You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, our "Two for Tuesdays" focused on tips for blogging. Today's post focuses on a couple of additional tips for blogging, but can also be applied to other writing you're doing. These days, it's becoming more and more difficult to distinguish one from the other, since both are sharable online, and many of the same principles of how people consume information apply to each.
The first tip is again, one you can implement easily, while the second may take a bit more time and thought (and the first is one that's a HUGE pet peeve of mine, which I'll explain):
Tip One - Use Shorter Titles
The title is, by far, the most important piece of your article or post.
"What about the content?" I can hear you saying.
And while, yes, the content is critical, the title is the reader gateway - it's what self-selects those who will not have an interest in what you have to say, from those who will find it valuable.
Secondarily, it gives the latter group a reason to read further - if the title is bland or boring, they may not read any more. If it's catchy, but non-descriptive, you may lose people who think the content doesn't apply to them. So it's a key piece of any writing that you're doing.
The reason my tip today is to make your titles shorter is this - shorter titles are easy to share. Pretty much every article or blog post is going to have buttons that allow the reader to easily share the post through all kinds of social networks. The longer the title is, the more likely they'll run into a character limit somewhere (Twitter, or LinkedIn Groups, for example) and rather than doing the work of figuring out how to shorten the title, they'll just decide NOT to share the piece after all.
I can't tell you the number of times I've had to forego sharing a valuable piece of content on Twitter, simply because the title was too long. It drives me crazy.
You may argue that if someone finds your work very valuable, then they will go to the extra effort of sharing it, even if the title is too long. And perhaps, on a small number of occasions, they will. But think about your audience for a moment - they're busy (we're all busy, right?) and unless you make things as convenient and easy for them as possible, they're going to be on to the next thing.
Ask yourself - what's more important? Getting every potential keyword and content note into your title (and losing readers and a potentially viral circulation), or creating short, pointed titles that make your purpose clear and are easy to share. It's a no-brainer. Take two minutes to see how difficult it would be to share your title and the link before hitting "publish," and before long, it will be second nature.
Tip Two: Break up Your Posts Visually
When I first started blogging, I would write long dissertations, broken up only by some paragraphs, and maybe a few titles here and there. When I joined LexBlog after a few months of blogging, one of their first suggestions to me was to work on creating more space - the reason for this is the nature of the way we consume information today.
No one is really sitting down at their computer or mobile device and reading every word that someone writes. It would be nice to say otherwise, but we're just all too busy and inundated with content to do anything else. So instead, we're scanning posts to get at the salient information and decide if we need to really concentrate on a subject, if we want to share it, or if we want to move on.
The way your post looks visually can assist with this - and the way to do that is to break it up:
- use MUCH shorter paragraphs than you're used to (a sentence or two)
- employ lists (bulleted or numbered - people love lists!)
- break up your post in sections with headers that employ larger, bold fonts, etc.
If you're unsure as to how this might work best, take a look at some of the articles and blogs that you've enjoyed the most - look at how they handle spacing, and what's visually pleasing to you, and translate that into what would work best for your own writing. It makes a huge difference!
Got any additional tips for blogging (or writing for that matter)? Feel free to share them in the comments below!