May I have your attention, please? Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? I repeat—will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
Now that we have your attention, we have about five seconds to keep it before you move on. Please keep your eyes on the screen and your finger away from the keypad.
You won’t regret it! It is time to make your content more exciting.
20 Ways to Avoid Being Boring in Your Content Writing
Are you ready to learn a few easy ways to keep your readers reading? Keep reading. (Pun intended.)
1. Entertain Your Readers
You do not need to be a Millennial to know the need to be entertained. Look at YouTube’s success. People want to be entertained 24/7. In order to entertain your readers, you must first decide who your readers are. Identifying your audience is key to writing successful copy. Did mentioning Slim Shady in the first graph connect with many readers? Eminem has sold millions of records, so readers should recognize his hit song, right? Maybe not, but it was worth the risk. Different audiences have different attractions. Stephen King could be an entertaining writer for some, but not for others. A general rule of thumb is if you are bored with your content writing, your readers will be as well. Make your copy as interactive as possible. How do you do that?
2. Connect With Your Readers
The better question is what makes certain media entertaining? The reason Stephen King sells so many books, and Eminem sells so many records is because they can connect with their customers. They create entertaining media. Their fans are entertained and get some enjoyment out of the products they produce. So, how do copywriters connect with their readers?
3. Grab Your Reader’s Attention
From your headline to the closing sentence, you need to grab your reader’s attention and hold onto it. A well-outlined article will have flow. Having flow through your article will make the reading experience enjoyable and easy to read. Smooth transitions from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph will allow the reader to move through your copy. Also, correct punctuation and grammar will help keep the reader from being distracted.
From one of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis:
“I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate to the left or right, the readers will most certainly go into it.”
This quote still holds true in the Information Age because readers have far more reasons to be distracted. A simple tip: do not let bad grammar or punctuation distract.
4. Make Your Content Fun
Content writing, especially creating stuff that’s fun and readable, can be difficult for some people. How do you make your content fun? Maybe tell a quick joke, but what if your readers do not find it funny? You do not want to be that comedian standing up on the stage in silence following a punch line. The best way to make your content fun is to be creative and think of unique ways to tell your story or get your point across. Try connecting with things that are fun. If you are a pet store that sells rabbits, why not mention Bugs Bunny on your landing page? Many people remember Bugs Bunny and find him amusing.
5. Write Authentic Content
There is a difference between writing to sell and writing to be authentic. When writing authentic content, you are usually trying to offer advice based on your professional expertise. When writing to sell, you are attempting to prove that your product will be an absolute benefit to the customer. If you are writing authentic content, then your reader will see the benefit in learning from your expertise on the topic. Write about what you know, and your content will be authentic.
6. Show What You are Writing About is Important
If you are unable to answer the question: “So what?” then what you are writing is probably pretty boring. Whatever you are writing needs to have a purpose. If you are not convinced that what you are writing is important, then how do you expect your reader to want to read it? What is the point of writing this piece? This matters because engaged readers read more and search engines track the number of views and time on page.
7. Be Creative
Being creative is no easy task, but have no fear. There are numerous places to pull ideas from across this digitized world. Keep an open mind about everything you come across during your daily adventures to help trigger creative writing ideas. Always be on the hunt for your next story or blog idea. Also, see what other people are writing and notice creative angles they are taking. Brainstorming is an excellent way to start the creativity process. Sometimes taking a break from your writing and coming back with a fresh mind can help get the creative juices flowing again.
8. Be Passionate
If you are not interested in the topic you are writing about, readers will notice. With passion comes purpose. When you are passionate about what you are writing, your reader will feel your passion. Authenticity, expertise, and creativity come together more quickly when you are passionate about a topic.
9. Engage with Your Readers
In the current social media landscape, there are several ways to engage with your readers. One way is to ask your readers what they think. This helps your readers feel involved. Also, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and most news agencies there are comment sections where readers can share their ideas about articles. When writers react to those opinions, it is another way to create a continuous communication flow with your readers. Readers will feel like the writer cares about what they think, creating a relationship between the two parties.
10. Use Illustrations
Unfortunately for writers, a picture is worth a thousand words. Graphics, pictures, and illustrations help entertain and connect with readers. They also help keep the reader’s attention. The first thing you notice on a web page or newspaper is the biggest picture on the page. Use Illustrations to your advantage to help keep your readers’ attention. If you think about it, most pictures come with captions or background information to help explain the scene. Without this text, the picture is not as convincing sometimes. You could say illustrations and copy work hand-in-hand to provide exciting content.
And now, for five direct paths you should take in your content:
11. Be Urgent
When writing content that sells, the worst thing you can do is bore your readers. These next few tips are from Robert W. Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells. Bly recommends writing copy that is urgent such as “Make $100,000 working from home this year” is more effective than “Make $100,000 working from home.” In this text, Bly is referencing headlines, but it makes sense that these “four U’s” should be connected to advertising as a whole. As a copywriter, you want your reader to act now rather than later. The entire tone of your copy should be urgent and that all starts of course with the headline.
12. Be Unique
How can you be fresh in your content? When writing unique you must either say something new or say something that has already been stated in a different way. Look at how your competitors write and think of how you can make your copy more attractive. You don’t want to write like your competitors. You want to write better than them. It is hard to create original content, but it is not impossible.
13. Be Specific
Tell your reader exactly why they should continue reading. Bly uses the headline examples: “What never to eat on an airplane,” “Bills it’s okay to pay late,” and “Best time to file for a tax refund”. These particular fascinations attract the reader into reading the copy. Be specific and don’t waste your reader’s time. Depending on the article, by the end of your second paragraph your reader should know exactly what they are reading, and why they are reading it.
14. Be Useful
Like all good copy, there should not only be features, but also benefits. The reader must know what the benefit is to reading your blog or article. Will they be saving money or time from using your product? How does your product benefit them? You need to make this clear very early in the text, usually in the headline. Don’t bore them just with the features. People want to know how their lives will be made better from reading your copy.
15. Be Simple and Direct
Everyone has his or her style of writing. When you are trying to attract the most readers, it is best to be simple and direct, according to Jacques Barzun in Simple & Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers. Nine times out of ten people will choose the easiest method to get the job done. Being even a little bit abstract in your writing runs the risk of losing your reader’s attention. If you want to attract the most readers possible, and hold their attention, keep your rhetoric simple. Don’t use jargon or strange abbreviations. Tell your writer’s exactly what you want them to know in as few words as possible.
16. Tell Your Readers What to Think
Bam! Simple, right? Asking questions throughout your copy helps you maintain their focus on your text. Your thoughts will automatically transfer from a question to an answer. Ask the question: “Are you looking for original content for your website?” Then you respond to the question in the body of your text with your solution.
17. Storytelling is Awesome
Tell a story! Everyone likes to hear a good story, and there is a reason most journalists use anecdotes to begin their articles. Stories help readers develop a mental picture they can relate to. Much like Eminem’s music, the reader can relate to a story about another human. Therefore, they will continue reading. Providing the reader with stories, also offers additional examples to help reinforce your argument.
18. What’s New?
Staying on top of what is new and trendy can help attract readers. If the 2015 Major League Baseball Season just started, why not write a blog that uses the most popular team as an anecdote to help explain your topic, like my company’s blog did here on the Yankees? The human memory tends to be short-termed. So, the more recent the event you reference, the better the reader can relate to the topic. This is also another great way to come up with creative ideas for your copy through following recent trends.
19. Press Enter Please!
If your text is all one paragraph, the reader’s eyes are going to be intimidated from the get-go. Break your paragraphs up and allow the reader to take it section by section. It is much easier to read a page that is divided into section than to read one huge chunk of text. Also, keep your sentences as short as possible. A run-on sentence or too many commas could mean the end of your reader’s attention span.
20. Now That Was Enjoyable
When you read something, you should not be exhausted. Your reader should be refreshed at all of the great information you provided them. The reader should know where they are headed and in the end how they got there. Of course, this takes a lot of time, research, and revisions on the writer’s part, but a writer’s purpose is to write to attract readers. In the end, it is worth the effort.
Have you discovered awesome habits in your content writing that keep your readers interested? Let me know in the comments!