Is your blog sending out subtle signals for your readers to unsubscribe?
Most top bloggers will tell you that to hold on to your readers, you must give them value. Value means the providing information they need to solve their common problems.
For example, a photography blogger might write a blog post on choosing a new camera, which is a common dilemma for photographers. A blog on writing might include an article on how to pitch editors so they say yes to your article proposal.
I agree, value is a vital element for any blog aiming for high readership. But with millions of blogs out there all vying for readers, value alone isn’t enough to make your blog sticky. To hold onto your subscribers, and pull more readers in, you’ve gotta do more.
To stand out from the crowd, you must make your readers feel good. You must give your readers a warm, fuzzy feeling every time they visit your blog.
Photo Credit: Mike Turner on Flickr
Pixar is one at the best in Hollywood at creating feel-good family movies. After watching movies such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo or WALL-E, you’re guaranteed to leave the theater with a smile on your face.
How do Pixar do that? Let’s start where they finish.
Spoiler Warning: Happy Endings
Buzz and Woody escape the toy murderer, Sid Phillips, and are reunited with their owner, Andy. Nemo escapes the dental surgery fish tank and is reunited with his distraught father. Thanks to WALL-E, humanity returns to earth after hundreds of years of intergalactic exile.
Happy endings are part of the reason Pixar’s movies are so good at making audiences smile, but they’re not the whole reason.
Why Happy Endings Aren’t Enough, or Why We Need Spoiler Warnings
If movies started at the ending, very few people would watch them. They’d be boring right? That’s why we need spoiler alerts. We don’t want to know the end of movies we’ve yet to watch. Knowing the end ruins the story.
Happy endings make us feel good because they’re cathartic. Throughout a film, tension builds. The lead characters get into more and more trouble. They’re in a horrible situation, and it seems like there’s no way out.
As you watch the movie, you coime to care about the characters. Seeing them in such as sticky mess, your nerves tighten, and fear ramps up inside you.
Then, suddenly, at the climax, everything turns out okay. The tension’s released, and that’s what makes you feel good.
Happy endings only make you feel good because of the tension is released. Without the tension, happy endings would be boring.
Here’s what that means for you as a blogger.
Value = Happy Endings
When you only provide your readers with value, you’re giving them a shortcut to the happy ending. They might appreciate you helping them, but you haven’t given them a powerful emotional experience. They’re unlikely to remember you, recommend you to others, or subscribe to your blog.
In other words, if you only offer value, you’re only giving spoilers, and ultimately, that’s going to drive readers away rather than pull them in.
The Fluffy Bunnies School of Blogging
Another mistake I see many bloggers making is assuming their readers don’t have any problems. So, they blog about how wonderful the world is.
I call this the fluffy bunnies school of blogging, because in the world of these bloggers, pink marshmallow rabbits frolic about in meadows of candy flowers as chocolate rivers flow pleasantly by. (Confession: My first ever blog, Be Playful was a lot like this).
This is another way of only providing happy endings, and while it might engage some readers, it will bore many others.
How to Make Your Readers Feel Good
Follow the Pixar model.
When you’re writing the blog post, before you provide a solution, ramp up the tension. Explore the problem from the reader’s point-of-view. Make sure they understand exactly how much difficulty or pain it causes them.
Often, we don’t understand how big our problems are, or even exactly what our problems are, until someone helps us find the words for them.
Keep tightening that tension. Show exactly how bad this problem is.
When your readers are finally saying “Enough already! Show me the light at the end of this tunnel,” then reveal the solution.
As well as helping your readers solve their problems, you’ll provide them with cathartic relief.
They’ll feel a whole lot better, and they’re sure to remember you. You’ll be the blog they choose to subscribe to and tell their friends about.