By: Marilyn L. Davis
“The social media web is a very noisy one indeed and making sure that you are heard requires you to shout more effectively, rather than louder.” ― David Amerland,
What’s a Writer to Do?
Okay, I trapped you with the title, snagged you with the summary, and now I have to fulfill my obligation to offer you more and write compelling content?
Unfortunately, there are many writers and bloggers out there that think that titles and summaries, heavy on SEO keywords should be enough. Well, they aren’t. Writers and blogger need to put as much time, energy and effort into their content as they do the other two components.
It’s that simple and that hard.
And it’s not enough that you ranked well last week, either. If you’re fortunate and have returning readers, what are you writing today that is different than yesterday – even for the same topic?
Try switching places from writer to reader and remember how inundated you are with choices in what to read. With so much information available, readers can afford to be demanding. Plus, they are looking at other posts while you’re still trying to find a catchy title. When you switch from writer to reader, ask yourself:
- Why should they read your article rather than the top listing on Google?
- Did you make your 140 characters on Twitter more interesting ?
- Do your comments reflect that you’re entertaining or educating your readers?
- Do your readers stay on the site and read other posts, or just your current offering?
Sites that get hits satisfy the “What’s in it for me” needs of the reader.
But what do readers want and need? They all want information that will:
- Better their lives
- Entertain them
- Help them gain an advantage
- Improve something
- Inform them about a subject, topic or news
- Solve a problem
However, for most readers, the greatest need is a quick, informative and engaging read.
So, when you’re creating your blog, go to those sites that appeal to you, see what makes it appealing and then replicate that in your own voice and style. Just as most of us do not like the mechanized voice mail, many readers do not like a generic article. They want to read something that reads like your other articles.
- If you use humor, then find a place where it is appropriate.
- If you are a storyteller, add a human-interest side.
- If you have experience – either positive or negative on the subject, add this.
- If you qualify as an expert in the topic, let the readers know why you are credible.
Creating any post requires the writer to give information in a way that ultimately translates into loyal followers. But beyond the writing, the entire post must be easy for the reader to navigate and enjoy.
Formatting Information: Easy to Read and Find
Break your article into sections with Subtitles. People don’t read online articles the same as they read a book. They want breaks – whether they are sub-titles or images. I looked at newspapers for a reference. A newspaper has titles, sections, short paragraphs and images. Breaks, sub-headings, and images are the norm for newspapers worldwide, and it’s not just for English-speaking readers, either.
Learn the rules of paragraphs and white space, which describes blank lines or spaces between words, letter, and lines of type or paragraphs.
When you use white space effectively, readers get a visual break, and writers have an opportunity to insert images and videos to emphasize a word, sentence, or concept.
A simple rule: If you are changing ideas, or information then create space, in much the same way that you do for paragraphs.
Think about your piece and it’s natural break points. These sections make reading easier and more appealing, and when it’s appealing, your readers will make it to the end of the post.
Quick, Informative and Engaging: How Do I Get There?
Bullet points also break up your page, giving readers “eye relief”. Bullet points should be one line long, not extending beyond the margins. Otherwise, you are writing a paragraph.
Use bullet points if all the descriptors have equal value.
One way to distinguish that there is no hierarchy in the points is to alphabetize the bullet points. Use the sort function in Word and put your bullet points in alphabetical order. This way, it is obvious that you as the writer are not placing more importance on one component than the other. However, if there is a hierarchy, put the bullet points in the order of importance.
Use Numbered Lists if there is an order of importance in the descriptors or if the directions would extend beyond one line of type.
More than what I have to say about a topic, readers want references for the subject. I use quotes, links and questions in many of my articles. I like to use them to reinforce what I am writing about as well as elicit responses from readers.
Therefore, I will leave you with this call to action, and you can address the questions in the comment section.
- Did you find this helpful?
- Did you see examples of effectively using words, space, lists and bullets?
- Did you learn something today?
- Do you think the information will improve your blog or articles?
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