What Makes Readers Stay?
There were no signs of wear or peeling paint. All the pieces were still intact. Nonetheless, it was obvious by the posting dates that no one had lived there in quite a while.
What a shame! The ideas presented were well thought out and interesting. I even learned quite a few things. In fact, I wanted more! I stayed on the site for almost half an hour clicking through the archives… until it dawned on me: all the posts were archives.
Come on in! Stay a while. No, wait! Don’t go!!
When was the last time you stayed on any site for half an hour? (Game sites like WoW don’t count.) For me, that almost never happens. Statistically, the average time people spend on a webpage is 15 to 30 seconds… or less.
What makes people stay?
A Google search on those web usage stats also brings up posts from experts offering tips for getting people to come in, take their coats off, and stay for a bit. “They” advise using visuals including:
- Bulleted Lists
Interestingly, other than the picture at the top of each post, the site that held my attention had none of these.
Why did I stay? In a word: content.
You’ve heard it before: “Content is king.”
The content on this particular site applied specifically to ghostwriting. And it was good. The authors were sharing their real-life experiences, lessons learned and laments.
It can be tough to build traction in any market. And ghostwriters are a niche (a.k.a. smaller) market. Maybe these guys quit posting because of the lack of comments they received. (After all, when you invest time, energy and thought into a blog post, or even a tweet of a Facebook post, you desire feedback… or at least a “like.” Even negative feedback is OK; it lets you know someone is listening—even if they disagree with you!)
I hope they come back. What they wrote was helpful, insightful and real. Maybe they’ll take their content and put it in a book. That would be OK, too.
What does this have to do with you and your writing?
Whether you’re a blogger, a freelance writer, a book author or a speaker, your message needs what this site delivered: well-presented, meaningful content. If you want your readers to stick around, make sure you offer the following:
Substance and Depth–The world is over-saturated with the basics and clichés. I’ve sorted through, read and reviewed literally hundreds of books in the past few years. And I have to be honest; I’m tired of clichés and material that simply regurgitates information.
King Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” He was right, but that doesn’t mean we have to repeat the same information using the same stories everyone else uses. Which brings up the next need…
Originality–You are unique. No one–not even your twin, if you have one–has experienced exactly the same situations and emotions you have. Let your perspective and voice reflect your originality.
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith explain in their new book, The Impact Equation, that ideas need to have contrast to stand out. If you say the same thing everyone else says, your audience will know they can go anywhere to get what you’re offering… and probably find it cheaper.
Authenticity–Get real. Seriously. Life coach Mel Robbins commented in her book, Stop Saying You’re Fine, that Facebook is a collection of our Kodak moments. By trying to appear perfect and focusing on not offending anyone, we end up not saying anything important.
Don’t abandon your audience.
If you offer original, substantive content, and you do it authentically, chances are you have an audience waiting to hear your message. Don’t abandon those people or your own need for creative expression.
It’s your turn.
Share some of your favorite blogs sites, book titles and speaker’s names in the comments below. What is it about them that keeps you engaged?