What do the educational books tell writers about hooking readers? It’s all about creating an emotional experience with the characters. Give your reader reason to intensely like your character (or intensely dislike them) and you will keep them turning pages.
A blog (for many of us) is about marketing and networking, to some extent. This time, you’re the main character: it’s you as the blog owner that your readers want to intensely like (or hate)!
I may be a newbie writer, but I do have experience with many aspects of running a business. I may not be the perfect marketing employee; but I’m someone who understands why marketing needs to be done.
When a writer develops their characters, there are lots of things they can do to make them interesting, and get their readers emotionally attached:
- Show they are human / not perfect / show weakness
- Show them growing / learning / show them with plenty of room to grow
- Give them conflicting values (they fight even in their own heads; indecisive)
- Introduce struggle or conflict with other people
- Create goals: puzzles to solve, damsels to rescue, worlds to save
Well, our blogs are the best way for us to reach out to our peers and our potential future customers. This is true for any blogger (I have a SharePoint blog, and ‘goal’ 1 is to show my knowledge and professionalism to potential employees; goal 2 is to network with more ‘peers’ and share knowledge).
Especially artists and writers need to approach marketing, and especially blogs, as if they were the main character in the most amazing book in existence. We want followers to wait around, watching email like a hawk, until they receive our next post. Blogs are great because they are rapidly changing, ever engaging. We need to give the readers that reason to engage.
When creating your blog posts, use the tools and tips you used when you were learning to write, about creating main characters, on yourself. Make sure that every now and then you “win” and reach that goal (or swap it for a new one), and that you learn along the way, and that you meet your challenges with either bravery or whining complaints, depending on the “mood” you need to set for your character (you) at the time.
Here are some dangers, though, to watch out for, when making that main character a real person: don’t shoot yourself in the foot, burn bridges, or take others down with you, just to create a good story.
- Know your intended audience
- If it’s time to grow your reader base, then it’s time to struggle, and learn, and grow.
- If it’s time to submit to an agency, it’s time to show how tenaciously you reached for your goals and how confident you are in your chances to succeed, along with how hard you are willing to work.
- Don’t let your real-life conflicts turn into a pissing match
- Sorry, I don’t typically like to swear. However, it fits here. In books, you create tension. They throw pottery at each other. They come at you with knives. Or they just do the old cliché of nattering back and forth, with one insult followed by another. These are real people you are doing this with – it will come back to haunt you.
- You may not be directly arguing against “another character” (say a relative, or a commenter), but you and that “other” may start picking on a relative or gender or race or ….. you get my point. Bad, bad, bad. Don’t gossip – show some moral fiber.
- Sensitive topics
- If you can talk about them tactfully, there’s nothing wrong with expressing your opinions on politics, religion, racial issues, gender issues, sexual preferences … add the rest here. Just use your head. Don’t start a hate war. It will hurt you, no question.
- Don’t EVER allow the conflict to get hurtfully personal
- … do you REALLY want to pick your ‘flaw’ as being your discrimination against race / color / gender / preference / etc???? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO how many times can I say NO
- Don’t go overboard
- Don’t lie. Don’t stretch things so far that they are obviously being misrepresented. That gives readers a sour taste.
- In some cases, tone down the far out but unfortunately true hardships and struggles. You want your readers to feel for you, but please don’t make them cry every time they hit your home page. Same with not rubbing “big wins” in anyone’s face.
- Too Much Information (TMI)
- We have to talk truths about ourselves to draw people in and feel a connection. Often this means revealing sensitive things. I have bipolar disorder, for example. It’s okay, I work full time.
- Do not, however, get so far into the nitty gritty that any of these can happen:
- You reveal facts about friends or family that are way too personal for them (they may have a very different TMI meter than you)
- You reveal things Hackers can use to steal your identity, etc
- You reveal things that actually will turn OFF potential readers/ buyers/ clients/ employers/ customers.
- You reveal things so deeply personal about yourself that you literally make your reader squirm and make them feel so uncomfortable knowing this about you that they would refuse to meet you in person out of pure embarrassment.
- Anything at all that can negatively affect anyone you have a relationship with, using the above or any other bullet point ideas – your job, your career, your family, your friends, people you like, people you hate (you want to attract a stalker?). DO NOT BRING OTHERS DOWN just to make a buck.
Let’s Ask Our Readers
Where do you draw the line between what you’d put in a blog – to make yourself interesting and marketable – and what you wouldn’t dare to?