You have surely read articles that have great titles, great subtitles, great intros and then just died as the article ran along. It’s awesome that the creator of the piece was able to gain your attention and have you wanting more, but shouldn’t they be giving you more? After all, that’s why you’re on that page, right?
I’m going to safely assume that you don’t want to be THAT writer. If you’re going to write, you’re going to make it good. Or at least try.
We’re invested in your writing because we don’t want to pull up your blog and disengage halfway through. Realistically, why waste your time… or ours? We pulled together 5 ways that you can keep your readers engaged in your writing. Use them all, and your chances of reader retention will likely increase from the Peanuts’ Lucy with a “psychiatric help” stand all the way up to the Oprah Winfrey Network (on a personal scale, of course).
Step 1. Read, Reread, Re-reread
Sounds silly, right? Well it’s not. A survey done just a few years ago by Global Lingo reveals that 59% of respondents would not use a company whose website and marketing materials contained grammatical or spelling mistakes. The respondents divulged that they “wouldn’t trust the company to provide a good quality service… they would be put off due to an obvious lack of care… they would simply consider the company to be unprofessional.”
Let’s put that into perspective. If your product or company is in high enough demand that prospectively could garner $140,000 in projected sales, but your website contains blatant grammatical and spelling errors, you can expect to actually only see $57,400. Your business would be missing out on $82,600! Now, that’s just based off of a small study of consumers- what do they know? Well, it’s not about what they know, it’s about their buying habits and preferences. After all, they are your consumers- listen to them! If your business and blog have the potential to lose revenue because of spelling errors, then you need to read, reread, and re-read to ensure that won’t be your problem.
Step 2. Design with a Purpose
The websites that look the worst are going to receive the worst.
Let’s be realistic. How long do you, as a consumer, stay on a website that looks spammy, that has awkward page movement, or that lacks any sign of design at all? You probably won’t be on that website long unless you are simply clicking around, appalled that anyone could produce such a horrible website.
As you create your blog post, consider these five different aspects:
- Text Composition: Your readers are coming to your website to gain information. Make the information as accessible and readable as possible. Light colors are a no-go. When choosing a text color, make sure that it stands out and is easy to read. The size of the text needs to be legible. Be mindful of the target audience; older generations need larger text, etc. Bolded text on main points can also help the reader skim for key points.
- Color/Contrast: There have been many studies about how color affects moods, interest, and perhaps most importantly, buying habits. Determine what feelings you need the reader to have while reading your blog post. Are you trying to convert them to life-time readers or purchase product? Study the color schemes and make sure to use them in both the background design, and photographs used.
- White Space: There is such a thing as too much to look at. If the readers are overwhelmed by things to read or click on, it’s very likely that you are going to lose them. Allow the eyes room to rest. On the flipside, don’t provide too much white space because then the reader won’t keep moving from point A to point B. Keep it interesting, but not overwhelming.
- Picture Placement: Keep similar things together. If a section of the blog is explaining the location of the business, but the map you included doesn’t appear until two paragraphs down, then it not only frustrates the reader, but it’s perceived as juvenile. No one wants to get help from someone who doesn’t know where to place a picture.
- Movement: The goal is to get the reader from the top of the blog to the bottom while paying attention to the details in-between. There should be an obvious flow to the blog page. Everything from pictures to text should lead to the next section. If there are severe breaks in the post, you can kiss your reader goodbye.
Step 3. Organize the Content
Readers love being able to go onto the internet, search for a solution, and quickly know the answer. This is how most of the web is designed, and that is how your blog should be laid out. Skimming is the new reading. Much of this blog post probably won’t get read. I’m not going to cry- I get it. The readers need their solutions fast. As you’re creating your blog post, consider:
- Create lists when you can (it has to make sense).
- Place similar points and ideas together. Remember to flow from point to point!
- Question and Answer pages get to the point and provide quick solutions.
Any time you can include these three formats into your blog post, you will be creating a more reader-friendly and engaging post. Readers will be more likely to continue reading at that moment and then later return because they know they can get what they need from your blog.
Step 4. Link it Up
But don’t be too spammy! Readers engage when it’s easy. If there is a great article you have written that coincides with this post, link it. If another blogger made a great point that supports your cause, link it. More often, you will want to link through your website rather than to another site, but linking helps build credibility when it’s done right. Remember that linking can be done throughout the content and not just at the end of a post. We’re going for engagement; give the readers options throughout the post.
One last thing. If you have social media for your blog or business, for the love of everything decent, tell the reader! If they like what you have written, give them everything you have!
Step 5. Show Your Passion
There’s a reason you’re writing the blog, right? Well, don’t you forget it! There are people who simply write because they might be able to get money out of it. This really shouldn’t be the first reason and there are very few bloggers who succeed when money is the main motivation. If getting paid is why you’re writing, find a different reason. Write because you love it, because you love to help people, because you feel strongly about a topic, or even because you need something to fill your time. Whatever the reason, make it count. Push yourself to be engaged in your own content because there are good odds that of the 7 billion people that are on the Earth, at least one person has a similar passion and will be interested and engaged in your writing.
Your content matters because you wrote it. Let us know if you think of anything else a blog needs to have to be engaging!