Effective Practices For Getting Readers To Return To Your Blog

The best way to get your visitors to return to your blog is to reward them with your writing.

All the available social networks and blog marketing tools will do little to increase return visits to your blogs unless you first polish your posts. Follow these suggestions to improve your posts, and readers will come back for more.

Keep in mind that you are competing with thousands of people for your readers’ attention. You’ll need to reward your visitors by giving them well written posts. (The blue italicized terms in this article link to my earlier posts and are not necessary to understand this post; they serve only to provide a greater depth of information on the various topics)

Online writing is a unique, hybrid form of communication because it combines the benefits and challenges of mass communication and interpersonal communication (see Communicating Online: Opportunities and Obstacles). Understanding this uniqueness will help you tailor your writing to your target audience.

Here are some helpful tools to polish your post successfully.

1. Most importantly, make sure you have something to say. All the writing tips in the world can’t help the writer without an interesting or provocative topic. Posting writing without a clear purpose may cause readers not to return. It’s difficult to get new readers, but it’s even more of a challenge getting disappointed readers to return. (If your well of inspiration is running dry check out: Overcoming Writer’s Block).

2. In the first sentence or two of your post, tell your readers what’s in it for them – explain how your post will make a difference in their lives.If your readers can’t find anything that impacts them right away, many will leave after the first paragraph. Consider How to use News Values such as impact, timeliness, prominence, and novelty when determining your posts potential value for your readers.

For those who stay past the first paragraph, remember: you’ve made your promise; now it’s time to deliver.

3. Write to express, not impress. Put the thesaurus away. If you’re writing to inform or to entertain, prefer the simple to the complex. Write like you talk. (say “use”, not “utilize”; write: “I was aware of”, instead of “I was cognizant of”).

4. Brevity is an important goal because readers prefer conciseness. The average sentence should be about 15 words. Avoid wordiness (instead of writing members of the group, write group members). Also avoid redundancies (instead of writing the children completely surrounded me, just write the children surrounded me).

Unnecessary words can detract from your meaning. If you have difficulty with this, try pretending you had to pay for each word that you included.  

5. Avoid terms that can cause confusion. (i.e. “She was young;” young is too vague – it means different things to different people). Remember words have denotations and connotations, so avoid ambiguous terms. Instead of saying that she was young, say: she was nearly 8 years old. There are also many commonly confused words in the English language. Be aware of the meaning of all your words. Further and farther, fewer and less, and accept and except are just a few of the common errors found in careless writing. (See Commonly Misused Words).

6. Say what you mean. If your purpose is to convey information, eliminate euphemisms. Euphemisms are meant to soften the blow of a potentially offensive or blunt idea, such as “collateral damage” for unintended civilian deaths. Euphemisms can cause loss ofclarity. (Read about editing out euphemisms in Layers of Revision). If your post lacks clarity, it’s doomed. Readers won’t spend time on posts they can’t understand.

7. Use examples and anecdotes. When explaining something complicated or something your readers might not have experienced, give an example. For example, explain that learning to use CSS to design a webpage is like learning how to play a sport or a musical instrument; first you must learn the rules, then you must practice to improve. Similarly, an anecdote is a very short story included to elaborate on and emphasize the facts. Instead of saying the girls were mischievous, consider using an anecdote to show us. Limit anecdotes to one (or two at most) per post. (See: Writing is like Baking a Cake)

8. Punctuation matters; people do judge a book by its cover (See: If Punctuation Marks were People). If you have spelling and grammar mistakes in your writing, people will lose confidence in you. They will question your facts and assumptions if they catch that you were careless with your pronouns and commas (See: The Problem with Pronouns)

9. Use vivid description. Keep in mind the maxim: Show, don’t tell. Don’t tell us that Billy was happy with his new puppy; show us. Readers appreciate it when you use your senses to describe details. They want to hear, see, feel, smell, touch and taste what you’re describing. (See: Think visually). 

10. Proofread: take the time to polish your post. We often find errors when it’s too late. Edit your posts prior to publication. You don’t have to be a walking, talking grammar book, you just need to know when to turn to one. (Check out: English Handbook for the Game of your Life)

The best way to get visitors to return to your blog is to make them happy. While social networks and search engines are useful as treasure maps, your posts are the treasures –the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Follow these tips to polish them, and let them shine.

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About robertstevenson

Dr. Robert Stevenson is a Professor of Journalism and Director of Student Publications for the Department of Mass Communications and Theater at Lander University in Greenwood, SC. He received the Distinguished Faculty of the Year award for 2007-'08, and the Lander University Young Faculty Scholar Award in 2005-06. Stevenson also serves as chair of the Lander University American Democracy Project. First and Formost I am a dad of two wonderful boys.
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29 Responses to Effective Practices For Getting Readers To Return To Your Blog

  1. timethief says:

    This is an excellent pillar post. Thanks for publishing it. 🙂

  2. timethief says:

    At the time I left my first comment did not click through and find that each link was to a post in your own blog. This is an excellent “deep links” post, as opposed to a pillar post. A deep links post brings fresh attention the previous posts you have written. A pillar post includes plenty of outgoing links to authoritative and popular external resources.

  3. Excellent suggestions, practical and easy to incorporate I will share. Thanks.

  4. Robert,

    Thank you so much for this valuable information. May I add you to my Blogroll?

    Bradley

  5. Excellent tips! I especially like the advice to keep it simple, write the way you talk, and proofread!

  6. Pingback: Deep link posts: Bring your readers back again and again « one cool site: wordpress blogging tips

  7. Lenka Bliss says:

    Brilliant tips. Thanks for this 🙂

  8. Joe says:

    Good tips, thanks.

  9. Jon says:

    Content is king.

  10. Roads says:

    Another visitor here via timethief’s excellent site.

    Interesting stuff – many thanks.

  11. I was cognizant of the utter futility in my excessive literary expressions and have ceased to utilize said disproportionate verbiage with the exception of instances where it evidently behooved my tertiary use of euphemisms and henceforth shall continue my herculean efforts, shall the Great Lord Almighty grant me the wherewithal to accomplish such a insubstantial, nonetheless uncomplicated, undertaking, I know not and have not the courage to judge with my insubstantial humans trepidation of misspeaking.

  12. Geoff says:

    Excellent advice, and an excellent post. Thanks for the tips.

    Oh and to Richard McLaughlin… Well said. …or at least I’m sure it is, or I will be just as soon as I figure out what you were going on about. Lol.

  13. Loved all the feedback thanks.
    Nice one, Richard 🙂

  14. Nards says:

    Thank you Robert. I have been so guilty of so much. In the future, I will try to do better without compromising style – Nards

  15. Wonderful Ten Commandments! Here is the Eleventh: Add atleast one image per post. It speaks volumes.

  16. That really is good advice. I need to follow it more. 🙂

  17. Love it! I do have to say I can’t wait till I can afford an editor though…I can read and re-read something a hundred times and there will still be some silly mistake. Doctors are always in the habit of writing in sentence fragments and using acronyms, so I would say that my writing has actually unraveled a bit since med-school.

  18. Aaron says:

    Great posts! I just started writing blogs on wordpress a couple of months ago, and these tips are sure to help!

    Feel free to stop by my blog – http://www.WhyImNeverHavingKids.com – and add it to your favorites!

  19. southern girl says:

    I feel so…. rewarded! Thank you for sharing.

  20. Paul says:

    I believe this post will go down in posting history as a landmark post about posting. Nice work my friend.

  21. Okay, okay, I think you must have written the BREVITY part of this post for ME! LOL I am waaaaay too long winded and just can’t help myself. I just finished a book about my life in the jungle and it is long. But I do have an excellent agent. Nonetheless, since writing that book I can hardly blog because I can’t write SHORT stories. I have to read this article again that you wrote. Maybe you can suggest ways to pare down in one of your posts. Yuh? yuh? 🙂 So until I deal with my verbal addiction, my verbosity, my verbal spew, etc. (see what I mean?) you will have to be patient with me or suggest a cure. Yuh? Yuh? (Said in an eager voice.) 🙂 AND I highly recommend that you suggest a 12 step program for me so that you don’t have to wade through LONG LONG comments like this. Over and out! (Laughing hysterically!)

    PS If you do ever write such a post PLEASE send me a shout DEMANDING that I read said post! LOL 🙂

  22. Great article. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think you’ve made some excellent points here, especially about the quality of content. Nobody’s going to stick around for poor content, let alone come back. This seems obvious but it’s surprising how often we forget!

  23. Alexander says:

    Ya, dawg! 🙂

    Seriously, a home run of a post!

  24. Kat says:

    Thank you for sharing your information with us all!
    I appreciate it being a newbie and all. 🙂

  25. dinsquared says:

    Really helpful. Thank you!

  26. Eric Choi says:

    I’ve started my own blog at , and I’m really trying to employ your techniques.

    Come check out my site and feel free to critique it.

  27. Mike says:

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    _________________________________
    Did you know that over 94% of personal computers have hidden corrupt dangerous files with over 150 hidden errors and bugs on them?

  28. Tina says:

    Thx for sharing this for I am just start my blog n I want get more people like it. Useful post:)

  29. Anony Mous says:

    Thanks for the tips, I will certainly try and use these techniques next time I write a blog post.

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