Does it ever seem like you’re doing all that writing for nothing?
You work incredibly hard to create useful content for your readers. You managed to get visitors to your site, yet they aren’t reading it at all. Your on-page time is so low that you are wondering if there’s an issue with your analytics. It’s disappointing, isn’t it?
Now think about this: if your readers aren’t consuming your content, you have little to no chance to persuade your readers to take an action. Actions like subscribing to a newsletter, buying a product or hiring you for one of your services.
Now, I can’t promise you that your reader will read every single word of your post. But what if I told you that you can get much more of your content read by applying some simple tips?
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not going to hold you up any longer.
Let’s fire away so I can show you can get your readers to actually consume your content.
1. Get to know your target audience
The more you know about your target audience, the more you can give them the feeling you are writing to them personally. You can say things they relate to so deeply that they are blown away. And that’ll grab their attention, won’t it?
Open a new document on your computer to create an avatar for your perfect reader by answering simple questions like these:
- who is most likely to benefit from what you write about?
- what age range is your audience?
- are they mostly woman or men?
- Where are they from?
- What is their primary language?
But don’t just stop there, ask yourself questions like:
does my audience desire most?
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What are their interests?
- Which websites do they visit regularly?
- What are their beliefs about the world?
Start with a simple avatar, and make it better each time. This way, you’ll always be writing with your perfect reader in mind.
Make sure that you always write with this one person in mind, not a group. Avoid sentences like “some of you may be…” or “a lot of you are…”. These sentences take all the power out of your content.
By keeping your avatar in mind, this won’t happen to you. As your description of your perfect reader gets more and more accurate, you’ll find yourself writing to that person like they are sitting right in front of you.
2. Write a compelling introduction
Good job, you got people interested enough to click on your post. Now you have to prove it.
Look: you can’t afford to lose people’s attention right from the beginning. The intro can be written in many ways, but the main goal doesn’t change. What goal? Getting the reader excited to start reading the rest of your post.
I recommend reading these two posts for help with writing introductions that’ll hook the reader in:
3. Don’t be afraid to use white space
Do you notice how many centers I used in my introduction alone? It’s not a mistake. I do it because I know I can get you to read more if I let the page breathe.
Getting through large paragraphs feels like a chore and takes up too much of our precious time. Besides that, a substantial percentage of visitors are reading your content on smartphones. Another reason to use plenty of white space.
Try to keep your paragraphs about 2 to 3 sentences each. This makes them easy to digest and inviting to read.
4. Avoid difficult Sentences
When you use difficult sentences, you may think that you are impressing your audience. This is because your teachers have conditioned and encouraged you to use academic language for years.
However, in the real world, the opposite is true. Shocking, isn’t it?
There are many good reasons to write for easy reading. Imagine all the people for who English is their second language. We want to get the message quickly. Yes, even people who have a large vocabulary.
Writing simple is not easy if you have some bad leftover habits from college, but avoid the temptation of proving how smart you are. Your primary focus should be pleasing the reader.
Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.
5. Give your writing a rhythm
Just like music, your writing needs to have a certain rhythm. Varying short and long sentences are the mechanisms that make it happen.
If you strictly write long sentences, you are either going to distract your reader or lull them to sleep. However, writing a complete post with short sentences is not sustainable either. Teaching something new would become very difficult.
It’s the well-balanced combination which creates rhythm. So, want to start inserting more short phrases to improve your rhythm and give more punch to your writing?
Try adding any of these to your posts:
- Now get this:
- You bet it is!
- It’s that simple.
- Let’s get started.
- How do I know?
It’s that simple. Try it out yourself and be amazed by the power of phrases like these. To get 502 of these powerful phrases, check out this post.
6. Speak in your authentic voice
Don’t be afraid to write in your own voice. You are not a robot. Think about it: nobody can write like you. Your unique personality is what makes your writing special.
In the beginning, you may not really know what your voice is. It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but by looking at other writers and modeling their style, you’ll automatically develop your own unique style of writing over time.
Trust me, even the best writers study other writers.
7. Help the reader with bulleted lists
There is no way to get every single visitor to read every word of your post. However, you can almost be guaranteed that your visitors will stop to read your bulleted lists. Why? Two reasons.
- They allow the reader to find information quickly.
- They help readers to understand essential information
Bulleted lists are also great to sum things up at the end of your post, so the scanners can read the key takeaways if they want. Besides that, readers also love them as they allow for deeper learning.
8. Keep the reader engaged with compelling subheadings
Do you notice how many things in this list actually help your readers to scan, instead of reading your post?
It’s a win-win situation. The scanners can find the information as quickly as possible, while the reader has a more satisfying and better reading experience. However, a good subhead can stop a scanner dead in his tracks to start reading the content that’s contained within it.
Explain one idea per subheading. That way you don’t overwhelm your reader, have plenty of opportunities to break up the post and have a higher chance of keeping the reader engaged.
9. Use relevant Images
I get it, you might think: why would images help with getting my post read? Well, you have a point.
However, relevant images do have some real benefits. Benefits that plain text can’t provide. Well, what are those?
One big benefit is that relevant images make your blog post look more pleasing to the eye. A lot of visitors scan a post before they actually read it, so they can quickly decide if they want to dive in or not. When your post looks visually compelling, they are more likely to read it.
Pictures can also assist in making a point or explain a concept. Other times, a relevant meme can give people their much-needed dose of humor. However, keep this in mind: it has to be relevant to the post like Larry Kim shows in this example:
You see, the way Larry Kim uses memes to make a point throughout his posts have given his posts a unique kind of personality. He has a lot of visitors reading his posts on a regular basis, not only for his stellar insights but also the laughs.
These tips are all very easy to apply, but make no mistake about it: they’re essential ingrediënts if you want to provide your audience with content that will give them a joyful experience.
So, are you ready to get out there and write engaging content that keeps readers glued to the page?
I would love to hear your tips and thoughts in the comment section below!