Lorraine Griffin
Lorraine Griffin 10 June 2016

Write the Way People Want to Read!

10 quick tips to creating content that flows. The sheer volume of written content out there is staggering, and growing daily. If you want to reach the right people for your brand, or your blog, then you've got to get smart about how you write. Take a few mins to read 10 quick tips - I guarantee you'll learn something handy to help you when creating your next piece...

Write the way people want to read!  10 quick tips to creating content that flows.

  1. People view content differently online.  This is a fact –the brain works differently and goes into ‘scan’ mode so not every word will be read, and people are only searching for what’s personally relevant to them.  So make it easy for them.  Keep text uncluttered and easy to navigate, highlight the key/action words, use colour and try varying font sizes. 
  2. When you’re designing opening paragraphs, chose larger fonts and fewer characters per line.  It makes it easier for the viewer to read and focuses their attention.
  3. I can’t stand TVs in pubs.  Invariably one or more of the group will start to watch it, or flick their eyes towards it now and then.  It’s how we’re built (something to do with predators back in the day).  Pictures, photos and images, and especially moving pictures (gifs / videos), will always draw the eye.  Use this to your advantage and draw your readers in with an image.  Always better if it relates to your headline and content, as readers don’t enjoy being ‘tricked’ by an image of a big ice-cream cone when the article relates to fruit wastage. Try this handy tool to source free images: and make sure you secure copyright permission when using images or videos.
  4. There’s a trend at the moment for reverse psychology when trying to get people to sign up to newsletters and emails lists.  Stuff like ‘Click here if you don’t want to be left behind’ or ‘Ignore this if you don’t are about your health’.  Hmmm.  Not sure about this approach, I’d say it might backfire.  Instead, go for friendly, welcoming language like ‘Talk to us’, ‘get our latest free guide’, ‘fire up your creativity!’ ‘Join a fun community of home-cooks!’ etc.
  5. It goes without saying but you have to know who you are writing this for – is it a busy commuter needing distraction on their clammy bus journey?  Is it a weekend bruncher lazing about in the back garden squinting at their iPhone screen?  Or perhaps you want a business owner to download your e-book and share with their team?  Think about the context, and adapt your style, tone and content so that you appeal to the audience you want.
  6. Create attention-grabbing headlines.  This one can be tricky –unless you are genuinely a Tabloid Editor (and can get away with the scariest of puns) you need to strike the balance between eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling! Action words, stats and numbers work well –‘Discover your true personality’, ‘Find your true calling’, ‘5 ways to predict the future’.  Or perhaps a slight shock tactic like ‘5% of your life will be spent looking stuff up on Google’*  (*not true but can feel like it at times)
  7. According to Kissmetrics, the optimal length of a headline is 6-8 words.  Beyond that you may lose the crowd a little.  However if the headline is cursor-stoppingly good, I’ve seen longer ones do well also, especially on entertainment sites.
  8. Don’t talk to your customers or fans the way you might chat at the weekly product meeting, in other words use plain English and avoid any technical or industry-specific jargon.  Ever get stuck beside two petrol heads at a party who started talking about engine capacity and rev matching?  When you’re not that close to the technical stuff, it’s impossible to understand it.  So unless you’re writing for a technical audience bring the level up and make it accessible to everyone.
  9. Break it down!  Realms of text can be off-putting, especially if you think of that commuter trying to scroll through screens upon screens of text.   Create some white space in between all those words; add some images or photos to break it up a little.  Tell the story in a screen-friendly way.  Think about using lists and bullets.
  10. The final edit.  Review your piece.  If it’s starting to resemble an academic or medical paper, with multiple pages of text, time to revise your approach.  Think about that weary commuter or the casual iPhone reader.  Make it effortless to read and they’ll come back for more.
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