The 5 Characteristics of a Compelling Online Article
People these days normally have about seven different tabs open and they’re checking Twitter on their phone while they skim your blog post. We live in a busy world and with the smorgasbord of information constantly bombarding our senses, you can’t blame them for having low attention spans. In order to drive value from your blog, it’s crucial to attract their attention and keep it until you finish saying what you have to say.
There’s always a juicier article, YouTube video or slideshow that your readers will click away to if you don’t keep them interested. With that in mind, here are the characteristics of writing which compels an online audience to keep reading.
A Snappy, Interesting Headline
If you don’t have a good headline, the chances of your article getting read are low. It’s the first thing your readers will see, and it has to grab their attention immediately. Also, if you want your article to be shared over social media, you need to have a juicy headline. There are plenty of online resources you can check out to learn the art of writing headlines. Try to keep your headlines topical and generate some intrigue.
Before you publish your article, brainstorm a few headline ideas. Write the first dozen headlines that you could possibly use for your article before you pick one. Spend roughly the same amount of time crafting the perfect headline than you do writing the post.
The First Paragraph
The first paragraph of your article is the next crucial element of creating compelling content. This is also the piece of your article from which most search-engine snippets and article directory previews will be created. The purpose of the first paragraph is to reinforce the title, and assure your viewer that what they’re about to read is worth their while. There are a few ways you can open an article to achieve this purpose.
• Start with a summary of the topic being discussed.
• Lead with a question, getting your readers to invest more attention to the topic of your article.
• Start with a small story or a scenario which paints a picture of the topic being discussed for the reader.
• Open with a statement or a phrase which is surprising or controversial.
• You can use other ways to craft your opening paragraph if you find them appropriate for your context.
An Interesting Image
Popular social media expert Jeff Bullas says that posts with images get up to 94 percent more views. That is a staggering statistic. Make sure you have an image that is relevant to your post though. Don’t insert images of Kim Kardashian into every article you write just because images get more views. To find relevant and interesting images, you can search for Creative Commons licensed photos on Wikimedia, Flickr or other photo websites which have licensed images for commercial use. If you have slightly more money to spend, you can hire a good photographer to snap something which fits the theme of your article. You could just fire up Photoshop and create an image yourself. Whatever you do, make sure you aren’t infringing on any copyrights.
Format Your Article Correctly
Formatting is crucial if you want to keep your readers interested, especially if your article is a long one. Most readers scan through content, which has given rise to the term “scannable content.” Scannable content is a way of formatting your content in a manner that allows the reader to understand the point of your article by skimming through it. This can be done with bullet points, bold subheads or italicized text.
The Body of the Article
After you’ve set up everything else correctly, you need to deliver in the body of your article. In order to attract the right clients and candidates, your content should be informative, entertaining and relevant to your target market. If you’re wondering what kind of content your audience would like to read, do some research. Speak with your network and get their insights, visit forums, social media groups and other popular blogs in your niche to see which posts and topics are the most talked about right now. Use this information to guide your own articles.
Writing online is a skill that needs to be improved over time, even if you’re a proficient writer in another medium. Use these guidelines to customize your posts for an online audience. With enough practice, you’ll be able to create posts that attract, engage and inspire.