Web sites, blogs and social media are great platforms to promote your thoughts and writing, but with the massive amounts of content shared every day, how do you get yours to stand out? For all the time and effort you’ve put into creating this content, it’s understandable to want to speak to an audience – not a wall. While there are countless variables that ultimately affect how your content is found, the following tips will help give you some advantage and can be implemented into your writing right now.
Never overlook the title.
The title to any type of content is a reader’s initial indication of what they’re about to learn. Therefore, a title should be considered as seriously as a first impression for an interview. You want to portray an accurate representation of the content, but also peak readers’ interest enough to want to learn more. Be clear and literal, but add in some creativity so it rolls off the tongue. Take the title of this article for example. The first part, “Writing To Be Read,” is the creative, fun-to-say aspect of the title. But if it was left just as that, reader’s wouldn’t know enough about the purpose of the article to be intrigued to read on. The second part of the title addresses that with adding, “How to catch your readers’ attention.” Two-part titles are a smart technique and provide a great deal of important without appearing like a run-on sentence.
Earn your audience in the first paragraph.
Once readers are intrigued enough by the title to give you some of their time and read on, don’t take this for granted! Your first paragraph is still forming their impression of the article and it’s not too late for them to close the page or click away. Establish the purpose of the writing (what can they expect to learn and why is this something they should want to learn). Also, the first paragraph should include a hook. Common examples include asking a question, telling a story, sharing a statistic or creating an emotional appeal. Take a look at the first paragraph in this article. It begins with a question that grabs a reader’s interest because it pertains to a large category of people who 1. Write and 2. Use the internet. Once you’ve kept a reader through the first paragraph, they’re far more likely to continue reading on.
Label longer writing as subsections.
So now you’re ready to dive into the meat of your content. Great! But keep your audience’s attention span in mind, especially for longer articles. If you have a lot of information to share, consider using subsections and labeling them with a mini-title so readers can easily follow along. Again using this article as an example, without the bolded subsections, it would look like a large block of writing which can be overwhelming and boring to a reader. Almost every piece of writing over a certain length can benefit from subsections. It organizes the content for the reader, allows for easy browsing and referencing and it also helps the writer to stay on topic when the subsections are labeled in advance. Think of it as a “connect the dots” for writing.
Add visual interest.
Pictures and graphics are an initial foot-in-the-door to reach readers. If they see something that catches their eye, they’re far more likely to click on the article and explore. This is yet one more important tactic to writing an article that will be read. If the title doesn’t pull them in, your graphics give you another shot. Ideally any pictures, graphics or video clips you share should be closely related to your content and original. But if you simply can’t find or create your own, stock images can also add this visual interest. Try and stay away from cheesy or overly used stock images. Think outside the box with the various subjects that can represent the content even choosing something more artistic than literal. The more it makes readers curious, the more likely they are to read on for answers.
If at all possible, keep it short.
Less is more in the world of writing. If you can say something simply and clearly, do so. Don’t feel obligated to use superfluous language or abstract analogies to get a point across. If the information you’re providing is valuable and interesting, readers won’t need anything more than the straight facts to stay tuned in. The beginning and end of an article allow more room for some creative fluff to draw readers in, but even this should be kept to a minimum.
Every day, we’re competing against more and more content on the internet. While it’s a wonderful problem to have so much information to share, it can cause a mental overload for the readers. The next time you write, be sure to try some of the tips listed above to help give your content an extra advantage and a better shot at being read.