Today is Christmas Eve and I find myself feeling like a kid again. This happens to me every year. My family started the tradition of exchanging presents on Christmas Eve after my sister and I stopped believing in Santa simply because Christmas day is filled with the hustle and bustle of spending time with the extended family. So, starting the moment I wake up on December 24 until the moment we start exchanging gifts, I feel one thing: anticipation.
Anticipation is an extremely strong emotion. Children can’t contain themselves, but even as adults, anticipation can drive you crazy. Kids might blurt out “Are we there yet?” on a long car ride, but let’s be honest. All of us adults are thinking it too. Time seems to slow when you’re waiting for something to happen. Soon, you can’t think about anything else.
You can harness the power of anticipation on your blog, stirring up these feelings in your readers to make them constantly think about coming back to your blog. Think there’s nothing to anticipate on your blog? Think again! With a little creativity and planning you can have your readers waiting on the edge of their seats.
Teasing Your Content
The first and easiest way to create a sense of anticipation in your readers is to tease your content. Tell them what they can expect from you in the future and get them so excited to read whatever you will offer that they bookmark your site or subscribe via RSS. You can tease your content in several different ways:
- In your blog posts themselves, hint at future related posts. (“If you liked this post about baking a chocolate cake, you don’t want to miss tomorrow’s post where I share my best frosting recipe!”)
- Update social media while you’re preparing a post. (“I just finished an amazing interview with John Smith. You definitely don’t want to miss this one when I post it on my blog next week!”)
- Tell your email list. (“Hope you liked this week’s posts about end-of-summer shoes. Next week on the blog, I’m talking all about fall fashion, which you definitely don’t want to miss.”)
- Give us a sneak peak. (“I’m at a conference right now and will be writing a wrap-up post on the blog later this week. Here are some pictures in the meantime.”)
Make your “tease” as mouth-watering as possible. One way to do this is to leave out some vital information. For example, the night before we announced that Chris Hardwick was going to be keynoting at NMX 2013, staff members teased the announcement by inviting people to guess who it was, giving hints, and sharing how excited we were. No one announced who it was until our blog post went live the next morning, but people were anticipating our announcements so much that people were DMing and emailing me (and other NMXers, I’m sure) and asking for the inside scoop.
Creating a Series
Another way to make people anticipate your post is to write a series. Here on the NMX/BlogWorld blog, we’ve written a number of series on topics such as getting started with Pinterest and creating better blog pages. This creates anticipation in a less obvious, more educational way. You’re still teasing your content in a sense, since you’re telling people what they can expect in the future, but it’s less about hype and more about the actual content.
The key is to make sure that you’re creating content people really need starting on the first day. You need to “hook” people. You want anyone who reads that first post to get so much out of it that they have to come back to your blog to read the rest of it.
Great Content on a Reliable Schedule
Lastly, I know I’m not saying anything new here, but you need great content on your blog if you want people to anticipate your posts. This is true for podcasts and videos as well. If your content is just “meh,” people won’t get excited about reading them in the future.
We have an entire blogging track at NMX filled with speakers who will talk about creating better blog content, but here are a few tips to keep in mind right now:
- Define your style and find your voice. Not everyone will like you, but it’s better to have a 100 raving fans and 100 haters than 200 people who are luke-warm and disconnected.
- Make sure your posts are formatted to be easy to read. Use pictures, headers, bullet points, etc. to help make your content (especially long content) look less intimidating to readers.
- Break the “rules” when it makes sense (but not because you’re lazy). People will give you tons of rules that you should follow, but the best bloggers out there make their own rules. Just make sure that you’re ignoring tips and techniques because it truly is what is best for your blog, not because you don’t feel like doing something.
- Support what you say with links. If you’re arguing a point, link to research and statistics. If you’re reporting the news, link to what others are saying. If you’re teaching me how to do something, link to related posts and examples. Links make your posts more credible and helpful.
- Put your own spin on topics. Just because everyone has written about a specific topic doesn’t mean you should avoid it, but what you definitely should avoid is posting the same thing others are posting, just reworded. Put your spin on the topic. Interview someone related to a news story to get some fresh quotes. Voice your opinion. Give different examples. Change up the content type and produce a video. Doing something different is harder than just rewording the same old stuff, but the reward is worth the work.
In order for people to anticipate your content, no matter how good it is, you need to blog consistently. I know some people disagree with this advice, but I truly believe that the best bloggers out there are those who are posting at least two to three times per week. If you post less often, people lose interest and forget about you. Blogging just to get your words out there? Blog as often as you like.
But if you truly want to build an audience, you need to be consistent.
Better yet, if you release content on a certain day (or days), you can build even more anticipation. A great example of this is Jenna Marbles, whose YouTube channel I love. She only adds one video per week, but you know it is coming every single Wednesday. Put out content regularly like that, and people will anticipate it.
So those are my tips. Now it’s your turn to sound off in the comments. How do you create anticipation on your own blog? Or what have you noticed other bloggers doing that really makes you anticipate their future content?