7 Ways to Fascinate Your Readers and Build a Hugely Loyal Following

by Henneke Duistermaat


Are you spellbinding?

Let’s be honest.

It’s a huuuuge challenge.

Probably the biggest challenge each blogger faces.

Because your readers suffer from many distractions.

Social media. Email. Other blogs. TV. Radio. Phone calls. Texts. A car driving past. People talking. Music. Thoughts popping up.

How the hell can you keep your readers spellbound?

How can you keep your readers — and, someday, clients who pay you — glued to your content until your last sentence?

How can you keep them yearning for more?

It’s not easy.

But you can learn how to master the art of being fascinating. Enchanting. Captivating. Almost mesmerizing.


You just need to understand the triggers to being fascinating. Once you apply these triggers, your readers will hang on to every powerful word you write.

The 7 psychological triggers to fascination

Let me quickly tell you this first.

These seven triggers are based on research outlined in an *uh* fascinating book by Sally Hogshead. You’ll also find a personality test on her website. Try it! The test will tell you which triggers you’re already using successfully; and how you can learn to use your dormant triggers, too.

These are the seven fascination triggers: Passion, Mystique, Alarm, Prestige, Power, Rebellion, and Trust.

You don’t need to use all triggers. You can choose the triggers that suit your personality. You can pick a few or you can use them all. But for blogging and other forms of online communication, at least one is mandatory. I’ll get back to that later.

Let’s look at each trigger and discuss how you can use it to make your blog irresistibly fascinating whether you’re a blogging veteran or just thinking of starting a blog.

Trigger 1: Passion

“Passion is the sense of participation that you have when you’re with someone who makes you want to come out of yourself and make an emotional connection.” — Sally Hogshead

For your readers to react to your writing, and to share it with their friends, you have to create a deep connection with them.

But here’s the thing:

Information doesn’t connect with people. Passion does. And emotion…

So, to connect with your readers, you have to infuse your writing with both passion and emotion.



Write about something you’re passionate about. Let your personality shine through. Be yourself, warts and all.

And use emotion-rich and sensory language such as a sleazy sales man, a rough day and SEO harakiri.

If your readers feel your passion, you connect with them, and you’ll see a boost in social sharing.

Trigger 2: Mystique

“Mystique flirts with us, provoking our imagination, hinting at the possibilities, inviting us to move closer while eluding our grasp.” — Sally Hogshead

Mystique teases us because we want to find answers, solve puzzles, and learn secrets. If you can generate some curiosity in the headlines or sub-headlines of your blog posts, you will increase the number of people willing to read them.

Have a look at these headlines from Derek Halpern:

These headlines make you curious. But headlines aren’t the only way to use the mystique trigger. You know stories keep us interested because we always want to know what’s happening next, don’t you?

Using cliffhangers is one of the most powerful tools in storytelling. A cliffhanger makes your readers anxious to know what’s going to happen next.

Make your readers dying to learn about your next blog post, your next email, or your next status update. Tell your readers what great, beneficial content you’ll have for them in your next email.

Or just build anticipation by announcing you’re developing something brand spanking new. Just don’t give away all the details yet.

Mystique makes your readers curious. And keeps them dying to learn more.

Trigger 3: Alarm

“Alarm demands a response now.” — Sally Hogshead

Of course, you can use deadlines to get people to act. If you don’t download now, the ebook will no longer be available free. If you don’t buy now, the price goes up. Or the course closes.

That’s one way to use the alarm trigger.

Another is to inspire action by focusing on people’s fears. Their worst fears. For example: the fear of being forgotten when we die.

Have you read How to be unforgettable?

Jon makes you feel afraid of being forgotten, and then he inspires you to take your blogging efforts more seriously. Because you want to be remembered when you die.

That’s the power of alarm.

You just have to be careful. Don’t apply the alarm trigger to each blog post you write. It stops working if you use it too much, and it can even get annoying.

Trigger 4: Prestige

“[P]restige can increase your perceived value.” — Sally Hogshead

How can you gain A-list status as a blogger?

How can you be admired and respected? And be recognized for what you’ve achieved?

Well, you’ll have to earn your status. And that’ll take some time — you can’t develop a track record overnight.

Take for instance Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He has earned respect by sharing his tips for making money online and by showing exactly how much money he earns from his various online activities. That kind of success doesn’t happen overnight, though.

Also, prestige doesn’t necessarily have to come from money. If you get lots of comments and retweets and likes on Facebook, people start to respect you too.

Of course, that takes traffic. Thankfully though, there is a shortcut to generating traffic and getting more readers:

Guest blogging.

If you guest post on the best-known, most-respected blogs, more people will get to know you, and you’ll drive more readers to your blog, not to mention raise your status just through the power of association. For example, take the epic 7,037-word post like Tommy Walker did for ChrisBrogan.com. If you write a post like that and get over 3000 shares and Facebook and nearly that many on Twitter, everyone is going to take notice of who you are.

The keyword in the above paragraph: epic. If you want to trigger prestige, you need to publish epic posts, both for A-list blogs and for your own.

There’s also one more small trick to boosting your track record. Every time you publish a guest post on a popular blog, put their logo on your site and say, “As seen on.”

Prolific guest blogger Danny Iny has quite a few on his Mirasee website. And Tommy Walker has a cool quote from Chris Brogan on the Tommy.ismy.name website. That boosts his track record, too.

Trigger 5: Power

“Whether parental or dictatorial, authority figures use power to control us.” — Sally Hogshead

Power on the web isn’t dictatorial. You can’t force people to listen to you.

But if you become an authority, people will want to know what you have to say. They’ll seek your advice. They’ll want to link to you.

How can you build authority as a blogger?

Decide on your niche and your mission first. You have to find a way to be different, to stand out from the crowd. And then, build your authority:

  • Know your stuff;
  • Produce incredibly helpful content;
  • Develop a unique voice and have an opinion.

That’s how Copyblogger became an authority in content marketing. That’s how Darren Rowse became an authority in blogging. And that’s how Marcus Sheridan became an authority in inbound marketing. They all know their stuff. They all produce awesome, useful content, and they have an opinion, their own way of doing things, and a unique voice.

Your power as a blogger doesn’t come from your ability to fire your readers or to give them a pay rise.

You don’t have access to an army of violent fighters to get them to behave. You can’t even lock your readers up when they misbehave.

But you can be on a mission, build trust and authority, and create a loyal tribe.

Trigger 6: Rebellion

“Rebellion is about creativity and innovation. It’s taking a problem that everybody looks at in one way and interpreting it in another way.” — Sally Hogshead

Are you subscribed to Ben Settle’s email newsletter?

He’s an expert in using the rebellion trigger at different levels:

  • He uses bad language;
  • He misspells words on purpose;
  • He breaks taboos: telling you to email your subscribers daily; to ignore open rates, and to applaud unsubscribers.

You could easily decide to ignore Ben, because it sounds a little too crazy. But you don’t ignore him, because he balances rebellion with the power and prestige triggers.

Ben has a loyal following of fans because he knows his stuff. For example: he often quotes other copywriters – that’s the power trigger. He has also written for Copyblogger, and he lists recommendations from high-profile copywriting experts on his website. That’s using the prestige trigger.

That’s how you mix up different triggers. Now, let’s look at a trigger that surely needs to be part of your blogging efforts…

Trigger 7: Trust

“You can dabble in prestige, or experiment with power, but you can’t dip in and out of trust. It must be established consistently.” — Sally Hogshead

The online world is full of pretenders, spammers and liars. While you can discard other triggers, you can’t do without trust. You can’t think of a popular blogger that’s not trustworthy, can you?

To establish trust as a blogger, you have to become familiar. Turn up regularly – on your own blog or as a guest blogger. Use social media to stay in touch. Or even better: email your audience on a regular basis.

In addition to posting on his blog Chris Brogan sends his subscribers an email each Sunday. He writes his emails as if you’re his friend and if you’re having a cup of tea together. Same conversational style each Sunday. That’s a good way to stay in touch with your audience. And to become trustworthy.

Remember your mission? Write about it. Often. And be authentic. You don’t have to bare all, but you have to be yourself. Don’t pretend. Develop your own voice. And be consistent.

Start building trust now. Because you can’t become popular without it.

The shocking truth about being fascinating

You don’t need talent to be fascinating.

Anyone can leave their readers breathless by using these fascination triggers in their posts.

There’s no magic there. Just the decision and commitment to give this a go.

Does your online future matter to you?

Of course it does.

So, will you take the time to make every piece of writing fascinating?

Of course you will! Because if you’re fascinating, then you’ll build an engaged tribe; and you’ll gain raving fans who spread your ideas for you. .

Make the commitment to yourself right now… Promise to never publish drab, boring content ever again.

That’s what makes all the difference!

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Henneke Duistermaat

Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and business writing coach. She's on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs sparkle. Get her free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.


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Photo of author

Written by Henneke Duistermaat

Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and business writing coach. She's on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs sparkle. Get her free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.

52 thoughts on “7 Ways to Fascinate Your Readers and Build a Hugely Loyal Following”

  1. I am the first one to comment here!?

    Yes. Fascinating your readers is more important than Social Bookmarking.

    At least to me.

    Every guest-post @ BoostBlogTraffic seems to be written by people who love JonMorrow and has adorned his writing style.

    Keep up the great job! The boy’s photo is good too.


      • With few exceptions, like Johnny B. Truant and Linda Formichelli, you must be a graduate of the GuestBlogging program to guest post here.

        Nice adaptation to blogging, Henneke. I’ve taken notes. 🙂

      • Henneke,

        Jon may be a great teacher (and if I keep reading him my memoir may be in danger of sounding like him), but you have a style all of your own. Love your books and those I recommend to the world. Especially love your paintings.


  2. Henneke, I am positively delighted by the way you have distilled this down to seven triggers… and I’m having fun “trying them on.”

    Of course, each blogger’s subject matter lends itself more to one than another, but there’s a way to apply them to a greater or lesser degree.

    For example, on my scrapbook blog I am not likely to get anywhere with “Alarm” by warning about the zombie apocalypse, but I can talk about all those pictures that are stuck in your camera or computer, hiding in the darkness, never to see the light of day…

    Thanks for a great post!

  3. I learned from the Fascinate book that there are many ways to hold my prospect’s attention. I don’t have to be “alarming” like some people I follow on Twitter. And I don’t have to wait 10 years to build up “trust” in my marketplace.

    I’m naturally rebellious and and mysterious – a “secret weapon” as Sally Hogshead calls it. I can use what I do best to get my customers’ attention.

      • Y’all both seem to have a rebellious streak which is very cool to me. I like to be different, and maybe physically daring, but when it comes to opinions I’m not always so willing to be daring or “rebellious” in this context.

        I think it has to do with confidence in what your saying and the value your bringing to the table, something I definitely need to work on. What are either of your thoughts as to the validity of my conclusion? Also, any tips or pointers on how to become, or at least project myself to be, more confident?

        Thanks, and best wishes in 2013!
        Austin Hodge

  4. Thanks so much. Am just bookmarking this with 5 stars (I’ll work out how!) so I keep these all in mind. Love it, love it, love it.

  5. I’m looking forward to some “Rebellion”. One thing I’ve noticed is that my most loyal folks are those who share my poke-it-and-see-what-happens approach, so I should make the most of it!

    Thanks, Henneke, for making these triggers so clear to me.

  6. Great inspiring and useful words to get me motivated in my writing today. There should be a pledge.

    I Derek Lauber…promise to never publish drab, boring content ever again. I swear right now today to never do it again.

  7. This is such a great cheat sheet for when you’re struggling a bit with a particular blog post. I find if a post I’m working on is missing one of the above triggers and I can’t seem to inject life into it, I’ll just abandon ship and push it to the end of my ed cal. Usually inspiration will strike in the meantime and allow me to polish it up. But I will definitely be returning to this when I need a little mental shake up in my writing. Thanks!

  8. These are great reminders for writers.

    I’m also a member of Jon’s GuestBlogging course and think it’s important to follow the guidelines of a blog when you write a guest post. The blog owner may not want you to use the ‘Alarm’ tactic. For example, if the blog is a personal development site helping readers get over their fears, the ‘Alarm’ tactic could backfire. You may not be welcomed back as a guest blogger.

    As always… keep your readers in mind when you write. 🙂

  9. If you haven’t taken Sally’s test, I highly recommend it. Not only do you learn your primary trigger (mine is Passion), but you also learn your secondary and dormant triggers, which help you better understand how to communicate your fascinating self by comparing your triggers to a 49-archetype matrix. When I got this clarity, it made communicating to my tribe so much easier – and people found me way more fascinating as a result. 🙂

  10. Believe it or not, your post made me click. You’ve done a great job at making your ideas stick and you prove your own point. Gives me the will to go back to the writing board and start fascinating my readers. Thanks!

  11. Excellent article! I didn’t realize I was already doing a couple of these on my blog. So far, Alarm seems to get the most attention, although I find passion draws in the most comments. I personally like to read bloggers who employ Rebellion, so maybe I’ll give that a try.

  12. In your opinion, is there a difference between the reader’s triggers and your own as a writer? It’s the only part I find a little confusing since Sally Hogshead’s personality test is about the writer’s personality but blogging is about getting into your reader’s head.

    • That’s a great point. My feeling is that you’re most fascinating if you use the triggers that suit your blog’s audience.

      Blogging is quite personality driven – you and your audience need to click. It’s easier to build your tribe if they’re attracted to your natural fascination triggers.

      That’s my interpretation (which doesn’t necessarily match Sally’s).

  13. Yep, I love Sally’s work. Did the test–it’s definitely worth doing to find out all those nuances that Lisa Robbin Young mentioned above.

    Thanks for this article, Henneke. It just reminded me I need to look at my fascination points again! Primary trigger, secondary trigger and archetype. You can find yours at: http://www.howtofascinate.com

    I have some catching up to do today.

  14. As always, Jon, you are the master on writing about writing. I learned some of this in journalism school There’s nothing more annoying than the delayed lead. Don’t make me wade through one or more paragraphs to get to the point.

    It takes a lot of hard work, but persistence always pays off. I salute you, Jon!

  15. Excellent post Henneke.

    Another possible way to utilize the 7 triggers are to use them in the comments you leave in other blogs. These may produce excellent relationships in the future if the author takes note of the comment!

    I feel that there are two ways to go about this:
    1) Inject your personal trigger into your comment
    2) Leave a trigger that reflects the author’s trigger

    In this case, it may be great to leave something rebellious!

  16. This is a fantastic article and perfect timing. Over the last few months I have been lured by SEO and getting the right keywords, which has resulted in dumbing down what I write on our blog. It has felt like a chore rather than an expression of what we want to say and help people with. Thank you for this – it just sealed the deal on going back to what I was doing in the first place.

  17. Henneke,

    Fascinate by Sally Hogshead is one of my favorite books.

    She is fun, entertaining and very informative. Lots of food for thought:)

    Great article.

    Thank you for sharing.

  18. It’s an interesting post if only because, influence is so often thought of as a massive monolithic block when in fact it is more like Lego bricks. This article and Hogshead’s work gives valuable insight into the components that can help us re-shape our selves and our work.

  19. Love you writing and the many excellent ideas you shared. Thank you. I signed up for your newsletter and look forward to more inspired posts.

    Thank you also for your commitment to writing excellence. This means you get to spread more light out into the world because you make us look forward to what you have to say next.

  20. I am constantly working in improving my writing and blogging skills. I have had some feedback that lead to small changes, but this blog post will be sending me back to basics. Knowing how I can use my personality to best relate to people will no doubt improve everything tenfold. Thank you for sharing such valuable information.

  21. This is really helpful, especially coming off Jon’s webinar last night. You hear “write epic content” so often, and yet so few people give you an direction about what elements might be involved.


  22. I like your approach, Jon, especially your call to write with passion and be authentic and reveal some of your very personal feelings about your subject matter. We all have a story to tell and aspects of it can certainly support blog topics. Great ideas. Thanks.

  23. You make some great points here, Henneke.

    It’s all about defining your character, as Johnny B Truant talks about; that image, or persona, that resonates with the audience you want to reach, and that matches the person [character] they want to become when they’ve captured their dreams.

    The important thing is to define which character you are so that you can adapt your whole business marketing towards the message [or mission] you want to get across to your audience.

    It’s an important, but overlooked, part of establishing your USP, or point-of-difference.

    Until they like you, it doesn’t matter how much you know, how beautifully you write, or anything.

    And part of being liked is to get your target, or ideal, reader to recognise you as the person – with lifestyle to match – the person that they want to become, AND who they recognise as also being someone similar to them but who’s already achieved success and got to where they want to be.

    That way, they’ll be primed to listen to you, to accept what you have to say, and to buying your message because they’ll know they’ll achieve their goal if they follow your lead.

    In the end, you won’t sell anything, or get noticed, or get traffic, if no one likes you. So, it’s all about giving your target audience something to like about you first because when people like you, they connect with you automatically.

  24. Thanks for these psychological triggers that drive traffic, Henneke. Not sure if it falls under one of the seven, perhaps passion, but I find humor and fun to be a source of endless fascination. For example, I have my StumbleUpon account set to find everything having to do with laughs, satire, jokes, etc. I’ve had pretty good success getting traffic on my blog using humorous material!

  25. I definitely find that my posts too often fall short on the emotional side. I blog so much for a variety of sites that I end up producing plain vanilla stuff. It works, but it’s not noteworthy, for the most part.

    I think it’s time to focus on some triggers in my posts, no matter the purpose of the content.

  26. I love this article. It it almost 11.30 at night, so will read through the links and recommendations tomorrow.

    I knew subsconsciously that there are triggers, but this is a great way to get it clear in my head.

    Thank you.

  27. At first look it might seem weird, all these triggers, mystique and everything… But after carefully reading this stuff you start to realize that these triggers are just brilliant! With these tips you can become a master-mind manipulator of the Net. Honestly, mystique is the most appealing to me, kinda even don’t know why… But anyway, it’s a great article, thanks for sharing it.


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