You dream of connecting with a powerfully engaged audience.
Readers who are excited by what you write – and show it.
But so far, the reaction to your content has been underwhelming.
And you start to wonder:
Is your writing having an impact at all?
You’re not alone. Most bloggers struggle to get a reaction from their audiences.
Because the disturbing truth is that most blog readers are barely conscious.
After all, when did you last hear someone say:
“Man, I’m so pumped right now I could sit down and read a blog post.”
Readers are seeking someone to snap them out of their stupor.
And if your blog can’t do that, they’ll simply sleepwalk to the next.
Why It’s Essential Your Content Gives Readers a Buzz
You should know this already:
The best content makes readers take action.
Not to simply read along and nod, but to get up and actually do something.
But have you ever wondered what state they need to be in to convert intention into action?
Mildly curious? Quietly contemplative? Blissfully relaxed?
Of course not.
They need to be powerfully energized.
Because taking action requires energy.
It’s your job as a writer to not only point your readers in the right direction, but to give them the energy they need to get moving.
So your writing should be like a dose of liquid caffeine pumped straight into the reader’s arm.
Here are 16 different ways to get your readers buzzing.
#1 Hit them with a question.
Imagine the scene.
You’re back in high school – in your least favorite class.
You’ve bagged a seat at the back of the room but your mind is elsewhere.
You’re daydreaming about cute girls. Or hot guys. Or even just the lunch menu.
But then you hear your name (perhaps for the second time) and realize with horror the teacher is asking you a question.
Yes you. Everyone is staring. You’re surrounded by smirking faces.
She repeats the question. And your mind races for an answer…
This is a great device for writers too.
Ask your readers questions that force them to think.
- What’s your number-one goal as a blogger?
- Who’s your ideal reader?
- What sets you apart from the competition?
Posing questions in your writing makes readers sit up straight in their chairs, forget the distractions, and engage their brains.
#2 Pump up the volume.
If you absolutely, positively need to get someone’s attention, what do you do?
You shout, right?
You scream. You yell. You holler.
“Look out!” “Hey you!” “Help!”
And if you’ve ever been shouted at (even if only by your mom) you’ll know the effect it has.
It’s like an electricity bolt.
And while “serious authors” might frown upon it, as a blogger it’s okay to shout at your readers every once in a while. As long as it comes from a positive place.
NO MORE EXCUSES!
YOU’RE NOT BROKEN!
STOP CHECKING FACEBOOK!
Of course, as in real life, you must use it sparingly, otherwise it loses its power.
But used occasionally, there’s nothing like turning the volume up to 11 to raise your reader’s heart rate.
#3 Lower your voice to a whisper.
Imagine you’re at a party that’s in full swing.
Dozens of conversations intermingle. You have to speak loudly to be heard.
You want to share a private joke with your partner, so you lower your voice and whisper.
And what happens, even amid all the chatter? People hear you.
That’s because a whisper cuts through the noise. Ears prick up. Brains tune in.
A whisper is laden with the promise of secrets, gossip, perhaps even scandal. The thrill of being in the inner circle.
When people hear a whisper, they lean in – which is exactly the reaction you want to get as a writer.
So try striking a conspiratorial tone.
Make the reader feel that what you have to say is for their ears only:
- “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but…”
- “I’ve never shared this with anyone before…”
- “Want to know a secret?”
And if you doubt the invigorating power of gossip, just go and check out a few celebrity blogs.
#4 Plant a time bomb.
In screenwriting it’s called the Ticking Clock.
It’s the catastrophic event that will occur if the hero isn’t quick or clever enough – a bomb, or a nuclear meltdown or death from a dwindling oxygen supply.
Or simply getting to the church on time before she marries the other guy.
And even though we know everything will turn out alright, our hearts are still in our throats until we know for sure.
As a writer you can use urgency to create the same effect.
Describe the negative event on the reader’s horizon if they don’t take immediate action.
Tell them what will soon happen if they don’t change their eating habits, don’t start saving money or keep delaying that difficult chat with their spouse.
Because when the reader is convinced that every second counts, it puts them in a heightened state where action becomes almost inevitable.
#5 Leave a trail of Reese’s Pieces.
You know how some writers make you wait for the valuable stuff?
You can get halfway through their latest content and still not have learned anything new.
It’s like having to nibble at an entree for an hour before finally being served the main course.
And it’s tiresome. It’s more likely to piss you off than perk you up.
So when you write, make sure there’s a valuable nugget of information every few paragraphs.
A useful tip. A pithy quote. A valuable insight.
Keep the treats coming and your readers won’t be able to stop. As soon as they’ve polished off one, they’ll be thinking of the next.
That’s why list posts work so well. They’re a neatly-arranged trail of content goodness, just waiting to be popped into the reader’s brain.
And by the time they reach the end of your post they’ll be buzzing on the sugar rush and raring to go.
#6 Startle them with loud noises.
Sometimes you don’t even need loud words to shock someone into alertness. A noise works just as well.
“Boom!” “Bang!” “Crash!” “Pop!” “Pow!”
All of these words make specific sounds in the reader’s head.
So use words that evoke noises to jolt your reader out of their fog.
A recent post here on Smart Blogger used this technique to good effect:
But you follow the link and… BAM! You can hardly read the content because the text is so tiny and you’re forced to pinch and zoom to find your way around.
For more ideas check out this list of 101 Onomatopoeia Examples.
#7 Make ’em laugh.
Laughter releases endorphins – the brain’s pleasure chemical.
Get enough endorphins swimming around in your head and you’ll experience the so-called “euphoric high.”
Wouldn’t you love your content to leave your readers floating on cloud nine?
Then use humor to give your writing a pleasure boost.
Exaggerate for comic effect. Speak if something preposterous were true. Attempt the impossible.
See how Marc Ensign uses a ridiculous premise (reviewing a book he hasn’t actually read) to make a serious point here.
Being funny is tough, but so little online content even attempts to raise a smile that the simplest comic device will have the average reader buzzing.
#8 Get medieval on their asses.
The English language has a rich history.
The Anglo-Saxons spoke Old English, with its Germanic roots, which was later influenced by the Latin languages, in particular French.
The result is that the average English speaker is spoiled for word choice.
But the pragmatic writer, seeking to connect not impress, would be wise to note that the more earthy, guttural words from Anglo-Saxon often have more impact.
Author Corrine Jackson explains it like this: the Anglo-Saxon versions tend to be short, blunt, concrete, feeling words, whereas the Latinate equivalents are often longer, more elevated, more abstract, thinking words:
- chew vs. masticate
- eat vs. consume
- friendly vs. amicable
- meet vs. encounter
- use vs. utilize
Anglo-Saxon-style plain speaking will ensure that your reader is right there in the moment with you, not drifting off in a sea of polysyllabic abstraction.
(See Wikipedia’s List of English words of Anglo-Saxon origin for more examples.)
#9 Tell a dramatic story.
What’s one of the highest compliments that you can give a story?
That it’s gripping, right?
A gripping story literally has you balanced on the edge of your seat.
Isn’t that how you want your audience when they’re reading your content?
Teetering on the edges of their seats, faces practically pressed up against the screen, as they devour your work line by line.
So tell a dramatic story.
Brian Clark did it here.
Jon did it here.
Of course, not all of us have had such extreme events in our lives, but drama can be found in the smallest of moments.
All that drama requires is that the stakes are high and the outcome uncertain.
But it doesn’t need to be a matter of life and death. It could be success and failure in the balance. Or pride and humiliation.
However it’s created, drama raises the pulse rate like chugging down a can of Red Bull.
#10 Use staccato sentences.
Sit. Your. Ass. Down.
Pick. Up. That. Pen.
Write. The. Damn. Post.
Get the point?
#11 Wow them with rare knowledge.
Who doesn’t love surprising facts like these?
- Elephants are terrified of bees and have a special vocalisation for: “Run away; the bees are angry.”
- Bolivia’s largest prison has a society within itself and no guards inside the walls. Inmates elect their own leaders, make their own laws, get jobs and can even live with their families.
- Koko, the Gorilla who was taught sign language, once lied to her trainers by blaming a kitten for tearing a sink out of the wall.
Using little-known facts and data gives your readers the thrill of knowing something others don’t.
Of course, surprising facts relating to your blog topic can be hard to find, so you may need to conduct your own research, or talk to someone who has insider knowledge. But the effort is usually repaid.
An easier way is to reveal a surprising fact closer to home.
Like did you know that Jon used to be a video game designer?
Or that Smart Blogger had over 13,000 subscribers before it published a single post?
Quoting relevant facts and figures can leave your readers wide-eyed and buzzing with fresh knowledge.
#12 Give them an exhilarating ride.
It’s no coincidence that thrill-seeking goes hand in hand with speed.
Motor racing, zip lining, base jumping. All rely on one thing – going fast.
If you can create a sense of velocity with your writing, readers will finish your content with their hearts pounding.
But how can you achieve that with mere words?
Take your reader on a whirlwind tour of a large topic.
Or give them a long list of short points (like this one) that’s easy to consume at high speed.
Or publish a post that uses catchy subheads, compact paragraphs and tight copy to create a greased chute, carrying the reader from opening to conclusion like a rocket.
However you achieve it, if you can satisfy your reader’s need for speed, they’ll get a buzz they’ll want to experience again and again.
#13 Tell it like it is.
It could be a display of tough love from a close friend. Or an unexpected discovery that shows the world in a brave new light. But the unvarnished truth snaps you awake like an unplanned ice bucket challenge.
It isn’t called a wake-up call for nothing – dozing is difficult when the scales have been scraped from your eyes.
And sometimes as a writer you have a responsibility to start those difficult conversations with your audience.
So don’t be afraid to tell your reader some hard truths.
For instance, Jon doesn’t pull any punches here, telling readers if they’re serious about blogging they should quit their jobs.
Even if readers disagree (which a number did) you can be certain that nobody snoozed their way through this one.
#14 Be an un-hypnotist.
Have you ever heard a hypnotist at work?
Or listened to a self-hypnosis CD or MP3?
The skilled hypnotist uses artfully vague language to induce a trance and make deliberately non-specific suggestions:
…and as you go deeper, you may become aware of certain thoughts or feelings, and whether it’s now or later you might begin to notice that these thoughts and feelings start to fade into the background as you go deeper still…
Of course as a writer you want to create the opposite of a passive trance – so use the opposite of hypnotic language.
Use vivid words and concrete concepts. Make your meaning crystal clear.
Make your reader’s imagination pop with bright images and precise ideas, and their brain will buzz with possibilities.
#15 Keep changing the scenery.
Imagine yourself on a long train journey.
Hour upon hour of unchanging landscape.
Makes you feel sleepy, doesn’t it?
Then imagine a journey where the scenery is constantly changing. Forests are followed by lakes that are followed by mountains.
You’d be glued to the window, not wanting to miss whatever’s coming next.
As a writer you can learn from this by giving your content a varied landscape.
Intersperse short sentences and paragraphs with longer ones.
Use bold, italics, blockquotes and subheads to add variety.
Use visual content – not just stock photos but screenshots, diagrams, even embedded videos.
Keep the landscape of your blog post varied and your reader will remain invigorated until the end of the journey.
#16 Scare the crap out of them.
It’s 3 a.m. Moments ago you were fast asleep, but something just woke you up.
Was that a noise outside? Or did you dream it?
There it is again! Is someone inside the house?
In a second or two you’ve gone from deeply asleep to highly alert, your heart pounding.
Nothing snaps us awake quite as much as fear. We’re hard-wired to fight or take flight. And both of those responses require us to be fully awake and alert.
So use your content to channel your readers’ darkest fears.
Artists fear they’ll never find an audience for their work.
Entrepreneurs fear that their big idea will be a catastrophic failure.
Parents fear that their kids will go off the rails and end up in jail.
What do your readers fear above all else?
Tap into that and you’ll create the same effect as a trayful of double espressos.
How Will You Give Your Readers the Buzz They Crave?
When you imagine someone engaging with your content, what do you see?
A wide-eyed reader relishing every sentence and reacting, beat-for-beat, to each new idea?
Or a blank-eyed automaton plodding through your words with barely a flicker of emotion?
The truth is, if you want the eager reader, not the emotionless robot, you need to earn it.
Showing the reader the right direction is not enough. You also must give them a boost of energy to take those important first steps.
Review these 16 ways to caffeinate your content and decide which ones you’ll use to pep up your next post.
Because if you can give your readers a buzz when other bloggers leave them flat, they’ll be queuing round the block for the next fix.