Getting your readers to actually read through whatever it is that you post on your blog or website tends to be a rather difficult chore in this day and age of over saturation of information all over the Internet. However, there are some ways in which you can get people to actually stop and pay attention to what you have to say. Here are 20 ways to pretty much “force” your readers to pay attention to whatever you want them to know:
1. Keep It Short
I know I’m breaking my own rule when I say this in a post which runs on for several pages, however there is quite a lot of information here and that’s why I’m putting together such a long blog post. The fact is that most people don’t have the time to sit around and read tons of content and as such, they tend to shy away from super long blog posts or articles. If you must write quite a little bit though, then follow my next piece of advice:
2. Break Up Your Text
People hate reading long winded content which just goes on and on. This is even worse when you have ridiculously long paragraphs, but even when you break things up with proper paragraph breaks, you need to keep things easy to read. Many people like to scan through an article rather than read it word for word and as such, they like to see subheadings like you see above.
3. Make it Interesting
This may sound obvious but it’s really not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read through a super long blog post and ended up feeling like I wanted to tear my hair out because it was so dull. Even if the information you are providing is truly useful, people don’t want to read it if it’s really quite dull. Keep things moving along – throw in an anecdote once in a while and make it something that people would actually like to read.
4. Watch the Grammar and Spelling
Nothing gets people to walk away and look elsewhere faster than when you have constant typos and grammar mistakes in what you write. No, you don’t need to be letter perfect – an occasional typo here and there won’t kill you. However, if you don’t keep things reasonably clear, your readers will eventually give up and look elsewhere. Poor spelling and grammar is also more likely to get people to decide that you cannot be trusted.
By the way, speaking of anecdotes, I still remember running across a “job” listed on Elance for a content writer. This was a few years back. The guy could barely write in the English language (it was something like “I do good writing. You give me work I do. Need twenty dollar.” Something to that effect). However, what was truly amusing and what made it all the sadder was that it was clear the guy was trying to find work but couldn’t even read English well enough to figure out that he was posting in the help wanted section.
5. Make It Personal
Unless you are writing a technical manual, don’t be afraid to make things personal in what you write. When I write, I often use the first person to address my readers. The reason is simple – people want to hear what you have to say. Not some kind of cookie cutter party line. This relates as well to the item above – don’t be afraid to throw in some personal stories. One exception to this rule though is when you are working on news stories. In those cases, you are supposed to be objective.
6. Make It Worth Their While
Nobody wants to waste their time on a long boring piece of writing which doesn’t even offer any value. So make your writing worthwhile for your readers so that they know they will get useful information by taking the time to read everything. Notice how I keep on adding new layers of ideas here and don’t just throw around a lot of fluff – that’s what you need to do if you want to keep readers motivated to read.
7. Consider Doing the Video Thing
Video is all the rage today and it’s something which it seems everybody is embracing. So consider adding a video to your article which explains (perhaps in brief terms) what it is that you have to say. The best part about this is that you don’t even need a lot of fancy video equipment. These days, even a cell phone has a decent enough video camera built in to allow you to create good quality videos which can supplement the written word.
8. Use Lists
I wrote about this here in the past – people love to read lists. So why not consider using them? Here are a few good reasons why people like lists so much:
- They’re easy on the eyes
- They can be quickly scanned
- The provide a lot of information in a small space
- I just got you to read this part of the post by creating a list – it must work pretty well then, right?
9. Provide Relevant Links
People love to see links in your content which will allow them to read more about what they want to know about. So why not provide it to them? This is a simple and easy method to get people to spend time reading what you have to say.
10. Consider In Context Boxes
This is the latest thing in trying to get people to really want to pay attention to what you have to say in a blog post or pretty much anywhere else. It’s used by the big boys, but us “little” folk haven’t quite gotten there yet. I found a cool little plugin for WordPress which does exactly that – you hover over a particular word and it pops up a little box which tells you more about the particular subject which you happen to be interested in.
11. Add Pictures
We live in a visual world and the old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words is all the truer today. So why not spice up your blog post with a few photos? You can find millions of photos which are available without any usage requirements (or which merely require that you credit the original photographer) online. One place I love to use for this purpose is the Every Stock Photo meta search service. This site will search around 20 different services to find you the perfect picture for your blog posts. And the best part? It’s free.
12. Send Them Reminders
I recently found a really cool plugin for WordPress which will actually send out SMS text messages to your readers to tell them when a new blog post has been added to your site. This can definitely help you to increase readership and to get more people to actually read what you have to say. Oh and the best part? Not to many people are doing this yet which puts you ahead of the game!
13. Use Split Testing
Split testing is a powerful method for finding out what your customers actually think of a particular piece of writing. The idea is that you create two similar but different pieces of material and then promote both of them equally. You can then see which ones are converting better and which ones people are looking at long by using analytics to try to glean what it is that makes people more excited to read one piece of your writing as opposed to another one.
14. Use a Good Headline
Check out the headline on this blog post – it practically begs you to want to read more and find out just what these techniques are which will allow you to grab eyeballs and pretty much force them to read what you have to say.
Or, even better – consider some of the famous headlines in newspapers over the years. Does anyone remember the famous headline in the New York Daily News back during the Ford administration? The City of New York was out of cash and the mayor had gone hat in hand to the president looking for help. He was denied.
The Post ran a headline (which by the way was not entirely accurate – Ford never said those words) which captured the emotion and practically forced people to read what the article was about: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”
15. Be Controversial
Did you know that the Jerry Springer Show started out being a very conservative buttoned down talk show ala the old Phil Donahue show? It’s true – the shock jock himself started out doing things vastly differently than he does them now. However, because he found that he was able to get more people to tune into the show if he had fights going on, he changed the format and the modern Springer was born.
Now I’m not saying that you need to be doing things which seem offensive like Jerry Springer does, but there is no reason at all that you can’t spice up what you have to say with at least a little bit of controversy.
16. Use Buzz Words
Check out Google Trends and you’ll find that there are lists of topics which are currently “popular” on the Internet. Go there and look through the trends and try to find “buzz words” which can spice up your writing and which will get people more interested in whatever it is that you have to say.
For example, back when Justin Bieber was super hot (yes, I know – apologize to any teenage girls reading this. I know he’s still popular, but his popularity has cooled a bit) I did an article where I linked Bieber to questions about personal finance.
17. Make it Rewarding
This one can be a bit tricky to pull off in some cases, however it is possible to offer some kind of a reward for those who actually take the time to read what you have to say. For example, you can offer a contest where you give something away to the person who posts the most insightful comment on your blog post. This will make more people read what you have to say because they want to come up with something thoughtful to tell you.
18. Buy Their Affection
This is a twist on the technique mentioned above. In essence, the idea here is that you would be offering people some kind of a “bribe” for actually reading what you have to say. So for example, you might use a survey response form which gets people a coupon code off of whatever product you have to offer for sale.
19. Use SEO
You know, it sounds so simple but it really isn’t – to many people don’t bother to use H tags and bold or italics when they want to make a point in their writing. By constantly and consistently using these techniques (which by the way happen to also be the backbone of doing on page seo work), you will be much more likely to attract readers to your content and actually get them to pay attention.
By the way, speaking of doing SEO, I ran across another really cool plugin on the Warrior Forum recently which basically does the whole job for you – it actually automates the process of getting lots of on page SEO pieces into your writing, including the ideas I mentioned above.
20. Follow the Golden Rule
Finally, whichever religion you follow or even if you follow no religion at all, there is a rule which seems to be almost universally applied in humanity and one which we too often ignore – do to other as you have them to do you. In other words, take the time to read through what you wrote and ask yourself honestly – is this something which would interest me if I were reading through this long blog post? If you can honestly answer yes, then you already have the makings of something which will pretty much force people to read what you have to say.