March 21, 2016
Quality content formatted poorly is like an Armani suit that doesn’t fit—an expensive embarrassment.
Readers won’t stick around for hard-to-read content, no matter how awesome you think it is.
Keep everything short and sweet, from your headlines to your paragraphs to your sentences.
In the Dark Times of blogging—those ancient days of outdated, misguided traditions—a cry rang out over the mountains.
It was a cry for sanity. For common sense. For objectivity.
It was a cry for proper blog formatting, so that content may shine brightly, and blogs would never again be a desert wasteland of confusion.
Reading content should be a joy for thine followers, a feast of knowledge for their parched minds.
You too can achieve content salvation, if and only if you adhere to the following commandments of blog formatting.
It’s time to start creating magnetic headlines that ensnare readers like the cold stare of Medusa.
Your headline is the first (and often only) impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling pitch, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.
Attention is fleeting, and even subpar headlines mean your prize-winning posts will go unread and unnoticed.
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.
— Mark Twain
Throughout your blog posts you should have subheadlines that keep doing the dirty work for your original headline.
That’s because everyone scans content first. If we see potential value, we go back through and read the whole thing.
Subheadlines are critical to turning scanners into readers. Use them effectively, and watch your content flourish like the ancient hanging gardens of Babylon.
Can you see a pattern here? Our attention spans are very short these days and we aren’t too inclined to actually read anything.
In fact, here’s a summary of an important study you should check out:
Bolding and italicizing throughout your blog posts is another method to draw back people that are only scanning your content.
Pretty simple, right? So start doing it.
Every single sentence matters.
You are literally fighting for attention with each piece of content you create.
Ideally, every sentence should be packed with meaning and value. No wasted space, no wasted words, no wasted energy.
If you read 3 or 4 sentences that have zero impact on you, aren’t you likely to bail on the whole blog post? Me too.
Make every sentence as impactful as possible.
This is how we are so good at converting clicks to customers. Words!
Short sentences work.
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words where one will do.
— Thomas Jefferson
Isn’t this easy to read?
Long, meandering sentences tend to lose your reader. They’re hard to follow. And odds are, each monster sentence you write can probably be shortened to something more concise, something easier for your readers to follow. Behold:
Odds are, every sentence you write can be condensed.
Use short sentences. They just work.
We don’t use simple words because your readers are too stupid to understand big words. We use simple words because your readers use simple words when they speak.
And writing should mimic speaking.
Brevity is a skill, and it takes time to develop. Start practicing it with the words you speak and write and notice how much more impact you have on people.
This takes critical thought and objective evaluation on your part. Does what you’re saying actually add value and meaning? If it doesn’t, nix it. Everything else is hot air.
Your readers aren’t stupid. But if they’re anything like the rest of us, they have ADD when it comes to reading online.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, hesitates when they stand at the base of a monstrous paragraph. 8 sentences? Forget about it.
Subconsciously, people are always asking themselves:
“Is it worth using my energy to wade through this?”
Your readers won’t scale mountains to get through your content. Use short paragraphs—preferably 4 sentences or less. Don’t make them work too hard, or they won’t work at all.
Organize your thoughts, organize your paragraphs.
One idea per paragraph. Remember, a paragraph should only be up to 4 lines—how much stuff can you jam in there, anyway?
We aren’t writing prose here.
Brevity, but on a macro level.
If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.
— Dennis Roth
Get to the point with every word, sentence, and piece of content.
Remember, internet readers have an attention deficit. It is what it is.
Stop assuming people are inclined to care about your stuff. They don’t.
Online readers will only pay attention to your ideas if you present them in ways that command their attention. That means packing as much value into as little space as possible.
Bullet points provide a great reader experience because they break up the monotony of your wall o’ text.
Find ways to use bullets throughout your blog posts. Get creative. You can easily turn a huge, intimidating paragraph into a list of bullets that people love.
All it takes is a little ingenuity.
Your readers will appreciate it—trust me.
These commandments are written for thine own good. Adhere to them and watch thine blog posts flourish. Fail to adhere to them and expect the wrath of a thousand suns.
It is fully within your power to avoid the plague of reader disengagement and the curse of Google invisibility. Simply obey these 10 Commandments, and all will be well.
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