How to Get People Excited About Anything You Write

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Nick Thacker, who is a writer from Colorado. You can check out his website for writers, bloggers, and creators here. Be sure to grab his new book, Welcome Home: The Author’s Guide to Building a Home Base, which is free this week.

I can’t remember how I’ve stumbled upon some of my favorite blogs (this one included). I just did. And without fail, I show up day after day, week after week, excited to read what these writers have to say.

Get Excited
Photo credit: Leon E. Pannetta (Creative Commons)

Maybe you’ve had this experience, as well: you remember reading through some of the latest posts on a new blog and immediately sign up for the RSS and newsletter subscriptions.

The posts were spot-on for what you needed at the time, and they always seemed to deliver exceptional value. Despite how much these blogs have grown, you’ve always felt like the person was talking just to you.

So how do you do that?

Why we like personal blogs

When someone writes words that connect with your heart, the effect of is twofold:

  • You like the blog, and will continue to read it.
  • You will probably buy/read whatever this person comes out with.

The reason those things are important to all of us interested in building our platforms is they allow us to develop and maintain relationships with our audiences. In other words, this style of writing helps us build true community.

On my own site, I’ve coached authors, writers, and bloggers on this very subject. Some call it the “catch-22” of new-age marketing:

We can’t create something and give it to people (or sell it to them) if they’re not listening to us, and we can’t get them to listen to us without giving them something valuable first.

But is that really true? The best blogs get their communities excited and passionate, and then use that momentum to create more exciting opportunities.

Go first

If you want your community to get committed, you have to commit first.

I get emails almost every day asking the question, “How can I promote my fiction book (or book on an unrelated topic) through a nonfiction blog?”

While it’s a question that might not be relevant to you, I think the illustration that I use to answer it is a great analogy:

Imagine you’re in your living room, hanging out with a close friend who’s come over to visit. You and this friend swap the usual stories—life, work, relationship updates—and then they notice your book on the coffee table.“Hey—did you write this?” they ask.

“Sure did,” you respond, “it’s about [whatever].”

Now, do you think that person is going to be interested in purchasing your book?

Absolutely, even if only wanting to help support your art. This friend is interested in your overall well-being, not just one particular interest you might have in common.

My favorite bloggers do an exceptional job making me feel like a friend, even though I’ve never met most of them in person.

When they write, it’s like I’m being invited into their living rooms to sit down to chat. When it seems fitting to mention their latest book, course, product, or whatever, I’m going to be interested—because I like this person.

How this works (for you)

I’ve received so much value from some bloggers that I’m more than happy to help them out with whatever they need: by buying their book, promoting a product, or just bragging about them to my friends.

Why? Because they’ve demonstrated a constant commitment to helping me. I’m happy to return the favor. And here’s the best part about this commitment-trust-engagement strategy: You can replicate it.

This sort of exchange is an age-old tactic to spreading ideas: Find a group of people who share an interest in something you do, and then build a relationship with them over time. The nuts-and-bolts of it looks like this:

  1. Find an audience. You can use a blog, Twitter, or something else, but you need to find people who share your passion.
  2. Create stuff for your audience. This can be eBooks, blog posts, newsletters, etc. These are “value adds” that help build trust.
  3. Turn your audience into a community. After some time, your readers will start to do the heavy lifting for you. Give them the tools to share and spread your ideas, and you can turn fans and readers into “affiliates.”

That’s all there is to it. Most of what you read about “building a platform” or “developing an online presence” can be boiled down to these three components. What holds everything together is your passion and effort.

If you make it about others, they’ll make it about you. (Tweet that.)

A final word of warning

When you do this well, there’s little your readership won’t care about. If you entice me with great content, provide massive value about something I need help with, and then over-deliver on that expectation, I’m going to be a fan of yours.

Later, if you wrote a sci-fi/fantasy epic, I’m in. Since I consider you an friend, I’d be interested in hearing about any of your upcoming projects.

But there’s a limit to what we’re “safe” to promote this way. Things that are wildly off-topic (i.e. “Hey! I’m selling used cars now!”) probably won’t be well received, nor will incessant promotions in rapid succession.

Think of this as you would anything relationship in life. Would your brother, friend, or mother-in-law be excited about an upcoming project, and be willing to support you in some way? Of course they would.

Your online network is the same way. They want to support you in whatever you do — if you care enough to treat them as you would a real friend or relative.

Most of the time, if you’ve done a great job getting to know us and building trust, we’ll want to hear about your stuff. In fact, we’ll help you with it, promote it, maybe even buy it. But treat us like we’re watching a late-night infomercial, and we’re done.

What do you think? Can you get people excited about whatever you write if you first show interest in them? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: Leon E. Pannetta (Creative Commons)

Disclosure: some of the above links are affiliate links.

61 thoughts on “How to Get People Excited About Anything You Write

  1. Thanks. This is a really helpful article. I hope to implement your main points and get connecting with more people. Of course, you’re absolutely right – which is why I keep clicking on Jeff’s blog…

  2. So many great points.  This has been my favorite thing about Twitter.  I’ve “met” some amazing people this way.  And several of those connections started just because we took an interest in one another’s  life.  It had nothing to do with trying to “sell” them something.  I am much more willing to help “promote” someone else when I connect with them on a friendship level first.  Some people I just genuinely like and wish they lived next door to me so I could have them over for coffee.  In fact, they could probably write about their pet rock and I would be their biggest cheerleader because I like them as a person.   😉  

    1. Hi Eileen!

      That’s so true — when I recently moved to Colorado Springs from Austin, I found out that a handful of authors I followed on Twitter and through their blogs lived here! It’s been fun to get to know them virtually and in real life!

      Thanks for the comment, and for stopping by!

  3. The warning at the end captured so many moments with “friends” when they finally reveal the “real” reason they connected. Hmmm. Thanks for the insights once again Jeff.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Gerald! It’s surprising how little “marketing” we have to do once we’ve spent the real, honest time engaging and getting to know people! I like to think I don’t ever need to market something of mine to my “real life” friends — and that’s the sort of relationship I’d shoot for online, too!

  4. This is a great piece, Jeff. You have a real good way of writing in the ‘talking to a friend’ style, both on your blog and on Twitter. 

    I definitely believe that by showing an initial interest, there is nothing to lose. You should seek to share the work of others before the work of your own, and take the time to read and comment on other blogs. It absolutely pays off in the long run, and is actually probably the best form of ‘marketing’ 🙂

    Ryan Casey

  5. This is a great piece, Jeff. You have a real good way of writing in the ‘talking to a friend’ style, both on your blog and on Twitter. 
    I definitely believe that by showing an initial interest, there is nothing to lose. You should seek to share the work of others before the work of your own, and take the time to read and comment on other blogs. It absolutely pays off in the long run, and is actually probably the best form of ‘marketing’ 🙂

    Ryan Casey

  6. I really appreciate these thoughts!  Good reminders.  I agree our first goal should be giving people something of value…caring about them, not “selling” them…inviting them into community.  

    I struggle with the tension between the desire to get my words into the mailboxes of those who will be encouraged by them and conversely, self-promotion.  I resist the trend to include “tweet this” within posts.  Maybe others see something I don’t, but for me that really grates.

    1. Hmm, interesting thought. I guess I’m a little desensitized to things like that, because I don’t really feel strongly one way or another. I see your point; it’s almost like a false entitlement or arrogance to do that. 

      Thanks for the comment, and for reading!

      1. I really hesitated to say anything because I want to be positive and encouraging, and I mean it when I say there may be a perspective I’m missing.  Thanks for receiving my words with grace.

        1. Well, from a marketing perspective, it’s probably increased someone’s follower count or reach on Twitter. I’m not too worried about that, but if you WERE focusing on that metric, “Tweet this” buttons might be a good call! 

    2. Hi Laura … there’s always a balance … keep that in mind when you read my observation below. 

      I recently read where Stephen Spielberg said “there’s a time to be a human being and have an opinion, and there’s a time to sell cars.”  At first blush it sounds callous and disconnected … especially from the art we often associate with someone like Spielberg.  But when I think about it,  there’s a lot of truth there.  

      It’s not that “car sales” is for non-humans without opinions (or hearts), but sometimes I just have to “do the work” … I’ve got to do some selling.  Its just part of life.  The real mastery comes when I may be selling or promoting and no one’s  really the wiser.  That’s because  they don’t feel like their being sold (or “over-promoted” upon)  because I’m connected with them … And they KNOW I’m connected with them.  

      Much like what Nick talks about in this piece.

      In my opinion, Spielberg is no less an artist because he spends some of his time selling cars.  Especially when he’s selling cars to people who actually want to buy cars. Again, its a balance.  And I’m still learning myself.Oh … and if your stuck on whether to tweet or not to tweet “some of your words.”   Send them to me and I’ll tweet ’em for you! ;-)Good luck and Godspeed …

  7. Great information and wonderful timing for me.  Today’s adult demands more than a handshake and a “nice to meet you.”  Building relationships in today’s world is about learning to “give” of ourselves to others.  This is a real paradigm shift for those over 55.  We want to do this and be relevant to younger people, but it is a radical change from the world we grew up in. Please  be patient with us.  We are slowly picking these things up.  Today’s blog helped me and I appreciate it. 

    1. That’s right — I’ve been to my fair share of networking events, and it was more akin to a ninja gathering (where everyone used their business cards as ninja stars…) than something actual beneficial. 

      We need to remember that it takes real, honest time and effort to “produce” a relationship from nothing, and it’s even harder to do this organically. 

      Honestly, I feel like there are more “organic” and honest relationships I’ve built with people over 50 than with the younger crowd (and I’m 25!). I believe there’s an idea in a lot of our young minds that there could actually be a “shortcut” to riches… (which there’s not!). 

      Thanks for the comment, and for the insight, Alan!

      1. Totally agree with this: ”
        it takes real, honest time and effort to “produce” a relationship from nothing, and it’s even harder to do this organically.” 

        As hard as we might try to cut corners, there is no way around it. We need to put in the time and energy. We need to think of each person in our audience as just that…a person. Not just a visitor, subscriber, reader, customer, client. A person. 

        Good post.

  8. I read your blog and books because you get me to feel good about me, writing, and other writers.  

    Relationships start because the people first have good social manners. Demonstrating altruistic behavior allows you to be more socially welcome. If you look like you care you can win people over. How do you get people to believe you care about them? By actually caring. It doesn’t take most people long to recognize signals that reveal the true intentions of others.   

  9. Thanks Nick.  I generally agree when talking about writing, general topics, religion, or just community in general.  But, obviously, if you start a blog about woodworking, judo, dog breeding, weight loss, etc., you can promote more effectively about the issue at hand (weight loss as an example).  However, the general rules still apply regarding community building.  Thanks!

  10. Nick — Thank you for a post that’s both inspirational and practical!  I’ve been thinking of making a list of bloggers I want to be intentional about checking in with regularly. You’ve crystalized my “why” — I want to make sure I’m “catching coffee” with them often enough to know what they’re up to so I don’t miss anything good!

    1. Hi Cheri!

      I call that list my “In-List,” and I try to maintain it on Twitter — it’s a personal list (not public), but it’s a great way to remember and keep tabs on those who you’d like to get to know, promote, etc. After awhile, you’ll start to just know who those people are without the list!

  11. I agree completely the relationship is key. Speaking for myself, I feel that connection when I sense that they get me and that I matter to them as a person, not just as another stat or someone who will add to their bottom line.

    This is great encouragement, Nick. Thanks for your wisdom today!

  12. I love reading words that connect with my heart..and getting to know the people that deliver them:) I love the living room analogy…it’s so true:) It’s all about caring enough and being willing to commit first…words to live by!  Thanks, great post!

  13. Love this. I think Jeff has been a great example of this. I have also found so many people who are willing to share my thoughts just because I took time to interact with them and show an interest in what they are doing. I think people can easily tell when you are only about promoting your own work instead of trying to help them.

  14. I’ve just experienced this first hand when I lost my brother last weekend to an overdose. I’ve written about grief and had an outpouring of condolences from my tribe (some of the same people here in the comments) and many have shared the content because of the way it spoke to them about loss. Because loss is about more than death. The point is . . .I have relationships with these people and they genuinely care. I have to say I’ve been overwhelmed by it honestly.

    1. Shelly, I’m terribly sorry for your loss — I can’t imagine the feelings and emotions you’re dealing with, but I know I speak for many on this thread when I say our thoughts and prayers are with you. 

      That aside, thank you for commenting and sharing with us — talk to you soon, and wish you the best!

  15. Love this, Nick. You have so many practical points here. When I started my blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey  12/09, I started visualizing it as my kitchen table and my blog posts as invitations to come join in the conversation around the table. I couldn’t agree with you more, it’s all about reaching out and making meaningful connections. Twitter has been another amazing tool for connecting and engaging. It’s not about selling a product but rather it’s about providing a service and making people feel they are getting something valuable by following you. It seems selling will be a natural consequence of the process in time. 

    Thanks, Jeff for featuring Nick and thank you both for all you are doing to guide us. It is working- I have downloaded and bought your books 🙂


    1. And Kathy, thank you for not only writing about the need to connect but for being a real connector!  You’ve made me understand the importance of connecting by reading what I write, commenting and supporting me. 

      Thanks also to Jeff for hosting Nick and to Nick for always engaging us with important info!

  16. I couldn’t agree more — take this blog, for example. I am not a Christian, and yet, I clicked “buy” the second Jeff said to. I didn’t even read what the book was about! Then I read the book, and I enjoyed it, though I don’t think I would have liked it if I didn’t know anything about the author.

    1. Haha, that’s a GREAT analogy, and a really good story — I’m glad you liked his book, and I think can speak to all of us, regardless of spritual background/beliefs. 

  17. I’m so glad this post caught my attention. I really needed to have all the  information you pointed out as I weigh on the idea of starting a new blog. My biggest concern was how are people going to find my blog and what would keep them coming back. So everything you said here has really hit home for me because I do want to make real connections and have a loyal community. 
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. Great Post Nick.  I appreciate the personal draw.  To be candid though, if Jeff was selling used cars now … I’d probably pick one up!  OK, not really.  But I would think about it.

    BTW is the photo credit really Leon E. Panetta, the U.S. Secretary of Defense? Very cool!

  19.  Thanks, Nick, for the great tips.

    I think you hit it on the nail: most of the bloggers I like make me feel like I am in their living room chatting with them like a friend. It is also how I have become friends with some of them because of a genuine interest in them.

    Congrats on your new book, off to check it out 🙂

  20. Good post Nick

    It’s true, you tend to want o help out a friend, even if it isn’t a genre you usually read (although I often find it introduces me to something new, and often, something I like). 

    Bloggers fall into that category. When you read them each day for month on end, it’s hard to not develop some affection toward that person. For the sake of $5 you want to help. You want to support them. You also want to see what they have written. This is their passion, and as such, you care

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  21. This speaks to me in every realm of what I do.  Relationships should always come first.  First before money.  First before things.  Susie Orman from Oprah repeats this a million times.  It’s etched in my brain.

    What I do find lacking is the blessed demon of “time”.  (Can demons be blessed?)  If I work to build relationships with my social media friends, I am not being present with my family and real life friends.  Then, I have my real life “work” colleagues that I attempt to build relationships with. . . and this takes additional time.  

    To build real relationships, we need to do the extra.  Write the card.  Pay the visit.  Bake the cookies.  Just showing up does not let others know that we really care about them. Somehow, I need to fit in these extras. 

    And, then find time for me.

    My dishes are already piling up and my laundry is dirty, so I can’t say that I need to give up somethings for others.  I am already doing that. :-)))Balance will always be my pursuit.

    1. Hi Shari!

      It’s true about the work/life balance that’s required. Writing/working is no longer a separate and exclusive entity; we must learn to do that AND market/use social media at the same time!

      Thanks for the insightful comment!

  22. Jeff, sounds like a great book, but I couldn’t find the link to the free version.  Is only free to borrow only from Amazon, and only if you have Prime, which I don’t.

    1. Hi Lois; something happened with the promo (meaning it’s not a promo anymore…). 

      I’m trying to sort it out, but in the meantime if you (or anyone else) is interested in receiving the book, send me an email directly to nick (at) nickthacker (dot) com, and mention Jeff’s blog. 

      Sorry for the confusion everyone — this was supposed to run through Friday!

  23. I love reading words that connect with my heart..and getting to know the people that deliver them:) I love the living room analogy…it’s so true:) It’s all about caring enough and being willing to commit first…words to live by!  Thanks, great post!

  24. Good points. I have found that there are some blogs that serve me for a certain period of time, but, later on kind of become redundant. This is rarely because the quality of the writing disintegrates, but primarily because the author takes to regurgitating the same content again and again and yes, again. The main niche I find this is in “Blogging”.

  25. Nick and Jeff, this is certainly timely information you’ve brought to today’s writers.  And yet I very much appreciate the comments made earlier by someone about those past their 50s getting used to engaging with younger readers.  I have found that challenging, but I’ve been amazed at how many young people I’ve connected with simply because I read and comment.  I keep lists on Twitter for various topics and that makes it easier to go in and reader.  Also, I’ve found that using FeedDemon as my reader is enhancing the ability to read a few minutes at a time with the ease of making comments right from the reader.  A switch to WordPress also makes it easier to keep up with the majority of my favorites bloggers who are also WordPress users.  So much to say, so little time to share it!  Thanks again, guys!

  26. Hi, Jeff.
    I’m late here, but let me tell you, what you said above works well. I’ve tried hard to keep my blog personal, to a point, and my subscribers love it, they say.
    So — when I said I needed to be gone awhile, to marry off my youngest son in another state, they did what you said: they bought it! They were totally enthralled at it. They want more details. They send me tiny encouragements to be sure I know they still care.
    I sold them this: two weeks of no posts. And they bought it.

    1. Nice, Katharine! Honesty goes a long way in this world, and I think most people understand that bloggers are people too, and we have “life” things to attend to!

  27. I really enjoyed reading this. It takes some time to convince bloggers and other writers that they need to be themselves, but it’s true! The more you are YOU, the more personal the connection is.

    Use your own voice, use your own pictures (if you can), and update frequently. Be personable when responding to comments, and become a real, live person. When they get your emails, you want them to think, “Ooh! What did Rachael send me today?” not “I’m so sick of this blogger.”

  28. Absolutely — this happens a lot, and I have to admit I’ve struggled with it as well. I try to grow with the audience, but maintain a solid “backlist” of posts that more elementary in nature for the newer readers. 

  29. Nick, You really hit at the core of the matter about building community: ” if you want your community to commit, you have to commit first.” Give people a reason to stop by then give them a reason to stay once they do. It’s so nice to see you in so many places spreading the good word and doing so much to help others.  Thanks for a great post!

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