6 Steps to Instantly Connect With Your Blog Readers

This post is the first in the 6-part series ” How to Create Bite-Sized Content Your Readers Will Devour and Share.” Click here to read more posts in this series.

Are you having trouble getting more people to read your blog, even after spending hours writing and promoting your posts?

I have good news: you’re not crazy, and you’re definitely not alone. You’re just not giving your audience what they want—yet.

In our social media-obsessed world, there’s no such thing as a captive audience. Even if you’re creating a YouTube video, experts recommend keeping it under 5 minutes—because you’ll probably lose most of your viewers before that third minute rolls by.

We want what we want, and we want it now. We’re practically hard-wired to consume content in bite-sized pieces.

Unfortunately, most blogs don’t deliver. At least, not with the bang social media delivers.

Over the course of this series, I’m going to give you 6 simple, foolproof rules for creating better content. The secret? Stealing key elements from social media and applying them to your blog strategy. Let’s dive in!

Rule #1: Build Instant Rapport

The word rapport is defined as “a relationship of mutual trust or emotional affinity.”

Before social media, we could build rapport slowly, warming people up and “working the relationship” over time. Now, everyone wants rapport to happen INSTANTLY—because that’s how social media conditions us to expect it. But it’s also something we love experiencing in real life.

Let me give you an example. Not long ago, I was shopping at a Trader Joe’s food store when a woman got out of her car, came up to me in the parking lot and gushed, “Oh, you’re a Steelers fan! You’re probably from Pittsburgh!” before launching into an entire conversation.

I didn’t even get a chance to tell her that the Steelers sticker on the back of my car isn’t mine, it’s my husband’s. He’s the gung-ho Steelers fan from Pittsburgh, not me! But at that moment, it didn’t matter. There we were, talking like friends.

As my parking lot encounter shows, once instant rapport is initiated, it requires almost no effort to keep it going. In fact, people will come TO you. That’s why social media is so effective and so addictive.

Here are 6 tips to harness the same instant sense of connection and belonging on your blog:

Tip 1:  Treat each new blog post like a first impression.

When you write the first line of a new blog post, consider that most people who read it have not met you. How can you grab their attention, pull them in, and make them feel you’re like them?

You have just a few seconds. What will you say?

If you’re like my parking lot friend, you’ll hone in on something emotional or important that you share with your audience. When we feel someone else understands us, we want to read more.

Tip 2:  Be personal, friendly and inviting by writing to ONE person at a time.

My friend Marie Forleo called me one day, moments after I sent an email blast with a new blog post. She said, “Amy, you’ve got to kind of stroke me a little on the beginning of those emails. Warm me up a little bit. Be nice to me.”

She was teasing, but her observation was spot-on. Instead of building rapport, I was jumping right into the content. I’d write something like, “Hey John, today I wrote a post on XYZ. Come on over. I’d love to share it with you, blah blah blah…”

Here’s a trick: remember who you’re really speaking to—a real person. Invite them in, just like a friend.

Now, I give a little personality in those emails. In the summer, I might start with, “Oh man, it’s hot out! It’s 100 degrees! I hope you’re staying cool. I’m going to the pool today after I get this blog post out. I hope you are too.” 

The very first time I wrote something like that, emails came back to me—with personal stories, like, “Hey Amy, thanks for writing. I’m so hot too. My air conditioner broke yesterday.”

I didn’t know these people personally, but they felt like they knew me. So they sat up and paid attention.

Tip 3:  Make sure your blog reflects your brand impeccably.

If you have a website that makes YOU cringe, chances are, you’re making someone else cringe too. You don’t have to pour tons of money and time into it, but you should clean it up enough so you can feel good about it.

Feeling good about your blog is like getting dressed up for an event. Your confidence helps you own the room and fearlessly strike up conversations. Likewise, when you feel good about your blog’s appearance, you’ll want to blog more, promote more and really get behind your content.

That enthusiasm is infectious. Your audience will give it right back!

Tip 4:  Make it about them, not about you.

This is a lesson I learned from working with Tony Robbins all those years. He would always remind me that writing good content was NOT about us, our feelings or opinions—at least not as much as it was about them, our audience.

Our task was to listen to them—and give them what they wanted in return.

Of course, every now and then, you’re going to give them what they need and not what they want. But you can only do that by paving the way with something they want first.

Tip 5:  The most important word in any language is YOU.

You’re at a party full of strangers. What do you ask the guy standing next to you? The same thing everyone else does: “What do YOU do?”

That same principle works in blog posts. People love to hear the word “YOU,” so use it liberally. Write things like, “I want to know what you think.” “I bet you’ve been in the same situation.” “Let me give you some tips and strategies.”

Translation: I’m here for YOU, not me. With one exception…

Tip 6:  Become a master storyteller.

This is the one place where rapport starts with you, not them—but only if you master the art of storytelling first.

To show you how it’s done, let’s take a look at a case study from one of my favorite bloggers. Danielle LaPorte of Whitehot Truth  is a master storyteller, because she knows how to connect her own story with her readers’.

In the first paragraph of her post above, Danielle pulls back the curtain, so to speak. In doing so, she reveals something we can all relate to: fear. Who hasn’t had things go really well, only to worry, “Oh no, something’s MUST go wrong?”

Master storytellers build rapport by being honest about the fears and challenges that matter most to their audience.

The Bottom Line

Yes, our audience is fragmented and fleeting, but we don’t have to treat them that way. By building rapport with our blog readers, we’re also building the foundation for an enthusiastic, engaged audience—full of people who will devour your content and then come back for more.

What about you? Do you have a great story about building rapport with your audience? Share it with us in the comment section below!

  • http://recessionsolution.wordpress.com/ Scott Aughtmon

    Hi Amy,

    Great tips!  I really liked #6.  I’ve always believed being a good storyteller was important, but the fact has been resonating with me more and more recently.  I’ve blogged about it, because I’ve been seeing the power of story being used everywhere.  One of the places in particular I’ve noticed it being used is in reality TV shows.  I’ve noticed shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The Sing Off, etc. have learned that if viewers know the story behind the person auditioning, then we’ll be more interested in them and root for them more.  We become much engaged in the show because of this and tune in to see if “our favorite” is going to win.Sharing your own story with your blog readers is a way to engage them and what Danielle LaPorte is also doing in your example.  Anyway, thanks for posting these tips!

  • Evan

    I want to make this about you, Amy, but you just let me know that I’ve got a pretty damn good blog! :) Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Ha! Well that’s awesome! Hard work pays off!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10618874 Chase Sherman

    Amy,

    I notice you started off with your own story…

    To build on your ideas, I wanted to mention a great theory I picked up from Frank Kern regarding content vs. character…

    He talks about how your audience’s interest will, over time, switch from the content you produce, over to your character — in your case #2, building rapport.

    As you remain in contact with your subscribers (blog or email), your character will eventually beat out the value provided through your content (given that it’s high quality content). From your illustration (and Frank’s theory) people want to feel connected to the writer.

    He proves the theory with what he calls the “Time Test.”

    1) Name 3 things you learned in college (Content)
    2) Name 3 characters of Seinfeld (Character)

    The question is: Which did you answer fastest? …#2.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Best,
    Chase

  • http://www.irs.albertcorey.net Albert

    Hi great blog. You got it correct on how to blog.

  • http://vacationbrokenbowlake.com/ broken bow cabins

    I have to say that of all the ‘bigger’ bloggers out there, you are the one who is the easiest to connect with and always makes everyone feel on equal footing.I do not get even a hint of attitude from you and I think that is one of the important factors in connecting with your readers as well, especially as you grow as a blogger.

  • http://www.givejonadollar.com/ Give Jon a Dollar

    Liked the part of personalizing the emails more.  Thanks.  ;)

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Chase – that is really valuable stuff! That concept is new to me and you explained in such a perfect way that I instantly understood it. Thank you for taking the time to post – I think a lot of my readers will find it extremely useful as well. -Amy

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Thank you so much for such a nice comment. Since social media is changing daily, I truly do feel that I am learning something new every single say just like everyone else. With that in mind, it means a lot to me that you feel the “equal footing” because I 100% feel that way!

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Such a great point, Scott!  I recently posted a video on my G+ account about a contestant on “Korea’s Got Talent” with an amazing story – and I don’t even watch that show! (https://plus.google.com/104883301041308726636/posts/9t1JMQSAqpy?hl=en)  But the way they weaved his story in  while he sang on the show was beautiful.  Thanks for sharing such a great point!

  • http://www.annemariecross.com Annemarie Cross

    Hi Amy, this is such a great post – thank you! And, of course you presented it using all of the techniques you mentioned. I really love #6 – being able to tell really great stories works well both online and offline. As Scott mentioned in his comment – stories engage and allow you to connect on a much deeper level with your audience.

    Looking forward to the next posts in the series!

  • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

    Amy, I don’t always comment here, but I consume your content with enthusiasm and thanks. Awesome stuff! And I especially resonate with #6. Because we think in pictures, not words, storytelling is the  most effective way to get a point across, to teach and to learn. Thanks! Kaarina

  • http://www.goldhawkps.com Sam Adodra

    What a great post, I enjoyed this. Every business should be able to give something back to the readers (the audience) and then they’ll feel like they’re engaging with you better. Inject some personality and you’re onto a winner. Add the beauty of Amy and you’ll become magnetic :) Can’t wait for the next post now.

  • http://www.contentequalsmoney.com Emma Richardson

    Excellent tips and insight. I would also add that good writing – approachable narrative, quality flow, adherence to grammatical and spelling rules – is a key cornerstone to a successful blog strategy. Unfortunately, not everybody can write. They might think they can, but they can’t. End of story. Writing is not like talking, and sometimes it takes a storied individual to be able to conjure up the effective and concise language skills needed to take a blog off the ground. In that case, I recommend outsourcing blog posts to a content firm; but if one doesn’t have the means to do so, reading as many blogs in your field as possible can help you develop your voice and write as wonderfully as possible.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent tips! It’s all about being authentic and transparent. People feel that, even online. Thanks Amy!

  • JoreJj Z. Elprehzleinn

    Hi Amy, I appreciate you consolidating and sharing your knowledge about blogging! Love, Laughter, Light, and Ease. JoreJj Z.

  • John Munns

    Touching story Amy. Thanks for sharing. As usual you bring it!
    Did you notice who was invited back from last season? I’ll give you a hint it wasn’t the winner.At ten she sounds like a seasoned opera singer. She clearly should have won.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKhmFSV-XB0

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    I love what you said about thinking in pictures, not words. That’s so true and I never thought of it that way. Thanks for the great comment, Kaarina!

  • Royldentan

    Awesome post.. 

  • Lisha

    Amy, you have a great writing style. Thank you for these posts. I am learning a lot. In this post I like tip #1 and #2. I also read your other posts that you have up so far in this series of 6.

     I am featuring you this week in my Favorite Blogs Friday post at Online Money Trip because you’re so awesome and I want my readers to know about you and come over here and read your enlightening stuff :)

    Thanks,

    ~Your Blogging Friend, Lisha

  • Carrie

    Thanks, Amy. Great post! I think building rapport is one of the hardest things in blogging, because it requires getting the right balance with the whole me/you thing. I also think varying your content in terms of multimedia is super important in keeping the reader’s attention, too.

  • Pingback: Tips Tuesday and All But Done with Twitter

  • http://letstalkpregnancy.com Jane Porterfield

    Hi there.  First and foremost, the main reason I clicked on this post (shared by a friend on Facebook) is because your last name is Porterfield! lol  Secondly, being relatively new to blogging (4 months), I like to read tips and pointers that make it easier to draw my readers to my posts.  Really, really enjoyed this post!  Kudos.

    Jane

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Hi, Jane! Nice to meet another Porterfield :-) I’m one by marriage – my husband is from PA – how about you? Any possible relation?!

    Thanks so much for checking out my article – I love that you are taking in tips and suggestions as a new blogger- I am sure you are already well on your way to success with your own blog.

    Take care!

    Amy

  • http://letstalkpregnancy.com Jane Porterfield

    Hi again Amy.  Porterfield is my maiden name.  I’m on the East Coast of Canada (Prince Edward Island) at the moment.  I believe my grandfather – Manzor Clayton Porterfied – was one of the only Porterfields to settle in Canada rather than the States.  Your husband and I are likely related if we go back far enough!  Porterfield is a fairly unique name.  Nice to hear back from you.

    Jane

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    I’ll have to tell him about that – he loves to makes connections like that :-)

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of multimedia content (i.e. audio/video) is because it gives your audience a much deeper view into who you are than they’d ever get just from text. I actually use a custom confirmation page for newsletter subscribers which has really upped the conversation with my readers: 

    http://theskooloflife.com/wordpress/confirmation-page/

    Enjoying digging through your archives and coming up with new things to implement. 

  • Todd Royer

    Hey Amy,
    I finally got to reading these posts. I meant to start yesterday, but…  

    I’ve been teaching my Facebook clients about posting, and also use storytelling as one of
    the methods. I really like your 6th point and the last remark is killer — “Master storytellers build rapport by being honest about the fears and challenges that matter most to their audience.”

    I’m going to refilm one of my video posts to include that and give you credit for it. That
    is such a great underlying anchor point to include in a story.  –Todd

  • http://www.AmyPorterfield.com Amy Porterfield

    Hi, Todd! I love that you pointed about the storytelling strategy because I agree with you – it is very important and often overlooked. So great to hear you found the posts valuable!

    ALL my best to you for 2012! -Amy

  • Tom Brown

    Hi Amy. Two things. I like the reposting of this article. It is still relevant two years later. I would be very curious how the metrics for distribution compares to two years ago.

    2nd, on a personal/business note. I actually just posted a blog on content ideas and would love your feedback. I know posting a link on someone else’s blog is iffy at best, so if you want to, please reply off line. Here is the link to my blog. http://tombrownblog.com/2013/07/22/content-is-still-king-but-social-media-is-the-gasoline-23-content-ideas-for-you/

  • http://www.jasongracia.com/ Jason Gracia

    Great piece, Amy! Love the specific tips and examples you always offer. Helps clarify the point and bring home the message.

  • http://www.bloggersmakemoney.com/ Wade Harman

    Can you tell a story on every post though? Being a master at storytelling is one thing, but being able to do it while slipping your affiliate link in there is another.

    C’mon, I’m not the only one to think it…We all want to make money! And there are times when we think about that before we think about the content! I’ve done it, and I’m sure a lot more people than would care to admit have done it too.

    When do you stop the storytelling? Or do you just change it to storyselling?

  • http://www.shortroadtohappy.com/ Short Road to Happy

    Tip #4 – Make it about them – is a great tip for life in general. I noticed something a few years ago that my sister had become exceptionally good at – listening and letting others be the expert. It wasn’t about all her experiences or opinions, it was more than that. It was making other people feel as though they knew more and contributed more than she could, even if it wasn’t true. I have really tried to adopt this trait and have made more of a conscious effort to let others be the expert. Great post!

  • Rebecca Sands

    Thanks for sharing, Amy! Some great advice here. :)

  • Danna Demetre

    I open a few of my speaking engagements with this: “I was driving on the freeway a few years ago – running late for a meeting and trying to multi-task by making phone calls when I noticed a strange heaviness in my hands. My steering wheel had just completely fallen off the column.”

    A collective gasp radiated through the entire audience. I definitely had there attention – and I had not even told them why I was sharing my story. I had a great point to illustrate and they were ready to hear it!

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