When I visit a blog for the first time, I usually have one key question in the back of my mind, “Why should I care about this blog?”. There is no shortage of blogs and articles online, and in the face of such a huge volume of written content, why should I spend my limited time reading your blog?
Sure, if I Googled for a specific question and your blog came up on the first page of results, I might read what you have to say, but unless you can provide a compelling, convincing and satisfying answer to that lingering question before I close my browser tab, I’m likely gone forever.
This means your site needs to answer this key question within a few seconds or, at best, a couple of minutes. That’s a challenging task for sure. You can’t write an essay trying to convince someone that they should stick around, subscribe to your site, or take a keen interest in you, because chances are a given reader will leave before they’ve even read that post. Therefore, as is often the case in life, first impressions really do count.
I’m not claiming you need a gorgeous looking blog, though having one certainly doesn’t hurt either. What I’m talking about is answering the pressing question at hand by presenting an obvious answer. You’re aiming for an answer that can be inferred immediately upon visiting your blog.
The following are a few variables that can be used to answer the important question that this post’s title asks.
The most frequent interaction visitors will have with your blog is through a random post. If your content is good, readers may naturally assume you talk about that particular topic on an ongoing basis and appreciate the way you’ve covered it.
Providing value to the reader in each and every post, ensures — above all else — that the user will feel a rapid connection with your blog and a have justified reason to care about it.
Your blog title
Explicit is better than implicit. Your title should explain to the user what your blog is about. Obviously there are some popular exceptions of sites that have succeeded with seemingly meaningless titles, but you are unlikely to be a statistical outlier like those sites. As such, why not do yourself a favour and opt for a great name that really explains what your site is all about from the get-go?
Take any advantage you can get to convey the essence of your blog through your title. “John’s Personal Blog”, for example, doesn’t mean anything to me, the viewer. Why should I care, and what is the site actually about? “John’s Travel Adventures” is a better starting point (assuming I’m interested in travel).
Your blog’s tagline should sell your blog to the reader. You want it to not only continue to explain what your site is about, but to also introduce some form of benefit to your visitors. For this site, mine is:
Grow your audience and make money online by sharing your knowledge.
Assuming you are interested in gaining popularity through technical writing or in making extra cash by blogging, this should sound appealing to you, the reader, and succinctly provide you with an answer regarding why you should care about it.
In the example of John’s travel blog, a tagline like, “How I travel throughout the world on a shoestring budget” would narrow the focus of the site to a certain type of travel. If a visitor falls into this audience, they would likely care about John’s site because they also would enjoy traveling around the world on the cheap.
What’s in it for them? Your sidebar blurb (if any) and your About section should do a detailed job of explaining what your blog is about, what you cover within it, and what benefits it will bring to your readers. My About starts with the following two paragraphs:
Technical Blogging is a blog dedicated to relentlessly helping bloggers and entrepreneurs succeed online.
Our aim is to provide you with all the practical information you need to start and grow a successful technical blog (as opposed to a personal blog about your kids).
Note how this isn’t really about me. It’s about the reader and what I can help them with.
I then go on to include a Who is this for? section which explicitly tells the reader if they’re the right audience for the type of content I intend to unleash to the world. Finally, the page ends with a list of reasons why you might want to trust me on the topic of blogging.
Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself to connect at a more “primal” level with your visitors. Including a small picture of yourself within the sidebar is also a good idea (only a few people will check out your about page).
Your ‘start here’
A powerful way to guide the user towards a deeper understanding of why your blog is worth paying attention and subscribing to is provide them with more than just the specific article they landed on.
On some blogs you might have seen a link within posts that says something along the lines of, “If you’re new around here, check out our Start Here page”. From there the viewer will be sent through a rabbit hole of some of your best, and most organized, content that provides both the bigger picture and immediate value to the reader. (See this page for example.)
Get these fundamentals right to better answer the “Why should I care about this blog?” question your visitors will have. Then integrate opportune calls to action to subscribe via RSS, email, etc. You will grant yourself a higher degree of conversion from random viewers to regular readers. It really is as simple as that.