As we continue the Blog Revolution Project, we come to day three of our focus on writing. Today will look at one of the best ways to keep readers coming back each day. It also happens to be one of the best ways to bring in traffic much further down the road. We’ll focus on the art of the series.
Just as we looked at how writing lists can be very popular on Monday, another great way to encourage traffic to return is to write lists, but extend them over a period of a few days or even a few weeks. Essentially writing lists of articles, or a series. Some of the pivotal points in this blog’s history have revolved around series.
The cool thing about a series is that they are generally keyword rich (if you name your series well) and they should include links to other articles in the series. Links to more of your writing will tend to encourage readers to dig a little bit deeper and see what else you have to say.
How to write a series
Before you go any further, please read these 10 Steps To Writing A Successful Series On Your Blog, This stuff is golden. Using Darren’s 10 steps, I’ll take Reader Appreciation Month series as an example:
- Identify a topic
I decided that I wanted to spend a month learning about my readers. So I came up with a list of questions, emailed them out to some people who had commented, and posted them on the blog. I did this about two weeks before I was set to begin the series, with the hope that I would get a handful of responses back soon enough to have a couple of weeks set up before the month began.
- Write a list
Because I was at the mercy of whoever decided to respond, I sort of played this one by ear. I didn’t know what all would come of it, but I knew it would be a fun challenge for me, especially if I didn’t get a lot of response. The 8 questions I asked were really the list for this series.
- Set targets
The target was to fill up one month of articles. I could go a little over or under, I wasn’t too picky. It ended up being four weeks. I did five interviews each weekday during the first three weeks, and ended it with some summaries.
- Set up draft posts
Every time I got a response in the email, I would write that person’s article and schedule it on the calendar. This made things much easier for me as I was running the whole series ahead of schedule and could really focus on writing interesting stuff for the weekends, or just relaxing and interacting with commenters.
- Pick a title
I went with Reader Appreciating Month, since it described what I was going pretty well. In retrospect, it was good, but it could have been better. Something like Teacher Appreciation Month at SYWTT might have done better as far as bringing in search results. I’ll remember that for next time.
- Announce the series
I made the announcement on October 14th. I have since gone back and edited the initial announcement and took off the questions. It basically announced the project, and invited readers to answer the questions.
- Write an introduction to the series
I picked a stock photo, wrote a little blurb, and put it at the beginning of each interview. With the Blog Revolution Project, I have done the same thing, except I made a cooler graphic.
- Write a post per day
Generally, I don’t write a whole bunch of posts in advance. I want to be sure that current comments and other things that I read can flavor my writing. I also like to use fresh links from other blogs (which puts the trackback toward the top of the comments). Writing the post in the evening before I go to bed helps me to do that. With the Reader Appreciation Month, I did actually write most of the articles well in advance, but that’s not typical for what I do.
- Interlink your posts
This is key. One of the coolest plugins I have found for WordPress is In Series. I just tell it that an article is in a series, and it adds a list of the other articles in the series, and it adds itself to the list in all of the other articles. If you don’t have WordPress, then you can manually enter the links. If the reader loves your article, but can’t find the others in the series, you let them down!
- Finish your series well
One of the coolest things about the Reader Appreciation Month was that I got to pick the brains of educators from around the world. I didn’t have a full month’s worth of interviews, but I decided to go with what I had. That gave me a chance to really summarize the series. What popped out from those interviews was awesome.
Here are some of the series that I have written:
- 25 Tips For Less Stress
- 5 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers
- Questions That Will Save Your Career
- Reader Appreciation Month
- The Blog Revolution Begins
Come up with a series of posts and leave a comment or trackback here.
Extra Credit:Relate your series to the list you made for Day 1, and/or the keywords you decided to use for Day 2.