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How to Create Compelling Content by Inspiring Action

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of August 2009 Writing Content 0 Comments

Image by Anirudh Koul

As we come to towards to the end of this series on how to create compelling blog content I want to examine a topic that is fairly and squarely inspired by readers of ProBlogger.

When I first brainstormed topics for this series I came up with the previous 7 topics (I’ll listed below). I was pretty pleased with the result but wanted to get reader feedback before launching into the series and so asked readers to share their ideas on what makes content compelling.

Many ideas were shared by readers but one theme that emerged that I’d not considered myself was that of ACTION. Let me share one of the comments that stood out to me the most. It’s from Brad (no link left – I’ve also changed the formatting slightly).

“Compelling content also moves me to DO something. It’s the kind of content that I get to the end of and feel inspired to do something with.

That response might be to comment on the post (respond) but often it’s much more than that. It might be

  • to change the way I live
  • to try something new
  • to share the link to the content with a friend
  • to experiment with a new technique
  • to have a conversation
  • to read more about the topic

The action I take as a result of the content will differ depending upon what it is but compelling content by definition compels me to DO something as a result of reading it.”

I think Brad’s summed up the sentiment of many others who left comments about compelling content being actionable (there are more comments below).

As he mentions – the actions you ask readers take could be any number of things and it will vary a lot from blog post to blog post.

An Example: The Power of ‘Homework’

I personally have seen the power of creating Actionable Content lately. Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve put a lot more effort lately into creating ‘homework’ for readers. Instead of just writing a theoretical post about how to do something I’ve been adding ‘Homework’ sections into my posts that give readers a ‘task’ or a ‘challenge’ for them to go away and implement.

This is best illustrated in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which gives readers some theory and an action item for each day of a month.

The feedback on this technique has been fantastic. Instead of people coming to my blog to ‘learn’ and increase their knowledge (something that can be quite passive) they’re now leaving my blog to go away and try something for themselves.

Any teacher will tell you that teaching becomes much more effective when you teach someone to do something and then get that person to do it for themselves. I’m hearing from readers taking the ‘homework’ that I’m setting that this is the case.

Your Homework Today

Today your homework is twofold:

1. Read 12 Tips to SNAP Readers out of Passivity – this post is all about calling readers to Action. It shares WHY Calls to Action are important on a blog but also gives 12 tips on HOW to do it.

2. Call Your Readers to DO something – the action that you’re calling people to DO will vary a lot from blog to blog.

  • it could be to call them to answer a question and leave a comment
  • it could be that you want to give your readers a little homework to do (as I’m doing here in this post)
  • it could be calling them to buy something from you (or an affiliate product)
  • it could be to vote in a poll
  • it could be to go away and have a conversation about the topic you’ve written about
  • it could be to subscribe to your blog
  • it could be to make a donation to a cause you’re supporting

Really it could be anything – big or small but write something that attempts to pull your readers out of a passive state into something more active.

What Others Said About Compelling Content and ACTION

  • “Compelling content, to me, is something that drives me to action. During the whole article/video I am actively thinking about what the implications are for the information that I am given.” – Wallpapers
  • “Content is compelling if it makes me change my lifestyle. If I read a blog and don’t learn something that will change how I behave after I leave the blog, then I never go back.” – Shaun
  • “To me compelling content is actionable content or rare insight.” – Manshu
  • “Compelling content rouses that most precious human resource – action.” – Scott Gould
  • “I am compelled by content that informs me, changes my mind, reminds me, motivates me, inspires me, and/or gives me practical action steps to apply immediately.” – Donna
  • “asks me/ compels me to solve a problem of some kind, or to take some kind of an action.” – Krissy

Read the Full Series on Creating Compelling Content on a Blog

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. I wasn’t sure how good of a fit this would be for The Casual Observer, but I think I am going to some some periodic group-written stories (where I write the first hundred or so words, and each commenter adds a bit more (and the end result is typically pretty choppy :)

  2. Powerful series on writing content that motivates readers to act. I especially enjoyed the “Surprise” post about being more playful. I could use that a bit!

  3. I never could think of very many compelling things to write about. I have tried to write stuff in he past but it never seems to work out.

    With the feed back you got from other people sure helped me relize that know what people want to read about help decide with I need to do to make better articles.

  4. Its my one of the fav series…

    Live Chat

  5. How does a blog created to entertain people call folks to action? Any thoughts?

  6. Compelling content is so much more than just information, it really isn’t just telling information or any exchange of words but about conveying a thought, idea or feeling to someone else so that they feel and understand what you are saying and then feel compelled to take some sort of action.

    “Action” is one of my favorite words because what can happen if you do it. In fact when I try to sum up a successful blogger I figure it’s about “Human InterACTION” I also break that down into 3, human, inter and action and the meaning of them with blogging is fascinating to me but especially action.

    There are very few blogs that I find compelling (Darren’s blog is one of course) but to be able to compel people to take action is something I find very desirable and something we should all strive to be able to do.

  7. I love this post. I think a Call to Action that guides readers to benefit themselves is great. You even demonstrated this perfectly by explaining why a writer can gain from adding a call to action, and then you invited the reader to try it on their own.

    To NorthandClark – A blog that was created to entertain people could cause the reader to subscribe to the blog. People like to be entertained; they don’t want to read facts all day long. Also, it could cause the reader to go out and talk about the post with people around them. If I read a great post that entertains me, I am more likely to bring it up in conversation with my friends. Just some thoughts!

  8. I would like some feedback on how my latest experiment meets or fails to meet your guidelines. My blog is half blog half creative ezine, and the work is mostly creative in substance. I’ve asked readers (I have about 200 consistent at this point) to generate and post creative material to increase the feeling of community on the site.

    I’m an huge fan of problogger and its community, and would really appreciate some personal feedback. See the post I’m talking about here: http://gregfreed.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/community-interaction-a-new-project/

  9. If I could add something . . . along with calling readers to do something, you can also make your post more compelling by using active verbs.

    Many of us habitually use passive verbs like “he was sleeping” and “we were eating” but if you switch to active verbs you get “he slept” and “we ate.” It’s subtle, but does make a difference.

  10. Creating a series much like this one with actionable items works great. Taking readers from nothing to something creates crediblity and trust. Creating a series may take a bit of planning but in the end makes for great content that readers can actively engage in and benefit from. :)

  11. Thank you Darren for writing this great series.

    I really enjoy learning from you.

    To me, compelling content will make me motivated to act upon that I have fear on.

  12. You’re absolutely right: the best writing pushes people to get up and do something, instead of just passively acquiring knowledge. Yesterday I watched your video on twittering tips and I stopped the video about three times to take action inspired by what you were saying, Darren. This included creating a landing page for people who visit my blog by clicking on the URL on my twitter page profile page. I’m going to follow your advice and see if I can provide specific steps that I suggest people take after reading each of my blog posts.

  13. I have tried this in two ways on my blog, first by posting a poll (now closed) and secondly by writing a post describing an action and three reasons to take it. It is taking some time to get responses, but in time they will be coming, I hope. I will be learning more and more about this, and look forward to doing more homework on the topic!

  14. This is a best tutorial for me.

  15. I recently wrote a post about writing in English and added at the end of it a task for the readers. I received and I still receive feedback from them and I even saw a big number of them even doing what I’ve asked them to do.
    Calling to action is a “Must do” for now on my blogs.

  16. This was really a good tutorial and giving us a reason to thing out of box. I am going to save this in my laptop and would love to read it again and again.

  17. The most important point to write compelling content is
    1) Ask them to take action
    2) Give them useful links outside just your own blog
    3) Tell them they will get something if they came back after reading this post on a later date.
    4) Tell readers you like their support and feedback..

  18. I completely agree with everything in this entire series.

    And none of it is working very well for me…

    However… I am now *sure* it’s because my writing skills aren’t very good. I have all the other bases covered… and feel confident that really focusing on writing will take me to the next step.

  19. Content that persuade to do an act and give a clear purpose to readers is something that everyone should try to create. Touch other people’s lives and give a sense of direction to wandering individuals. You can never underestimate the power of content and how it influences people to start attaining something weather simple or difficult task. Compelling content can even make pessimistic and skeptical people move and try some activities.
    The challenge is HOW or are you going to be compelled by the series of the blog post in this blog.

    Thanks for sharing your inspirational thoughts Darren!

  20. wow what a wondeful article i ever read.tq..

  21. Compelling content is always popular.

  22. content is the king and this post is my fav of course

  23. My comment not related to content creation, but just came back from interesting seminar here in Sydney about internet marketing
    and want share it with other problogger readers. It is free 2 days geekversity seminar and may be there is one close to you, as
    geekversity organize them not only in Australia, but also in US, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia and couple other countries (sorry, don’t remember names).
    http://www.geekversity.com/geeks (it is affiliate link, first day’s homework :), but it still doesn’t cost you anything).

  24. I’m all about inspiring action as I write about personal development… I’ll do the homework anyway, though! Thanks Darren.

  25. Starting to think I should edit a screencast I just made. At the end I had a few call to actions, and it looks like that’d just overwhelm the viewer. Oh well, the power of editing will save me.

    Very timely post. :-)

    Oh, and one simple call to action I’ve added to my blog, is a simple message at the end of every blog post that says:

    “Did you enjoy reading {NAME OF THE BLOG POST}? If so, you may want to subscribe to this blog. Doing so will keep you up to date with the latest content.”

    And it’s just inserted through the WordPress single.php template. One day I may be bothered to test different messages using Google Website Optimizer to see if they evoke a better response.

  26. Calls to action, even at the end of posts where you ask for comments or feed subscriptions, are definitely essential for getting readers to interact. If you assign readers a task, they will usually rush of to complete it to gain the benefits. :)

  27. I can testify to the power of inspiring action. In Jan. 2008 I began “assigning” one small task each day that will make a difference in your home life. Through humor, short story telling and community, my blog made a dramatic jump in loyal readership and has continued to grow steadily.

    I love the emails from readers who have experienced meaningful results from taking tiny steps each day. It’s what gets me up every morning!

  28. I always thought of calls to action as asking for a sale, I didn’t think about asking someone to subscribe to your RSS or commenting. Giving your readers homework is a great idea.

    1. Read 12 Tips to SNAP Readers out of Passivity. – Check, done. Great tips!

    2. Call Your Readers to DO something. – I’m off to write my next blog post and start trying out different calls to action.

    3. Subscribe to your RSS feed. – Check, done. Ok, I know that wasn’t part of your homework for this post, but I did it anyway. :-)


  29. Thanks for compiling all the links, need it for future reference. Thanks

  30. Darren,

    Thanks for the series, it has been extremely helpful!

    I frequently use calls to action. Especially if I want to get my community of readers to become more involved with commenting or participating in a particular activity on my blog (such as a weekly feature).

    One way to use a call to action wisely, is to have a regular feature, and to have it at a consistent time. For example, I sometimes have weekly features, on the same day and at the same time. My readers begin to expect these features and come to my blog to participate and / or to comment. One such feature I ran for several years was a photography contest. It worked very well as it was consistently done at the same time and in the same way weekly (started on Sunday, ended on Friday at midnight). The call to action was always the same, but with a different challenging twist (a different subject to photograph) each week.

    Building community is important, and giving your readers different calls to action will make them feel as if they are an important part of the community and your blog, which they are…

    krissy knox :)
    follow me on twitter:

  31. I have been thinking about how I want to have my own compelling blog that I make a post on everyday but I don’t see the benefit. I know that if I write something everyday then it could potentially take years before I start seeing a ROI.

  32. I actually created a “Call to Action” page walking my (very small handfull of) dedicated readers and newbies through the involvement process, and it has worked out great!

  33. The call to action on my blog today is a group writing effort (fiction story). I wrote 200 words and asked the readers to continue the story.


  34. Sometimes its best to encourage readers to do something and not just sit.

  35. Your post is so confusing Darren, could you make it simpler? I say this because I’m not using English as a main language, and there must be a thousands of your readers same like me.

  36. Interaction with readers seems to be a worthwhile goal, but it is very difficult to achieve. Although if you do get them to interact then you will have a longterm reader and customer.

  37. I generally use polls, and ask reader’s questions to engage with the readers !!

    PS: Great example of sneeze that u talk abt :)

  38. Okay, I am going to take action! I am going to ask readers to send links to friends and link to resources within my site.

  39. The blogs posted in this community are getting instant feedbacks and it proves to be very useful in sharing our thoughts.

  40. I have a website as well as a blog and an article like this really makes me see how much I have been neglecting the blogging side of things. I have basically just posting about my new products, but if you can get some discussion going, the buzz created could lead to a ton of traffic on the website. Thanks for the article.



  41. Readers will always prefer unique compelling content from blogs. It will keep them coming back again and again for more. Loved reading this series. It was very “Compelling”

  42. This is a great series you have going here. I was thrilled to see my name on a post on Problogger!

  43. I have just posting on my website about the review about my new product, and I have problems with my English. Basically I agree with you, especially what you said about knowing what people want to read about some issues. Thanks for the series Darren, it sure helps a lot for someone like me who can’t even speak English well.

  44. Thanks for the article!

  45. Just realised this post is based on what I’ve been saying for months!

    What an honour!

  46. Inspiring stores of ordinary people doing extraordinary things tends to push me off dead center. My blog is a how-to blog on spiritual growth so nearly every article is a call to action, but in order to make it even easier I am going to start listing task actions at the end of each article. I did this for the first time yesterday on a post. Truth be told my inspiration came from the problogger 31 Day Better Blog Challenge Workbook. I saw the tasks after each section and thought, “Wow, that would be great to do for my posts.” So, thanks Darren.

  47. I’m glad I came across this post. I find this idea to be difficult at times. Creating compelling content isn’t always easy, but it is necessary in order to motivate the consumer to buy. Thanks for the tips.

  48. Could you solve the whole problem without finding the reason causing it? It is not logical!

  49. Look at other models

    You can also look at your direct competitors’ sites. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition, but in this context you are looking for presentation and content ideas.

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