As I look back on the posts that have connected most with my readers it is often posts in which I’ve shared something of my own personal story and experience that seem to draw readers into a deeper engagement.
Sometimes it’s not what you write but who you are and the stories that you tell that seem to make content compelling.
Many readers don’t just want information – they want an emotional connection and they want to know that someone real is on the other end of what they’re writing.
To put it another way – Compelling content often is produced by compelling people.
Unfortunately many blogs can be faceless and anonymous ‘pages of content’ that fail to go beyond the conveying of information to creating connections.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be the most interesting person in the world – just be real – just be authentic. Tell your readers about your experiences, share your successes and failures, give them a glimpse into who you are when you’re not doing what they normally see you do, consider using photos and video of you that help you tell your stories.
Of course you don’t want to throw in personal stories just for the sake of it – work at finding ways to share yourself in your content in ways that are relevant to the topic you’re writing about. Tell about your experiences and opinions on your topic rather than just reporting on the topic in a detached kind of way.
1. The Master Himself – If you’re looking for a good example of someone who does this – check out Chris Brogan. He’s compelling because he writes smart stuff and useful content – but it’s taken to another level because he shares so transparently about who he is and how he’s growing and developing in the things he’s writing about. He’s constantly sharing his stories, feelings and experiences but also writing (and creating video and pictorial) content in a very personable way.
2. A Personal Example – Let me share a quick video (3.39 min) now that is both an example of how I’ve previously (a year ago) injected something of myself (and my family) into my blog but also examines some basic principles of getting personal on a blog:
Here’s a link to the series of posts on getting personal on your blogs that I mentioned in the video. It contains 11 ways to get more personal that I think would make great reading if you’re interested in exploring this topic further.
A Note for Anonymous Bloggers
Keep in mind that this series of posts on creating compelling content contains a series of ‘principles’ that won’t all apply to every blog.
I’m very aware that each blogger has their own style and that some choose to blog anonymously or don’t want to strongly tie their own personal brand to their blog. However even an anonymous blogger can develop a ‘personal’ voice and share experiences/stories from their lives that don’t reveal who they are or present them as an egomaniac.
Your Homework for Today
Today’s task is simple – post something on your blog with a personal flavor. Do keep it on topic for your blog but share a story, shoot a video, post a picture, recount an experience that you’ve had, link to where people can connect with you in a more personal setting (perhaps it’s about sharing your Twitter account), share a failure or success you’ve had, share something humorous. It doesn’t really matter what it is – the key is to find a way to do it so that it remains on topic but creates a ‘connection’ with readers. Please do share what you do in comments below – I’d love to hear how it goes and check it out!
What You Said on the Topic
When I asked readers to share what makes compelling content to them one of the strongest themes that came out of the 114 comments was that compelling content is personal. Many people talked about how it’s about touching emotions and telling stories. Here’s just a handful of the many comments that picked up this theme:
- “When the content tells a story I feel compelled to read it. The story could be about a mistake or a benefit the writer has experienced. For me, it makes it more compelling if I can relate to the story as well. Perhaps I have experienced something similar.” – Andrew
- “I like to see contents that are written in the casual-style. I also like to see some humor and personal experiences in the content.” – Bash Bosh
- “I like it when it’s personal and it’s directed at me. It makes me pay attention to it more. It also makes me feel that the author isn’t just some kind of robot.” – The Man Revolution
- “The bloggers that reveal more about themselves, and get intimate with their readers is what I appreciate the most.” – Beth
- “Content that is personable, true from the blogger’s heart, sincere, genuine, unadulterated and unfiltered will really draw me in. – Celes
- “an honest and authentic style always grabs the readers attention. Whether an exciting adventure, a funny retelling of a story, some new angle or intro to new topic, tutorial or just plain informational, it’s most important if the author writes w/o an agenda, is open minded, honest and here’s that word again, authentic.” – XO
- “Apart from content that has utility (i.e., something i can use related to the blog subject matter), I think I’m looking for a connection. It boils down to creating an organic appeal via stories, humor, self-disclosure, oops!, self-reflection, etc.” – Jed
- “I look for a personal voice in a web site. One of the things I like about problogger, and Darren’s writing in particular, is the “I” we are all warned so heavily to stay away from. “I’ve identified 7 principles”; what do YOU have to say? Now we’re in a conversation instead of me just dumbly nodding my head and shelling out dough for a magic bullet that only does my business collateral damage and never helps.” – Laurie
As always, Darren, you’ve provided me with some more great content to make me a better blogger. Just recently I’ve had the feeling that I’ve “come into my own”, and it seems I’m starting to see an increase in traffic. That’s a great feeling, and I have to sai I think you deserve some of the credit. Thanks!
This particular point rings true for me. My blog is essentially satire about current news stories, so I never really considered doing any posts of a personal nature. However, my birthday came about two weeks after I started the blog, and I got an idea about how I might share the experience I had on that day with my readers.
After about a month now of blogging, that post has received the most comments by far!
I agree, and it goes along with the other post I just read about writing in general.
I’m wordy, I’ve all but given up trying to streamline. I am aware it’s part my ‘voice’. It’s very conversational.and casual.
I just start my blog about groundwater: http://hydro365.com . I learn a lot from here, Problogger (finding this by google search). I’m still trying to find my “style”. Is it a formal/academic one, or like story, or free style one.
This article is interesting. I will try your suggestion about putting (a little bit of) myself into future post. Thanks a lot!
Be yourself, it’s the most important thing in your life.
I’vent seen Darren engage much though …
I agree. Sometimes I am only looking for information and that is sufficient, but if I want to be entertained or inspired, a blog with some personality shining through is what will get my attention.
Here is my homework!
Little Henry, you’ve inspired me to get more personal with my blog and remember why I started it in the first place. I hope I get an A+!
Pete | The Tango Notebook
Very nice video, everything you say sounds very correct. This is very helpful, on my blog I often write in a personal way, or try too at least. I try to throw in humor as much as I can and refer to the reader as well as inviting them to comment in a discussion. Thanks for posting the great video!