In the fashion blogging world, it seems like no one reads.
You pour your heart out in a post about a something you really believe in, and visitors stop by and comment, “Cute dress!” Frustrating! It's easy to write off the general public by saying, “People don't read anymore.” Or, “The internet is so ADD, dude.”
The truth is, the publishing industry has been dealing with this issue since the birth of newspapers. Maybe not so much the “cute dress” part, but certainly making sure the readers understand the writer's point. In the digital world, we have so man obstacles to obtaining the focus of the reader. To battle this, in addition to what the print industry had established, the digital world has developed even more tricks.
1. Post titles should reflect your point
Take a look at news sites, note how they title their news and opinion articles. Then take a look at Twitter, and see how they promote content. What they have in common? They're concise, and to the point.
Dairy Finds Way to Let Cows Power Trucks nyti.ms/13z5qqo
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 28, 2013
Readers know they'll get information on how cows provide power, not an opinion piece about the beauty of cows, or cow fashion.
I see a lot of bloggers with witty post titles that really say nothing about the post. In fact, for years I did it. The truth is, while it's cute, and you get it…. maybe your die-hard fans get it, but many people will not get it. You're giving them more work by writing a post title that barely labels the post.
Give your post titles some sauce by putting in action words, use the present tense. Don't shy away from sensationalizing a post title. But, don't mislead. But it's part of your marketing and branding strategy, not to mention SEO, so don't slap on a cute joke for a post title after you've written your post. You'll miss out on engaging with your readers.
2. Open your post with the most important information
They say “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Well, with your snazzy post title, you made that first impression, now what? You gotta keep them from bouncing out.
Open your post with the most important part, your point. Many features open with an anecdote, but note, how long are those anecdotes? Fifty, one hundred words at the most. Take a look at this article: Instagram and the New Era of Paparazzi
“Earlier this week, a rare and new photo of the pop star Beyoncé and her daughter, Blue Ivy, quickly spread around the Internet, on various celebrity and gossip sites.
There was nothing particularly unusual about the photo itself: It was a simple shot of the singer, smiling, carrying her sleepy daughter as they exited a restaurant in Brooklyn.
But the paparazzi-style photo did not come from a typical photographer: It came from Instagram.”
One thing I've seen in blog posts is a 1000 word post that doesn't get to the point until about 600 words have passed. If readers won't give the New York Times 600 words to get to the point, why should readers give us that time?
3. Be concise
Edit, edit, edit. Does your post need to be 1000 words? Can you tell it in 100? Ok, maybe not. It's actually harder to make a point with a few words. So when writing your posts, see what can be chucked out. Anything that digresses from the point should be edited out (or saved for another post.)
4. Break up your post into sections
Would you read a book with no paragraphs? What's the longest block of text would you read before your eyes started glazing over? Have you ever passed up a post because it looked like too much work to read?
Sections in your post give your readers a sense of cadence. When landing on the page they know what they can expect from each section. Give them the opportunity to quickly decide if they want to read or skip to the part they most are interested in. I find that when in my RSS reader, a post title may not get my attention, but it it's broken up in a more digestible pieces of information, I'll give the post a read.
Newspapers generally limit paragraphs to 250 words. I believe that to be the perfect maximum digital paragraph length as well. They'll fit nicely with your post sections.
5. Use block quotes for important points
If I come across a saucy quote… I'll stop and give that article a read.
When flipping through a magazine, note how content catches your eye. I find that if I come across a saucy quote, or block quote, I'll stop and give that article a read. The same thing happens in the digital. Readers scrolling through blogs, or blog readers may not notice your post title, or your blog sections… but they may catch a block quote.
If you have a particularly important piece of information for your point, highlight it.
6. Use bullets or numbered lists
Maybe you don't have to write paragraphs for getting your point across. There are a lot of advantages to using bullets or numbers to get your point across.
- Bullets can clear out the clutter of a post
- Lists are concise, and easy to understand
- Readers can scan bullets
7. Illustrate your post with great imagery
“A picture is worth 1000 words.” Even if your post is 1000 words, your readers can process the image in a second. So be sure to include an amazing photo with your post, that way, you'll give your readers no choice but to get your point.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]