How not to lose readers

This post was inspired by a worrying discovery I made recently – I suffer from blog fatigue!

I follow a number of blogs about freelance life, to pick up business tips and for insider knowledge. Yet the more I read, the more I am finding they can be a serious timesink…

This can be for four reasons:

  1. Bloggers tend to write about subjects they know a great deal about and may believe that their readers need every ounce of that knowledge.
  2. Authors may use their blog to promote their business, which they obviously believe is the best thing on the planet (rightly so!), and apply that belief (read: bias) to their writing.
  3. Authors don’t necessarily have their blogs edited, so no impassioned reader is picking up on redundancies, self-indulgencies and purple prose.
  4. It’s incredibly difficult to take a step back and assess your own work in the cold light of day.

So now that we’ve identified the problem, what’s the solution?

  • When writing a blog post, consider it a post for your audience, as opposed to it benefitting you.
  • Put yourself in your readers’ shoes – how long will they likely have to engage with it? (Aim for the lower end; a 5 minute read is in fact a long and demanding read.)
  • Imagine how your post will be accessed – most of us use smartphones to read content online and do it on the go, so write posts that can easily be read in short chunks of time.
  • Break up the text into paragraphs that can be sped-read at a glance.
  • Highlight information of importance by creating lists and using bold type.
  • If something can be expressed in one word, use it rather than being overly descriptive.
  • Be ruthless when self-editing – if something can be left out (such as your ad-hoc parenthetical comments (!)), drop it.
  • Leave your post unpublished for a day and get back to it with fresh eyes. Do this exercise again and if anything can be done to improve clarity and brevity*, do it.
  • Finally, if you can, engage a copy-editor who can do the hard work for you.

Happy blogging! What are the other tips you have for writing engaging blog posts? Share in the comments section.

*Brevity doesn’t always have to be your goal as a blogger and it isn’t called for at all times; but sometimes it may be helpful to start your post with a short summary and include a ‘Read more…’ button at the end for those interested readers.

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