Your Readers Have a Lot of Options. Make Your Writing Worth Their Time

What convinces a reader to come back?

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Do you know how many blogs are out there on the internet?

Billions.

This blog — the one you’re interacting with right now — is one of billions of blogs online.

It’s weird to think that somehow, you found this one, and are reading it now — and might read other posts on the same blog, either today or some other day in the future.

How did that happen?

I think about this a lot. What many people outside the “industry” don’t realize is that writers think about data A LOT. I’m very interested in learning all I can about where you came from, how you got here, and what you’re clicking on once you’re here.

But what matters to me even more is figuring out what keeps you coming back.

Because plenty of my posts get views from users who leave and don’t return. Over the years, I’ve modified my posting style gradually as I’ve learned more about not only what attracts people to Novelty Revisions, but what convinces them to subscribe — and continue reading day after day.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m no expert. But knowing how many blogs are out there — and wanting to reach as many readers as possible anyway — I’ve found the most important thing in any post is making it as worthwhile to a potential reader as possible.

There are a lot of things you might not realize are — and aren’t — worth your readers’ time.

Don’t focus too much on yourself.

Be helpful.

Offer as much value as possible in as few words as you can manage.

Find a unique angle to every topic you address.

Write well.

Maybe most of this seems obvious to you. But it’s very easy to get caught up in our own heads and complain a lot, forgetting most people don’t want to read that. Or ramble on and forget to make a worthwhile point — or just repeating the same things over and over again without cause. People come to a blog for information and come back for a number of reasons — everything from a writer’s unique style to their outlook on a range of topics.

I think the most obvious — yet often the most overlooked — aspect of writing for an audience is remembering to write well. Two people could write a post about the exact same thing. One writes a dry, robotic-sounding, press release-like post, while the other talks to the reader as if they’re sitting across from them at a coffee shop — casual, yet purposeful. Which blog do you think readers are most likely to return to a second time?

It can be overwhelming, realizing how many blogs are already out there — hundreds on your exact topic of interest, at least. What makes you stand out isn’t any one or two things. It’s a unique combination of characteristics only you and your readers can define. Your blog’s name, look, About Page, sure — very important things. But also, the way you “talk” to your readers, how well you convey your expertise and/or interest surrounding a topic, how willing you are to interact with your audience. Readers want to be paid attention to, but they also want to be related to, understood, appreciated. Acknowledged.

Well what if you don’t have readers? Write to the audience you want to have. That’s what I did the first years of this blog. I spoke to fellow writers, whether anyone was reading or not. I didn’t get everything right all the time — not even close. But the more relatable my content, the more people visited — and returned.

I’m not happy with the way my blog looks right now, I’m not too pleased with the past few weeks’ posts, but y’all keep coming back anyway, because we care about each other. This blog isn’t just a faceless person typing words to the void. It’s me, a writer, talking to you, a writer. THAT is why you’re here. You might notice and even acknowledge the flaws, but you’re still here. It’s taken almost 9 years to build that kind of audience. I did it. You can, too.

Write words that matter to you — but make them matter to others just the same. A blog isn’t a diary, it’s an experience. If you want readers, give that experience value to those readers, and they won’t just show up once and never come again. They’ll stay. A lot of them, anyway.

Create something worthwhile — for everyone you want to serve. Including yourself. The most important rule of blogging, first and foremost: if you don’t care about what you’re writing, no one else will. You are the foundation of the community you want to create. Everyone who shows up and claims a place atop that foundation will likely mimic your attitude. Care, and they’ll care also. Persist, and they will also. Support them, and they’ll support you. Do what you do as well as you can, and they’ll (hopefully) read every word.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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2 thoughts on “Your Readers Have a Lot of Options. Make Your Writing Worth Their Time

  1. Thank you for sharing these inspiring thoughts, Meg. Along with keeping up the desire to write, knowing what to write about and how to write it for my audience are some of my worries. Thanks so much for encouraging me to try again.

    1. You’re so welcome. Trust me, I struggle with this, too. Sometimes you try something and it works. Sometimes you try something and it flops. What’s important is that you keep trying! You can do it. :)

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