Ever wonder if people are reading your post? And if they are, do they read the entire thing? Are they just skimming? If you read last Thursday’s post (check that out here), you already know what this Tuesday’s tip is about. For those of you who didn’t read it, or just skimmed it, I’m taking a break from the editing series this week so I can talk about how to make sure your post get read. They’re called readers for a reason. Let’s get them to READ!
Why don’t people read or finish reading blog post?
- They don’t have time
- They got bored
- They thought it was irrelevant
- They didn’t see it
1. Make Your Post Quick and Easy to Read
Quick and easy: Microwave meals have been banking on this concept for a long time. Make your post the Uncle Ben’s of blog post. I’m not saying it should take less than a minute to read, I’m just saying you should make it as quick and easy to read as possible. For instance, I timed this post. It took me 4 minutes to read from start to end.
You might be tempted to go through your post and just start cutting words, but believe it or not, it can take longer to read a 500 word article than a 1,500 word article. Here are some ways to decrease reading time regardless of word count.
I used to write my post without headings, only page breaks. Headings help important information stand out. Without them, there is no structural hierarchy, nothing to cue the reader that this section is important or even what it’s about.
Bulleted and Numbered List
List are another way to make important information stand out. They break down the content into pieces. No one crams an entire king sized Hershey bar into their mouth at once. They break it off one piece at a time. Do this for your readers. This shortens the time it takes to read the post.
Not only do list cut down information and eliminate unnecessary words, they also make information easier to read and remember.
Example 1: Your post should include four things: a title, introduction, body, and conclusion.
Example 2: Your post should include these four things:
White space is not a waste of space; it helps readers comprehend what they read. The lack of white space has the same impact as a speaker who doesn’t pause for breath during a long-winded speech. The reader won’t remember what they read, and they won’t have a chance to process it. This was another mistake I made in earlier post. I wrote big, chunky paragraphs. Compare some of my new post with older ones and you’ll see white space between my sections–like a breath of fresh air.
Font Size and Color
When choosing font, consider fonts that are easy to read, not ones that are pretty. Choose a larger font in a color that contrast with your background. Don’t make your readers squint to read fancy pastel font.
Your blog and each post should be easy to navigate. Give your post structure by dividing your content into sections. This will keep you focused as you write as well as make your post easy to read.
I touched on structure in a prior Tuesday Tip. Check that out here. The structure should look something like this:
- heading one
- heading two
- heading three
Even a well-structured post with appropriate headings and readable font can suffer from clutter. What is clutter? Anything that is distracting to the reader or that slows them down.
word count: There isn’t a magic number to increase readability. My rule of thumb is to keep it as short as your average reader’s attention span. Word count depends on the topic of your post. Is it informative? Are you selling a product? On average, keep your post between 200-2,000 words. These post are more likely to be read and shared.
Read your blog post objectively. Is there anything that can be cut: a word, a paragraph? Keeping your sentences concise helps them read the entire post without skimming or stopping. Likewise, if you get off topic or ramble, your reader will lose focus and move on.
photos: Photos should entice the reader and give them a clear idea of what your post is about. They should also support your text. Remove all unnecessary images. Not only are they distracting, they can also make your page load slower. Remember that your readers will be using different devices, and some computers or devices have slower processing speeds. I’m a little guilty of this. I love GIFS, but I should cut down on using them because they might slow down my site. Some of my readers, my sister for instance, can’t view them in motion, which defeats the purpose. What you get instead is an image that loses its impact because it’s not moving.
2. Keep Your Reader’s Attention
Sometimes readers quit reading because their just plain bored.
It could be your tone or your topic. Just because you’re writing about something that has been done, doesn’t mean you can’t write about it in a new or exciting way.
This is the first place to gain or lose attention. Make sure you have an eye-catching title. You don’t have long, literally seconds, to gain your reader’s attention.
Your Title should do one of the following
- ask a question the reader wants answered (they’ll lose sleep if they don’t know)
- gives a sense of urgency (You need to know this)
- appeal to them emotionally
- pose a problem
I have several examples of this. One being last Thursday’s post titled “Are you Going to Read This?” Apparently many of you did, because my blog has never had so many views and comments in one day. So if I had to guess what it was about this post that made people check it out, I’d say it was the title.
My second example is an article my sister shared with me titled, “Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here–Here’s How to Succeed.”
Wow, what a title. It poses a problem, gives a sense of urgency, while suggesting a solution. If you’re curious about this article–and I’m sure you are–check it out here.
Now that you’ve enticed your reader, don’t lose them with the introduction. This is where you’ll mention the topic. Make sure this is in your introduction and not buried in the body somewhere.
3. Stay Consistent
One of my pet peeves, and I’m not the only one complaining about this, is when a blogger isn’t consistent.
Post Regularly and Predictably
Post on the same day if you can. If a certain day doesn’t work for you, at least try to churn out the same number of post each week. Don’t create long gaps between post. For instance, my sister publishes every Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Obviously by the title of this post you know I post a tip every Tuesday. Other than that I am working on choosing another day to post. Think of television. A show airs on the same day, at the same time every week so viewers know when to tune in.
Post Quality Content
Quantity is not as important as quality. Quality is key. Don’t start posting redundant or lazy post after offering top-notch content. If anything, your post should get better over time, not worse.
Keep Content Consistent
If you blog about writing and kids, write about both. If you say you blog about writing, don’t blog about your kids. If you say you blog about parenting, don’t blog about writing.
Facebook is the platform for your vacation pictures, religious views, and family updates, not your blog. If someone is following you for great editing tips, don’t be surprised or offended if you get little response on your post about your ten-year wedding anniversary or your cake recipe.
4. Share it
Sometimes your post get ignored because no one saw it. Use your social media to promote your blog. Tweet your post. If you’re not sure if Twitter or Facebook are helping you, WordPress has a stats section that allows you to see how many people were referred to your site by various sources. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it’s worth a try.
Where to share?
To wrap this up, look through your post and see how you can make them more readable. When your post doesn’t take long to read, readers will take the time to read it.