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02 March 2016

How To Keep Them Coming Back For More | IWSG


For the past few months, I’ve been linking up with the Insecure Writer's Support Group (ISWG) on the first Wednesday of every month. Guess what today is – yep, it’s the first Wednesday of March. So, it’s time for some musings on writing.

I imagine some of our regular blog followers are screaming at their computers just now, “Come on Ellen, we don’t want to read about no stinking writing nonsense! Where are the posts about living on a sailboat, avoiding boat projects and travel that we’ve come to expect from you? Even one of those polar bear posts would be better than this.”

Just hang in there. Please. Pretty please with sprinkles on top. I know that many of the lovely ISWG folk will leave helpful and supportive comments about my conundrum, but I’d also like to hear from our regular blog followers too. After all, that’s what this month’s conundrum is about – you guys.

Okay, here’s the deal with the conundrum. Next month, I’m going to be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Basically, you blog every day during April (except Sundays) following along with the alphabet (e.g., A is for Anchor, B is for Boatyard, C is for Catamaran).

When I did this last year, my blog posts were unrelated and pretty random. The upside was that there was something for everyone – some blog posts were about our travel adventures, some were about sailing and others were about polar bears. So, even if folks thought a particular day’s post was dead boring, there might be something that floats their boat the next day.

This year, I’m doing a theme. Each post is going to build upon the previous post. The catch is that you have to read the posts in order to follow along with the theme.

So, here’s the problem – some of you may stop coming back to the blog during April because you: (1) think the theme is stupid from the outset; (2) get bored with the theme partway through the month; or (3) only get intermittent internet access and figure it’s not worth the bother if you can’t follow along with the theme.

Here’s how I’m thinking of working around this and hopefully keeping you coming back for more. The first part of each blog post during April will be focused on the theme, but the second part will have some random thoughts on the day’s topic (like anchors, boatyards or catamarans) that don’t require that you read the posts in order.

For our regular blog readers...What do you think? Would this keep you coming back for more? 

For you ISWG folk...What tips/tricks do you have to keep people coming back for more? Are you doing the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year? If so, have you used a theme before and what lessons did you learn?

If you’re wondering why my theme is, you’ll have to wait until the end of the month when all will be revealed. But here’s a hint – America’s favorite teenage girl detective will be back for some more sailing adventures.

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41 comments:

  1. I'm actually not going to be around much for the A to Z Challenge, but I always find the key to a # of visits is visiting others. If they like what they read, they share or follow and then you have a much larger reach.

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    1. Good advice Crystal. One of the things I enjoyed about the challenge last year was visiting lots of different blogs that I wouldn't have normally stumbled across.

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  2. I like the sound of your plan, keeping to a theme sounds fun as well as making it more interesting & challenging for you too.
    Good luck, whatever you decide :)

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  3. I'm doing a theme too that largely depends on the readers having read the previous posts. I'm solving this by having a link at the top of each post that will go to a master post where all the past entries are linked, so they can read at their leisure.

    Good luck with your theme!

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    1. Great idea about the master post! I'll have to borrow that :-)

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  4. All I can say is that as I read this post I was thinking 'Nancy Drew! More Nancy!", then you nailed it. Make it funny, as usual, and I"ll be hooked.
    As an aside, you're making me extra insecure with your A-Z challenge. I don't even know where to find blog challenges. How do you get hooked up with things like that? Another blogger is doing the photo challenge, and I've seen other kinds of challenges. They are starting to tweak my interest. I guess it's sort of like of you live with a large gorilla. Every day you live with him, he seems more and more normal to you. You just kind of get used to the idea of it and lose your fear of him.

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    1. I think you should join in!! Stephanie from SV Cambria is going to do it this year - I think you know her blog. Should I sign you up? You could have a theme about gorillas :-)

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    2. Well, sure, then, why not? I mean, what else will I do with my time, besides travel to Washington D.C., which surely would make for some interesting blog fodder. I'm already worried about the theme, though. Perhaps my theme should be worrying needlessly.

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    3. A is for Anxiety. I could do that.

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    4. Theme are completely optional - although I do like the idea of a theme about worrying. I bet a lot of people would relate to that! I think you should give it a go :-)

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    5. I'm going to do it. Do you need to sign me up, or can I go to the website and do it myself? I mean, do you get a prize for roping me into this? I wouldn't want to cheat you out of a prize or anything.

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    6. Oh, I should have signed you up. If I had, they would have given me a lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookies. Darn.

      Sadly, there are no prizes for "roping" you into this :-) Except for the fact that you'll be joining in too - that's prize enough!

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  5. Write what inspires you. Don't worry about your readers' reaction. I like how you're going to make it work even if someone hasn't been reading every post. We can learn something no matter what.

    Mary at Play off the Page

    IWSG co-host, thanks for visiting my blog today.

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    1. Thanks for popping by our blog as well Mary! I'm definitely excited about my theme and hopefully I can balance it out for people who don't want to read everyday.

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  6. I love the A to Z Challenge. I read them too. I won't do them because it's too much work and I'm in boating mode in April, but I'll be right here all month reading what you write.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Thanks Sandee - I'm really glad that you'll be checking in next month!

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  7. Here are my thoughts, if you're interested. The readers who will keep coming back will be invested in your theme. You'll find the most value in providing fun/engaging content that fewer people will love verses general or random content many will like for awhile. Being specific isn't bad, though you do want to make sure your posts are engaging and pull readers in. I'm not an expert but I read a lot of marketing stuff and blogging tips. Good luck. A to Z is fun!

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    1. I definitely think there are a few people who will keep coming back once they see the theme, but others may not be so keen. Hopefully it will be fun/engaging enough to attract folks who normally wouldn't be too interested in America's favorite teenage girl detective.

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  8. This will be my 6th A to Z Challenge.
    I LOVE the A to Z!!
    What snags readers are short, fun and interactive posts.
    But also remember that you have to enjoy the challenge. So don't worry too much about readers coming back. If you're having fun, that's half the battle won!
    See you on the A to Z circuit!

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    1. Wow - six years!! that's amazing! Look forward to seeing your A to Z posts next month.

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  9. Maybe you could mention the previous day's post so that someone who missed it won't be behind? I do think a consistent theme works best. Not participating with my own blog, but I will be posting at the IWSG site next month.

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    1. I'll definitely have a link back to the previous day's post and I think I'll borrow Megan's idea of having a master post that everyone can reference back to.

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  10. I've never done the A to Z Challenge, but it's fun to see what others do for it. I've found new blogs by looking at A to Z stuff and I'm sure you'll get new followers through April, too.

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  11. The A to Z Challenge is a definitely great way to discover new blogs and such a variety of blog. Thanks for popping by Michelle!

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    1. I participated in the A to Z three years ago, IIRC. It was a blast and enjoyable. My theme was songs. The titles started with each day's letter. It was a great way for me not only to post, but to revisit and discuss some of my absolute favorites, which were not always chart-toppers (like Joe Diffie's Ships that Don't come in, Toto's Africa, one of James Taylor's songs...)

      For me it was done for the enjoyment (though I didn't post ahead of time and nearly tore my hair out each morning), and for sharing something I liked with people who probably would like it, as well. From what I've seen of your blog, you'll do a great job (I'll be sticking my head in...)

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    2. wrote a good chunk of my posts ahead of time last year and will probably try to get all of them written in advance this year. I can't imagine writing on the fly each day. I definitely would have been tearing my hair out! Songs are a fun idea for a theme :-)

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  13. You're a writer/blogger and can do anything. Especially if you put the reader first. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  14. First and for all, write something interesting or entertaining. If it follows from A-Z or not isn't that important to me as reader.

    In the past many A-Z challenges (and 365 Pictures too) suffered either from recycling for a quick fill from the archives or some of the entries felt contrived just for the sake of producing the requirement of the day. Both types don't make such a good read. Instead of a post "Krusty Krustaceans" I'd prefer reading "Forget about K - Nancy and Molly go diving"

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    1. Hopefully, it will be entertaining and maybe a little bit interesting :-) All of my posts will be brand new content, which makes it even more of a challenge.

      I'll see if I can work something in about Nancy and Molly going diving :-)

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  15. Hmm ... sounds interesting! Think I will have to check out this challenge of which you speak. Usually I write long-form content and only post once a week, but maybe this would spark some shorter posts ... it is a daunting commitment, to post every day! I'd want to avoid what Popsi mentions above ... which, knowing me, will mean starting to plan ... now. ;)

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    1. You should definitely join in! It would be a lot of fun to have you onboard and your posts would definitely be creative. Might be fun to try out a shorter, sharper blog post style too. Maybe you could do a different quote each day with a few words about why it inspires you?

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  16. Thinking about signing up... It could be fun!

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    1. Definitely - you should join in! It will be fun :-)

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  17. Well, I'm in the middle of change, so I have yet to figure out tricks and grow a blog... Basically, network and make some blog buddies who always visit you and vice versa. Hopefully, once I settle into a routine, I'll have time to grow my blog again. Do what fits your schedule. I think posting once a week then visiting a few blogs a day works, especially if you don't have a lot of time. But be you. My blog is always in flux as to what I write about.

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  18. First, thanks for coming by my blog!
    Second, I have more or less decided that for A to Z, posts should be free-standing. Stick with a theme if you want, but if you have to read the old ones to get the new one, people who stumble on you along about Q will be lost. I do like your idea of doing some of each--but I'd maybe put the random part first?

    Just my off the top of my head reaction!
    Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

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    1. Thanks for popping by here too :-)

      That's a good idea about putting the random part first. I'm definitely going to have a think about trying that out.

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  19. We will be joining the A-Z challenge also. Looking forward to reading your posts!

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    1. Thanks for letting me know - I'll be keeping an eye out for your A to Z posts!

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