I’ve seen it on the web and when I do, I cringe. Large paragraphs of black and white text followed by another large paragraph of black and white text, followed by another….well, you get the point. :)
I’ve been helping a number of clients with their blogs lately and one thing that has come up a number of times is the formatting of a good blog post.
People read differently on the computer than they do when reading in a book, magazine or newspaper. Not only is the screen hard on the eyes, but the mouse is literally under their finger and they are just waiting for a reason to click away. Give them reason not to and use the following tips to keep their eye interested and scanning for more.
1. Keep it conversational… as if you were actually speaking to the reader, not writing an article for some glossy magazine. If you want to use one word on it’s own like with ellipses (…) after it..then go for it. Keep the formalities for books and magazines.
2. Use very short paragraphs. This is important because most people scan web pages looking for something that interests them. Small paragraphs are much more inviting cause the reader knows that if they aren’t getting into something long and drawn out. Large paragraphs are daunting.
3. Use bold, italics,
strike-through, highlighting to enhance important parts of your post. This draws people’s attention to certain words of phrases that you really want them to read…even if they skip the rest of it.
4. Use smileys and ellipsis often. This just makes reading more emotional. You can tell when someone is being fun :), sly ;) or sad :(. Online writing can be, not always, a very non-emotional way to communicate. I try to add smilies to almost everything I write so people know I’m saying things in a friendly, or sometimes sad, way. :)
5. Use lists. Top 3, Top 5, Top 10…. Actually I read that a Top 13 list will always pull in more readers. Not sure why but some testing has show this to be more effective. Bullet points also work well. Be sure to bold the most important part of the numbered list item or bullet (as I’ve done here). This way people who scan the post will still get the essence of it.
BONUS TIP: Write AWESOME stuff. Sometimes people ask me how often should they blog. How often is really not a concern. The concern should be “how awesome” it is. If you write a blog post daily and it’s mediocre….you’ll have less people reading it AND you’ll be spending a lot of your time writing. If you post something once every 6 weeks and it’s absolutely amazing, it’s got a good chance of being read a lot more because people will be more likely to share it with their friends and associates.