Monday, November 3, 2008

The First Secret to Writing Blogs that are Read (Think of the Reader)

In just a few short years, the blogs have become one of the most popular and effective marketing tools used online. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs published every week on literally any and every topic imaginable. That means there's a lot of competition for readers' eyeballs. Here's how you can ensure your blog makes the cut.

In just a few short years, the blog has become one of the most popular and effective marketing tools used online. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs published every week on literally any and every topic imaginable.

blogs are a great way to stay in touch with your customers and to sell your products. But mismanaged, they're a good way to anger your visitors and lose potential sales.

The challenge facing blog publishers today is competition. It's not uncommon to receive a dozen or more electronic newsletters in your In Box each day. That's the first problem ~ cutting through the clutter. The second problem is that it's all too easy to dispose of an blog without even reading it. Your blog is one mouse click away from acceptance or the trash can. But the good news is that you ~ and only you ~ control the fate of your publication.

Here's the first secret to improving your blog.

Think of your reader, not yourself

Marketing is marketing. Whether you are writing a sales letter, a brochure or an blog, to make it interesting and beneficial to your reader, you must think of them first, not yourself.

Get inside your reader's mind. What problems do they have (relating to your area of expertise)? How can your blog solve their problems?

Depending on what area you are focusing on, you can present helpful hints and tips on how to save or add value their lives. This could be general topics, such as:

- how to improve their productivity - how to save time - how to make more money - how to enhance their lifestyle

These four areas alone could be adapted to suit any number of topics you choose to target in your blog.

Let's say that you are publishing an blog for writers, as I do. You could write a series of articles designed to improve writers' productivity, kickstart their creativity and demolish writers block. You could also write some articles on how writers can save time by organizing their life more effectively, by planning before commencing projects and by employing time-saving tools in their business, such as a Palm handheld for noting ideas on the run.

These are just a few ideas that spring to mind. You could think of a lot more which relate to your area of expertise. And your readers will thank you by reading your blogs, looking forward to your communications and buying your products.

Keep in mind. It's in their best interest to do so. By thinking of your reader first, you are demonstrating to them that you not only care but you can also provide worthwhile solutions to their lives.

This is common sense, but it's not common online.

Take a look at the blogs that you read regularly. You'll find that you read them because they add value to your life.

Web experts tell us that content rules online. Writing experts will tell you that copy is the key to content.

What I am saying is that your blog will live or die by the words you use.

If each issue is interesting, entertaining and beneficial to your readers' lives, it can only succeed and grow.

Here's a number of things you can include in your blog to keep it fresh and focused:

  1. Prescriptive how-to articles
  2. Interviews with experts in your field
  3. Links to relevant Web sites
  4. Product giveaways
  5. Quick tips and techniques
  6. Reviews

Ask your readers what they want

The best way to know what your readers want (and if your blog delivers it) is to ask them.

Whether your blog has been running for one month or several years, it pays to stay in touch with your readers' needs. If your blog is like most others, it will be winning and losing readers each month. That means people are leaving because it no longer fulfills their needs, while others are coming on board, eager to see if you can help them. How will you know what to offer, if you don't ask?

You can send a separate email to your subscriber base asking for feedback. This could be as simple as asking readers to comment on what they like and dislike in your blog, or it could be more sophisticated, where you invite them to rate each of your segments and offer any suggestions.

Obviously not everyone will respond. But those who feel strongly about your blog will generally take a few minutes to let you know why.

To improve your strike rate, you could offer readers an incentive to respond. You could offer one or more readers a free product or a special report or some other enticement.

This is a small price to pay for invaluable information. And, if used properly, you will be rewarded handsomely by your readers and your customers.

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