20 Simple Tips for Writing a Blog Post that Begs to be Read

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire article.19 Simple Tips for Writing a Blog Post that Begs to be Read

The reality though is that the headline is just the start!… you want your visitor to stay and  read the whole article rather than bounce out to another website in an era of ‘click and go’.

We live in the era of ever decreasing attention and the art of keeping the reader engaged has now become an ongoing creative and scientific experiment of verbal and visual seduction.

The Age of Skimming

So writing that awesome headline has made the reader turn up but then you have to continue to entice, tease and intrigue the reader with the promise of more information, possible entertainment or a solution to the problem so that they will read on.

Skimming the article is the norm and with so much information competing for everyone’s attention, honing those writing skills is required to ensure that the information your post promised in the headline is transparently and readily available as your readers eyes scan the page.

People are Seeking Answers

Readers are seeking solutions and answers to their problems. They are asking questions.

  • Will this video embedded in the article deliver the information I crave?
  • Will the embedded slideshare presentation provide content that will help me with my next corporate boardroom meeting that will impress my customer and my boss?
  • Will the rest of the article enlighten me or bore me?

The headline is important whether it is a Facebook news update and especially if it is on Twitter. Twitter has made the art of the headline more important than ever before because you only have 140 characters to tempt the potential reader to take action and click on the link that is embedded in your Tweet.

The Headline is the Start of the Seduction

What you need to realize is that the headline is the start of the seduction and your reader needs to be continually visually arrested to keep them on your page.

Here are a variety of tips and tactics to continue to lure the reader deeper into your article beyond the headline so that they will not just click away to somewhere else

 

The Intro

The introduction is maybe the next most important element after the headline. This is an art rather than a science but there are some good tactics to ensure that you don’t lose them in the first sentence or paragraph. Mastering the art of copywriting can be arduous and the master copywriter Eugene Schartwz often spent days crafting the first 50 words of the sales copy and as a blogger you are in the business of selling your article one post at a time.

When writing the introduction these are some ideas to keep in mind.

1. Pose a Question

Challenging the reader to think engages their mind and makes them want to find out the answer.

2. Open with a Quote

This may inspire the reader to continue to read in the hope of finding out what lies beyond the next paragraph

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mohandas K . Gandhi

3. Provide a Personal and Powerful Story

The story teller has captivated people since fire was created and a personal or powerful story can be the honey to keep the reader and listener engaged whether that be around the campfire or within an article.

4. Quote an Enticing Fact or Statistic

If you are writing about Facebook it could be the fact that “One in every eight minutes spent on the internet is on Facebook”  to draw the reader in.

5. Create Context

Lead into the main part of the article by creating the context for the rest of the story. Provide some background to the argument or solution you are about to put forward. It could be the condensed history of the topic or the facts and figures or the stating of the problem that needs solving.

6. Create a Mental Image

It could be a sentence opening with phrases such as  ‘imagine this‘  or ‘do you remember when‘.

7. Analogies and Other Tricks

It could be a phrase such as “A writer without a blog is like a salesman without a telephone” that tempts and captures the readers attention.

Include  Key Words

This is one thing you should not ignore. What are the key words people will be looking for when they turn up. You also need to remember you are writing for two readers your audience and for the 1 million Google computer servers that are crawling and indexing your words, headlines and keywords. The challenge is to still write naturally but you need to be mindful of ‘Lord Google’.

 

Write Sub-titles

Subtitles are your mini headlines that entice your reader to continue reading, they are teasers that may offer questions that promise more intriguing and inspiring content to follow.

Include Images

Images with screen shots with arrows and circles showing key points can be worth a thousand words and make learning clear and easy to follow through on. Make the solution a ‘no-brainer’.

Consider A Video

Sometimes a short 2 minute video can offer the reader a quick way to explain a concept or idea or solution that 500 words cannot convey. This could be embedded half way through the story. Remember you are writing for the web and rich interactive media is expected and demanded.

The Hyperlink

This is quite often overlooked and in a digital interconnected age the article that has hyperlinks promises a depth and a breadth of information that makes the reader want to explore. Links or additional resources at the end of an article that list valuable posts from your blog that are relevant are also valuable and encourage the reader to read more of your valuable blog content. I also recommend setting up the the links so they open up in a new browser window ensuring that the original page is still open and visible and waiting on their return.

Format For Scanning and Skimming

There is nothing more confronting than a wall of text that says to the reader..”If you want the information… good luck in finding it, because it may be buried here somewhere!”

So break it up into chunk sizes that is easy to digest and doesn’t create visual constipation.

This can be done in a variety of ways through

  • Italics
  • Call out box or block quote
  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet points
  • A short numbered list

Don’t Forget the Call to Act

This might be a phrase such as

“What is one thing that you can do do today that you have learnt from this post?”

The Closing

Closing is important and the main thing to remember is to close the loop by tying it back to the beginning. It could be a statement or a question.

So what was the key element that made you want to read this entire post?

More Resources

Image by the trial

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/RobbinsInt Stephanie Robbins

    this is point on considering I was doing all the user behaviors you referenced in the post :)  thanks for sharing

  • http://www.HarveyGardner.com Harvey Gardner

    Wow!  This is a great short course in how to write a great blog.  I’m tacking this up in front of my computer.

  • http://pajamaproductivity.com Annie Sisk

    Great post. I’m curious to know if there’s any research available on post popularity or reader behavior with respect to straigthforward keyword headlines (i.e., “How to Write a Blog Post That Begs to Be Read” – slightly different from this one) versus more creative ventures (say, “Your Blog Post Sucks. Here’s How to Fix It” – bad example but best I can do on one cup of coffee, I fear…)

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Annie for the comment and the question. It is a question that I have asked my self from time to time
      I quite often find that the negative headline works better.
      My personal experience I think is best displayed withe results of 2 headlines from 2 actual posts written very closely together about a year ago.
      The Negative Headline
      30 Things You Should not Share on Social Media
      http://www.jeffbullas.com/2010/03/21/30-things-you-should-not-share-on-social-media/
      Results
      29,053 hits, 1,397 Facebook shares and 2,125 retweets

      The Positive Headline
      http://www.jeffbullas.com/2010/03/28/20-things-you-should-share-on-social-media/
      20 Things You Should Share on Social Media
      2,914 Hits, 555 Retweets and 110 Facebook shares

      I would be interested in other peoples experience withe negative and opposite headlines and their results.

      • http://www.envycollection.com Nicole Williams

        Thanks for adding the stats Jeff – really helps prove the point seeing the numbers! Great post too – great advice that I will be taking note of

  • http://twitter.com/renepower Rene Power

    Interesting that the negative approach garners more response. I recently wrote a post with ten reasons why Facebook wasn’t right for b2b marketers and it attracted much more than the post that offered eight reasons why you should use Facebook for b2b. Interesting psychology at play.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks for the comment Rene. It looks like the Negative position draws the most traffic iin most cases

  • http://www.jasonfox.me Jason Fox

    Great article Jeff.  I really appreciate your take on skimming, that I noticed while skimming your article.  I actually went back to a post I have scheduled to post in the morning and made a few tweaks to make it more skimmmable.

  • Elaine

    Really good post and some great tips –  thank you. 

  • Olivia

    I just skimmed this article…

    Great post, thanks for the tips. I will keep them in mind.

  • http://www.gizbot.com/ Gizbot

    Awesome post….i liked the sentence
    “The Headline is the Start of the Seduction” Thanks for this beautiful article.

  • http://www.CoachTrainLearn.com/ Martin Haworth

    Numbered list with short paras did it for me

  • Anonymous

    Perfect post. I am hesitant to share with potential competion. Ah shucks, I’m nice. I will pass it on. For myself, I will be reading this post again. I have already followed your previous advice about grat titles on my post. Oh my, it really works. thank you so much. Mlaika Bourne

  • Anonymous

    As always, great tips Jeff!!!

    Am still learning on the headlines part, but the short paras, images & italics+fonts are working well for me.

    Thanks
    Malhar

  • Anonymous

    “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”  What a disheartening statistic to start off this blog entry, however it made for a great attention getter and kept me reading! Interesting post!

  • Richard Petrillo

    Great article Jeff,

    I especially like the idea of posing a question to start with. Copywriting is an art that must be mastered and I agree, the headline is where it all starts. I want to share a great website resource that rates the EMV of any headline. It’s free and your readers might find it very useful.
    http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/

    Thanks for the great tips!
    Richard

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Richard, that headline tool sounds awesome. I am heading over there right now. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Mike_Cleveland Mike Cleveland

    Good post! What you are really saying is you have to lead a person to the water (your content). I have use the subtitles in posts. It helps not only the reader, but it helps the writer too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/XochitlMaiman Xochitl Maiman

    Some really good info here, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/GlowingOrganics Loretta Mitchell

    More inspiring tips. Thanks Jeff.

  • http://www.inquitech.com/ Harriet Sanders

    Cool, I finally stumbled on a site about this! I was daydreaming about it this morning and now I find out about this website. Coincidence alright. keep going on…

  • http://mcommunications2.com Michele Wasko Hlewicki

    well, I made it to the bottom and yes I skimmed a bit… but I love the opening statement regarding headlines. Writing the perfect headline is creative ad copy at it’s finest. I blog about autism parenting and I know the power a great headline has. It truly can be the life or death of a post! Thank you!

  • Steven Warren

    Thank you Jeff for an excellent article. I had been aware of some of the key elements but learned much.

  • http://www.eusebioarroyojr.com/ Eusebio Arroyo

    Cool tips.. Thanks Jeff.

  • http://peterbeckenham.com Peter Beckenham

    Hello Jeff.

    Your awesome post lived up to it’s expectations right from the attention grabing headline stage.

    Thank you for sharing your expertise. I guess nowadays most people skim read but you suggestions re headlines, opening or introductory sentences plus the effective use of sub headings were the key issues for me.

    I would like to add to your excellent suggestions of the actual design aspects of a blog post that get people “begging to read” your post.

    Using your technioques and by having a focus on the solution to just one specific “pain point” of your target audience per post will also significantly increase the readership of our posts – and in some cases even cause skimmers to slow down and actually read the entire article.

    Many thanks again fJeff – awesome information

    Best wishes from the remote Thai village blogger

    Peter

  • http://designreset.com Tauqir Hussain

    Nice article Jeff. I agree with you that writing irresistible headline will enable searchers to click on your link and writing an engaging, emotional and powerful content will help to convert more subscribers.

    Thanks for sharing!