In today’s attention economy, you have seconds to convince readers to pay attention to your writing. First, you need an attention-grabbing title, such as “Eight rules for writing better blogs”, once you’ve got their attention, follow this advice:
1. Tell the story at the beginning
Every post needs a clear introduction. This is where you begin to build your relationship with your readers. Many writers try to convince readers that they are experts in their field right from the start. With over twenty years of writing experience behind us, we try to tell the tale in the first sentence, expanding on the theme in subsequent paragraphs.
The idea is to capture the reader’s attention, draw them in, and set the scene. Chartbeat says one in three readers will only spend 15 seconds reading your article – you have to convince them to stay.
2. Respect your reader with clarity and purpose
Every paragraph should begin with a compelling sentence. Readers don’t have to be there. If they choose to be there, then the least you can do is make the experience as pleasant as possible. Think about what you want to say and focus on story structure.
3. Use headlines and subheads
Don’t forget to use headings. They help readers skim through your work and return to sections that interest them. Subheads should be short, snappy, and relevant. Consider them as signposts for fleeting minds and number them if it works better.
4. Get to the point
Write in plain English. Get directly to the point and edit out any unnecessary words or sentences. Long, complex sentences make it harder to keep your reader’s attention. Research shows that when the average sentence length is 14 words, readers understand over 90% of what they’re reading. This falls to under 10% at 43 words.
5. Keep paragraphs concise
Short paragraphs are easier to read quickly. Blogging isn’t about creative writing or saving the English novel; it’s about finding and sharing knowledge and ideas. Why use ninety words to say what you can say in two?
Remember: If you can persuade your reader to skim through one-third of your story they’ll be more likely to pay attention to the rest.
6. Use great images
Images that relate to what you are writing work hard for you:
- They help explain your story
- They help break up your text, boosting reader engagement
- They help your reader find and return to interesting sections of your piece
- When it comes to social media sharing, images attract attention
Always use images. If you don’t have them, Unsplash.com offers a huge library of brilliant royalty-free pictures you can use.
7. Use great data, too
Data tells stories. If you can find data relevant to what you are writing, then include it in your piece, or create an infographic based on that information. Psychologist Jerome Bruner says we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it is included in a story. What did Chartbeat say about reader retention?
8. Don’t forget a call to action
If the reader makes it to the end of your post, don’t leave them hanging on for more content. Always provide further links for them to read, download or some way of engaging you. After all, they are interested in what you are saying and want to find out more.
Your reader has a roving eye
In 2006, Jakob Neilsen studied how people read content online. He found that eyes tend to move in an ‘F-shape’, scanning the content rather than reading word for word. That is why the most essential information in any piece of writing needs to be at the beginning.
It is also why the bullet points, headlines and images you use in your piece should be seen as being both informational and decorative – they help guide your reader’s eye while also sharing valuable information in their own right.
- Simplicity does not mean simple.
- Make logical points logical.
- Clarity counts.
- Begin every paragraph with a high-impact sentence.
- Use headlines, sub-headlines, and headings to “level up” your prose.
- Think like a reader.
- Most people read just 25% of what’s on a page.