We don’t have much time to grab our readers’ attention these days. They have so much on their plates, and more messages are being thrown their direction than at any time in history. More people are becoming content publishers by the minute, whether that be:
- Blog posts like this one
- A post on LinkedIn’s new Publisher platform
- Updates on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook & Tumblr
- Comments on blog posts
IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY
It is our responsibility as authors and publishers to make it as easy as possible for our readers to read what we have to offer. Remember, it isn’t their job to “stick to it,” and to spend their valuable time reading our content.
It is our job to be:
- Interesting, and
I know, the interesting part is sometimes challenging, but we should at least give it our best shot because our readers have many other choices of what to read at the very second they have chosen to read our words.
WHAT ABOUT BLOGGING?
Here are a few recommendations for helping your readers when they get to your blog posts.
- Let your content breathe. Give your words some space. Although we know we are often writing for an intellectual audience, this doesn’t mean they like to look at words all in one big clump. Give their eyes a break. Provide white space by:
- Using bullet points or numbers when you have a list
- Keeping your paragraphs short, maybe even shorter than your English teacher taught you way back when
- Breaking up your content into a few brief paragraphs so your visitors’ eyes get a break.
- Use headlines when you are switching to a different thought. Think of them as chapters in a book.
- Consider making them bold, and possibly even a color that matches your logo.
- Make them larger than the rest of your post’s copy, choosing Headline 2 or Headline 3 from your toolbar.
- Keep It Short. Whenever possible, keep your blog posts shorter than longer. Even people who love you to pieces don’t always have the time to read your long blog posts. If you find this challenging, then perhaps you could try:
- Breaking your content into frequent paragraphs
- Breaking your post into a series, publishing 500(ish) words a day for the next 3 days.
- Reading your post to see if there are words or thoughts that can be eliminated
- Use Visuals at least once in every blog post.
- Make sure you use an image on every blog post. This gets pulled in when you share it on other sites, and gives your readers some additional context or emotion.
- If you absolutely can’t keep your blog post short, and sometimes that makes sense if we have something really important to say, then at least break up your content with additional graphics. Wrap your text around them.
Again, it’s our job to help keep our readers engaged. I harbor no illusions that people read all of my blog posts to the end. That would be lovely, but not realistic in every case. Some scan. Some read the beginning and the end. Some might just read the headlines and the bullets. All of this is okay because I understand how busy people are, and am thankful they have chosen to spend at least a few minutes here with me.
PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT
Oh, yes, just in case you’re wondering why I didn’t mention one of the most important ways to help your readers stay engaged, here it is:
“Provide something of value to your readers. Give them a reason to want to stay on your page. Don’t just write so you can cross another day and another post off of your to-do list. It will show.”
What are your suggestions for formatting your blog posts, and for keeping your readers engaged?