Feeling disappointed with your articles? Here are 5 simple steps you can take to increase engagement with your audience and generate traffic.
1. Craft a Strong Headline
Imagine you’re browsing through the new release books at a bookstore. You don’t have enough time to stop to look at every single book. Most likely, you’ll only pick up a book if it has an intriguing title and cover design.
The same is true with web articles. Social media feeds get flooded with a constant stream of articles and online content. In order to make yours stand out, you have to have an attention-grabbing headline. Something that offers value to the reader in exchange for their time.
David Ogilvy, known as The Father of Advertising, is said to have stated,
“The headlines that work best are those that promise the reader a benefit.”
A benefit could be anything from entertaining someone to helping someone solve a problem.
As you write your blog post headlines, keep the 4 U’s of headline writing in mind:
Usually, you won’t be able to cover all four of those U’s. If you include at least one or two you should be able to come up with a strong headline. Lists perform well because they are ultra-specific. How-to posts also do well because they are useful.
Bonus Tip: Once you’ve come up with your headline, you should also choose a lead photo for your article. This should illustrate your headline in some way. This is the photo that will appear when people share your post on social media so make sure it’s eye-catching.
Don’t know where to find good images? Read our Top 5 Places to Find Copyright Free Images.
2. Open with an Irresistible Introduction
Once you’ve caught your reader’s attention with your headline, follow through with a well-crafted first paragraph.
The first paragraph of your article should draw your readers in and make them want to read more. This is where you lay out what they can expect in the rest of the article.
There are three elements of a powerful introduction:
- The Hook
- The Transition Section
- The Thesis Statement
In the hook, grab your reader’s attention with a memorable story or fact or question. Set up a problem that is facing the reader. Address the reader directly with a question. For example, “Does it ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day for everything that you want to accomplish?”
Next, transition into a story about a famous person or even a story about yourself. In this transition section, dig a little deeper into the effects of the problem. Then, explain that you’ve found a way to solve the problem.
Finally, present the thesis statement. A one-sentence summary of the article and how you will be helping the reader solve their problem. For example, “In today’s post, I’m looking at five different ways we can carve out time for writing even when it seems like there are no more hours left in our schedules.”
These examples are from a how-to article, but you can adapt this formula to any type of article that you are writing.
3. Use A Story Structure
Stories add another dimension to our writing. This fascinating Infographic shows how the human brain responds differently to storytelling, compared with other types of writing.
You can use stories to illustrate your main points. You can also use the elements of storytelling to structure your entire article.
Some writers choose to follow the outline of the hero’s journey. A term coined by American scholar Joseph Campbell to describe one of the most common storylines in literature. Think of the plot of Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, or The Odyssey.
Here’s the basic outline.
- A hero is called to go on an adventure to solve some kind of problem. Every good story has a conflict driving the plot forward.
- She may be reluctant to accept the call but eventually realizes that if she doesn’t solve the problem, her life will spiral out of control.
- A mentor helps her prepare for the adventure.
- After facing a series of challenges, the story reaches its climax. Will the hero overcome the problem or not?
- The hero emerges victorious and returns home transformed.
How can you use this storyline to write your article?
Use the body of your article to take your readers on a journey. Your hero is your reader. You are the mentor. Share the steps you took to overcome a problem that the reader is facing. Then show the reader how they will be transformed once they implement those steps.
4. Make Your Post Easy to Read
Even if you write a wonderfully compelling and helpful article, people might still not stay around to read. Most people glance over an article quickly to see how long it is. Others are wary of click bait, not wanting to invest their time in something that won’t benefit them.
Here are three steps you can take to make your article more convincing to read:
1. Break your article into sections with subheadings
The subheadings give your reader an outline to follow. The short sections make a long article much easier to digest.
However, make sure the subheading doesn’t give too much away. Otherwise people won’t bother reading each section.
2. Use short paragraphs and sentences
Long blocks of text are intimidating to read. Especially if you are reading on a mobile device. Try write paragraphs that are no more than three to four sentences long.
3. Evaluate your article’s readability
The readability score tells you roughly what level of education someone would need to read your work. It will help you write with a more conversational style. Try to write your posts as if you were talking to your reader in person.
5. End With a Call to Action
Now you’ve taken your readers on an adventure, what do they do with that information they’ve just learned?
Create a conclusion. This is where you can emphasise the most important lessons of your article.
Next, give your readers a clear call to action to follow. Maybe you tell them to implement the steps they’ve read about in your article. Stress the dangers if they do not take action.
Finally, you have a chance to build a relationship with your readers. End with a question, and encourage readers to answer it in the comments.
Also, don’t forget to ask readers to share your article on social media if they enjoyed it.
The Takeaway (and free checklist)
No matter what kind of article you are writing, use these steps to make your article more powerful and engaging. Adapt them to your style and your topic.
Ultimately, you want to keep your readers in mind. How will your article add value to their lives? Is there any way that you can dig deeper and add a unique perspective to your topic?
When you implement these five steps, you will transform your posts into content that will truly impact your readers. They will be eager to share and read more of your work.