You may have noticed, content is growing up.
Parts of the Internet are leaving behind their tween and teenage ways of chasing clicks with hyperbolic headlines, posting meaningless 300-word snippets stuffed with keywords for SEO rankings, and offering the same tired list posts over and over again.
Of course, some sites are still stuck in puberty, but everyone blooms at their own rate, right? 😉
But you and me? Our content is maturing.
I started thinking about this last week when I read a wonderful post from SEO coach Shae Baxter about why Google wants you to become a brand. You can read her excellent post for all the details, but one tip that stood out for me was that the most successful brands delight their customers.
What a novel concept!
I went to a couple of online groups of entrepreneurs I belong to and asked, “How do you delight your readers on your website or blog?” I got a few good answers, but a whole lot of, “Wow, I never thought about that. Following!” from people who liked the idea, but weren’t sure where to start.
How to delight your readers with content.
Interestingly enough, delighting your readers starts long before you write a single word of your next blog post. You have to do some serious soul searching and gain a little clarity before you can start to understand how to delight your particular readers.
- Understand your audience. You’ve probably heard it a zillion times, but there’s a good reason. Your audience is different from mine, and probably even slightly different from your direct competitors’. If you know and understand that difference, you’ll be able to devise unique ways to delight your particular peeps.
- Know your why. Likewise, your reason for doing the business you do is unique from anyone else’s. Your big why sets you apart, and knowing it will help you uncover what your readers particularly want from a relationship with you.
- Don’t chase the click. Those hyperbolic clickbait headlines? They’re not for you. You’re not chasing clicks; you’re chasing customers. Go for the meatier relationship, not the emptiness of the like.
- Have an opinion (even if it’s unpopular). Another thing about successful brands is that they stand for something. A few years ago, outdoor gear maker Patagonia took out an expensive ad in the New York Times that said, “Don’t buy this jacket.” It was their brand taking a stand against rampant consumerism, particularly on Black Friday. And it was a huge success with the brand’s loyal customers and followers. (And it didn’t hurt their bottom line one bit.)
- Write when you’re at your best. Ever found yourself just in the zone while writing? That enthusiasm will come across in your words and tone, and will influence your readers. It’s like Leonie Dawson says: make yourself cry with your own writing. (Or laugh, or gigglesnort, or feel indignant.) Because if your words stir something in you, they’re likely to stir something in your reader.
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s all well and good, but your title promised me new blog post ideas to delight my reader…” And so it did! For your reading delight:
14 Blog post ideas to delight your readers
1. Games and quizzes
The word delight makes us think of fun, yes? And there’s nothing more fun than a quick game or quiz. Quizzes can be a wonderful tool to introduce your expertise to your readers, and intrigue them to sign up for a report, but they can also be simply fun and silly. I saw one on a fashion blog once where they blocked out the faces of celebrities in terrible outfits, and prompted you to guess who wore the dress. That sort of quiz or game doesn’t take any technical know-how to do, and is a fun (and very sharable) piece of content that will certainly delight whether you go serious or silly.
2. Get the scoop from experts.
You’ve probably seen posts with headlines like, “32 Tips from Top Bloggers on How to Get More Traffic Now!” And there’s a reason they’re so popular: People love to feel like they’re getting the insides scoop. Interviews, round-up posts of expert advice, and even quotes from famous people can go over really big because they’re inspirational (see No. 3) and bite-sized (see No. 8.).
3. Go heavy on the inspiration.
Let’s face it: People love to feel inspired. There’s a reason weight-loss magazines publish lots of success stories and business coaches tell us to put testimonials on our sales pages. We want to be inspired that someone else has achieved what we want, and therefore we can achieve it too. You might find inspiration from your own story, from the stories of your clients (see No. 4), or from famous people (see No. 2), but you’ll almost always find that these sorts of posts get a lot of attention.
4. Show examples and case studies.
Remember when you were in algebra and demanded of your teacher/parents/friends, “When am I ever going to use any of this in real life?!?” (Or maybe that was just me??) People may be wondering the same thing about your blog topics. B2B customers in particular are hungry for real examples and step-by-step instructions. These sorts of examples can be from you or your customers — it doesn’t really matter — so long as you’re showing how things play out in the real world.
5. Make it move. Gifs and video.
It seemed like wonderful magic when we saw the photos in the Daily Prophet come alive in the Harry Potter movies, but you can achieve the same thing on your blog — no wand required. Moving pictures like the one above are called .gifs and they’re all over the web. But it doesn’t have to be a loop, either. Video is an amazing way to delight your readers as well, whether it’s you talking to the camera, or a screencast of you showing someone step-by-step how to do something.
6. Extra, extras!
Any time you’re getting ready to launch something new — no matter how big or small — you should consider sharing some of the extras. This might include extra photos from a photo shoot, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, uncut interviews, alternate covers or graphics, and so on. Just the way we love to see blooper reels and behind-the-scenes interviews from our favorite TV shows and movies, your readers will enjoy peeking behind the curtain at what you’ve got going on. Even an Instagram photo of your desk or workspace counts! If you don’t feel you have enough of this material for a blog post, try including it in your newsletter or on social media.
7. Create a memorable voice and persona for your brand.
Another thing that will keep readers delighted and coming back for more is a strong voice and persona. Many times, people come to read a blog because they want to “hear” you. In fact, I landed my first-ever blogging client for this business because she was a fan of my food blog and loved my voice! Think of bloggers you follow with a strong voice or persona; don’t you feel like you know them and want to check in to see what they’re up to? Cultivating that kind of relationship with readers is powerful.
8. Write in soundbites. Tweetable, snackable quotes.
Another brilliant insight from Shae’s post is that people like to share content that’s going to help define who they are. Think about what you share on your personal Facebook or Twitter accounts. If you share political articles and petitions for signing, you likely want to be seen as politically active and involved. If you share hilarious comedy videos, you might see yourself as the funny one. Inspirational posts — you might want to portray yourself as enlightened and positive. By making sure your content contains lots of soundbites — tweetable, snackable quotes — you’ll be providing your readers an opportunity to define themselves by sharing your content. Win/win. I love the ClicktoTweet plugin from TodayMade for that:
9. Be generous.
We are living in the “freemium” economy, so it’s time to get over your fear of giving away “too much.” There’s no such thing as too much in this Internet world. Plus, by being exceedingly generous with your content, you’re going to build up the know, like, and trust factor with your audience, so that they’re much more inclined to buy from you when the time comes. One of the ladies in my entrepreneur groups, yoga and mindfulness teacher Caren Baginski, said that she hopes to delight her readers by offering things they might normally expect to pay for — like guided meditations, yoga videos — for free. What can you offer for free that will delight your readers?
10. Offer more.
If you notice a particular blog post is getting a lot of traction, that’s a good one to turn into something bigger, longer, more juicy. Create a report, an ebook, a slideshare, or an infographic on the same topic that gives your readers more of what they already like. This is a wonderful way to show readers that you’re paying attention to what they want and need.
11. Sneak peeks and first looks.
Like extras (No. 6), sneak peeks and first looks are a fun way to get your readership involved in what you’re doing behind-the-scenes. I recently offered a glimpse at one of my new brand photos in exchange for answering a short survey and the response was off the charts! People loved it. This is a great way to tease new offerings as well, and generate excitement for what you have coming down the pipe.
12. Thank them
People, I think, don’t do this often enough. Remember that if people are reading your blog, they’re there by choice. They’ve chosen to follow you, to read what you have to say, and ultimately, perhaps, to buy from you. That’s a pretty big priviledge, and it’s important to make them feel seen and acknowledged with a little thank you now and then. And hey, if you’ve read this far, a BIG thank you from me! 😉
13. Be visually appealing.
Humans are visual creatures, and having visually appealing graphics isn’t just good for your Pinterest traffic, it’s about creating an overall mood. If you have a strong visual brand with your website, be sure to carry that over into your post graphics whenever you can with the same colors, fonts, etc. And, of course, good visuals are good for social sharing as well; people are more likely to click on an article with a great picture than on a headline that’s just text.
14. Ask for their opinion.
The fastest way to delight your readers is to give them what they want, and the best way to do that is to ask them what they want. Regularly ask your readers what topics they’d like to see, and relentlessly examine your data for the bits they’re not telling you. This is called building a feedback loop, and it’s a powerful tool for creating delightful content.
The next step: Delight your subscribers.
Of course, the goal of all this delightful content when you’re running a business is to get people to opt-in to your email list. But here’s the challenge: you have to be even more delightful in their inbox than you are on your blog! If you’d like an example of someone who does this well, check out bliss coach Anna Kunnecke’s Declare Dominion emails. That gal is constantly delightful.
For your emails, focus on one core offering to start. It might be:
- Weekly curated content
- a feature collection
- regular giveaway
- new product announcements
That doesn’t mean you can’t write about other things, it just means that people know exactly what they’re getting when they sign up.
Then sporadically offer something of even higher value like:
- a free ebook or report
- a deeper discount or bigger giveaway
- reward loyalty at different milestones (like free Dunkin’ Doughnuts on your birthday)
- members-only exclusive deals
Go out of your way to offer an even better version of what they subscribed for in the first place.
Because that’s what delight is truly about: an even better something than what you expected.
Think about the last thing that delighted you. Was it gourmet chocolates on your pillow at a boutique hotel? A handwritten card from a friend? A single flower from your partner? A heartfelt drawing from your child?
How will you translate that feeling into your online presence? Because your readers are waiting to be delighted.