How to Hook Blog Readers? Plot and Character Development.
When I think about what keeps me interested in a blog, it seems like it’s the same qualities that keep me interested in books and TV dramas. Plot and character development. Having an interest in the topic is a given, but often we listen to people who tell the best stories, and tell them with vigor and theatrics.
Be interesting. Share experiences that are different from the everyday experience. I like watching the show Mad Men – a TV series about the life of a creative director in 1960s New York advertising. As the show progresses you see life through this womanizing man who leads very different lives. In fact, he is not the person he says he is, and the series shows flashbacks that give the viewer glimpses of his past. Viewers want to see how the character develops. In a sense this is what The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald does. It’s what a lot of great literary works and scripts do. How can the average person be interesting?
Have a Backstory
Once you establish quality content on a blog or Web site, people interested in your content often go to the about page. Why? They want to connect with you. As a Web analyst for several large companies, I can tell you the about page is very important for individuals and companies. We all want to connect with people we admire, people we find interesting… people like us… or people we want to be.
Create your backstory:
- How did you get interested in your blog topic? Explain personal stories… I was fishing with my grandfather when I was a boy…
- Why do you continue to explore the topic? I find it interesting because these past experiences led me to…
- What’s your experience? People want to get information from experts. If you’re not an expert, you can still create a great site by explaining that you are learning and documenting your experiences and learnings.
State Your Trajectory
Once people connect with you, they want to “follow” you. Online this is easy to do with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. But people are selfish too. We often friend people because they can DO something for us. In a sense online we can ride the coattails of people. If we follow people we think are on an upward trajectory we are likely to write comments and engage.
Everyone wants to get in early on a rising star and “discover” someone. In literature, we route for “heroes.” We also sympathize with them when things get tough. Let people know where you’re going and why they should ride along with you.
Write the Plot for your Story
Every good character needs challenges. In blogging, it’s interesting topics and ways of exploring the topic that haven’t been done before. Like photographers say, you can take 50 pictures of the same door, but different lighting conditions can make each photo unique.
The blogs I find most interesting right now are the ones including a mix of text, audio, video, and photos. What better way to document a challenge than with video and text? You get the visuals and the meat with the benefits of search engine optimization. Video increases shares as well. With text, it’s hard to relate to a person behind the words because you get see facial expressions, body language and voice tones. This is where showmanship comes in…
Showmanship can come in many forms. Especially online. When exploring a topic you can demonstrate showmanship through images, video, and audio. Like birdwatching? Maybe create a video of you walking through the jungle to get to the best spot. A lot of times it’s about the journey. Seeing experiences through a character gives perspective. Perspective invites conversation.
Character Development Examples (TV and Print)
Blogs that Demonstrate Character Development
- Eric Kim Street Photography Blog (Young photographer explores different shooting styles through video, photos, and text)
- Koreans Gone Bad (Street artist David Choe explores podcasting, travel, and debauchery)