Let’s face it, you won’t watch a movie to the end, finish a book or read a magazine article if it’s boring. Your blog is no different.
You might have the best tips, strategies, insights or even keys to the kingdom, but if you have a boring blog, people won’t read it.
In this post, I’m sharing 7 ways to turn any blog from boring to brilliant, get more readers and have readers become loyal fans.
1) Start with a problem (I just did it)
I started this post by describing a problem (your blog might not be working, possibly because it’s boring) to get your attention. That’s very different from starting with a bland statement about why blogs are important or why you need more readers.
If you want to get your reader’s attention, design your blog post to “answer the question going on in your customer’s mind.” In other words, get clear about the problem you are going to solve, make that clear in your headline and then deliver the goods!If you want to get your reader’s attention, design your blog post to “answer the question going on in your customer’s mind.” Click To Tweet
2) Tell a story
We love stories. In a keynote (think of your favourite TED talks), stories are often the most indelible parts in a blog post—remembered long after statistics, facts and advice are forgotten.
The story could be from your life (in this post I wrote about making money by drinking tea), your work (here I talked about creating the world’s first airline in Antarctica), or retelling a story (like this post about experimental economist John List.)
Sometimes the story could be a simple observation. Like this morning you noticed that everyone standing in line at Starbucks were checking their phones.
When you invite your reader into a story you capture their imagination – a picture develops in their mind – and you have their attention.When you invite your reader into a story you capture their imagination - a picture develops in their mind - and you have their attention. Click To Tweet
3) Keep the reader moving
Nothing is more boring than run-on sentences with too much detail about points nobody cares about that never reach a meaningful conclusion. Like this one:
“It used to be that work-life balance was the holy grail of work-life. Work hard, but also have equal, or more, time for family, friends and personal time. In our new world of 24/7 communications and flat organizations it’s harder to turn work off and even harder to stop thinking about work after hours.”
You can add punch and get to your point faster with short sentences and short paragraphs, like this:
“Work-life balance is dead.
In our new world of 24/7 connections and flat organizations, it’s hard to end work at 5PM – even harder to turn work off.”
(see #7 about retrofitting your old blog posts.)
4) Remove unnecessary words
In his classic On Writing-A memoir of the craft, Stephen King pulls no punches when it comes to culling unnecessary words: “Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
Here’s a short list to get you started:
- Then. You don’t need to have ‘then’ to tell us something is coming next. Book marketing expert and author, Diana Urban, goes one further: “Using “then” frequently sounds repetitive and even juvenile.”
- All, every, totally, completely, absolutely, literally. If I’m writing “I packed my clothes and left the room.” It doesn’t help to say I packed all my clothes (it’s assumed I have them all). A quick test is to remove the suspect word and see if your meaning is intact.
- That. I’m still surprised by the number of times I find a useless ‘that’ lurking in my writing – shoot on sight! Diana Urban suggests, “If a sentence still makes sense after removing ‘that’, delete it.”
Chopping out unnecessary words helps to move the reader along, cuts word count and make your work appear more professional.
5) Break it up with a dash
A dash often replaces the word ‘to’, as in “Breaking sentences with a dash moves readers forward – get the results you want with fewer words.”
An em dash marks an abrupt change of thought in a sentence—often replacing a colon or semicolon. It’s popular use has made it, as Kimberly Joki writes in Grammarly, “the Swiss army knife of punctuation.”
Here’s an example from the post Why you are so damn distracted and how to finally get stuff done on my site: .
I took this original writing:
You can think of your brain as a sentry on speed. It’s job (all 3 pounds of it) is to keep you safe from harm. So anything that appears to need attention, your brain’s attention gets it.
With dashes, I cropped 8 unnecessary words and gave the writing some punch:
Think of your brain as a sentry on speed. It’s job – all 3 pounds of it – is to keep you safe—anything that needs attention gets it.
6) Ask a question
Let me ask you a question…
Are you using questions in your blog?
When we read a question a light goes on in our brain (this is probably not scientifically accurate) that says “Huh, I wonder what the answer is?”
That’s a good thing because now your reader is engaged and wants to read on.
You can use a question to segue into your next topic or just to get reader’s attention. You can even use them as orphan sentences, like this:
What’s a question that would get your readers’ attention?
7) Have something to say
The world has too many blog posts about leadership, relationships and dog grooming. To be more accurate; the world has too many boring blog posts about leadership, relationships and dog grooming.The world has too many boring blog posts about leadership, relationship and dog grooming. Click To Tweet
What reader’s crave are unique reflections and insights – that hard-won wisdom only you possess. When you write original, relevant and valuable content, people will flock to your site. And you will build loyalty – not with everyone, but with those who matter.
Ultimately, a reader will hire you or buy your product or come to your restaurant (or get their dog groomed by you) because they like and trust you. Bland, generic, boring writing won’t get you there.
Before you start writing, ask if this is interesting – will it stand out in a crowded blogging world. Your blog doesn’t have to unlock secrets to the universe or explain how to split an atom (although that would be cool), but it does need to keep your reader’s attention.
Here’s the good news:
Any blog post (I look at dozens every day) can be greatly improved with a 5-minute retrofit. Break up sentences, delete dead words, pose questions and make your reader think.
Do that and you will quickly build a loyal audience and – best of all – they will keep coming back for more.
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