I keep reading lists of things people can do to get readers. Looks like we are all chasing eyeballs, reading the same site stats and restlessly looking for people who will retweet us.
As a freelancer some time ago, I was in the business of selling story ideas. It was too early in the process to write a catchy headline (that is usually tip No. 1). In fact, it was too early in the game to do much else but have an irresistible topic.
So, let’s define “irresistible”:
1. Not overly introspective. There is a lot of drivel out there masquerading as “opinion.” Save it for the comments.
2. Unusual content that sets convention on its ear. Did you hear the one about the cattleman who “called” his cows in using a pager? I read it in the newspaper and rewrote it for a communications magazine.
3. Stuff people need to know, explained simply. Can you get navigate the BBI (boring but important) sections and make THEM readable? Here’s a hint: The more important the idea, the shorter your sentences should be.
4. Little nuggets of information about virtually any subject. Can you break the topic of World Peace up into little pieces? Could you find a person out there who is doing what he or she can, no matter how small?
5. Politics. People are passionate about partisan politics, but watch out. This topic is not for the faint of heart.
6. Sex. Need I say more about this?
7. How-to, also known as service journalism. See ehow.com.
8. Ways to save and earn money.
You can get people to pop into your site (maybe), but you can’t keep them there unless you have something interesting for them to do. It seems that people are overlooking that basic fact.