Web Misc

Building an Audience with Feature Pieces

Lately I’ve become a big fan of “feature” pieces. Let me give you a few examples to show you what I mean:

Every weekend, Outspoken Media posts their weekend coffee links. It’s a list of interesting one-off links from that week — links that have nothing to do with branding or SEO, the blog’s typical topics.

There are a couple of things I like about this. First, it gives Outspoken’s readers something to look forward to; every Saturday, there will be some neat links. This builds loyalty (people will keep coming back), and it’s predictable (since the same readers will tune in every week). Second, it’s probably a nice break for Outspoken’s full-time blogger. The weekend coffee links give Lisa a chance to be a bit more lax, and I bet those posts are pretty fun to write.

Of course, a regular piece doesn’t always have to be off-topic. Smashing Magazine’s monthly desktop wallpaper calendar series is right on-topic with what they do (promote and share good design). Still, it’s very effective; downloading a new calendar wallpaper is one of my top priorities at the start of each month — right up there with paying rent.

Similarly, posts in a series don’t necessarily need a predictable schedule. Take College Humor’s Prank War, for example. Sometimes the updates are over a year apart, but you’d better believe people are waiting for them. Obviously this won’t grant the same reliability bonus of a weekly or monthly feature, but it definitely builds dedicated fans. The people that love these videos really love them.

This is something I’m going to try to do a bit more of around here. In fact, starting this Friday, I’ll be doing a bi-weekly (every second Friday) update for what I’m doing this semester with OCRI. I’m interested to see how it goes — both how much I enjoy writing it, and what kind of a response it effects from you. Likewise, I’m going to play around with a few other infrequent series bits as I mentioned in last week’s one-year anniversary summary. It just feels like a fun thing to do, and I’m excited to see how it goes.

How do you feel about all this?

I haven’t really given much thought to feature pieces until very recently. Is this something you enjoy too? What are some of your favourites?

2 replies on “Building an Audience with Feature Pieces”

I thought about doing it weekly, but then some weeks we’re off because the students are on a trip to a university or some such organization, so it wouldn’t be as regular. Every two weeks starting this week should mean that I will actually have new content each second Friday straight through until the end of January, except for a break over Christmas.

If it’s fun and it goes well, I’ll probably do it for the winter semester as well. Also, I totally linked your posts in my afterthought of a winter 2010 wrap-up (they were excellent):

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