Note: this post is written for everyone, ironically enough as you will see if you keep reading. It is for new bloggers, seasoned bloggers, and all blog readers.
Suggesting a new paradigm for bloggers.
Don’t you just hate it when a blog post doesn’t deliver on its promise? When it has a catchy title like “The One Secret You Simply Must Know to Succeed in Business” but then waffles on about 50 little things and tries to summarise them into some lame one word idea such as “Authenticity”.
Or – just as bad – you get lured in and read through 500 words before you realise they’re talking to a very different market to the one you’re in and that there’s Nothing In It For You. Despite the catchy title and even on a post that follows through.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that the catchy title is a “catch all” phrase. It’s designed to cast a wide net and attract as many views as possible. But it doesn’t contain enough information for you to see whether its content is meant for YOU.
It’s certainly a bug bear of mine. It seems every marketer tells us to work out who we’re writing for, to build a persona (or two or three): Where do they live? What do they like? What do they eat for breakfast? And so on.
But no one publishes which ‘personas’ they are writing for!
So we all go clicking on clever headlines that promise the latest advice or ideas and wind up waste minutes or hours reading the first half of countless articles before realising they are not relevant. To us. We just don’t fit that mystery ‘persona’ the writer was writing for.
Like a post that promises a guaranteed way to increase blog traffic – but it transpires that you need to have a huge number of subscribers on your email list for this ‘method’. The target ‘persona’ may have been “small to medium business in growth mode with at least 1000 email subscribers”. But they don’t state that up front.
A real life example:
I recently read a post about x number of things you can add to your morning ritual for a better start to your day. I liked the article. I found it useful. Its content delivered on its title’s promise. It also attracted a ton of comments…
The interesting thing was at least half the comments came from mothers complaining there was “no way” they could fit those things into their already chaotic morning of getting kids up and ready and out the door. A number of them scoffed: “Obviously not written for mothers”. Yep, they were right.
How much valuable reading time could have been given back to those stressed-out mums if the post clearly stated at the top “This is written for singles and young couples without children. It is not aimed at parents of young children, who we understand will be unlikely to fit in one tenth of what we list here.”?
Here’s the solution:
So what I’m lobbying for is transparency. No more mystery personas.
Tell us who you’re writing for.
I’m not suggesting the demise of the catchy headline. But at the start of every blog post, I want to see a summary of ‘who this is written for’. And preferably a list of ‘who it’s not written for’.
One marketing company who gets it right – at least with their e-book publications – is HubSpot. All of their e-books are prefaced with a section “Is this ebook right for me?” and indicates whether it’s Introductory, Intermediate or Advanced. Plus they explain those terms.
I’m pledging to do this with each of my blog posts from now on (and maybe go back and add it retrospectively to my previous ones).
Here are some examples:
- If a blog post is aimed at people already familiar with SEO, I’ll state that. (And if you’re thinking to yourself “I have no idea what SEO even stands for”, don’t worry, I’ll state up front that it’s not for you.)
- If a post is likely to be relevant to people in a services-based business rather than a retail business, that’s something else to state.
- If a post is for people who’ve never used Twitter, but makes an assumption they’re already au-fait with Facebook, I’ll let you know.
I think it’s the right thing to do, as a good citizen of the world wide web. After all, we’re all inundated with the staggering amount of Content being published. Don’t you wish it were easier to sort the wheat from the chaff?
If we don’t start doing it, as bloggers, Big Brother Google will do it on our behalf one day. Isn’t it better to manage it ourselves rather than get ‘sorted’ by the Zebra* algorithm.
(*Yes, I made that up. But if it ever transpires that I’ve accurately predicted the next black & white animal that Google assigns to their codename, you should all pay me 50 bucks…)
What do you think of the idea? Could it work? Is it good advice or am I misguided? I’d love to hear from both bloggers and readers.