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Blogging in Brief: Engagement Tools, App Auctions, and Brutal Realism

This week has turned up some really interesting ideas for blog reader engagement using technology as well as creative content techniques…

Mini reader surveys … and more

On Eugen Oprea’s blog, we saw this handy little query form:

Query form

It’s made with LeadConverter, which you can use on a free subscription if you want to give it a try on your blog.

Eugen’s using it to survey readers about their interests, but the tool can actually be used for a range of purposes, including boosting conversions.

Taking a sponsored post one step further

The old-timey vibe on The Art of Manliness stretches even to their images. This post about equipping yourself for a whisky tasting is topped by a specially developed graphic that presents each contemporary item in an old visual style.

That’s a pretty great value-add for the sponsor—and really eye-catching for readers too. The Art of Manliness have a commissioned illustrator on the blog. What a great way to help build your brand.

Realism counts

Did you see Greg McFarlane’s recent post here on naming blog products? This is one example of a continuing trend I’m noticing around blog content, and that’s realism.

I’ve noticed realism taking over on quite a few blogs a media sites. It may be because we’re all well-trained to be skeptical of over-promising headlines these days. It may also be because brutal realism cuts through the chatter.

Here are a few examples of the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Are you using realism on your blog? If not, perhaps it’s time!

Showing off your best content

I spotted this great idea from Heather Solos this week: an attention-grabbing way to get readers to click through to your pillar content.

Here’s a screenshot from Heather’s home page:

The Home Ec 101 homepage

The Home Ec 101 homepage

I took this screencapture on a Thursday, and I have the feeling the chores list changes to reflect the day of the week. But in any case, who can resist clicking on that sticky note? It looks so real—like it’s been stuck to my fridge as a friendly reminder!

I thought the sticky would take me to a download, but it doesn’t—the content is a blog post, and it’s free, and you don’t need to sign up to get all the content. This is a great way to encourage users who hit your homepage to get right into your content, based on their needs. As a creative approach, it’s also perfectly in line with the purpose of Heather’s blog, and the needs of her readers. What a great idea.

Get appy

We’ve talked a bit about developing an app as a product for your blog. There’s an alternative, though: buy one.

Apptopia is a fairly new marketplace where developers sell their apps. While some of the prices are mind-boggling, some aren’t. Could this be a good way for you to add to your blog’s offering and help your readers? Maybe. As the Web Marketing Ninja hinted in this article, you’ll need to consider the maintenance and future development needs of the app before you buy (or develop) one.

What’s caught your eye in the blogosphere this week? Share any innovative ideas you’ve spotted with us in the comments.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Intrigued by the example of the sticky note on the Home Ec 101 site. I also noticed the “Heather says” and immediately realized that I can be more creative with design and have already started thinking. So far the creativity has been mostly – “find a relevant and cool photo” and “post good content” and I see that this is only the beginning. I’ll also be checking out the apps site you recommended. Great tips here, thanks!

  • I love Heather’s site and business savvy. Don’t think for one second that home-ec apron is all there is to her website – she runs analytics constantly, stay on top of industry changes, SEO trends and more. Other bloggers would do well to see how she’s handling a niche topic with such acumen.

    Angela <

  • I have seen those surveys before on blogs and is a smart way to get an opinion.

    That sticky note would definitely make me want to click it! Amazing!

  • Many great ideas (at least I think so) suddenly show on my mind after reading this post. Very interesting and useful, Darren. Thank you!

    Did anyone here tried listing app on Apptopia ? I’m very curious about that marketplace.

  • Hi Darren,

    Great little blog post and very helpful. I particularly loved the mini-reader survey.

    Keep them coming.


  • Great ideas Darren – thanks for pointing them out. Heather Solos is brilliant for sure — her success is well deserved!

  • Humor. I enjoy blogs that are written with some form of humor, most of them just keep me smiling althrough. That’s what has caught my attention. Blogging in brief too. Getting to cover many topics in a single blog at least once in a while; giving an overview of something and referring it in your current post. So I guess that includes links and shares.

  • Nice tips Darren! I enjoyed every bit of this.

  • Hello Darren. Like the point about showing off your best content. I love the idea and I have seen you do that for your site severally.

  • Actually, I do like your blog post. I enjoyed it a lot!

  • Nice to be here on these few posts.

  • Sure realism counts. Offering fake information just to please or rather draw traffic into your website is real suicide to your business.


  • Thanks Darren. I like this query form. I’m pretty sure that it would be a good tool for my blog. Click-to-tweet feature I something I was thinking about lately. It seems too me that it can be a simple and a cool way to engage readers. Maybe to add some quote or instant tip. It’s just an idea.