Last night I tried to unplug at a reasonable hour so I could spend a little time getting inspired rather than crossing off to-do lists. Well, about 5 minutes in I dreamt up this blog post, and here we are! So much for unwinding, huh? I don’t know where it came from, but I started to think of the element of surprise in blogging, and how it can help you connect with readers. There are lots of ways to do this, but I’ll stop at 10. Day one of finding inspiration, success!
10 Ways to Surprise Readers
1. Give them a chance to speak up. Go beyond the bland CTA and tell them how you’ll be including their feedback in your upcoming articles or on social media. How will you take their comments and emails to heart?
2. Get real. There are bloggers that either get real ALL the time, and others that don’t ever. I think it’s important to stay true to your goals as a blogger. Don’t write about personal topics if it’s not something you want to cover. But when there is something you think would strike a chord, share it even if it’s not something they’re used to seeing. It’s risky but that way, people will feel more connected to your brand. Here are some of our fave posts like this.
3. Share your story. If you don’t have anything super specific but do want to share something personal, give readers a glimpse into your story. How you came to blogging, the trajectory of your career, your college experience… Any of these are helpful topics that are surprisingly rare to see lifestyle bloggers tackle. Lots of the time, it’s as if the author just appeared and has no backstory at all!
4. Express gratitude for sponsors. Three things make a perfect sponsored post in my opinion: choosing partners who work well with your brand + audience, executing content beautifully, and being open. Sponsors enable you to provide free content to everyone. Why not let your viewers know how and why you chose to work with someone? Even just making your disclosure more transparent—and positive—is so refreshing.
5. Step up your visuals. All this talk of branding around blog world (and boy is there a lot), kinda makes you want to choose ONE graphic/image for your blog posts and never, ever go astray. While you never want an “all over the place” look on your blog, just because something’s working doesn’t mean it’s the best it can be. Test something new out and share it publicly.
6. Give, give, give. It’s always surprising when you read a post and sense no ulterior motive. As a blogger you often have to ask something of your readers too—ask them to subscribe, share, buy, follow etc. Today, write up a post that offers something to readers, but asks for nothing in return.
7. Address your weaknesses. I’ve talked about this before, but here on The Blog Market we don’t mind sharing when we don’t know something, or are on our journey to finding an answer. To some, this comes off as not having an expert opinion, but to us it’s all about space to learn. You can write an entire post on social media tips for example and still say that you don’t fully get Snapchat. You don’t always need to fake it till you make it!
It would also be pretty fun to see more Pinterest fails, but maybe that’s just me :)
8. Write a thought piece. I know this list is mostly prompts for thought pieces, but it doesn’t have to be limited to something personal or even from your perspective. At my job we recently had a client come up with a totally out of left field topic for her website, and the most surprising part of it was how well her readers took it. Turns out, they loved talking about this important topic, even though it was out of the norm.
9. Post a before + after. Nope, you don’t have to have lost weight or dyed your hair pink to post a before and after. Dig up an old screenshot of how your blog looked three years ago, or throwback to your Instagram feed before you started to curate imagery. It’s always refreshing to see someone track their growth!
10. Get a little sassy. (Or if you’re always sassy, get a little sweet!) We rarely say anything that would be considered sassy here, but lately we’ve thought of a few topics that might come off as, I guess, tough love. It’s just not our brand! But I can totally see the value in changing up voice when the topic warrants it. Not every topic is best served with the same tone.
What are some surprising posts you’ve seen by bloggers? Did you like seeing something you wouldn’t expect? If it inspired you, share the link!