Be honest for a moment. How much of an article do you usually read? 1/3 on average, maybe half if it’s decent?
Yeah you’re not alone. Most of us are skimmers, and when we come across dull content there’s no incentive to stick around.
So what do you do if you’re a writer and you want people to read your articles all the way through?
- You get lucky
- You edit the hell out of it & make that shit tight
- Add in some personality/and or humor
- Add in lots of cat photos
So let’s say you’re not particularly lucky and you don’t blog in the pet niche. That leaves you with 2 options: edit like mad or add in some personality. In a perfect world you’d do both, but for today let’s focus on adding in some personality.
How to Make Your Articles More Engaging
When it comes to being a blogger there’s one way to not stand out and that’s to be dull and/or boring.
Now considering there’s more than 100,000 posts published everyday it’s pretty easy to get lost in the sea of dullness.
On any given day how many articles do you read that make you laugh? How many do you read that inspire you? How many do you read that really get your brain juices flowing?
Probably not a lot.
You want to stand out in your niche? Add in a little extra flair. Add in some jokes, extra photos with captions, use metaphors.
You engage with your audience by making them feel something – and to do that you’ve got to wow them.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
Articles that stand out are the ones that make people do something, whether it’s share it on facebook or decide that hell yes they can conquer the world now thanks to your encouragement.
Here’s 7 simple ways you can make your articles stand out, it’s up to you to decide which ones will fit with your blog.
1. Everyone Loves Photos: Make Your Post Visual
Skimmers, remember? You’ve got to somehow keep their attention and one of the easiest ways is with images. Photos not only help break up your article and make it easier to read, they keep us engaged.
Did you know that some of the most read text in any article is the photo caption? Yeah, so seriously make sure that shit is tight.
Visuals help us tell a story, they make stuff easier to understand, and they help us retain information for longer.
2. Add in Some Humor (When Appropriate)
For most niches you should be able to find a way to add in some humor to your posts.
Hell even if you have a blog on climate change there’s nothing wrong with posting “10 Things Unbelievers Love to Tell You” and adding in some of the ridiculous claims you’ve seen. Bonus points if you make each one a meme.
Now that’s not quite knock knock joke humor but when you’re writing for the right audience they’ll certainly get it.
Even detectives who work in homicide use humor as a way to cope with stress. While it might seem insensitive to some just keep in mind who you’re writing for. Whose your audience? Will this joke/anecdote resonate with them?
You’re always going to piss at least one person off, but if you know your audience well enough you should have a pretty good idea of what will fly with them.
Now I’m not saying go overboard with it, and I’m certainly not suggesting adding any knock knock jokes.
What I suggest is using humorous anecdotes that your audience will understand.
When it comes to creating engaging content you want you reader to feel something, and humor is one simple way to achieve that.
3. Write Like You Speak
If you’ve been hired by a scientific or medical journal you can skip this step, but for the rest of you read on.
Have you ever stumbled upon a blog and felt a connection with them right away?
If so chances are it probably has a lot to do with how they write. One of the first blogs I found that hooked me in was the Bloggess.
She’s witty and writes in a style that resonates with me, and that feeling of familiarity keeps me coming back.
4. Use Metaphors, Stories or Jokes to Make a Point
If you can create a metaphor to make a point with you readers you’re golden. A good metaphor can make complex ideas/concepts seem simple.
Metaphors can make foreign concepts understandable on a personal level. If you’re not able to make a metaphor try adding in a short story that relates to the topic at hand.
I remember articles with a decent story, joke or metaphor much better than those without.
5. Break Your Article Up Into Small Pieces
This isn’t your high school English class so you can forget about making your paragraphs 5 sentences long.
We don’t often read articles online the same way we read a novel. We’re often skimming, and by breaking your post up into pieces with clear sub headings you’re making it much easier to read.
People are busy, and by making your articles easy to read you’re helping us all out.
6. Make it Remarkable
In Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, he describes how you can transform your business by being remarkable. In short make stuff that gets people talking.
Here’s a great example of remarkable advertising:
Do you remember all those “But Will it Blend?” ads by Blendtec that got popular a few years back? That’s a great example of making something remarkable. Those ads made people laugh, they made people share, and they inspired a ton of memes. They got people talking.
And they did all that with a blender of all things. Blendtec saw a 700% increase in sales after those ads took off.
So in terms of your own blog try to come up with ways to not only make your content great – but to make it remarkable.
Make it stand out. Make stuff that gets people talking.
7. Improve Your Editing Skills
If you want to be a good writer you’re going to have to learn to edit. One of the easiest ways to take an average article to one that truly shines is to edit the crap out of it. Take out all those unnecessary words, make it tight.
If you’ve got the budget go ahead and hire an editor, but most of us don’t. You can ask a friend to help, or you can learn to edit your own work.
Learning how to edit takes some practice, but my biggest piece of advice to you is to take your time. After you’ve written your first draft let it sit for a day or two – don’t edit right away.
Improving your editing skills will take time, but here’s 3 great articles to get you started:
- 7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful
- 25 Editing Tips for Tightening Up Your Copy
- Improve Your Writing With These Editing Tips
When it comes to creating engaging content you need to make it resonate. It should be able to convey even the most mundane of topics into something that your audience will remember.
Throw in a joke, add more photos, make it easy to read. Make it something your readers can relate to.
And when possible bring out the human element in your writing; the things we remember most are the things that make us feel. A few simple touches can take your article from blah to truly remarkable.