I must have read a half-million blogs last weekend. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but since part of my job as a managing editor of The Daily Brainstorm involves researching blogs, I truly do visit a ton of them.
Now, that might sound about as peachy as winning the lottery to you, but the truth is, it can be downright dull. Sure, there are a lot of blogs out there with dazzling designs and pretty posts, but so many of them feel like empty vessels. It's like the lights are on, but nobody's home.
Every now and again though, I'll click on a link or type in a URL and land on a blog where the blogger greets me the minute I knock at their online door. Their smile beams at me from a photo, and their strong voice beckons to me from their writing. When that happens, I'm sucked straight in, hungry to learn more about this blog and its creator.
That's why it's so important for us to bring ourselves to life on our blogs. The more our visitors get a sense of us, the greater the chance they'll connect and engage with us. And connecting and engaging means more pages viewed per visit, more comments left, more subscriptions, more social media followers, and deeper, more trusting relationships.
You might think something with such a big payoff would be hard to put into practice, but it's surprisingly simple.
Here's how it's done:
- Say 'hi.' Greet visitors the second they land on your blog by positioning a welcoming personal photo and a warm greeting message high in your sidebar where it can't be missed. Then, invite them in for a visit by adding a link at the end of the text to connect with your 'About' page.
- Be transparent. Use your 'About' page to give readers an inside peek at both you and your blog. Write in the first person, and tell the story of who you are and why you're writing this blog. Be real about your life circumstances here. If you're a beginner or if you're juggling parenting with blogging, don't hide it. This is exactly the type of information that connects readers with bloggers. Also, be sure to post at least one friendly-looking personal photo and add more if they fit in with the overall page design. Short videos and podcast greetings on the 'About' page are also a great way to build a human bridge to readers.
- Talk straight. Polishing your blog posts to make them sparkle is fine, but don't buff out all the slang and relaxed sentence structures that are part of your normal speech patterns. In real life, I use words like 'heck' and 'shoot' and often start my sentences with 'and' or 'because,' so these patterns show up in my blog posts too. This might make an English teacher cringe, but readers can see straight off I'm just a regular person who isn't trying to impress anyone.
- Add video and podcast posts. I haven't done any video or podcast posts myself, but it's an excellent way to bring yourself to life on your log. Some bloggers do an especially great job of this by moving the camera around to do things like give readers a tour of their home office or let them watch their dogs romp around in the yard. When you've had the sense of being in someone's home this way, you can't help but feel connected with them on their blog.
- Tell some tales. Challenge yourself to put more of yourself into your posts. No, we don't need to hear about the peanut butter sandwich you just ate, but do use the word 'I' now and again, and share your thoughts and experiences on the topic at hand. Use personal stories and anecdotes to illustrate points in your posts, and confess your blunders so we can all learn from them. There's a fine line between 'just enough' and 'too much' information, so play around with putting yourself on the page until you've found just the right balance for you and your readers.
- Interact with readers. Show up regularly on your blog by replying to comments. This is an easy way to give readers a sense of who you are as you interact with different personalities to field questions, kid around, and share more information. Every comment you respond to provides one more chance to prove you're a real person, so make the most of it.
It might feel a little strange to start splashing yourself all over your blog, especially if you're shy by nature. Just go at a comfortable pace and have fun with it. Chances are, it won't be long until you notice your bounce rate is dropping, visitors are spending more time on the blog, and folks are dropping by just to see what all the fuss is about.
And when they do, they'll want to stick around.
Because the lights are on in this blog and you're most definitely at home.
Your turn: How do you show up on your blog?