If you’re just getting started in the blogging world, adapting your writing style to the online readership may take some getting used to. Writing blog posts is very different from writing a book or an essay. The readers expect a certain type of experience – some of it mere preference and some rooted in psychology. And ignoring what readers have been shown to enjoy online can cause abnormally-high bounce rates and kill your sales.
Let’s have a look at the basics of writing an easily-digestible article for your blog.
1. Keep Paragraphs Short
Pay attention to the way this article is laid down, formatting-wise. You may have noticed the paragraphs are very short, bite-sized chunks of information. Whereas, an author or essayist might include five to ten sentences in one paragraph, an effective web writer will limit themselves to two or three – I’d say four tops.
And then possibly interject with a one-sentence paragraph like his one.
Why is it done this way? Well, have a look at this article. It’s much easier to read on a screen with the extra white space than it would be to pick through a wall of text, isn’t it?
Big paragraphs that go on and on are very boring when read on a computer, not to mention hard on the eyes. By splitting your paragraphs down into their separate thoughts, you provide an easy-to-digest reading experience that seems to just pull the reader along.
In fact, this style of writing is even spilling over into many contemporary books. Try it some time.
2. Write to Your Friend
Web writing is extremely conversational in style – yet another characteristic that is spilling over into modern books.
You want to speak with your readers, not at them. Some people say you should be dumbing your writing down. I think that might be going a little too far.
Sure, you don’t want to use a bunch of big, pretentious words or bore your readers with technical language, but I think it’s more accurate to say that you want to pretend you’re writing to a friend or a co-worker.
To gauge whether or not the writing is conversational enough, read it aloud. Does it sound like something you’d say? If so, you’re on the right track.
Part of this conversational nature of online writing includes grammar. You may have noticed that I’m quite liberal with my English language usage – I’ll use fragment sentences or start sentences off with “but” or “and.” All very acceptable on the Internet (though it does depend on your audience).
3. Use at Least One Image
Images can say a lot that it takes far longer to spell out in an article, and they add some flair and professionalism to the appearance of your article. But that’s not the only reason you should use them.
You may have noticed a lot of article writers use an image at the top of their article, set off to the right side of the opening sentences. It’s attractive, yes, but it also shortens up the lengths of the lines, drawing the reader’s eye down into the article.
It’s more inviting and looks less tedious to read, and then your job is to hook them with that first sentence and get them to read the rest.
4. Be Generous With Headings
Try to split up your article with headlines. This helps increase the white space that makes an online article so pleasing to the eye. It also grabs the attention of people who scan articles without reading them, pulling them back in.
I try to use a sub-heading every two or three paragraphs, if possible, although there is no set rule here.
Also recommended for formatting purposes are numbered lists and bullet-points.
5. Stay On Topic
Internet articles should never be a meandering monologue. People are not just online for entertainment purposes – they want to receive information as well.
It should be clear what your article is about by reading the headline, and this key focus should continue on down through the article, broken up by sub-headings or supporting ideas. It’s okay to go off on a tangent as long as the tangent is relevant and comes full circle, but the idea is to give the reader exactly what they’re looking for.
Don’t talk their ear off about irrelevant information.
What do you think about the writing style outlined above? Can you see why it works so well? Does it appeal to you as a reader? Feel free to share some of your own opinions in the comments below.