The Grand Intro
So you’ve thought of the perfect post, have you? You’ve been gifted with the golden idea, the one that will go viral and lift your blog up into the Internet heavens! It’s fully formed in your mind and it’s just a matter of getting it into your trusty WordPress text editor and then published onto your page.
Hold on just a second, sparky. Your content may be genius-inspired, but it won’t make the same impact if you don’t craft your post with care. Content is not everything, my friend. It is only the beginning.
Presentation is the icing on your cake, the holiday sweater on your puppy, the gilding of your lily. If you really want to make the biggest impact with this sensational content you’ve imagined, it behooves you to properly present it. Just splattering words on a page, no matter how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious those words are, is not always enough.
I didn’t coin this term, but it’s my favorite. Allow me to define it for you:
Pull-through–The means by which your dear reader is encouraged to finish and like your post.
Believe me, it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are literally a google of things vying to capture our attention on the Internet. And if you don’t construct your posts with this fact in mind, you are liable to lose readers before they reach the end of your article.
As a blogger, you must learn the art of pulling the reader through your post. And I’m sorry: nowadays, your gorgeous words are simply not enough on their own.
Assuming you’ve already got the words, you mad genius you, let’s move on to some presentation tips.
The Obligatory List
For those of you who love order, here is the list of pull-through tips you will be given in this post:
- Break up your material into smaller digestible chunks.
- Consider breaking your post into sections.
- Use images in your posts.
- Try not to go “Gone with the Wind” with your posts.
- Link dumps dirty up your sparkling blog.
- Engage the reader as if in a conversation.
- Stay relevant to your topic.
- Don’t make lists. They’re boring.
Caught you there! Seriously, though, don’t make list posts if you can help it. At least think about disguising them as I am going to do from now on. They are boring to read and write. If you absolutely must list, keep it kind of short.
Let’s move on and elaborate a little on each point.
It’s the Format, Stupid
Indeed it is. How many posts have you read that streamed in a block of words endlessly with no breaks, just that block of words like a papyrus scroll straight from hell?
Probably not many. Blocks of words are intimidating. Chances are if you started reading a blog that was a seemingly unending litany of words, sentences, phrases, that you didn’t finish it. And you’re a genius! imagine the poor readers who are not your caliber.
My first tip then is simply:
Break up your material into smaller digestible chunks.
They’re called paragraphs. Learn them, love them. You think I’m joking, but I’m super-serial. Paragraph breaks are an essential element of pull-through.
No paragraph breaks, or paragraphs that are too long, can deter many readers from finishing your post, no matter how brilliant it is. One idea per paragraph is ideal. Two, three sentences. It really will make your reader flow through your article a lot easier.
Some bloggers go to an extreme, though.
A paragraph break per sentence is common on Internet posts.
For poetry and such it may be okay.
I don’t recommend that approach for text posts.
It becomes irritating very quickly.
What do you think?
Another Section Break?
Yes, another section break. That is actually a very good pull-through technique, particularly in a long post such as this very one.
Consider breaking your post into sections.
The technique behind making a good header isn’t much. First of all, though, Do Not Bold and Underline. That by itself doesn’t make the text bigger, now does it? And the underlining business is just bad Internet manners. Web Standards say that only links should get underlined because general readers tend to think all underlined text is a link. Don’t make those
idiots dear readers click in vain.
To make a proper heading, go into your text editor where you can make style corrections in the code. Not a coder? Thasscool, it’s really simple, I assure you.
The appropriate tag is probably <h2>, which just indicates a heading type two. Heading one is usually your title. Place an <h2> before the text you want to change, and </h2>after the text. Every theme is a little different so play around with it. If you don’t think the heading is big enough, use <h1>.
Then your post will have amazing and quite readable sections. Think of them like chapters in a novel. It makes your post a lot more digestible and fun to read through. For your reader, getting to a new section feels almost like a reward for their labor of reading. Also, it organizes your post into something more resembling an actual article than just a spewing of words.
Pics = 1000 Words
Look: I know you’re a real writer. Your words are like magic spells, no visuals required. There is a place for your words, and WordPress has many readers and writers who still appreciate the written word. If you really want to just rely on your words for a post, try it.
But consider the medium a moment: the Internet is driven by the visual. And images are an easy device to use to both supplement and illustrate your text. I guarantee a post with great text and timely use of images will get more views than text alone. I’ve done both, my friends.
Plus, they are another great pull-through for the reader. They help give the reader the urge to keep going.
Use images in your posts.
Come on. It’s easy. There are plenty of free stock photo sites. You can put funny or enlightening captions on the images, whatever suits you. And it even makes posting more fun! I never consider a post completely finished until I’ve sifted the ‘net for complementary images.
All right, guys. They get it.
If you are an artist, even better. Whip up some drawings or cartoons. Post photos that you have taken. That adds the final touch of personality that truly makes your blog unique and worthy to read.
What is a Good Post Length?
Common Internet wisdom, if there is such a beast, would have you believe a blog post should be no more than four hundred words. Give or take a few. But our fantastic teacher and collaborator, Lorelle VanFossen, believes the “perfect” post should be allowed to dictate its own length. Don’t worry about the so-called “Limit of 400”. If your pull-through is strong, a reader will plod on even till the end of a long post.
However, there’s long……….and then there’s llllllllllllllllllloooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg.
Try not to go “Gone with the Wind” with your posts.”
And “Gone with the Wind” was a great story. A story of that great a length, though, better be of superior merit or you run the risk of just simply wearing the average reader out to the point of tears.
Yes Scarlett, marathon posts on the Internet should probably be avoided. Editing can be your best friend in the blog world. But let your content be the deciding factor here. If your topic and skills are strong in the Force, uploading a lengthy post doesn’t necessarily mean your reader won’t finish.
Consider, though, breaking a post up into a series or parts. If you’re closing in on a thousand words and you’re not close to the end of your fabulousness, why not split the post? Readers will go for sequels if they’re excellent. And then you’re not overwhelming the poor sods in one gulp.
Ego shatter time: Remember, my friends. You are probably not the only blogger your followers follow. Do not push their patience too far.
And now, to follow my own advice, this is the end of part one!