How can you write blog content that appeals to your audience?

Have you been blogging for awhile, but are not sure if you’re getting through to your audience? How can you write content that appeals to your audience and what they want to know about?

If you want to learn how to blog for a mass audience, you can learn from journalism. Bloggers are trying to reach a large audience, just like journalists do. You’re probably trying to appeal to a niche with your blog, but you’re still writing for a wide audience of readers.

In journalism, there are seven values of news stories. Editors at print and online publications, and news directors at broadcast outlets, decide on what content the audience sees based on these values. They are:

Seven-values

The seven values of journalism can help you as a blog writer. If your readers see these values in your blog, they will relate to it better.

  • Impact: This is when the story affects a lot of people and matters to them. One example from 2012 was Superstorm Sandy. It impacted a lot of people on the East Coast.
  • Immediacy: This is timely news that just happened or is about to happen. This is most commonly called “breaking news.”
  • Proximity: This is news that happens in or close to your community. People tend to care about events that happen close to them. I live in Louisville, Ky., and every year we prepare for the Kentucky Derby. Many people worldwide watch the Derby itself, but not as many outside the community will care about events such as Thunder Over Louisville, The Great Steamboat Race, or the Derby Festival Marathon.
  • Prominence: If the story involves a recognizable name, it attracts attention. For example, if any of us average people takes a trip across the country, it’s not newsworthy.  But if a world leader like Barack Obama takes a trip across the country, it’s news.
  • Novelty: If the story is new, unique or different, it also attracts attention. Recently, we were riveted by the story of the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared. At least, I was! How often does a plane simply disappear in our modern world? The situation was unique. (Let’s hope it remains unique.)
  • Conflict: These stories involve confrontations or disagreements and clashes of power. Political stories often have this element. Examples are when lawmakers disagree or elections are going on.
  • Human Interest: These stories connect with and focus on people and their humanity. They make readers feel happy, sad, horrified, outraged, or a range of other emotions.

Often, news stories will have more than one of these values, which is what helps put them at the top of the news.

What can you as a blogger learn from these news values? If journalists use them to appeal to their audiences, you can use them, too. Depending on what type of blog you’re writing, you can make sure your posts are based on one or more of these values.

Novelty should be present in a lot of your blog posts as you find a fresh way of looking at your niche. If you’re writing a news blog, you will probably rely on impact and immediacy. If you’re writing a celebrity blog, prominence will definitely come into play. If you’re writing a local blog, proximity will be valuable to your audience. If you’re writing an opinion or political blog, then conflict will drive your posts. If you’re writing an informative or hobby blog, human interest will draw your audience in.

If your audience sees the same values reflected in your blog as they’re used to seeing in the news, chances are they’ll relate to your blog. And if they relate to your blog, they’ll be more likely to stick around and read it.

Readers, do you notice these values in your blog posts, or in the blogs you read? How do you think these values might help your blog writing?

Comments

How can you write blog content that appeals to your audience? — 18 Comments

  1. Thank you for nice tips for improving audience. I agree with all your points.
    As you have mentioned about journalism then in my part of world ( Pakistan) three points are mostly emphasized more; Impact , Prominence , conflict.
    Many people talk about conflicts etc. to be a successful journalist and they are successful.
    I personally believe that novelty matters a lot and it takes some time but success is for sure.

  2. You are correct when you talk about the novelty being important with regards to your niche. A lot of blogs stray away from their target audience when they are trying to do to much. great post.

  3. I believe it is helpful for bloggers to clarify their intent (target audience) prior to creating and posting a blog. I agree that the points on the list are well worth considering for bloggers.

  4. It is certainly true that the values are important and I favor impact, novelty and human interest. Sometimes immediacy and proximity are useful, depending on the topic and intended audience.

  5. Excellent points Jennifer and a well written article on writing blog content. I think that defining your audience first helps to determine what you write and novelty and impact I think come into play no matter who you are writing for! I wrote these down so that I can refer to them. Great stuff!

  6. I love this article. These seven values provide a great checklist to run through when working on a concept and/or writing a post. There may be times that some may not fit, but that doesn’t mean the others don’t have great value when writing for the audience we’re trying to attract. :-)

    • Susan, I think as long as a post or story has two or three of these values, you’ll hit your audience pretty well. Working all seven into every post would be difficult, if not impossible. Most journalistic stories only hit two or three of these values.

  7. Hi Jennifer – great article. I write about frugal living and I picked up three things from your post that I can refer to – 1)novelty, 2) impact and immediacy and 3) human interest. I’m going to put these 3 points on a recipe card and tape it to my desk where I can see it to keep me on track. Thanks.
    Lenie

  8. The goal is always to write content that appeals to your audience and out of all the bullet points you make I believe impact and novelty trump the rest. If you can grab a reader in the first couple of lines you will likely hold them throughout.

  9. Hello Jennifer,
    I always try to write on topics which are a bit uncommon! However I try to ensure that these topics be of interest to a large number of readers!

  10. While I agree we all would like to have a wider audience, there are some instances where you just can’t be everything to everyone. My main passions are writing, fitness and martial arts. But while the average book reader obviously enjoys writing (because without writers, there would be no books to read!), they usually don’t get as passionate about the act of writing itself. They often don’t care about the mechanics behind the writing; they just want to read the story! So by their very nature, the topics I am most inclined to write about are narrow. In that case, the trick is to get it out there to others via word of mouth, keyword optimization, and so on.

  11. Hi Jennifer,
    I think these values are worthy to keep in mind, but I think integrity is most important and should top all values. Real life stories, real life experiences have plenty to teach others.

    • That’s true, but integrity, honesty and ethics is a separate parameter. You can have honest and ethical writing, but if you don’t hit upon some value that appeals to a broad audience, you’re not going to keep readers interested in your blog. And you can also have these news values without integrity. Celebrity news and the paparazzi come to mind.

  12. Jennifer, I would imagine 5 of these are directly relevant to all bloggers, with Proximity also being important to some. In terms of Prominence perhaps we see it less related to prominent people than to prominent companies or organizations such as Google, FB, Linked In etc where new involving them is always of interest to social media users.

    • That’s a good point, Paul. If I had thought about it, I should have included prominent companies as well. Facebook’s changes to their algorithms that affect a page’s organic reach, and the rise of Google+ are two good recent examples.