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Writing is a communications activity and to gauge how well you communicate you need to engage your readers. Engagement leads to participation and participation leads to interest and that’s what you’re looking for as a writer: you want your readers to be interested in your writing.
Whenever you are writing something, think what it can deliver to your writers. Do they feel enriched after reading what you have written? For this you have to be sincere. Take for instance this article on reader engagement; it can be any one of those run of the mill articles on writing you find on most websites primarily written to generate traffic, or it can deliver you true value — you learn something new about how to engage your readers as a writer.
Engaging doesn’t not mean writing exceptionally well, although this definitely helps. It also does not mean always providing killer information, although this definitely helps. Engagement means, your readers should feel a part of your writing process. Your writing should be like an irresistible page turner: your writing is a journey and your readers want to be a part of that journey.
A few things you can do to engage your readers as a writer
- Write for a selected few. You can never engage your readers or please them if you try to write for the entire population of the planet. Write for those who’d really like to read you and appreciate what you have to say. Although you can stretch your boundaries all the time, focus on a group and you’ll be able to engage them better.
- Provide what they’re looking for. Don’t ever try to hoodwink your writers into reading your stuff by offering something you don’t have. If your readers want to know how to ready Ulysses without getting bored to death, and you offer to teach them that in your heading, then do that; don’t tell them to improve their reading taste.
- Address to them when writing. Write as if you are talking to your readers. It’s a good idea to use “I”, “me” and “you” instead of “us”, “we”, “they” and “our readers”. Keep your tone conversational and avoid using long winded expressions unless you want to show off (it’s OK to show off sometimes).
- Be one them. You can share your vulnerabilities, your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses with your readers to show them that you’re one of them. Ask them questions, seek answers from them and use anecdotes that they are familiar with. Of course this doesn’t mean you start sharing your darkest secrets with them and asking them very awkward questions: you’ll need to define your boundaries.
- Empathize with them. We all have problems to solve and if through your writing you are trying to solve their problem then don’t feel superior about it. Every expert was a student once. It’s very comforting if someone tells you that yes, I have had the same problem — most of us go through such a problem — and this is how I figured out how to solve it.
- Become an authority figure. At the same time, authority always gets attention and serious consideration. When people know you are an expert and you have spent considerable time analyzing and studying the subject, they feel more confident paying heed to your advise and coming back to you whenever they feel the need.
Engagement basically means two-way communication. Blogging is a good example where bloggers write in such a manner that they are constantly interacting with their readers. They’re constantly engaging their readers and building communities around their blogs.