Sometimes viewing nothing but text can get boring. Consequently, you should consider mixing it with other forms of media.
The last thing you want is a boring and static blog that readers avoid like cancer.
Use Graphics and Charts
To use a cliché, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. By incorporating images and charts to complement your words, you can make it easier for your readers to understand your points. You can also use these visual aids to make your site more readable and visually pleasing.
Mix Video with Language
YouTube can be a valuable ally in helping you find content for your site. You can also leverage YouTube and other video programs to provide readers with additional stimuli. By commenting on short videos, you can help facilitate interesting discussions or share your interests. Either way, more people will likely want to return to your site to share future experiences.
There are even online applications in which you can create animated movies using computer-generated characters and text you supply. My Thurston and Talbot series is an example of how you can leverage current technology to enhance your readers’ experiences.
Offer Interactive Exercises
Making a blog participatory can sometimes generate a lot of excitement and build community. I have tried it on several occasions. Some have been a success, while others have not worked out as well as I would have hoped.
The classic interactive exercise is to host a poll. During my first four months, I have published 14 polls. In the most popular one, only 19 people participated.
These numbers are clearly nothing to write home about.
It turns out that polls can be dull and people tend not to like filling them out (at least on my blog).
My conclusion from my failed attempts at polling is that any interactive exercise should have a sense of novelty.
Two posts that had middling success were my “Political Compass” and “My Plan to Balance the Budget.” During the first four months, these blogs received a total of 43 and 31 page views, respectively. More importantly, they both generated a lot of comments and discussions on my site — an essential component of community building.
I used third-party sites that had online interactive polls that generated interesting output. For instance, the Political Compass website has an application that asks users several questions and then creates a chart that plots their political leanings on a two-by-two matrix.
Readers seemed to love it.
The post worked because it involved an interactive exercise that encouraged readers to share their results with others.
Another way to drive traffic to your site is to offer a promotion to your readers. You can run a promotion by hosting a contest on your blog. The contest requires participants to subscribe to your site in exchange for a chance to win a prize.
Believe it or not, I bought an extra ticket for the 2011 San Diego Comic Con to run such a contest. Of course, I later found out that Comic Con tickets were not transferable. Hence, my initial attempt at running contest has been a miserable failure thus far.
However, that does not mean I am not always looking for great ideas!
In summary, experiment with various media to keep your audience interested in what you have to say.