The great philosopher Jerry Seinfeld once said, “There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you’re viewing.” It’s a wise aphorism that applies to all communications today, including blogs.
We’ve all been hounded by “experts” who provide lots of advice about how to write perfect blogs that will attract millions of readers and generate buckets of money. But the truth is, almost anything goes…as long as you keep your audience.
To do that, you must answer three simple (yet critical) questions for your audience:
- What is this?
- Why should I care?
- What’s in it for me?
The answers in the best blogs include these essential ingredients – plenty of personality, uniquely useful information and/or kick-ass insights that keep target audiences engaged and wanting more.
This is why silly and whimsical blogs like hungover owls (hungoverowls.tumbler.com) and Manolo’s shoe blog (https://shoeblogs.com) or serious blogs like Edison’s Desk from GE Global Research (www.globalresearch.com/blog) are successful. They’re completely different, but the audiences get exactly the content they want or need. Even a personal blog about your trip to Italy, written expressly for your grandparents, can be deemed a smashing success – if grammie and gramps keep coming back for more.
Be cool, be different
In most subject areas or industries, most blogs are presenting similar information in pretty much the same voice, tone and style. You can replicate what they’re doing and try to do it better. OR you can distinguish yourself in some way. This might mean tackling different topics (perhaps a sub-niche), examining common subjects in new ways and writing in a distinct voice. We’re all drawn to people who speak their minds and have something unique, or at least interesting, to say. Go for it.
Them… not you
You need to center the topic of your post on your audience — not yourself. What are their needs, wants, hopes and dreams? What problems do they have that you can solve? Help them achieve something they’ve always wanted to achieve. Be a resource of practical tips, links and tools to solve that problem or relieve their pain points.
If you’re writing about weight loss, for example, it’s not enough to say eat less and exercise more. Everyone says that. Give the reader new and concrete ways of achieving the goal. Something they can envision and do.
A guy walks into a bar…
Once you’ve got a useful topic, crystalize your main point in the headline. If the headline is intriguing, your audience will read more. If it’s not, you’ve just lost them.
Oh, I get it!
So, you’ve got your great topic, your killer headline, and an extremely useful post, and your reader decides to give your post a few seconds of his/her time. Don’t make them dig through paragraph after paragraph to find out what your post has to offer. They won’t do it. Make your post scannable. Your reader should be able to quickly glance through and pick up the main points without reading too deeply. The best ways to do that are with subheads, lists, block quotes, images and graphics, and the use of bold or italics.
Brief, friendly and done
Once a reader decides to spend some time with your post, he or she is going to want to get through it without too much work. The key to that: simplicity. Readers are drawn to writing that is conversational, without being wordy. Write like you’re speaking with a friend, and don’t confuse them with jargon, acronyms and technical stuff. Then go back and edit out sentences and words that are unnecessary, and revise sentences that aren’t clear.
Not Much Else Matters
Other things are important, but not as much as riveting content:
- If the design isn’t great, but the content is insanely useful or entertaining, they’ll come, and they’ll stay.
- SEO techniques can help, but what matters most in SEO is getting links from other sources. How do you get those quality links? Great content.
- Referrals on social media will improve your traffic. But referrals won’t matter a lick if you’re not producing knock-out content.
In short, there’s content and then there’s CONTENT. The kind you can’t ignore.
So listen to Seinfeld. Attention span? Fuggetaboutit! Getting people to pay attention is really about providing consistent quality. Let’s make sure we’re keeping up—and engaging the people who are important to us.