by one as I do so.  That really helps get the tone right.

No one likes the cold and impersonal tone of a post or an email that seems to originate from a machine rather than a human being.

Everything you write should be:

  • friendly
  • polite
  • helpful
  • informal
  • interesting
  • relatable
  • and lastly, have just a touch of humour.

If you want to test your content, read it out loud. If it feels like a conversation with a friend, it is well enough written. If it sounds like a public speech, then you should revise it and make it sound more informal.

3. Give a purpose to your writing

In every blog post, I try to recommend that you read a book, encourage you to visit a website — in short, I advise you to do something actively to enhance your understanding or skills.

You should always include a call to action in your blog posts.

People do not read blog posts only for entertainment purposes, or in order to make time pass quicker. They are looking for advice, they are seeking help with an issue and they want to feel that they have achieved something, gained something after they have finished reading.

They want to know that you can help them.  For example, you might be looking for Mentoring or a managed Facebook Ads service so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I can help you with those things, as well as link to Pat Flynn, Dan Norris, Tim Ferris’ or Glen Allsop’s blogs, like I did above.

4. Back up your statements

Whenever I cite data or statistics, I always include the source.  It’s dull sometimes to go searching for it but very important to verify.

Likewise, I always back up various claims with quotations from various books written by experts, linking to the books where possible. This makes me more believable and credible, even to someone who is browsing my blog for the first time.

At the same time, do not be afraid to use personal anecdotes and your own experiences, and share them as a means of proving your point.  I feel that by showing how dim I can be sometimes, it makes a safe space for people to ask the questions they are thinking. Being a successful entrepreneur is all about what goes on between your ears, so I often share my own limiting beliefs and daily rituals for helping me get my head straight.

A Final Tip Or Two

People can feel the difference between content that was written for them, to help them, or entertain them, and content written for the search engines, full of “popular” keywords, but with no real substance.  So don’t try to “keyword stuff”, it just doesn’t work.

Write real content for real people and you’ll do ok with your content marketing and start to build a loyal audience.

Then… don’t forget, it’s up to you to promote your content across your social media accounts! It won’t get much traction otherwise, because you can’t rely on the search engines!

Day 28 | Making Money From Blogging Duel | Connecting With Other Bloggers

In Day 28 of his 30 Day Create A Blog Plan, Michael Dunlop shares his thoughts on connecting with, and interviewing other bloggers.  I used to do this a lot more and for your enjoyment I’ve inserted a lovely interview I did with Martin Avis from Kickstart Monthly and Kickstart PLR, his private label article site, that I did last year at one of his lunches.  I was grilling Martin on the “Secret Of Success” and he comes up with some great insights.

Of course, video is no good for search engines – they need words and unique content to get really excited – so I really must get that transcribed. We had a fantastic transcriptionist in the Philippines but she kept getting sick, all sorts of nasties out there apparently, and she finally disappeared after being ripped off by a business partner.

Actually, just writing this reminds me that I need to find someone new to transcribe videos, as it’s a great way of creating great content.

And I need to go and connect with other bloggers in Brighton for Digital Marketing Brighton blog.  I’m doing ok with Twittering so Let’s do a Google search and see who comes up…..

First up is BrightonBloggers.com which has a high page rank but which seems a little neglected.  They had meetups and everything, but hey ho, let’s submit our blogs and see what happens.  There also seems to have been something called Girl Geek Dinners and the last blog about that was November 2010, so there is something going on.  New blogs added in October 2010 include

Emily Bassin’s “Maternal Tales From The South Coast”, Brighton Beans (all about coffee apparently, Brighton Writes which looks a bit more up my street, but I am concerned that they all seem to be on Blogger.com or Blogspot.  Haven’t they heard of WordPress?

There’s Bloody Brighton, more of a rant than a tour around the more murderous spots locally, and at last, a self hosted one by Mark Cossey who is a graphic & web designer in Brighton which looks interesting – I’ll follow @burning on Twitter and see what he gets up to.

Off to Wired Sussex to see if they list any local bloggers on there – I’m going to join Wired Sussex and the Brighton Chamber, but not until the weather picks up and I feel better – I’m not even going to poker tonight I feel so bad!

<<< Day 27 | Day 29 >>>

Day 27 | Making Money From Blogging Duel | Connecting With Readers

Well, I’m not so much racing towards the end of Michael Dunlop’s 30 Day “Create A Blog” plan, as limping towards the finish line!

A combination of a bad cold and cough, Christmas, the New Year, trying to get my head together about 2011 and what I was going to focus on, all conspired to slow me up on the finishing the challenge.

But finish I will!   The Digital Marketing Brighton blog is looking good, but not getting hardly any traffic at all, in spite of my using the Google Webmaster Tools to submit the XML sitemap and check that it has been indexed.

I wrote my “instructional post” over Christmas – on how to take an offline customer database and turn it into something that can be used for email marketing, it’s unique to that blog, so hopefully that will help, but I’ve hardly been prolific as Yaro Starak says you have to be in his excellent recent article “What You Need To Focus On In 2011”, to be successful in anything.

I totally agree with him but what with one thing and another, I’ve hardly been prolific myself *groan* and as for FOCUS, I have really been struggling to finish up everything and clear my decks so that I can focus on Local Business Internet Marketing Services in 2011.

And this is one of the things I have to finish up.  I’m determined.

One of the things you should learn from my example is that it’s very hard to be prolific if you are working on multiple projects at once and I want to get to the place where I’m just working on ONE!

Day 27 – Connecting With Readers

Interesting that this should come up this week, as I’ve been pondering the almost complete lack of comments on my blogs nowadays!  I was wondering if people tweet and facebook blog articles they like, rather than commenting or social bookmarking them so much?

It’s a bit tough connecting with readers if you don’t get any comments, don’t you think?  I know that Michael gets many, many more visitors than I do to any of my blogs, so is it a numbers game?  Is it that you can only expect 1 comment per 1000 visits or something?

I did a search on Google for some statistics and/or resources (as you do) and found this great article on the Darren Rowse / ProBlogger site

Only 1 out of every 100 Readers Comment on your Blog!

Jakob Nielsen’s latest study finds that 90% of online community users are lurkers (read or observe without contributing) with only 9% of users contributing ‘a little’ and 1% actively contributing.

So 1% of your blog’s users are actively engaging with your blog and the rest are at best occasional contributers.

The study isn’t just on blogging so the actual numbers could be more or less than these and would no doubt vary from site to site anyway – but the principle is true. The vast majority of readers leave a blog without leaving a comment or contributing to it in any way (and some bloggers like it like this and switch comments off – read more on whether to have comments on or off here and the up and downsides of comments on blogs here).

To some extent this is just the way it is and we probably need to just get used to it – however when it comes to comments there are some ways to encourage more interactivity on your blog:

Read More Here >>>

I’m getting about 80-100 visitors per day now (having experienced a mysterious jump over the New Year period) so I would be hoping for a comment every other day or so, but no! Quiet as the grave round here!

So how do I connect with readers then?  By sending a regular ezine that includes snippets of the most interesting blog posts, with links to encourage people to come back to the blog where, it is hoped, you my lovely reader will make a comment.

I’ll update the traffic and earnings stats on Day 30, ok?

<<< Day 26 | Day 28 >>>