Hook, Line and Sinker: How to Get Your Posts Gobbled Up

Blogging for FishReadability is the name of the game in blogging. So what makes one blog post more “readable” than another? It’s about striking a casual, relate-able tone that goes down smooth and leaves the reader satisfied, sure. That’s a given. Great bloggers know readability, but they make it look easy because they start with an idea that takes hold of you and won’t let you go.

Is that all there is to it? Well, yes.

As you can imagine, however, I do have a bit more to say on the matter. 😉

Starting with a great idea, in fact, might be the first and last rule of readability. When I spend some time on my favorite blogs, I’m always glad I did because I was entertained, I enjoyed the feel of the content, like a conversation with a friend, and I’m a little smarter for having read the post. Great blogs promise immediate gratification because no matter the writer’s specific style, I know I’m going to be left with a solid idea. I know they won’t waste my time.

Busy-ness as a Form of Laziness

Too often, writers misconstrue the casual nature of blogging and create something more like lazy writing and therefore less readable content. Blogging can be casual, of course.  But blogging isn’t always easy, even if the standards for tone and quality are not the same as they are for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Writer, you’ve got to bring the ideas. Don’t start an article without one.

As a former corporate trainer and business consultant, I’ve routinely run into an alarming number of people who claimed to be busy with lots of hard work. I believe that they believed they were actually working hard. What they weren’t doing, is getting something done. They weren’t making a difference in their businesses, despite their best efforts, because they played it safe and opted to be busy rather than productive. They ticked off lists of activities– lists that made me tired just seeing them– without results.

I see bloggers and writers of all stripes doing the same thing, ticking off posts as if filling a page with words actually accomplishes something. It doesn’t. A blog post without a good idea isn’t an article, it’s filler. And there is no mandate just to “publish something, anything,” anymore because search engines don’t care for filler, same as readers.

Form Follows Function

Having a real point to your post, a Golden Nugget, as I have previously written, is all you need to make a post worth a reader’s time. That’s its function, after all. The form of the post– its title and structure– comes next. When you commit to a catchy title before you know what to deliver in the body, your content is bound to disappoint. “X Ways to do What?” Why? List some obvious ideas or tell readers the boringest* basics of tying their shoes and you haven’t really written an article, so much as a meditation in futility.

Go in search of that compelling idea– that secret, that new insight, that special, helpful, useful, memorable tidbit readers will gladly eat up– then, and only then, should you decide what to title your article, the angle you’ll take, and the structure of the post.

Great ideas are out there, floating around for free. Trust me. I find them every day, and I’m 99% sure that you do, too. Search and ye shall find.

The Finer the Detail, the Better the Post

Assuming your topic idea is one that readers would like to know about, it’s critical that your article delivers something they didn’t actually know. Playing Mr. Obvious will not win you friends, repeat readers, or hosts for your guest content.

Find some expert quotes, statistics, specific steps, links or examples to illustrate your points and hand your reader a takeaway or two worth having. Often, the great idea for your post is the exact expert quote, statistics, specific steps, links or examples that turned on the light bulb for you in the first place. Use them. Elaborate on them. Pull in similar resources. And by all means, give credit where credit is due.

Being a smart consumer of online information who can curate and translate ideas into new articles for a new audience is perhaps the most under-appreciated aspect of a writer’s job. Of course, you don’t just want to write it, you want it to be read…

If a Title is Boring, does the Post Exist?

No, it does not. Feel good about yourself and your new post all you want. Know that you spent the afternoon writing and not watching Dr. Phil, but what’s the difference? Unread posts are like the unexplored depths of the ocean. Certainly great blog articles have been overlooked, like some crazy undiscovered sea creature, lurking in the dark depths of the internet. But most posts, well, they are the dark depths, literally nothing to see there.

Readability starts with the only line most surfers ever see: the title. Couple that with a curiosity-inducing intro and you’ll land many times the readers. Remember, titles aren’t labels, they’re lures, bait, hooks. Once you’ve got some content worth reading, take care of it with a title that gets attention.

Write Like You Talk, Not Like You Walk

Conversations ebb and flow. Some thoughts take time to develop and require you to hold your audience’s attention as you navigate the finer points of your positively mind-bending revelation. Some don’t. So write like it. Make your words, sentences and paragraphs fun and interesting to follow.

If you set your sentence structure to a metronome and state fact after fact, step after step in the same way with the same word count, no one will ever finish you posts. No one. Not even your Mom. Ouch. Yeah, I know.

Time was, I would write about the biggest ideas I could, with big complex sentences and a vocabulary that could have only been taken from an SAT prep course. That didn’t go over well, either. In time, I learned to find a balance that brought readers along with me. I learned to enjoy the writing process and have fun with my readers. I’m no pro, but I enjoy writing like I do a great conversation. That, my friends, is what readability is.

Before you publish your next post (heck, before you even start it), imagine explaining your topic to a friend over a drink. Or maybe to your mother. Better yet, don’t imagine it, try it! If you can explain your topic verbally, trigger some curiosity and hold your audience’s attention, you may have a good article on your hands. If you can play it out together, and answer some deeper questions, chances are good you have the beginning of a great article– one that new readers take, hook, line and sinker.

*Yes, I make up words. But you kinda liked it. You know you did.

Mike is Co-founder and CMO of Content BLVD, a marketplace where product companies and YouTubers meet to get more products into more videos. He's written for, been quoted in, and kicked out of many fine establishments.

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Posted in Building a Better Blog, Creating Content, Writing Better Content
2 comments on “Hook, Line and Sinker: How to Get Your Posts Gobbled Up
  1. Mary Page says:

    Good information. I love the emphasis on linking, quoting, stats and examples. The penguin update in May and more to come is insisting content be trustworthy and credible. Also the integration of HTML 5 which plays into that aspect as well as we begin to cross platform devices demands ethics and some common courtesies. I will go back and add links to my articles since that is something I had not done here as much. From the information coming from Google penguin also insists on credible natural links. Of course you have a faction out there trying to dismiss ghost writing but from what I see across the globe it is increasing as professionals such as lawyers, doctors, professors, dentists, engineers etc are blogging for their small business. They want high quality rich content with credible sources and links. Of course those demographics want relationships that build trust which Content Blvd is fabulous at. Language is living and I make up words as well~you are suppose to. It has accelerated due to technology expansion. Just so you know from an educator of high level in reading training there are 6 levels of language. Grammarly has it in its software checks~ the one relative to the Internet. Static language like dead Latin and some church liturgies that never changes. Living language starts here. Formal language like in liturgies, church, government and legal realms. Business language we use here, and on the Net daily. Academic language which we use in schools. Casual language which we use on the Net and with friends. Intimate language used between lovers. Baby language which we use when young and play with words or when we learn a new language. Different clients have different language needs. Tech language articles are slightly different than Music articles :). All of which with the coming semantic web ( making queries by phrases and questions) that is reorganizing how information is retrieved across the Net comes into play with the changes. So WORD play on, WRITE on and be especially creative and engaging (in the positive way). oooOOOOOoooo I missed you Mike and Dan and the rest of the staff. Mary

  2. So many ideas from so many different people around the world. Isn’t it great just fantastic. Thanks you for sharing your comments.

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