What drives people to read what you write? What makes them want to share it with others? Two new blogs begin online every second. How can you compete with all that? You can compete with all the clutter out there (and rank well with all the exceptional content available) by following these tried and true guidelines.
Without a title to pull readers away from the billions of other articles out there, you could lose readership. Grab them by the throat and dare them not to read the article. If your title doesn’t stick out like a neck tie on a football uniform, it will simply blend in with the countless other ramblings online and never get a glimpse. However, make sure the rest of the article lives up to the expectations built in the title.
What will your reader have after reading your article that they didn’t have before? Value might be something educational, something uplifting or something readers can use to make their lives better. By giving readers something to take with them, you’re keeping them reading and encouraging them to pass this valuable content along to others. Offer them something worth the time it takes to read the content.
How does your reader feel after reading your article? There’s no right answer to this question, but there is one wrong one. If your reader feels nothing while reading, don’t expect them to continue. Certainly don’t expect them to share it with anyone else. What news articles do you share with someone else? You share what makes you happy or sad, mad or vindicated, sympathetic or empathetic. If it makes people feel something, they’ll read to the bitter end and share it with others.
What does your finished page look like? If readers find themselves on an unwieldy page with endless paragraphs of tiny writing, most will bolt before reading the first sentence. Break up the article into small, manageable paragraphs and add subheadings so readers can easily scan the content. In other words, make your article look like a fun, breezy read instead of a page from your college philosophy textbook.
Are your sentences easy to understand? If you want people to read and share your content, you must make it simple, straightforward and readable. Avoid big, scary words and choose simple language that doesn’t intimidate people. Writing in a way that’s easy to understand doesn’t make you sound dumb, it makes you relatable to people. If you’re someone others can relate to, they’ll read and share.
What do people do when we try to advertise to them? If we’re watching TV, we go get a soda. If we’re online, we click the X to close the ad. If we’re reading an article and it turns into an unapologetic advertisement, we simply go read something else. This is directly related to providing value: give them something worth their while and subtly mention you’ve got something they might be interested in where it is least obtrusive.
Once you master writing valuable content, your metrics will explode with reads, shares and lovers of your stuff. From there, the sales part is easy.
Timothy Carter is the search & social media mind at Smash Hit Displays. When Tim isn’t telling the world about the great work his company does, he’s helping solopreneurs and small businesses with their social media marketing.
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