1. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I always say, “Start with a question!” Ask the reader the problem you’re going to solve for them in your post. The brain is hard wired to seek out answers to unsolved questions or riddles.
That will engage them to think and create a desire to know more.
…But it’s not the first sentence that blog readers see. It’s not the first opportunity readers’ have to decide if they’re going to read your post or not.
2. The headline is. It is THE most important part of your blog post, and I recommend writing it last. There’s a whole bunch of tips you need to know about writing great headlines, but because it’s written AFTER you finish your post, I’m going to talk about it later. Tips 4, 5, and 6 apply to headline writing.
3. A photo that engages people’s curiosity is another top way to grab people and get them to read your post. However, don’t count on it, because people won’t see the photo in their feeds and it probably won’t show up in an email either. But a photo does help get readers to start reading your post.
Photos need to be interesting or course. Caution to those who don’t have a journalist’s eye for this. There are many photos on sites like iStockPhoto.com that are boring. Those are usually the ones that show groups of people smiling. Maybe I’ll write a next post about how to pick a photo, it’s worth a few tips.
The photo needs to evoke curiosity and be a little bit provocative. Maybe it’s just me who doesn’t think happy people in business suits working together are compelling, but I don’t think so. Put boxing gloves on them, now that’s more interesting. Use a photo of a chihuahua dressed as a chef. Use cartoons.
4. Next, say something outrageous, make a ridiculous claim or comparison. Like, how a movie with Marilyn Monroe reminds you of 10 ways to make a better first impression with clients. Or how watching a Lakers game gives you 5 ideas for improving virtual team work. Make connections that will cause people to think.
5. Be negative. Use strong words in your headlines and first paragraphs. You can do this without being blatantly obvious and rude. Using celebrity or political names and popular news events helps attract additional traffic, but be aware of blow-back. Examples:
- Hey Stupid, Can You Hear Me Now?
- 5 Really Dumb Ways to Leave a Message
- The Biggest Mistake Sales People Make
- Why I’ll Never Use Microsoft Again…
- What BP Can Teach You About PR…
6. Make use of numbered lists in your headline (see examples on this blog, as above…). The brain loves short cuts and seeks out ways to quickly learn things. Numbers in headlines attract more readers than ones that do not have numbers.
There are many reasons blog posts work as a content marketing tool, but they won’t work if you don’t get readers to actually read what you have to say. They won’t read if your post looks boring, even if it isn’t.
Be bold. Of course numbers, photos, and formatting won’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Make sure you have something important, relevant, useful and sincere to share with readers and always ask them for their opinions and comments.
7. What would you add to this list? Leave a comment and share what works for you to grab readers’ attention and get your blog well-read?