Does your Blog content look like this…………..
………Or like this?
This post was inspired by three people:
The first; @markwschaefer, who really understands “digestible” and recently wrote “Turn the beat around. Let’s blog upside down” ~ a favorite of mine and a definite “must read” for everyone who blogs.
The second; Nicolas Carr bestselling author of ”The Shallows”, who understands how people read online.
The third; @EmilyBerg, our Bank-On-Rain summer intern.
It all started with Emily, who has lots of great ideas (content), but sometimes the content looks like the top image above When I mentioned this to @YouTernMark he confessed this was an ongoing issue with his blogging interns, and would I please consider writing a post specifically for them.
To have an even better understanding of how we should write, we need to understand how people read online as this is where most of us read, and this is where Nicholas Carr comes in.
Carr points out in his book (amongst lots of other things!) that instead of sitting down and reading a book cover to cover in a linear way, we engage in a sort of non-linear “skimming activity” when we read online.
I get the majority of my reading and information online ….. and many times don’t read all the way through; instead I am following interesting links, sometimes so far from the original that I am well and truly sidetracked from where I started! Often after I read something ……it’s out of mind, as I’ve gone on to something else!
I prefer the term “power browsing” for this useful “non-linear” activity we now all seem to be engaging in.
If we understand how people read we can begin to modify our style of writing ~ into manageable pieces of content, presented for easy digestion….. just like in the second image above
Grab your audience with the title ~as per Mark …. Nail them as David Oglivy says ~ On How to Write headlines ~ another favorite of mine, and good direction for all of us bloggers; professional & interns.
“You have to give them the punchline first and THEN tell them who, what, when, where and why” Mark Schaefer says, and this is because readers mostly don’t have time to read to the end to get the point… so after the title, write the punchline….upfront right at the beginning of your post, and this will most often keep your readers engaged beyond the title…….. did this keep you reading ….blog content needs to be dished-out in digestible chunks
When I write a post, I write a one-liner summery for each paragraph as a descriptive “nugget” of what I am going to say. I try to do these short and ‘precise”, and then I embellish each “headline” with a paragraph consisting of a further descriptive few lines; by few I mean 4-5 not 9-10 or 100.
Think of these paragraph summary one-liners as nuggets of wisdom or interest ~ each a digestible mouthful in its separate china spoon….
Since many people only read bold or captions under images make these “bold nuggets” count, and tell the whole story! Mark says “You have to earn the right to go long”.…….but when you are starting out, conciseness and brevity (with interesting content of course) will get you the most kudos!
If you identify yourself as a “rambling content” intern, try writing each thought in 140 characters as we do in the twitterverse… and each thought must mean something significant within the overall post. After that it’s not that hard to string these thoughts together to make sense. You start from the ‘spoon’ presentation instead of the ‘big gulp’ on a plate, and generally this is easier than the other way around; you build up rather than edit down (I know the pros will disagree with this…. but we are dealing with interns here!)
What is really good about Emily is she has the good ideas and an understanding of “story”, but now our joint mission is to make it digestible, as one day she will not have me to edit her posts
Check out our Bank On Rain blog.
I’d like to hear from writers, interns…. anyone who contributes posts to a blog…….does this make sense to you? Please comment (in small, tasty bites) below.
Images: top ©unknown, second@Alice Wang with special thanks, third @CASUDI