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!