How to write content people will actually read

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You don’t need a bunch of statistics to know people’s attention span is getting shorter. (For the record, it’s less than that of a goldfish, which clocks in at 9 seconds.) You’re probably already considering leaving this page and you’re only about two seconds in.

Well here’s something to stop you in your tracks: Most of what you’re writing? Chances are people aren’t reading it. But a few small adjustments can change that.

We’re here to give your content a top-to-bottom makeover so people will not only read it, they’ll share it. From crafting a compelling title to giving it a voice and moving readers along, you’ll never write online content the same way again.

 

Start with a compelling title.

The title of whatever you’re writing is the first thing people will see, so it really needs to draw readers in. If it isn’t compelling—or if it’s too wordy or complex—no one will open it. So get creative. Keep it fun and keep it simple. (And make sure it reflects what you’ve written about. Because nothing makes you lose an audience like a misleading title.)

 

Make sure it’s original.

Now for the text under the title. While the old adage is true that “there’s nothing new under the sun,” there’s always a new angle or a new way of saying something. If what you’re writing is the same old, same old—or worse yet, an idea you’ve essentially plagiarized from online research—people won’t want to read it. And they’ll be on to the next thing.

 

Put the most interesting information up top.

Drawing readers in doesn’t stop with your title. Your first couple sentences have to draw people in, too. We recommend the tried-and-true inverted pyramid style, a time-honored structure used by journalists worldwide. With this method, you put the most newsworthy, most interesting information right up top. It’s tried-and-true for a reason: it works!

 

Keep it brief.

Those limited attention spans we mentioned earlier? They’re fully in effect online. Gone are the days of long sentences and even longer paragraphs. Your content needs to be short. Sentences, paragraphs, your entire post. Even the words you choose. So save the SAT vocabulary for, well, the SATs! Which leads us to…

 

Write how you talk.

Another important fact about online content? It’s informal. Unless you’re writing for an academic journal, plain language is the way to go. Sometimes that means breaking down technical information into layman’s terms, which can be tricky. If you’re ever stuck about how to explain something, ask yourself how you’d tell your grandma. Or your mom. Or your best friend. See? Now you’ve got it!

 

Give it a voice.

Speaking of writing how you talk, infuse your writing with some personality. No one likes a robot. Except other robots. And the people that build them. But we digress! Let your true self shine. Or the upbeat voice of your business. Crack some jokes. Sprinkle in some merriment. Have a little fun. That’s the type of stuff people love (and share).

 

Keep it moving.

People are busy. That’s why it’s important you keep readers moving along. That inverted pyramid method we mentioned earlier means you’ll keep weaving in compelling information to keep your audience interested. Getting them to read your entire post—and share it—is the name of the game.

 

Don’t shamelessly promote your business.

Readers are smarter than you think. People don’t want to waste their time reading something that turns out to be a commercial. They can see right through thinly veiled advertising, so promote sparingly, if at all. Oftentimes, the branding on your page is enough for readers to click through to learn more about your business.

 

Make it worth their time.

Last, but certainly not least—and this may actually be the most important pointer of all—make your post worth readers’ time. Don’t post content just to post it. Write something that will add to your readers’ lives. Make it so exciting, so compelling, that they have to share it. Start with the title and work your way down. You can totally do this.

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