Writing for online readers is totally different from what you were taught in school by your English teachers. Online readers have short attention spans. If your post doesn’t provide a smooth flowing reading experience, your reader will lose attention quickly and bail – never to return.
Get started now by following these 4 simple effective steps.
1. Craft an Irresistible Headline
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is writing the post before the headline. Your headline is your roadmap. Without that map, the post can go all over the place, leaving readers (and you) confused.
Your headline must immediately lure people in because readers have many other choices for what they decide to read. They will continue reading only if the flow holds their attention and speaks their ‘language’.
Write an enticing headline with an underlying powerful promise. Use emotional words that inspire curiosity. Put yourself in the reader’s mind and think about what promise you would find irresistible.
What’s the easiest way to master the art of writing headlines?
Stick with what works by ‘stealing’ from the pros.
I suggest you download highly successful (free) 52 Headline Hacks by Jon Morrow which includes more template options than you’ll ever need. Jon is a master of writing engaging headlines.
Of course, you’re not going to plagiarize – simply copy the ‘style’ of the headlines… not word for word.
2. Write an Enticing Intro
Readers are skeptical.
They think you don’t understand them, their problems or their situation. Prove them wrong in your first few sentences so they don’t click away. A strong opening paragraph draws them in.
Magic happens when you focus on thoughts, feelings and experiences that a high percentage of your audience will easily relate to in one way or another. Reflect those back to them using their own words.
Ideas to get you started:
- What thoughts are your tribe already having about this topic?
- How do they feel about it – what’s their dominant emotion?
- What specific examples would resonate with them?
- How would they put all of this into words?
Once you know these things, you can actually echo them back to readers in your post’s opening. And voila! They’ll be blown away. They’ll think you are a mind-reader.
Yes, you need to KNOW your audiences intimately. When you do, you’ll find the members of your tribe are alike in many ways.
Read Are You Aiming at the Right Target? to understand how that works.
3. Why Subheadings are as Important as the Heading
Create an outline to nail down your points before writing the main sections of your post. Your outline is the foundation of your post content, and will help you write strong subheadings.
Remember, most readers don’t read posts. They scan them. Subheads convince the readers they are in the right place. They prove to them your content has value and help fulfil the promise of your headline.
Unless your subheadings keep luring your readers back into the post, they will click away to some other place. Think of them as stepping stones leading readers from the first idea through to the conclusion. They work together to keep people reading.
Do they flow smoothly from one to another without gaps in logic?
Do they lead toward a conclusion or the promise of the headline?
4. Close your Post with a Motivational Bang!
Show your audience what their life will look like once they’ve put your advice to use. Give them a pep talk. Encourage them. Light up their imagination.
Make them see they can’t just read your post and pretend – they must take action right away. Be authentic and stay on topic.
Suggest the next step with a strong call to action.
Writing effective blog posts is a skill you can learn. Your job as a writer is twofold. Get people to be interested enough to read what you write to stay engaged and coming back for more every time you publish a new post.
12 Editing Tips to Become a Better Blogger
- Encourage and empower – don’t lecture. Add emotion and enthusiasm to your writing. Bored readers will leave quickly.
- Slash all unnecessary words, sentences. paragraphs, etc. Include only what is necessary to convey your message in a clear concise manner.
- Make your post easy on the eyes. Include plenty of white space. Write short paragraphs – 3 to 5 lines maximum on a 750 pixel wide content area, and space the lines and paragraphs.
- Use a larger font – at least a 18 or 20 point. Long paragraphs with dense text in a small font are difficult to read. Most people will click away to find something easier to read.
- Check your readability statistics before you publish. Use shorter sentences. Replace passive words (“he was running”) with an active voice (“He ran”).
- Avoid repeating the same nouns and verbs within a paragraph. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms.
- Stick to the topic. Sentences and paragraphs should flow into one another.
- Write simply. Avoid using too many modifiers, adjectives or adverbs. Replace weak verbs and adjectives with power words to evoke emotion.
- Leave out unnecessary commas, quotation marks, pretentious words and exclamation points.
- Pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. These errors upset many readers, and they will abandon your site if the writing is full of errors.
- Ask yourself if your post has a beginning, a middle and an ending. Start by asking a question or telling us what you’re going to write about. Give us the information in the middle. Sum it up at the end.
- Deliver what you promise. Does your post fulfill the promise made in the headline? For example if you write a post that offers “20 memorable marketing quotes” make them memorable. Readers like to feel they have learned something. Leave them feeling satisfied so they’ll return to read more of your content.
Choose a Featured Image that Packs a Punch
The primary purpose of including an eye-catching featured image for your post is to grab attention before they read your headline. Crop images to the correct size for your particular WordPress Theme and social media.
Best practices for image handling
- The most eye catching images Include a human face, have a single point of focus and use an element of surprise to garner attention.
- Your image must complement your headline, either literally or conceptually. An image without a clear connection to your headline may cause confusion and frustration.
- Featured images must reflect the correct tone of your post to be congruent with the written article. A humorous post requires a funny image. A more serious or professional post requires an image that will reflect that tone.
- IF you have downloaded images from Pixabay or Unsplash or have a licensed image from a stock photo website – it’s important to change the image file name before uploading to your website.
- BEFORE you upload the featured images to your website – be sure you have formatted them correctly first. Each WordPress blog theme has a specific recommended size. Be consistent to keep a professional look to your blog.
- Add a 1200 px by 630 px to Yoast SEO or Rank Math plugins in WP admin panel so images display properly on Facebook and Twitter. When you see photos on Facebook that have text cut off or are cropped in a weird fashion – it’s usually because the author didn’t bother to format the image properly before uploading it.
Blogging is not complicated. The best bloggers engage their audience and reveal their personality. Communicate with clarity online and your business and blog will be successful.
Further Reading to improve your writing skills…
52 Headline Hacks – Jon Morrow
7 Simple Edits to make your writing 100% more powerful – Shane Authur
43 words you should cut from your writing immediately – Diane Urban