This is a guest post by Kristie Lewis.
Blogging tips post after blogging tips post tout the importance of content, the necessity of proofing, and the need for eye-catching headlines. Yes, these aspects of blogging are no doubt essential. However, many of us fail to recognize just how essential the actual physical structure of our blog posts is. Like architects, as bloggers we must build articles that are both highly functioning and aesthetically pleasing. While blogging is very much about the writing, it is also about the experience and appearances. Web design and site layout play almost as important of a role in your blog's success as your actual writing style and quality does. Furthermore, the actual structure and appearance of even a single post can play a huge role in how successful that post is.
With writing, we are always thinking about our audience. Who are they? What interests them? But, this line of thinking should be taken further than just the content of your post. Internet readers are a rare breed. We (internet readers) look for the visually appealing—we click fast, scan things, and judge quickly. Initially, at least, it's all about looks. Use these tips to construct a post an attention-challenged internet reader will actually spend the time to read.
Make it Scan-able
When readers are clicking through blog posts to read, they judge fairly quickly whether they are going to read the entire post are not. The first thing we do as blog consumers is quickly look over a blog post and scan it. We read their first two sentences or so, scan through the paragraphs, read over any headers or bolded items, and make our judgment. This scanning period is important for bloggers to consider when they are writing their post.
For the most part, every reader scans a post before starting to some degree or another. Work with you readers—make the post easily scan-able. Using headers and bolding can help guide your reader's eye through the page. Because it is typically headers and titles that readers see first, you should focus on making those points enticing and informative. Hook them.
Break Things Up
The length of your post, paragraphs, and sentences also play a huge role in how successful your post is. Of course, if you are able to really hook a reader with your content, it won't matter how long the post is, they will finish it either way. But, many times, with longer posts or even longer paragraphs, readers will be initially inspired to read and then quickly lose interest as they continue reading. It's not necessarily that the content is bad in these cases—sometimes is solely that the paragraph is too long.
Reading on a screen is very different than reading print. As bloggers, we much consider this. Develop paragraphs that are concise and brief. Using a lot of line breaks and visual pauses in your syntax can be very useful. Large blocks of solid text can be overwhelming for an internet reader. People will see large blocks of text on a page and automatically skim through it or skip it all together. Break things up with shorter paragraphs, dashes, bolding, bullets, numbering, etc..
Pictures and Images
Working in much the same ways as bulleting or line breaks, images can do a create job of breaking up a post and making it appear more manageable. Carefully placed images can be key. Pick a careful and alluring picture to place at the top of a page. Pictures that are either directly related to the topic at hand or are enticingly evocative of the theme or concept can really draw readers into a post.
Depending on the overall web design of your blog, placing images within a post can also be useful. This is a great way to really break up blocks of text and give your readers a break from reading on the page. Blog reading is very much a visual experience. As with buildings and our physical environments, the way things around us look play a huge role in how we feel about an experience. If a post is constructed poorly and is visually unappealing, the reading experience can be negative. Try to create a pleasing and interesting blog post environment, without making things distracting.
Summing it Up
Oftentimes, bloggers get so caught up in the other important aspects of blogging that they forget how essential the structure of a post is. Try to build a post that an internet audience would want to read. Blogging is very much about judging a book by its cover in many ways. People are only going to stick around as long as you can keep them there.
Break up your posts. Give breaks. Think scan-able. Constructing a strong blog post is much like constructing a building. We want to build paragraphs and sentences that are both highly functional and aesthetically appealing—not just one or the other.
About the author
After obtaining her construction management degree, Kristie Lewis decided she wanted to help others better understand the process and industry by writing about it. Feel free to contact her with your questions, comments or concerns at Kristie.firstname.lastname@example.org.