IS YOUR BLOG DIGESTIBLE?

August 1st, 2011 by CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego)


Does your Blog content look like this…………..

………Or like this?

Blog content needs to be dished-out in digestible chunks, especially today when people spend far less time reading things from beginning to end!

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.

CASUDI

Designing Success

Images: top ©unknown,  second@Alice Wang with special thanks, third @CASUDI

TwitterPinterestGoogle+LinkedInEmailbuffer

12 Responses to “IS YOUR BLOG DIGESTIBLE?”

  1. Mark W Schaefer Says:

    Well done Caroline. A strong and helpful post. You certainly turned the beat around! : )

    Thanks for the kind mention!

  2. krysia Says:

    Love this! I agree and know I have the attention span of gnat when online reading; even when the topic is interesting to me I jump around, check my Facebook, go back to the article…Thanks for posting.
    .-= krysia´s last blog ..This is a test =-.

  3. Jon Buscall Says:

    I find it really helps to write in a “clean” environment, without any clutter around my screen. MarsEdit is great for blogging and I tend to write a lot of content in Scrivener, which is a perfect writing environment for larger documents.

    Like you I’m a firm believer in the power of headlines and nearly always start out from the headline and description. The inverted pyramid is still one of the best structures for online content.

  4. CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego) Says:

    Thanks again Mark for the “Turn the Beat Around post”, I’ve passed it around without restraint. And thanks for visiting here.

    Krysia not too many people honestly admit how they skim and flit over information these days…. in fact I find it quite scary sometimes when I step back and watch myself. Thanks for sharing.

    Jon so great to see you here. Yes, writing from a organized space is very important, whether computer space, office space or head space! Sometimes I still do my paragraph headings; blog outline by hand…… on a pad of paper overlooking the water….. a quiet place where a computer cant function (and no cell coverage) ~ it’s amazing how quickly things come together!

  5. EmilyBerg Says:

    I am very happy to have inspired a blog post for you :-)

    Interns are trained to write in high school and college–essentially. When we are asked to turn in 15 page papers, things can get a little messy (like the first image). Using bigger words, with drawn out complex sentences starts to seem like a good idea sometimes just to make sure you get your point across a few different ways. Longer is always better!

    You are asking me to unlearn what I have spent the last 21 years learning! The blog posting style is so much simpler. Very short, very to the point. Posts need to be lean in order to be digestible! This is a of course a different format to college papers, however what I have learned blogging can only benefit my future papers.

    I must say that I am very happy with the way my last post, IS there a Recipe for SUCCESS in Haiti?, turned out. Meeting with you in person to talk out my ideas worked excellently. (I didn’t realize that I am a better talker than writer sometimes :-)

    Much thanks for you guidance and patience with my sloppy meals!

  6. CASUDI Says:

    Thank you for commenting. I hope other interns can benefit from my post. You also said something pertinent the other day (IRL) and that was …..if it isn’t what you would say when talking don’t write it (in a blog post)~ yes, you certainly wouldn’t talk to me in the convoluted complex style of college papers :-)

    Good luck with all your future posts. I look forward to working with you on them, especially after your most recent post. What a major turn around in blogging understanding!

  7. CoCreatr Says:

    Great reminder to review my own approach to structured writing. Thank you.

    Saw a good demo of the effectiveness by information mapping. Demo at http://www.infomap.com/index.cfm/TheMethod/The_Method

  8. Ari Herzog Says:

    To respond literally…

    I’m a visual person and the concept of eating a meal where every bite is a different spoon is unappealing. I want the ability to walk through a buffet line and spoon some of this and some of that, and eat to my content. This is why I like Indian food, for instance, having the chicken and rice and vegetable dishes run into each other.

    Life runs into each other.

  9. CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego) Says:

    Yes, Bernd lots of people found my graphic illustrations helpful, especially interns starting out in the wide world of blogging. Your link underlined my point yet again…. thank you as always for sharing the relevant. I also received thanks from seasoned bloggers who felt I had given them a prod …..back to more digestible content.

    However, in essence I do agree with you Ari…… provided I am not having to edit my intern’s post…….hers was actually five different buffet plates all running together and from very diverse cultures! I agree it is the combination of flavors running together, each one enhancing the other that create a full culinary experience… now I am trying to see how this would fit into my analogy. Thanks so much for visiting Designing Success and commenting.

  10. Janet @ The Natural Networker Says:

    Caroline, aloha. What a terrific post. This should be “required reading for all who blog. This is now “living” on my computer both for reference and to share with others.

    Wishing you a magnificent week ahead, Caroline. Until we tweet, aloha. Janet

  11. How to write a blog post in 10 easy steps | Career Management and Workplace Culture Blog | TalentCulture.com Says:

    [...] web competing for space in the readers’ mind, it’s important to dice your content into easily digestable chunks. This doesn’t mean dumbing down your premise, it simply means you should highlight the areas [...]

  12. Robyn Wright of RobynsOnlineWorld.com Says:

    Awesome information! I can definitely see ways to implement this strategy into my blog. Thank you for sharing this link with me during #blogchat tonight!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge