If you’re trying to impress a date, nothing does it like a romantic multi-course meal. In the blogosphere, you’re not trying to romance anyone, but you are out to impress — and snare — prospective readers.
Intrigue, Don’t Bore
So impress; don’t bore them. Think of it like serving up a multi-course meal. Don’t freak out~just like you don’t eat that type of meal all at once, you serve up the most fabulous food by planning out a menu, making your grocery list and scheduling the cooking. You work behind the scenes like a fiend, perhaps sweating a bit in the kitchen. And then you present a scrumptious, mouth-watering meal to guests, making it look easy.
Serve Up A Memorable Experience
The reason customers return to a four-star restaurant is not just the quality of the food. It is the attention to detail. It is the personal greeting when you arrive. It is the escort to your table with a beautiful view. The pulling out of a chair so that you can easily sit….you feel the personal attention taking your experience up a notch. With a flourish, the maitre’d places a napkin on your lap. The waiter arrives and gives a polite introduction, inquiring what you would like to drink, acting as if you and your date are the most important customers in the restaurant. Meanwhile, the background music plays on, unobtrusive and elegant.
These actions add up to a beautiful experience. When someone visits your blog, you want them to have and remember a great experience.
Maybe you’re not going for an elegant impression. Perhaps you’re aiming to titillate and showcase your wide writing range and expertise, or to combine hilarity and blog tips. These are bloggers who leave a lasting, good impression on their readers, and have sticky blogs.
How do successful bloggers do it?
1. Whet the appetite with a perfect appetizer.
Set the stage with a creative and professional banner that showcases your brand. It’s the first thing a potential reader sees, and if it looks like an amateur did it, your readers might just click away.
If you go into a restaurant, and the ambiance is that of fine dining, complete with mood lighting, your expectations are set high. When the waiter starts describing the delicious, fresh buffalo mozzarella on heirloom tomatoes with basil chiffonade, drizzled with Italian balsamic vinegar, it ‘fits’ with the branding you’ve experienced to that point. You’re looking forward to eating what the chef whips up.
Just as some restaurants use candlelight with tablecloths and china (not Chinet), creating the right ambiance for a nice dinner, so too should you think about the first impression you give a reader with your banner. Does it reflect your brand well, and is it professional looking?
2. Stand out with a Salad
Hold the not quite ripe tomatoes, and stay your hand on the tasteless bagged carrots. Get out the awesome stuff that is really good.
The headline to your post should not be boring (duh). It should be creative and offer help or information your readers need. Here’s one headline that caught my eye on Yahoo….”Checking Out of the Grocery Store Faster, and With More of Your Paycheck In Hand.”
Now that’s definitely a hot headline. Do I want to check out of the grocery store faster? Yes. Do I want to leave the grocery store for less money out of my pocket? Heck yeah! So I click to find out how to accomplish that goal. Voila. The headline did its job.
Remember, the headline that people see on Twitter, Facebook, or Google can determine whether they click on that link to read it. So entice them. Get click savvy. You can get your potential readers to ‘order’ your blog post.
3. Serve a memorable soup, not thin gruel.
What I mean is, make sure your opening paragraph isn’t dry as sawdust. Keep your reader’s interest by being unique, and engaging them with a targeted question. If you’re writing about dieting or nutrition, you could open with ‘Why do some nutritionists advise eating five small meals a day to lose weight? Does this work for you?”
Sometimes, adding just a few choice ingredients makes all the difference between so-so tomato bisque, and the most awesome, creamy, and delightfully different tomato bisque ever. There’s the tomato condensed canned soup made with milk, and then there’s the French chef’s secret recipe to knocking your socks off tomato bisque. If I’m going to order tomato bisque at a restaurant, I don’t want the ordinary. I want the extraordinary.
When people arrive at your blog and read your first paragraph, they’re going to decide whether to keep reading or not. Make sure they keep reading because you’re serving up the knock your socks off tomato bisque topped with crème fraiche.
4. Provide Entrees that Satisfy.
Would you rather have a perfectly grilled steak, baked potato and salad, or a microwave meal? They both fill you up, but one satisfies the senses more than the other.
It’s the creative analogies and cool stories to inform and entertain that people remember, and come back for more. There are so many ways to make boneless, skinless chicken breast into a meal, but there are a ton of ways to prepare and serve it.
Enlighten readers with your unique perspective on your topic of choice, impress them with how much your blog helps them (it’s your content strategy) and you’ll gain their gratitude and readership.
5. Dessert: Sweet Success
As your traffic grows (through your sweat equity online), and you’re getting to know more bloggers through networking, you’ll start to feel like you’re making progress.
Tasting the sweetness of success as a blogger only comes after a lot of hard work and long hours. In the beginning, you might feel like you’re only getting a lick out of the cookie dough bowl.
The first steps on the road to success are paved with small victories. Gaining loyal readers. Racking up Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Guest posting on a bigger blog in your niche. Before you know it, you’re further and further along toward achieving success.
You’ve planned your ‘menu,’ served up successful ‘meals’ (blog posts), and are continuing to network with readers and bloggers alike.
Cyberspace is interesting, though. Even meeting someone online doesn’t quite measure up to the real thing. Face to face networking still rules.
Why bother networking offline, like at a convention such as the upcoming BlogWorld Expo? Consider what your goals are as a blogger.
Are you going to be able to achieve a huge level of success without meeting and talking with other bloggers in the ‘real’ world? Will you be able to enjoy a decadent helping of success, like a Hawaiian chocolate Kona soufflé, or will you keep sampling the cookie dough as you celebrate little victories?
As you consider your game plan and your goals, map out how you will taste the sweetness of success. Of course, getting there will be its own reward.
Kelly Estes is a food blogger and former print journalist who blogs at Hot Cookin‘ ~ She is also a co-author of Online Business Elements.