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10 writing boosters that give your readers a better deal

Girl writing in a diary

© Alec Couros, Writing, via Flickr

The last thing you want to write is a boring blog.

You know, the ones that are a black wall of writing that goes on for ever and ever. Even if you're not short of time, you take one look at it and think "no way!".

So to make your posts easier and more interesting to read, here are some simple tips you could put into place right now:

1. Hit them between the eyes

Start your posts off with a bang!

What fantastic statement can you spring upon your readers that makes them sit up and take notice?

Something sensational they cannot afford to ignore. Something that triggers an immediate response. Something they'd be crazy not to want to find out more.

Take this bombshell and place it in the first sentence of your blog!

2. Keep everything short

Blogging is not article writing. Nobody tolerates a thesis that tries to impersonate itself as a blog post.

Sentences need to short and to the point. Likewise with paragraphs. Gone is the carefully considered prose that prowls around every clause and syntax.

Bloggers shouldn't write like that because nobody talks like that. Blogging is like a transcription of a conversation with your readers. In the the 21st Century time is precious. We don't dwell on the finer points of life, we say it like it is. We're not a load of boring Victorians making small talk in the parlour sipping cups of tea with our little fingers crooked in the air!

Look at popular posts. They have short sentences, sometimes even on one line. Statements that punch the air, causing your eye to move rapidly down the page to the next sentence.

3. Create white space

Lots of short sentences and paragraphs creates lots of white space. Breathing space. Space that says lot even though it may not contain any words.

Shortened sentences sitting on their own forcibly narrows the page. And narrow columns encourage faster reading. That's why newspapers that need to be read fast have narrow columns, compared to more leisurely perused magazines and books.

And a post that forces more rapid reading is more likely to be read to the end. People want to know what happens next, and shorter sentences and paragraphs makes this possible.

The Mills and Boons books do this. And also the tabloid newspapers. Although they are likely to contain complete crap that isn't worth reading, they do have a large following.

4. Use easy words and simple language

A thesis is boring because of its vocabulary. Ploughing through tricky and lengthy paragraphs stuff to the gills with jargon is not a riveting read!

Keep your language simple. It's not always impressive to use words that contain multiple syllables. Short words are faster to read and therefore easier to understand.

Work out which words your readers would be using. Understand how they think and find out the sort of things they would talk about every day.

Then write your posts in a similar style. Don't get all pompous and above yourself, if your audience is not at that intellectual level. You will only lose them several miles back.

5. Write things your readers can relate to

You need to understand your readers really well if you are to write effectively for them. Their lifestyle, preferences, likes and dislikes, etc.

Use scenarios and situations your readers can relate to. This helps them to understand what you write better, if they can imagine themselves doing or experiencing the same thing.

Explain what you mean using words they would use. Provide examples that reflect their lives, habits or hobbies. Comparing something with knitting to a elderly lady is going to go down much better than if you referenced your concept to car maintenance, for example.

6. Maintain your readers' attention

Use hooks to draw your readers through your post. Keep their attention by hinting at what is going to happen next. Promise them something juicy later on.

One way of doing this is by using sub-headlines. These aren't just smaller versions of your main headline at the top of your posts. Not only to they help divide up your paragraphs to make your post read better, they should also be part of the content as well.

Each sub-headline should introduce the next part of the post. They should be integral with what happens next. They should lead the reader on to read the series of paragraphs below. What they shouldn't be are little barriers or stopping points that hinder the reader's flow.

Sub-headlines can be questions, leading statements, small reflections, snippets of information that create cause for thought. One liners that initiate what's going to happen next. Guiding points to assist skimmers to understand the post's subject before they decide to read all of it.

7. Make your readers' lives better

It doesn't matter how easy it is to read your post, if it doesn't contain any value, your readers won't consider it worth reading.

A post that is full of excellent content is much more likely to be read. And having shorter sentences and paragraphs will help the situation. If your readers are able to understand it better, they are therefore more likely to comment or share it on social media.

Keeping to a single point, or focusing on one suitable subject, also helps make reading easier. Posts that jump about or go off at tangents without any rhyme or reason are difficult to follow. A confused reader will not enjoy his experience or stay to read the end.

Ensure your post provides excellent value, helpful benefits and constructive solutions, so they have a good read. Do enough research to make sure your have written enough on the subject to not short-change your readers and deliver what you promise in your headline.

8. Let's get visual

Use visual elements, such as images, infographics, videos, graphs and other explanatory examples to divide up your post. Sub-headlines can't do this all on their own.

A sea of words can be very daunting. Even with short sentences and paragraphs. Pictures help with understanding, and guide the eye downwards to the next section. A splash of colour or a different shape can make a difference to a post.

And did you know that captions underneath pictures are the third most likely text to be read before the rest of the post? Make sure they tell a story in their own right. A bit like the sub-headlines.

9. Make things scannable

I mentioned before that your post should be designed to be scanned by your readers.

Most readers are time-poor. They don't have the time to sit and read extensive posts. So they naturally skim through to see if they can glean anything that catches their eye and informs them whether this post is worth reading or not.

Sub-headlines, visual elements, short sentences with powerful statements, quotations set out from the rest of the text, all help to do this.

And even if the reader hasn't the time to read your post there and then, at least make it easy for them to bookmark it for future reading, so your message won't be lost for ever.

10. Keep the story going

Jumping on the bandwagon of trending subjects is a great way of capturing your readers' attention.

And, of course, if you're post goes viral on social media, then you're laughing.

A post that is easy to read, fast paced, to the point, relevant to the subject or the readers' needs, is much more likely to become successful.

So bear in mind the points I raised above, and see what you can do the next time you write a post in your blog. Let me know if it makes a difference. Both short and long term. I would be delighted to know!

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Alice Elliott writes the Beginner Bloggers blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She specialises in simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Why not also visit her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog to learn some more.

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