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How to Get & Keep Your Blogging Audience’s Attention
What inspiring story, amusing anecdote or potentially life-changing information have you missed because the headline was so bland and boring that you couldn’t be bothered to click through to the post? I will assume this headline worked since I have captured your attention so far.
Since you’re spending valuable time writing blog posts, you want to ensure that your target audience reads them. In the first 2 parts of this series, 6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Blog Like a Pro, we talked about why you should blog and shared with you a proven technique for finding blog ideas. Hopefully, by now your blog-related stress levels are on the decline.
In this post, we’ll talk about getting your target audience’s attention. Your headline and first paragraph are the first step.
Grab Their Attention
Your headline is your bait so make it attention-grabbing.
To start, select the topic you’ll be writing about from your blog ideas list. Then write down all the headlines that come to your mind based on the message you’re planning to send to your audience. You may end up with 5 or a dozen headlines – don’t limit yourself during this brainstorming process.
Refer back to the Message Categories and Target Personas in your Digital Marketing strategic plan to help you hone your brainstormed list down to a few catchy headlines. This helps you to be clear on who your post is targeting so you know what language and tone will appeal to them. It also helps you focus on what your post should deliver to your readers. It is always a good idea to bounce your headline ideas off someone else.
Do’s & Don’ts for Fine-Tuning Your Headline
You should now have a few working titles to guide you in writing your post. Here are 4 tips to help fine-tune your potential headlines:
- Don’t use the newspaper headline approach of the fewer words, the better. In the blogosphere, you don’t have the space restrictions of newspapers so while you don’t want an endless headline, you don’t have to skimp on your words either.
- Do use numbers. Readers like the promise of numbered lists because they are easy to read.
- Do use interesting adjectives that inspire emotions in your readers. Words like amazing, awesome and unbelievable go a long way to catch your readers’ heart strings.
- Do use negative headlines sometimes. Negative words such as “worst” and “never” may catch a reader’s attention more easily amid a sea of positive words.
Although you’re starting with your headline, it doesn’t have to be perfect at this point. Come back and tweak it later as you develop your blog post. You don’t have to finalise your headline until you’re ready to hit the publish button.
Keep Their Attention
Once you’ve managed to capture your readers’ attention with a great headline, they will likely read your first paragraph. Don’t waste the opportunity to pull them further into your blog.
According to Copyblogger.com:
Your first paragraph must therefore be compelling enough to keep your audience reading. There are a few ways to do this:
- Tell a story. Stories appeal to emotions in your readers and therefore are more likely to make a memorable impact. Use an anecdote, a personal story or a likely story taken from the reader’s own life. For example, “You have a constant sense of dread, a heightened sense of tension, and you’re losing sleep at night. You’re stressed and you know exactly what’s causing it. The deadline for your next blog post is ominously looming over you.”
- State a shocking or compelling statistic or piece of data. This grabs your readers’ attention because it’s something of interest to them that they likely didn’t know. For example, “Eight out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 people will read further.”
- Ask a question. This draws their interest because it makes them wonder about something that is of interest to them or promises to answer a question they’re interested in. For example, “How many great articles haven’t you read because the headlines didn’t appeal to you?”
Don’t Miss This Chance
The time you take to perfect your headline and first paragraph will be time well spent. If you don’t get these 2 elements right, your blog post will likely disappear into cyberspace ether. Don’t miss this chance to get your readers reading.
In our next post, we’ll talk about using visuals to tell your story.
How do you reduce your content writing stress? How do you brainstorm headlines for your blog posts? Share your ideas with us in the Comments section below.