People are driven by engagement and since the internet is awash with articles on the very topic you’re about to write on, engagement can make the big difference in making sure your article gets read. With each passing day it becomes more and more difficult for writers to stand out and become memorable. Statistics and researched data are very useful and in fact quite often mandatory but they all become irrelevant if the content isn’t actually consumed. The fact is that most people don’t actually read through entire articles online. I’m guilty of it and I’m sure you are too. We pass judgement on the content based on how it is presented.
So what drives this behavior? Quite frankly it all boils down to the accessibility of information. You article isn’t the only one of its kind so if it isn’t mid blowing it will get passed on. But what if it’s good? It really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day we have to ‘let go of the time honored traditions and writing conventions and start tailoring our articles to our readers.’ Twenty-first century readers are impatient, overstimulated and not easily impressed.
Don’t let this phase you though, here are some tips to help on appealing to your audience and keep them engaged throughout your entire article (or at least most of it).
- People love to know what they’re getting upfront so state your claims early and don’t wait too long to flesh out your points.
- Keep it short. This is not a University thesis; there is no mandatory number of paragraphs needed to get your point across. Think about it…your audience quite likely has extensive experience in explaining most things in 140 characters. They will not understand your need to be long winded regardless of your subject area.
- If the data is extremely important and can’t be shortened, break it up into three articles. This is an easier commitment to make and the anticipation for the next instalment will help drive engagement
- Itemize your points. Even after all your hard work at creating shortened concise content, some readers will simply not read your article. They are grazers by nature. Provide those people with a section of itemized actions so that they can still come away with some value having encountered your article.
- Have conviction. Nothing is more of a turnoff than an author who is writing just for popularity. Break the mould and write from a place that’s real to you. Even if your article is on medical research, it can be made personable and relate-able. If you do not like your topic area, write on something else. Passionless prose is obvious even to the least interested reader. Be honest. Tell a story about yourself that makes the article relate-able. People don’t engage with words, they engage with other people
- Headers and sub-headers are another great way to break up long articles so that your reader can jump around as they please and zoom in on the parts that are appealing to them.
- Proof read! Leave your reader focusing on your genius and not your grammatical errors. Most people usually get turned off by the second one.
- Remember how annoyed your lecturers were reading fancy writing? Your readers will be just as annoyed. Remember, many people are reading your content on mobile devices and it may not look as nice to them as it does on your laptop.
- Speaking of mobile devices, it may be a great idea to read your own article on your phone and tablet to ensure that the reading experience is great for your reader as well. When you do this look out for long lines which force your reader to scroll to the side, distracting backgrounds or format changes which are made to the mobile version.
I hope these tips were helpful to you. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what tips you would have included. Happy writing!