Here are 3 ways to keep people reading your blog post in a very distracted world.
Let’s start here:
I think most of us learned MLA format growing up in high school and then if you went to college, MLA was either drilled back into your head in English class or you had to learn some freaky stuff like Turabian or APA.
Well, it’s time to unlearn what you’ve possibly spent thousands of dollars learning. Blogging is different.
Instead of being grammatically correct and being properly formatted, blog posts are a piece of art. They are created not only to inform, but with the intention of enticing a reader and the goal of keeping them reading until the end (and then hopefully converting to an email subscriber or new follower).
That’s not alway going to happen if all your paragraphs are 5 sentences long (or longer!).
Take a look at this picture I’m about to paint for you:
I’m a mom. I have an almost 3-year-old and a 3-month-old. I’m on Pinterest for business and pleasure a lot. If I click on a post to read, I’m usually holding one of those two squirmy kids, or stopped at a stoplight somewhere headed to the gym or grocery store (I know, my life is thrilling). When I’m reading a blog post and I see a super long paragraph coming up, I skip it. I literally will then look for some bolded text and/or a stand alone sentence that I can read without the risk of losing my place in order to get the gist of what an article is saying. Because that’s all this mama’s got time for!
Now, if a post is super detailed and informative and technical, I might spend more time reading that carefully. But most of the time, I literally have my hands full- or at least that’s what the cashier at the grocery store tells me. And the fact that a lot of people are just like me (or at the very least, just busy) you need to make your blog posts easy as cake to read.
Get to the point
Now, what I don’t mean by this is write a super short blog post. People want value. The more value you’re packing into a blog post, the longer it’ll be. And that’s ok. Google actually likes long blog posts and will make them show up higher in search results.
That being said…
Your point throughout your post needs to be c l e a r. This is where high school English class actually comes in handy. Before you write your posts, you should know your thesis, or your argument. My argument for this post is that by following my suggestions, you’ll get your audience to read to the end of your blog post. And throughout this post, I’m going to reiterate and keep bringing my new points back to that thesis. That way, you, as the reader, are never once confused as to what I’m talking about.
A good way to make sure your post is following a natural flow that constantly points back to your main point is to create an outline- even if it’s just in your head or on the notes in your phone. That’s often what I’ll do before I get writing. I come up with a rough post title and then jot down a few points that initially come to mind before I write an actual word. Then I end every post with a conclusion that wraps up the points I made and brings it all home. I’ve even seen other bloggers write short “skim it” summaries of their posts for readers to look at if they don’t have time to read the whole post. Still deciding how I feel about that, but I think it may be helpful.
Format, format, format
I mentioned looking for bolded text earlier. Let’s go back to that. As I said, when I’m busy or distracted and trying to get through reading a post or, again, doing my best to get the gist, I look for bold text. Or italicized text- because that’s obviously the most important stuff. And while it would be awesome if everyone just thoroughly read every word we took the time to write, it’s more important that our blog posts are helpful to the people reading them. And we can’t help people if they can’t get through the post. If a reader needs to skim through a post, help them do it by bolding, italicizing, OR MAYBE EVEN USING ALL CAPS. You’ll draw the reader's eye, keep them scrolling through, and hopefully be helpful. I try my best to bold something in almost every paragraph!
Besides this, when you’re making your points throughout your post, try making a visual outline throughout your post by using titles and sub headings to let your readers know what’s coming up and what new sections are about. Kind of like what I’ve done here. Doing this can also help you to rank well in Google because they’ll be able to more easily recognize what your post is all about.
I love my mom. Did I ever tell you I was home schooled up until middle school? Don’t worry, I got out in time to be normal- mostly. Anyway, that woman is great at grammar. And I’m thankful for everything she taught me. She’ll still text me after reading a new post (yes, she’s subscribed to my email lists) and points out any typos she finds. She’ll also tell me not to use the word “and” or a preposition at the beginning of a sentence. And that’s where I ignore her. Good grammar and spelling goes a loooong way. But so does being friendly.
When I’m here teaching how to blog like a boss, I almost always picture myself sitting at a table with a friend just talking with them, teaching them how to blog. And that’s exactly how I write!
When your audience reads your posts, I’m guessing you’re wanting to build some kind of lasting connection with them. When I think of my favorite bloggers and why they’re my faves, it’s not because their grammar was great or even because their formatting was on point. It’s because I feel like I’m their friend through the computer! Or like they really get me. Or they make me laugh! Proper grammar doesn’t always allow for that. So sometimes, it’s totally ok to say, “Take a chill pill, grammar” and write a little more like how you would talk to a pal.
Yep. We’re all 3 years olds and- plain and simple- pictures (or graphics, stats, illustrations, centered text, etc.) will keep us way more interested in reading to the end of a post rather than if there’s only text. Now, even if you’re not sure if photos would make sense with your blog post, that’s ok. You don’t need to include photos in every post, per se. All we need is something visual to keep a reader interested. Sometimes it might be a “Click to Tweet” quote or simply a quote of a good point you just made. You don’t need a custom beautiful photograph. Whatever you can do to make your post a little more visually interesting, without cluttering it up, will help to catch a reader’s eye and keep them scrolling through til the end.
Did I miss anything you do to keep people reading your post to the end? Share your tips in the comments below!
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