Treat your readers like dogs and feed them cookies

One of the highlights of Problogger Training Day was meeting Sonia Simone. Not content with being a Senior Editor at Copyblogger, she also runs an incredibly successful marketing blog on the side, Remarkable Communication. In short, she gets blogs.

Moreover, she understands communication, and how to write in a way that makes people want to read.  She likens a blog to a product or service – and that you must sell it in the exact same way. In order for people to ‘buy’ what you saying, your readers need to know, like and trust you.  You need to create a tribe, using your passion for what you’re writing to mould your passion into your blog.

So how do you get people to ‘buy’ your blog?

First, you need to treat them like dogs. (I love the impact that sentence has!) While I have visions of readers sitting at the back door whining to come in, it’s not exactly what Sonia has in mind. Her advice is to reward your readers for doing the thing you want them to do. So if you want them to read your posts, make sure your posts reward the reader for reading it. They should finish it and think ‘I’m really glad I read that’. That, dear readers, is Cookie Content.

Cookie Content is all about the reader. Forget SEO, these posts are your hook – the stuff that readers today will be glad they read it. Cookie Content makes life better. It solves a problem, it offers tips and tricks, and helps your audience. And if you don’t know what your readers need – make sure you ask them! This can be easily done via an in-blog poll or social network.

Cookie Content is quick – it can be used immediately. For example, you might show people how they can make $100 next week, not how to be a millionaire in the next 5 years.  And make sure you keep it brief! At the moment, people can easily digest 3-7 tips before they lose attention, so don’t rattle on. Great Cookie Content offers a small result that people can use very quickly – it’s relatable, and leaves them with a sense of ‘I can do that’. Make it appealing to the eye, and easy to consume.

If you keep creating Cookie Content, that is, content that is enjoyable and rewarding to read, you are training your reader to read your posts. In much the same way as you get a dog to come when you call (most dogs anyway, mine is being frustratingly stubborn), you train your readers to automatically read your new posts, because they were rewarded last time they did.

And how do you get people to trust you?

You be reliable.  If you say that you’re going to post every Wednesday at 9am, make sure you have a new post ready to go at 9am on Wednesday.  Pay attention to feedback, and value those that take the time to stop by and read your blog. And don’t lie. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up; simply move onto something that you do know.

Think about your posts, when it comes to a blog, they are what you are ‘selling’. But always remember that you are asking for something much more valuable than money – readers can always make more money, but they can never get back the five minutes they spent reading your post. Much like an advertising campaign, a good headline makes the promise to the reader that there is valuable content in the story – so don’t disappoint! And don’t overuse negative headlines. While they can create drama and impact, do you really want to build up a reputation as a negative person?

Make sure you’re making it easy for people to read your post. Keep it clean and unfussy, and use at least 12 point font so it’s a pleasure to read. People visiting your site, and then quickly navigating away (often referred to as a high bounce rate) destroys your SEO – it tells search engines that there is something wrong with the page, so you are pushed down in the rankings.

While Sonia touched on many (many, many, many) more incredible content building tips, I’m going to take her advice and leave it here before you all stop paying attention.  But if you’re after more, make sure you visit her blogs, or follow her on Twitter.

Next week, we’ll look at how to find readers for your blog, with some great tips from a panel of Melbourne’s blogging elite, including Lady Melbourne.

How do you create content for your blog site? Have you seen some great examples of Cookie Content? Which blogger do you eagerly await new content from?

P.S. Just joining us? (Welcome, by the way.) Catch up by reading Part One and Part Two of the series.