By: Marilyn L. Davis
“I loathe people who say, ‘I always read the ending of the book first.’ That really irritates me, It’s like someone coming to dinner, just opening the fridge and eating pudding, while you’re standing there still working on the starter. It’s not on.” ~J. K. Rowling
Why Won’t They Read the Entire Article?
Most readers today spend between 15 seconds and 1-minute reading online articles, so writers have to capture the reader’s attention. Why don’t most people finish an article?
- Already know the subject?
- They’ve read that before?
- Vague directions?
- Boring title?
- Outdated information
- Poor grammar and writing?
- All of the above.
Okay, so you knew that and were about to go elsewhere for directions on how to keep people reading. There’s no need to do that if I give you the basics in this article, now is there?
Articles and blogs are how a lot of individuals got started in their writing careers. In my case, it came after writing a 400,000-word recovery curriculum.
So words are not my problem.
However, writing catchy, interesting, informative articles requires a different skill set to get and maintain readers, and I’ve had to revamp my approach. I can’t assign this article for you to read and discuss later in the week as I did with the curriculum, so how can I get you to continue reading this?
Through trial and error, I’ve learned that there are certain basic components that attract a reader but more importantly, keep the reader ’til the end.
Data: Boring or Informative?
Newspapers, both print, and online manage to grab a reader’s attention in a few well-chosen words. They capture people’s attention with powerful nouns and verbs. Online articles need to follow the same format, combined with the 5-W’s and 1-H.
After you’ve satisfied the who, what, why, when, where and how, review your title. Does is briefly explain your article or is it simply a catchy baited title, without value-added content? That’s not fair to your readers; they don’t appreciate getting trapped by a title that doesn’t deliver.
How can you deliver on your title? With excellent content that satisfies the reader’s interest. How can you do that?
- Did you give readers good directions? If you find that your content is vague, reinforce the point of your article in your conclusion.
- Did you add a new perspective on an old subject so that readers take away more information about the topic?
- Did you write it well? Good writing is going to separate your articles from all the rest, even with the same topics. Readers don’t want typos, poor grammar, and amateurish writing. If you set yourself up as an authority, write like you are one.
- And don’t leave that killer sentence for the last. Make sure that you’ve been interesting, informative and thought provoking throughout your article.
Writing about writing sounds redundant; yet, that’s what Two Drops of Ink readers expect. Scott, Peter, Lisa, Lydia and I all write about how to become a better writer, grammar pitfalls, and editing, or we offer encouragement to other writers.
However, if we don’t provide a different approach to the subjects, we will all sound too familiar, and that will bore readers and they won’t finish our articles.
So, how do you make the same subject different or unique? You put your spin on the subject, from your unique perspective.
Analogies, stories, and metaphors are a way to capture a topic from your viewpoint and put a different twist on any subject. It is sometimes this new perspective that keeps a reader. Something in the way you presented the information resonated for that reader. And don’t worry about your perspective being repetitive. No two writers will use the same reference points to drive home their point. So spend some reflective time on how a topic related to you and make the topic personal.
It may be as simple as deciding if you’re an educator, entertainer or enchanter; three distinct approaches to any subject.
Not sure that your words are enough to keep a reader? Wonder if the writing is good enough? Sometimes, adding an image to reinforce the writing bolsters the message of your article. Just write it as well as you possibly can, and don’t be rankled by the old adage that, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
But images don’t always have to reinforce the point.
Adding a counter-point or opposite perspective gives readers another tangent to think about and explore. If a picture keeps a reader engaged, that just means that you took the time to add more texture to your piece. Emphasize your content with a complimentary image.
While writing is serious business, we can’t take ourselves too seriously.
Don’t be afraid to shake up the reader or entertain them with images. Have some fun. Sometimes, people just need a break from directions and how-to’s. However, if your writing and subject are poignant about a social issue, let us see emotion in your writing and your images.
Mad about the topic? Reinforce that with an image. Sad, then show the tears, frustrations, and longings.
Conclusions: Not too Abrupt
Many articles end too abruptly. Wrapping up an article has to be more than just no more words. It’s important to circle back to your leads, reference your content and give a reader a sense of satisfaction when they’ve made it to the end.
Here’s a simple checklist to help your next article be successful.
- Before you quit writing, ask yourself if you’re satisfying the 5-W’s and 1-H.
- Let your work sit for a day or two, while still mindful of deadlines. It’s amazing how the words rearrange themselves in our absence and what made sense yesterday, doesn’t flow today. If that’s the case, then rework it, revise it, edit it and read it aloud.
- Use appropriate keywords for SEO purposes. Be sure you make it easy for your readers to find your articles; not just by your name or web site, but by subject matter.
- Let images help focus the post, entertain your readers, and add value.
Now, you can sit back and see if your views, comments, shares and subscribers don’t increase.
If you’re still with me, thank you and congratulations. You have exceeded the average attention span and finished the article.
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