Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You spend an entire day slaving over a blog post, you hit publish, and then… Nada.
No one is reading. No one is commenting. And no one is sharing your epic blog post.
- Your headline sucks (you’re trying to hard to sound clever).
- Your content is long and dry (it looks like nothing more than a big block of intimidating text).
- Your article doesn’t really add value (it’s off topic and isn’t very relevant to your audience).
In short, you need to do a better job of making your content relevant and readable.
Don’t make reading your content a chore for your readers. Make it easy for them to digest what you’ve written and make them feel like they’ve walked away with something valuable. So valuable that they wouldn’t mind sharing it.
People Don’t Read, They Scan.
Most website visitors scan the page rather than read the page word-by-word. Heck, I know I often do. (Read Jakob Nielsen’s research on how/why web users scan instead of read).
So what can you do to better engage readers and make sure they’re connecting with your content? Here’s a few suggestions…
1. Start with a great headline and don’t forget to follow up with the 2nd most important element.
Every ad, article, sales page, or blog post you write must begin with one hell of an opening sentence.
That sentence must speak directly to the needs and desires of your audience and your content must deliver on its promise.
… the only goal of the first sentence is to make the reader want to read the second sentence.
And the second sentence should effortlessly lead the reader to the third. And so on. – Robert Bruce
A great, descriptive headline will hook your readers in to begin with. From there, it’s up to you to deliver on that headline’s content promise by delivering something that your audience will find useful, informative, and fun.
As you’re writing your post, ask yourself: How is this useful?
If you can’t come up with answer, you have some editing to do.
2. Always use an image in your blog posts to help break up the text.
To quote Sonia Simone, “images are steroids for your headline.”
A solid headline hooks readers into your content and a good complementary image keeps them there by reeling them in further. A good image helps the reader make a connection with the story of your post. And frankly, it helps break-up an otherwise difficult to read block of text.
Images, are a great way to spice up your blog posts and add a little fun. So, as a general rule of thumb: always include (at least) one image per post.
Recommended reading: 5 Places To Find Stock Images for Publishing On Your Blog.
3. Break up your content with compelling subheads.
Blog and newsletter readers want meaty content, something that’s worth the time they take to read it.
But piling a mountain of words in front of readers doesn’t work too well. A page of solid black text looks like, well, work.
So in front of your 20-foot tall stack of words, you put a series of steps. You break your content into manageable pieces, separated by mini headlines or subheads. Each subhead is a step up the staircase.
Each time your reader comes to another subhead, she thinks, “Well, I’ll just read to that next little headline there.” Then she reads another section, and another. – Sonia Simone
Using subheads is a great way to outline your blog posts before you start writing them. You start with the headline, then add your supporting points (as subheads). Once you have your post title (the headline) and your supporting points (your subheads), your ready to fill in the blanks and write your post.
It’s an efficient way to write. But it’s also a great way to make it easier on your readers to consume your content.
First, they’ll scan for the main point at the top of the post
Then, they skim through each of your supporting points
It’s a great way to let readers see sections of your post at a glance. (Remember, they don’t always read everything word-for-word).
4. Use bullet lists to help make your content scannable.
Do you know why people love list posts so much?
- They’re scannable. A list post is easy to scan and read through because everything is neatly organized into a detailed list.
- They’re succinct. In a list post, each point has a beginning and an end with no rambling in the middle. Everything is delivered in detail and on point.
- They look neat. List posts make it easy for readers to scan through the content on a site. They’re more likely to stay there and skim through the content if everything is neatly organized into a readable, scannable format.
And frankly, they’re the easiest type of post to write.
5. Hi-light the important parts.
Use formatting techniques to your advantage. Bold or italicize the really important parts. Again, it lets people scan through your post(s) without missing “the good stuff.”
Your goal here is to make your content scannable but to make sure that they don’t miss the important parts.
The More Readable Your Blog Posts, The More Likely People Are To Share Them.
There’s no doubt content marketing is a great way to build your brand awareness and acquire new customers. And yet, a lot of content isn’t very well optimized for readability. Which means people are less likely to share it.
Remember, don’t make reading your content a chore for your readers. The easier you make it for them to consume your content, using the principles outlined above, the more likely they are to share it.
People don’t read, they scan. And they share the really good stuff.