So you know how to write a great headline to attract readers to your posts, but once they are there, how can you guarantee they read the whole post?
Well, there’s never a guarantee. The overabundance of noise online has created a culture of content skimmers. Rather than battle it, content creators should accommodate for skimming.
There are a few simple tricks that can help you break up content in a post and keep a reader flowing smoothly along. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Write a Killer Lead
Your title is important, but so is your opening sentence and lead paragraph. Your opening paragraph should introduce the subject of your post and give the reader an idea as to what he or she will gain by the end of the post. When drafting a lead, consider what value the reader will gain from reading a post and try to allude to that value.
2. Limit It To One Idea Per Paragraph
To write an easy-to-skim post, you’ll need to have a clear idea of what you want to express in each paragraph. It may sound daunting, but you’ll find that an drafting an outline can help streamline the writing process and result in a crisp and clean flow of content.
If you re-read your post and find paragraphs that seem complicated, it may be because you are trying to express too many ideas. Keep it minimal — less is more.
3. Break Up Content With Sub-heads
Sub-headlines give an idea about the content within each paragraph. They also create convenience for readers looking to get right to the part of the post that applies to them. For example, this post is broken up into five tips. Readers can easily skim each tip and read further into the ones that are most applicable to them.
4. Get Visual With Photos and Videos
Remember, “content” refers to not only text, but also multimedia. You can break up your posts with images to illustrate a point or bring some color to the page. And sometimes an image or video is just more descriptive than writing text. So, mix it up.
5. Use Lists
While not all posts fit into a list format, sometimes a bulleted or numbered list is the best way to go, especially when you’re the purpose of your post is to share a list, such as a list of tips, tricks, or resources. Lists are not only more visually powerful than huge chunks of text, but they are easier to skim through and oftentimes easier to remember.
All of these tips help readers easily scan posts without getting overwhelmed with chunky, unwelcoming blocks of text. As you continue to improve the flow of your posts, think about your own experience reading online articles — when you drop off and why — and use that information to optimize your own blog posts.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Lazellion