4 Ways to Keep Your Blog from Boring Your Readers
February 25, 2016
We’ve all endured books, magazines, websites, movies, and television shows that have bored us to no end. Sometimes, we persevere until the conclusion of one episode, article, or webpage … but then never return. Other times, having learned our lesson, we stop immediately, deciding life is too short to be stuck reading or watching boring content.
Is that unfair? More than a few noted authors and actors have made the occasional yawn-inducer from which a first-time consumer arrived at a lasting—and sometimes false—impression. For example, many readers think Stephen King’s It is incredibly boring. A newbie to the author might try treading it, lose interest, and never read one of his novels again, thereby missing scary masterpieces such as Salem’s Lot and The Shining.
Your blog can suffer the same fate. Too much boring content, and the reader will tune out and perhaps not return to your website. Yes, everyone writes the occasional clunker—and mixed in with dozens of other posts, readers might not notice. However, if every entry on your blog causes drowsiness, readers won’t bother searching for the message you are trying to convey. Content can be technical without being boring; here are four ways how:
1. Think about your lead
The lead of a blog post should be similar to the lead of a newspaper feature article—it must be informative and entertaining, enough so to draw the reader into the rest of the story. Remember, in most blogs, only the first few paragraphs will be visible from each post on the main page, so the lead should make an impact because it will go a long way toward determining whether the visitor will click on the link or click away.
Lead writing can be an art form, taking years for even professional journalists to perfect. However, you don’t need to write Pulitzer-quality prose to create a lead that draws readers in. A great approach is to find a news item, statistic, or industry trend that relates to the topic of the post. Include that tidbit, link to it, and tie it into the rest of the article.
2. Offer some visual appeal
Here’s a short exercise to demonstrate why your blog posts must be visually appealing as well as be readable. Select-all this blog page, and then copy and paste into a blank Word file. Delete the title and headline, any subheads or bullets that might be in the text, any instances of bold or italicized text, every link, any extra hard returns, and, if they came along for the ride, all pictures, charts, and graphics. Now, try reading the remaining text with your full attention. Likely, you’ll be squinting at each sentence, trying to stay focused on just finishing and comprehending the article. A blog that doesn’t look good instantly becomes more boring, no matter how interesting the copy actually is. Include all the elements mentioned in this paragraph to capture—and keep—the reader’s attention.
3. Lists are lovely
As much as we want visitors to start from the top of a blog post and read it all the way to the finish, the eyes of most readers will first focus upon the text that stands out—the headers, the bullets, and, especially, charts and lists. A quick bulleted list of several items important to the goal of the post can be incredibly effective in demonstrating value of the blog and of your company. Even if visitors just read the list, as long as they feel you provided them something, they will be more likely to click on links and CTAs on the page and keep returning to your website.
4. Go easy on the heavy research
You want your blog to establish that you are a thought leader in your industry—a trusted authority that visitors can rely upon to answer their questions. In this quest, companies sometimes go overboard with the information, turning what should be an informal blog post into a research journal article. In the awareness stage, most readers aren’t looking for an elaborate treatise, but just some guidance to the problems they are experiencing. A post with too much deep research might send the visitor seeking other, less complex sources. Save the advanced stuff for whitepapers and e-books—content that prospects will arrive as they progress through the buyer’s journey, which, of course, often begins with a clear, informative, and interesting blog.
(And for the record, I never thought It was boring, but reading the epic did require endurance …)
In what ways have you tried making your company’s blog more interesting?
About the author
Joe Gillespie is Director of Inbound Copy for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and, before coming to SmartBug, was a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.