Seduce your visitors to read your blog

4 essential blogging secrets to help you write seductively readable SL blog posts

Why are some blog posts more readable than others? How can some blog posts hold your attention till the end, while others are a struggle to finish without getting distracted? Well, guess what: It’s not a magic trick. Successful bloggers use proven techniques that are a mystery to most SL bloggers. Until now. In this post, I’m going to pull back the curtain to show four secrets great writers use when writing seductively readable copy that will make your visitors click and keep reading.

1. Focus on your target audience’s specific needs and wants

When researching this post, I asked my target audience (members of SL Blogger Support) to tell me about their Second Life blogs’ target audiences, which I’ll share a little further down. Let me begin though by stating without reservation:

“Everyone” is not your target audience.

Choosing is painful. I have trouble choosing a good bottle of wine to go with dinner, let alone a target audience or target community. If you want to seduce your readers though – you can’t choose “everyone”, or even “all women”, or even “all women who like fashion”. You’ll need to do better than that if you want to grow your blog. Why? Because, by definition, talking to everyone is talking to no one.

To find your target audience ask yourself: When visitors read my blog

  • What are they looking for?
  • What do they struggle with?

Your audience is visiting your blog to either get something they specifically want or to fix something they specifically don’t like.

Attention spans are short, time is precious, and the options are immense. Your visitors are trading their valuable time and attention reading your blog post, hoping to either get what they want or to fix a problem they have.

What your blog visitors want from your blog posts

Your blog visitors want to:

  • Discover new things (e.g. new fashions, new furniture, new cool places to visit, new things to do, new things to see, new information, new perspectives – in Second Life. Seeing a pattern? New sells.)
  • Satisfy an emotional need (e.g. to have a laugh, to look at pretty/cool/sexy things, to commiserate, to get inspired)
  • Learn how to do something new or do something better (e.g. to take better pictures, to learn how to script, to put on an event, to use a mesh avatar, to improve their viewer speed)
  • Get stuff done (e.g. to get more traffic to their blog, to sort an overflowing inventory, to fix a technical glitch, to be up to date with the latest news, to find content to share or reply to, to find just the right prop or pair of shoes or dress or sim).

If you want to grow your blog’s traffic, it’s your job to find out what your readers want. Then, give it to them.

Do you need to discover your visitor’s age, sex, religious orientation, education level and income? Do you need to know what browser they use, what sites they came from, how long they stay on your site, or where they go after they visit you? That’s all very interesting information – if you can get it – but for your Second Life blog, you might need to think differently. Here’s another way:

Choose an angle for your blog posts to feed your visitors exactly what they’re looking for

Open your statistics and follow these steps:

  1. Find your most viewed posts. Look at your last 3-6 months of posts and review your most popular posts by views (ask yourself – “Why were these popular?”) Is it because they’ve been on your site forever? Is it a highly accessible page? Did they get a lot of views because they contain highly searched keyword phrases? Or are there other reasons? Typically, your latest posts with the most views are what your regular visitors most want to look at.
  2. Learn from those posts, and write future posts like them, only better.
  3. When starting a post, ask yourself – What’s the question I’m answering with this post? For this post, the question I am answering is: “How do I grow traffic to my SL blog?”
  4. When you have your question, ask yourself: How do I answer that question (or part of that question)? For this post, my answer is: “Write more engaging, compelling and seductive copy.”
  5. Finally, ask yourself: How am I going to structure my response? For long answers like these, I write an outline. You’ll find the outline for this post here.

If you look at my outline and scan this post, you’ll see I follow it closely, with a few tweaks here and there that arose as I wrote and edited the post. Doing this saves me time and energy when writing 4000+ word blog posts. Here’s my timeline, I spent a total of 7 hours on this post:

  • 30 minutes researching and writing the outline (searching the web for ideas, organising an approach, asking for help from SL bloggers for examples)
  • 4 hours writing the post (not continuously, I like to walk away and come back repeatedly).
  • 2 hours editing it (structure, argument, sourcing evidence, grammar, spell checking)
  • 15 minutes writing the headline and the lead paragraph (this is much easier after I write my outline).
  • 15 minutes optimising it for search.
  • 30 minutes getting the image captured and edited

Do you need to spend this kind of time and energy in writing every blog post? No. For long-form posts like these, I do, and here’s why:

  1. I love to write – so spending 7 hours writing something I enjoy is like heaven for me.
  2. If I don’t prepare an outline, I will ramble, lose my plot, and take longer to find my way back than it would take to just follow the approach I’ve outlined above.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble, or if you write short posts (e.g. 300 words), keep reading and you’ll find a simple outline you can use for short-form posts.

2. Write seductive headlines that tempt visitors to click

Stop titling your blog posts, instead: Headline them.

Post titles are like ponies – they’re cute, but they can’t get much work done. Headlines, however, are your muscular workhorses pulling your visitors along, tempting them to click and keep reading your blog posts through to the end.

Don’t let your headlines get lazy. Instead, whip them into shape. Writer Jeff Goins suggests 5 easy tricks to help you write catchy headlines (by the way, if you can use the title of your blog post as completely understandable link text, that is one sign of a good headline). In his post, he suggests

  1. Use numbers (when listing or calling out facts like percentages)
  2. Use interesting adjectives
  3. Use a unique rationale
  4. Start with what, why, how or when
  5. Make an audacious promise

These are good principles and are worthy of a blog post of their own.

I asked SL Blogger Support Members to tell me about their blog’s target audiences, what their target audiences want, and to suggest a post that they feel best serves their target audiences’ wants. I visited every submission and read them in the context of what they told me. Here is a sample of the first 10 headlines I saw:

  1. Nimue Style look 39
  2. No376 *Group Gift* @ Fameshed
  3. #20
  4. Poppies
  5. Virtual Diva “Frida Vintage B&W”
  6. Bubblegum Latex
  7. Why do I keep coming back? I’m just a fool in love…
  8. Lay Me Down
  9. Against the Wall
  10. Dying Light

Which of the above headlines compels you to click through? To me, number 7 gets my attention, because the blogger is asking a question – and questions make one pause and think. I don’t know who the blogger is, so I’m not very interested in why she is coming back (and to what), so I probably wouldn’t bother. Still, I’d say – on a clickable scale – number 7 is the best of the bunch. The other headlines aren’t telling me anything about what I might find on the other end of the click. Why should I click?

Unfortunately, these headlines fail nearly every one of Goins’ suggestions.

The problem with the saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is that most people do just that.

If you want to grow traffic beyond your circle of friends, you’ll need to get people to click-through. People who don’t already know who you are. These headlines aren’t working hard enough to get scanners (on social media, on readers, in search engines, in email) to click-through. Later in the post, I’ll show you very easy ways to whip your headlines into shape so they start working for you.

From the submissions, I chose four posts that were at least 250 words long (excluding credits). I then rewrote their headlines. There are two reasons I chose these posts.

First, I found it difficult to know what a post was about when I only saw pictures, a few sentences, and credits – so I found it next to impossible to write a good headline (that’s not a good sign). Second, remember what I said about word count in my Guide to SEO? If you’re not writing at least 250 words, then it’s unlikely you’ll show up very often in search anyway, so even the very best headline won’t help you that much in growing your traffic.

Here are the four posts that fit my criteria and how I’d rewrite their headlines:

Davie Frequency writes a blog called Egos Like Hairdos, for “roleplayers broadly, and male roleplayers (and those who roleplay male characters!) more specifically.” That’s a specific niche. He told me that his target most wants to “learn about new roleplay items, new roleplay communities, and enjoys both the visual aspect of blogs and actual written reviews and commentary.” Ok, these specific roleplayers are looking for suggestions about cool things to use and great places to visit. The post he feels best serves what his target audience most wants is “Samnium, Duende, and Excellent Libraries. It’s a good read. Even though I’m not in his target audience, I felt like I wanted to visit the sim. The problem is, I had no idea what to expect from reading the title alone, so I might not have clicked through to his post. After reading it, and getting the sense that he was truly stunned by what he saw, I suggest he rewrites his headline to read “Samnium: A surprisingly stunning roleplay sim that left me speechless”.

Lici Li writes a blog called Time and Lace, for “female avatar users that like fantasy fashion” who want “the newest fantasy fashion presented in an original way that will give them an idea of what can be done with outfits.” She believes “they also want to see items from the current fantasy events”. Sounds like a decent niche. The post she feels best serves her target audience’s wants is “Keeper of the Gate – We ❤ Rp contest entry“. If you’re an RPer, I’m guessing you know about that event. Still, is that enough to make me click through to her post? She’s got some great pictures in there, which again, I probably would have missed because the headline doesn’t tell me what I can expect. In the post, she seemed most excited how her eyes looked in the pictures. With that said, I think a more compelling headline would be: “These come-hither eye depth prims might be the best L$ you’ve ever spent”.

Kai Mannequin writes a blog called Model on a Budget, for “anyone who wants to look good without spending much” and wants “well-styled looks, great photography and information on as many things as they can get.” Now that’s a niche I can get into, although I’m not someone who wants information “as many things” as I can get, but rather the best things. Still, who doesn’t want great style on a bargain, right? Her most representative post is “#58 – はなみ“. I don’t read Japanese, so I have no idea what that means. She explains what it means in the post, which I probably wouldn’t have ever learned because I would not have clicked through. I don’t have time to interpret a foreign language word just to read a blog post. I turns out it has something to do with a cherry blossom’s impermanence in Spring, a lovely tie-in with the product she was featuring, which led me to suggest her headline to read: “Capture the beauty of Spring with this affordable Japanese Kimono” (I have no idea if that kimono is affordable or not, but I took my cue from the title of her blog and what she said her audience wants).

Catalina Staheli writes a blog called Chasing Catalina, for “fashion industry and consumers” that want “information on new releases and how to keep up with looking fabulous in Second Life, presented in creative and inspiring ways.” Personally, I think she needs to narrow that niche a bit, because there are over 1000 SL blogs trying to do the same thing. Catalina’s pictures are beautiful, and her prose is readable and interesting. I probably wouldn’t have read it though, because the headline, “Lost Empress” doesn’t offer me any reason to click-through. I’d change it to read “This gorgeously majestic headpiece and jewellery set will make you feel like the Empress of China”.

Here are the before and after headlines in a table. I only read the posts once and would expect that my first attempts are not perfect.

Before After
Samnium, Duende, and Excellent Libraries Samnium: A surprisingly stunning roleplay sim that left me speechless
Keeper of the Gate – We ❤ Rp contest entry These come-hither eye depth prims might be the best L$ you’ve ever spent
#58 – はなみ Capture the beauty of Spring with this affordable Japanese Kimono
Lost Empress This gorgeously majestic headpiece and jewelry set will make you feel like the Empress of China

Which headlines would you click on, before or after? If you said neither, then, then these topics are probably not that interesting to you, but they’re probably very interesting to the target audience members of these blogs.

Here is Goins’ formula, which I used to improve these headlines:

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Here is another example of this headline formula, for this post:

4 essential blogging secrets to help you write seductively readable blog posts

4 (the number) essential (adjective) blogging secrets (the trigger) to help you write seductively readable blog posts (is the keyword phrase and the promise).

If you wrote the above posts, use my headlines if you like them. Better still, write your future posts with Goins’ formula in mind.

Compelling headlines are important because they are proven to increase click-through to your blog posts from email, feeds, and social media. Don’t let your superbly written blog post wither with a lazy headline. Make your headline work for you.

One last thing: A seductively killer headline, followed by boring copy, or copy that fails to deliver on the promise you made in your headline, will end up backfiring in the long run and erode visitor trust.

3. Hook your visitors from the first paragraphs to entice them to read more

Your blog visitors will look at your headline and featured image first, then fixate on the lead paragraph (also known as the lede), and then your next heading. Then, they’ll make a split-second decision to read your blog post, or not. The sad truth is that most people won’t keep reading.

Percent of Article Content Viewed

Courtesy of Chartbeat

People don’t read, they skim

Look at that: About 5% of visitors do not scroll at all and might bounce instantly (Internet marketer Quicksprout suggests the average bounce rate for blog posts to be 70-98%). Farhad Manhoo, who originally shared this chart on Slate, says this chart “only includes people who spent any time engaging with the page at all—users who “bounced” from the page immediately after landing on it are not represented. The X axis goes beyond 100 percent to include stuff, like the comments section, that falls below the 2,000-pixel mark. Finally, the spike near the end is an anomaly caused by pages containing photos and videos—on those pages, people scroll through the whole page.”

If your blog post is 300 words long with a big picture on top, how much do you think the typical visitor reads? 300 words? 250? 200 words? Not even close. Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen has done the research that shows

Visitors read at most 28% during an average visit to the average web page; 20% is more likely.

Wow! On average, people most likely read

  • 20 words of a 100 word post (like most SL blog posts I see)
  • 60 words of a 300 word blog post
  • 200 words of a 1000 word blog post
  • 1000 words of a 4000 word blog post (like this one)

Do these statistics depress you? It makes me a little sad. We bloggers might spend hours on a blog post – poring over every word and clever twist of phrase – and the average reader only reads 1/5 of it? On most of the posts I see from Second Life bloggers – that might amount to a couple of sentences. It’s enough to make one give up blogging and just post snapshots on Flickr.

This data might really annoy you. After all the work you put in – doesn’t your blog post deserve more than this? Like most things we get angry about, however, there isn’t much point.

Before you decide to write much shorter blog posts (which won’t help) or give up blogging all together, pay attention to the word average. The good news, dear reader, is that you won’t be average, if you follow my advice.

People read web pages in a reliable F pattern

So if the average visitor only read 20% of the average blog post, what parts are they most likely to read? Well, Nielsen has done that research as well, and it’s been reproduced in nearly every eye-tracking study of web copy that I’ve seen:

f_reading_pattern_eyetracking

Heatmaps of user eye tracking studies. The left image is of a typical about us page. The second is a product page. The third is a search engine result page on Google. Red means a lot of eye fixation, light blue is the lowest amount of eye-fixation. Note the F pattern that repeats in each example.

“If you squint on the red (most-viewed) areas,” says Nielsen, “all three heatmaps show the expected F pattern. Of course, there are some differences. The F viewing pattern is a rough, general shape rather than a uniform, pixel-perfect behavior.”

We live in the age of skimming.

The implications of these eye studies are profound:

  1. Most visitors will not read your text thoroughly
  2. The first two paragraphs must state the most important information
  3. Start subheadings, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words

While most of your visitors will not read your whole post, those that you do draw down the page will engage a lot more (i.e. spend more time).

The hot colours (dark red and red show the relative amount of time spent on the page)

The hot colours (dark red and red show the relative amount of time spent on the page)

Write your posts in inverted pyramid style to give your visitors the most important information before they bounce off your post

The inverted-pyramid writing style is the most persistently applied approach to writing news copy, in part because trained journalists have known what I am now preaching for over a century: Readers don’t read through to the end of your article, unless your content is very, very engaging.

Your post is fighting a war against everything else competing for your visitor’s attention span: the rest of the web, other blogs, their email, IMs, real life distractions, their rumbling tummies – everything.

Let’s face it, it’s a minor miracle you’re even reading these words – which are about 3000 words into my post.

Here are the facts: If you’re going to write long posts, make them really engaging, because most people are not patient enough, and do not have the time to read to the end, unless you are using all of my techniques or you’re fixing their really difficult problems. If you’re going to write short posts, you’d still be better off putting your most important information at the top.

This trick, if you adopt it, will rock your blogging world. This is the classic inverted pyramid that journalists have used since the telegraph was invented:

This is the inverted pyramid I use

This is the inverted pyramid professional journalists use

I can almost hear the anarchists among you shifting uncomfortably in your seats while thinking: “Isn’t this all a bit formulaic? If I write my posts this way, won’t they just be like everyone else’s that follows this advice?”

Let me ask you: Is every news story exactly the same? Is every magazine editorial exactly alike? Of course not, yet most use the inverted pyramid structure. It’s the worldwide standard used by The Associated Press, Reuters, and just about every other national and local news service on the internet and in print.

But if we’re not professional journalists, why should we follow these guidelines? Well, you don’t have to. And if you’re writing short fiction or poetry, then of course the inverted pyramid does not apply. If you’re blogging, however, remember that professional journalists don’t follow these guidelines because they are professional journalists, they do so because they work.

Write your lead paragraph to draw your visitors in

For most of time I’ve spent writing professionally, I’ve written articles in the style used by mystery writers when they write whodunnits – I’ve done it wrong.

The rules of storytelling tell us to start at the beginning by setting the stage and then finish with the big punchline or reveal (isn’t this where you often put your cleverest line? Isn’t this where you tend to ‘end with a bang’?) That structure works for fiction, but it doesn’t work as well for non-fiction.

The inverted pyramid feels unnatural at first, because it turns traditional storytelling on its head. If I don’t outline my post along this structure first, I reliably find myself burying my lead paragraph somewhere in the middle or even the end of the post I write, forcing myself to later exhume it, restoring it to its rightful place up top. When I do, my article always reads better – and they get more clicks.

Here’s another rule of thumb that will help you write more engaging posts:

First, tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you’ve told them.

Simple, isn’t it?

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see the use of the inverted pyramid in most of the blog posts I looked at. I hardly see it in most hobbyist (e.g. SL) blogs for that matter. I want my posts read. I want to grow my blog. So – with rare exceptions of form – I’ll use the structure that works to do that.

Using this post as an example, here is my lead again:

Why is it that some blog posts are so much more readable than others? How can some blog posts hold your attention, while others are a struggle to finish without getting distracted? Well, guess what: It’s not a magic trick. Successful bloggers use proven techniques that are a mystery to most SL bloggers. Until now. In this post, I’m going to pull back the curtain to show four secrets good writers use when writing seductively readable copy that will make your visitors click and keep reading.

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? I try to answer them all. A lead should be about 30 words and between 1-2 short paragraphs which includes a hook (like a provocative quote or question). I wrote a longer lead than that – including my nut graph – because I like to live dangerously close to the edge, can’t you tell?

If you notice, I’ve organised the advice I give on this post in order of most important to least important:

  1. Target your audience
  2. Use compelling headlines
  3. Hook your readers from the first paragraphs
  4. Follow proven blog post formulas to keep your visitors engaged

Before I move on the 4th point (which will save you loads of time), I’d like to add some important tips on how you can use formatting to improve readership (i.e. scannability) of your blog posts, in order of importance.

Becky’s top 10 text formatting tips

  1. Use a lot of sentence case subheads and leave out the full points (periods) – they help draw your visitor’s eyes down the page
  2. Left align your copy – visitors read from left to right and centering copy slows readers down
  3. Use easy to read typefaces and typeface colours that contrast with backgrounds
  4. Err on the side of larger typefaces as opposed to smaller (especially for white on black)
  5. Use a lot of line breaks – walls of text say “effort” and put visitors off. White space gives them room to breathe. Single line breaks overdone, however, fail to give your post structure
  6. Use pull quotes – if you’re blog gives you that option – write your nuggets of wisdom or top recommendations in those pull quotes
  7. Use bullet points when you are listing unordered lists of things
  8. Use numbered lists when you are listing ordered things
  9. Using bolding and italics
  10. Use points 5-9 above in moderation

Bonus tip: I also like to tease visitors by telling them what I’m going to tell them later in the post (but not where) just to keep them going.

4. Follow proven formulas to keep your visitors engaged

In addition to much of what I already write in this post, Danny Iny at Copyblogger suggests bloggers follow this fool-proof formula for easily creating compelling content.

  1. The Problem — Where you explain the problem that causes the symptoms you’ve described in the hook (or lead).
  2. The Underlying Cause of the Problem — A little more detail about why this problem keeps on happening.
  3. The Solution — Your brilliant insight into how the problem can be solved.
  4. Implementing the Solution — How the reader can turn ideas into actions, and what they should do next in order to apply what you’re teaching them.

I have used this formula for the last month and it’s working wonderfully. My posts are more coherent, more viewed, and more engaged with than ever before. I have adopted this formula for my posts on SL Blogger Support and my own blog too.

Here is an example from my post on optimising your blog for search recently published on SL Blogger Support (which was also my lead for that article too) that shows this formula in action:

“You’ve worked damn hard on your blog posts. You’ve spent hours and hours setting up the pictures, editing them in Photoshop, writing them, completing your credits, and then sharing them on social media. Wouldn’t it be nice for people searching for what you write about to also find your stuff? Sure it would, but I know you don’t want to make a career of this, so I’m going to give the bare-bones on this SEO stuff. And, I’m going to give it to you in levels – so that you can decide what you do, and what you don’t.”

Are there other formats you can follow? Of course, most bloggers write their posts using one of these five formulas:

  1. Just the facts (“I just wanted to show you this really cute pair of shoes I bought yesterday at Collabor88…” or often, just a picture and credits)
  2. The Personal story narrative (“I was born at a very young age…”)
  3. The List (“5 Misconceptions about Mesh Heads” or “10 Reasons Why Sansar would be a good name for the successor to Second Life”)
  4. The Ramble – these are aimless thoughts usually delivered in a stream of consciousness and run on sentences – great for self-expression but tough for visitors to follow
  5. The Story or Poem – these are narrative (fictional or non-fictional) short stories or poetry – which often serve as self-expression or to entertain

One of the coolest things about writing a personal or Second Life blog is that you can write it anyway you please. No one is the boss of you, no one is marking your work, and it’s 100% up to you to follow whatever you think works for you. If you want more traffic to your blog, however, remember that proven formulas don’t shut down creativity, they enable your inherent creativity shine through to more people more often.

Blogging is about expressing new ideas, not creating new rules. Don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel when you could be happily riding down the road.

In summary, if you take away only four major points from this blog post – make it these:

  1. Target your audience
  2. Use compelling headlines
  3. Hook your readers from the first paragraphs
  4. Follow proven blog post formulas to keep your visitors engaged

Good luck with your writing. Writing like this is hard work, but here’s the thing: Very few visitors will actually read this whole post, and even fewer will carry out my advice. Even fewer than that, will do so consistently. These are the bloggers that will reap the good seeds they sow.

That’s terrific news for you, because if you do, your blog is going to stand out even more.

Thank you to all the bloggers who replied to my research request and allowed me to use their blogs as examples in this post. I look forward to hearing about your experiences using these suggestions. Please share your views in the comments. If you have any tips and tricks that you think I’ve missed, please add them in the comments too.

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24 Comments on “4 essential blogging secrets to help you write seductively readable SL blog posts

  1. Hey Becky, great post! I read the whole post, I suppose that makes us an out of average reader and writer 😉

  2. Thanks so much for this post Becky! Thanks for featuring my blog as well, your feedback is always so useful!

    I love it from a marketing perspective as well as I am currently studying marketing and find the whole online/social media marketing side of things fascinating! It’s always interesting to read about it from someone who is actually in the business rl so thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

    (By the way, I also read the whole post ;))

    • Brilliant! I’m happy you found the very small review useful. Yes, the digital side of this is very much the place to be – what a great proving ground you’ve got with an SL blog too. It’s a little, low-cost, marketing laboratory to play around in that should teach you a lot too!

      • Indeed! When I first started it was just a hobby but then I was like “Oh! I wonder which social media platform would work best for marketing my blog. Then it turned into “So how do I get people to see my (insert fb/flickr/g+ etc)” and now it’s just turned into a whole marketing geek out lol!

        I tend to see a fashion blog as an advertising platform for my sponsors so that side of things sort of drives my marketing brain as well, it’s why when I first started reading your posts I was all OMG THIS IS AMAZING!

        I hope I have an assignment on digital marketing next semester because I shall write it on my blog that’s for sure, got basic statistics all sitting there waiting haha

  3. Hi Becky, I loved your post. And after talking in world a little bit, posting here would be good to answer a question that others might want to know or learn.

    I am fashion blogger that doesn’t really know her direction or target audience, but does this for the fun of it and randomness, I consider myself a lazy blogger now that I have read your post. I would like to change that! I have went from naming my posts to numbering them because of the trend that people follow from seeing it on other blogs.

    What I am curious about is if I am blogging more than one designer because their items are “New Releases” how would you fit that into the bigger part of the pyramid that was suggested in your blog? How can you do it with out giving the individual attention that I sometimes feel is needed? Or would you suggest not doing it at all?

    Another question I would like a suggestion on is for us fashion bloggers, would it be better to place the picture first, then words under it and finally the credits? This way people are seeing the picture first and being captured by that so that the words aren’t as important since they are probably more interested in the item worn?

    I would love to make my blog better and successful, and have more traffic as my Flickr gets more attention than my blog does. Even with feeds that I have seen were fading out.

    Feel free to use my blog … I can handle the critique : http://livvysboudoir.blogspot.com/

    • Great question, Livvy. As I’m sure it is for you, it’s really hard for me to know how to structure a post without knowing your target audience. But let me just reframe your question so it’s a bit easier for me to answer. You’re probably blogging about more than one piece a designer has made (as opposed to the designer), and I’m guessing that you’ve put it into an outfit, right? Ok, so let’s take a recent post (Post 595) http://livvysboudoir.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/post-595.html .

      Here you’re blogging about Pixicat dress and the Exile hair mainly. Assuming those two items are new releases (it doesn’t really matter I suppose, but this is your question), I’d write a post about how well they complement each other. Alternatively, you might write a post about how a new release inspired you to dig out an old favourite. I’d say that it’d be easier to focus on one item than it is to focus on more than one. But if you must, then maybe this works (and might answer your 2nd question too):

      1. Your Headline
      2. Your most attractive image (featuring the key item) that you think will drive the most clicks and engage visitors the most
      3. The Lead: The key item that the outfit would fall apart without
      4. The Body: Why the key item awesome, and what other great items you’ve paired it with and why. I’d include the relevant credits right in the flow of the post. Use supporting images spread out though here.
      5. The Tail: All of the items credited, including the ones you highlighted above as the most important bits.

      I am going to do a whole post on images in blog posts in the future, but let me just say here that pretty much every study out there suggests that a great image above the fold, or in any social media post, is going to draw more clicks than the same post without the image. E.g. Images increase article view by 94% on average, tweets with images get 150% more retweets, Facebook photos get more engagement, 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs than text based posts. I’ll be including sources for all of these stats in a future post.

      And thanks for your kind words about my post – I do appreciate it, and I hope you don’t feel I’m calling you lazy! I appreciate that blogging (in SL and elsewhere) is a hobby for most (and as such, most of us are subject to limitations of time and energy after we’ve put in a full day or ‘real work’). It’s all down to what you want: If you want to grow it, then you’ve got to work it. As you no doubt know, there are no free rides.

  4. I’ll throw in my 2 lindens and muse out loud. I can only speak for my reading pattern, so this is probably not true for some.

    I don’t read SL blogs the same way I do RL blogs. What catches my attention is not the title or the writing. It’s the pictures and the credits. I’m an avid reader and I will read just about anything, but not SL blogs where the picture is competing with my attention, and frankly the only reason I’m there in the first place. My main aim is to find out where to get the items in the picture. Of course, when I’m in the mood, I’ll read…but this is very rare.

    Blogs that I would read are Inara’s, Jo Yardley’s, your main blog to name a few…because these blog have established they are information providers, thought sparkers etc…you get my drift. Which is good and well, but which is not what most SL blogs strives to be.

    I don’t peruse feeds, or even the subscription emails from my SL inbox. With Gmail, blog subscriptions are sorted into the ‘Social’ tab, which I hardly look at. I find blog posts through Flickr, in which the graphic is the main attraction and hardly ever the title. My time is limited.

    Because this is my blog reading pattern, I credit items on Flickr itself, and then directly under my picture in my blog. I love to write, so I write after the credits, but I am under no illusion that anyone will read it. I just love rambling. 😀 Unless in circumstances where I rezz too much clutter, then credit goes to the end of the post. When this happens, my rambling is minimal.

    In this sense, my view is (to myself and my pattern) Flickr is the blog and feed. Everything else after is secondary.

    It would be interesting if we ask/survey the amount of people who do ‘read’ SL blogs, and not just for the credits.

    • Thanks for your comment, Zee. You’re not at all alone in that images catch your attention before text does. We are visual creatures, and our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text! We do this with SL content almost much as we do with RL content.

      I think images are massively important and plan to write a post about that. Images make you look, while headlines might tempt you to click.

      Let me suggest a couple of alternate perspectives that might explain why you do not ‘read’ many SL blogs (with the exceptions you noted – and thanks!) as you do RL blogs. Before I do that, let me also say that I do pretty much the same as you do: I might read 0.1% of all SL blogs, I might click on and scan much less than 1% in any given day, and have likely ever seen at most 10%.

      Perhaps it’s not that we switch on our SL brains when we read SL blogs, because as you noted – if we expect to find content worth reading, we will invest the time to read it. This may sound unfair to SL bloggers in general – but I’d suggest that the biggest reasons we don’t read SL blogs is because

      • for the most part there really isn’t much to read
      • when there is it might be hard to read
      • they’re often not worth reading

      As you note, our time is limited and we want to spend it well.

      Another explanation might be purpose. What are you using an SL blog for? You say “to find out where to get the items in the picture”, and I’d say you’re not alone in that either. Personally, I think it’s a chicken and egg scenario – we use SL blogs that way because that’s what a lot of SL fashion blogs have trained us to do.

      A lot of SL fashion bloggers out there share information; what they do less of is contextualise and interpret the information. I see it almost as a spectrum from advertiser to photographer to writer.

      First you have a SL fashion blogger-advertiser (e.g. SL creator, merchant) that shares their products as advertisements on their blog. Many creator blogs are like this. They will take a picture of their product (in varying degrees of context – like a dress on a mannequin). They’ll list the product name, product options and where you can get it. Job done. In a way, this is more like a catalog item listing (or marketplace listings), as there is little in the way of context or interpretation.

      Then you have SL fashion blogger-photographers who are essentially creating advertisements of products for free (out of personal interest or explicit goods-in-kind agreement). Their posts might contain an image of the blogger dressed in a scene they created or found (this information is the context), which is then followed up by a list of credits. A blog post like that is more similar to an advertisement than a blog post, in my opinion – and that’s not a value judgement – it’s just a matter of interpretation. This is the kind of information you might see in many fashion magazines. One example of this is the street-fashion magazine Grazia, where they show you a photograph of an ensemble, and tell you exactly where you can get each piece on the high street (and for how much) in the credits below or around the image.

      Then you have SL fashion blogger-writers who are effectively doing what blogger-photographers are doing with fashion items, but are adding more context and interpretation to the information they present in the form of text. In this sense, they are writing what I consider advertorials (if they are sponsored) or product reviews (if they are objective). They might share further ideas – related or unrelated to the subject of the photo. This is what I tend to see from bloggers like Harper Beresford, Strawberry Singh and Caoimhe Lionheart. These are blogs where one might read about fashion (and often other things). In some ways, this is more typical of what you might see in haute couture magazines like Vogue or ELLE, where fashion is considered as a news item, a feature, or a concept – to be considered in the context of the greater world. The article goes beyond the product.

      I suppose I’m writing this post for those who want to produce good advertisements, advertorials, product reviews, and concept articles. Each party would benefit from some or all of the suggestions I make.

      Personally I’d use a catalog to find what I specifically want (although I’d never read a catalog). I’d use advertisements to get ideas on what I might want and where I can find it (again, I’d likely not read much there either). On the other hand, I might read articles if they are written well, and are therefore worth reading.

      Catalogs listings are a dime a dozen – they are like marketplace listings – in and out, job done. Fashion pictorials and advertisements can be fun to scan through, but who hasn’t flipped through these pages of a magazine like the print equivalent of channel surfing? Articles are a different beast – they want to be read.

      • Wheee! Thanks for the shout out! I wanted to post in this comment, first to Zee, I must be your target audience because I rarely check your Flickr but always read all of your blog posts. I love them because you keep it real (as in real life) and I am drawn to this sort of thing. The study of the person behind the fictional character. I used to say I am a real life blogger with a picture problem but lately, due to time constraints have become a little more of a typical SL just a picture blogger. Not ideal for me, and I get some drop off by my RL readers, so it’s something I am currently trying to address.

        I read the entire blog Becky, though it took two passes to encompass it all and I am definitely ear-marking the page because I think it warrants further study, (and written notes) so thank you! Always such a huge help reading your works. The only thing I want to add, from what I’ve experienced, if you are strictly a SL “picture” blogger, I’ve found a very short “sexy” or evocative title pulls more clicks and for this type of blogging you really need a pull because i think most of your target just wants to look and run back inworld. Thank you, thank you for this!

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  8. I’m far from being a speciallist in blogging, I don’t post that often on my own blog, I don’t follow many of the rules that, I’m sure, would drive more and more traffick to my blog and still I’d like to comment on something here: I don’t like titles that say “This left me speachless”. What does that title mean? That the blogger will say nothing about what they saw? For, if they’re speachless… Maybe they will only post photos? Then, why not using flickr? I think that, if you are going to blog about something, you cannot be speachless.

  9. Reblogged this on Canary Beck and commented:

    A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article for SL Blogger Support on how to write blog headlines and posts that get people to read. If you’re a Second Life blogger and have an interest in improving your blog post’s stickiness, have a read.

  10. …or you could just write for yourself.
    I just skipped to the comments box, just saying 😀

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  12. I have been taking everyone’s advice on SL Blogger Support into account. It is a learning process. Since reading this I have changed my titles to more than one word titles. Thanks for the informative post!

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  14. Thank you for this and all the posts Becky. The resources here are so useful and enlightening.

    I used the headline writing ‘formula’ for my latest post and I guess it worked as you were the first person to click through! I’m going to take that as a huuuuuuge bonus point and proof positive that it works!! Still some tweaking and playing with the formula but I’m feeling very positive about it.

    • Hey! I just loved that headline and honestly couldn’t resist clicking through! All the better because I love that new collection of stores (big Blueberry and Beuno fan here), so it was good to get an overview of what’s happening there. FYI, I follow over 440 SL blogs and often use the WordPress Reader to scan for things I like, and your headline certainly grabbed my attention! If I like the headline, or the image, I’ll typically click through and give it an ol’ “like”. Really enjoyed your post, and thank you very much for your kind words about mine 🙂 Good luck!

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