There’s nothing I hate more than starting a book I was looking forward to, only to get a third of the way in and find myself hating it. Giving up on a book I’ve already made a huge dent in feels like the ultimate failure to me. I’ll even debate with myself over whether to persist and finish the damn thing or give up and move on to the next book. Factoid: giving up a book has become easier to do and more frequent as I’ve got older. My to-read list is not getting any shorter folks! And that’s a point you should remember when it comes to your blog posts. If they’re not readable, if they’re dry and boring and don’t engage your reader at all, then what reason on earth can you think of for those people to stick around and read the post right to the end? Let’s dive in to what makes a blog post readable. You might be pleasantly surprised!
It’s How You Lede
I’m going to admit right now, I had no idea what the word ‘lede’ meant until I started researching this post. It turns out it’s quite common in journalism. And it’s all about using an interesting starting point to draw your reader in. So, a little anecdote, a short story, an interesting fact or shocking statement are all great ledes to draw the reader into your post. In fiction, here’s my favourite lede to date:
‘I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked’ – Andy Weir, The Martian
Talk To The Hand
Actually, not accurate. Don’t talk to the hand. Talk to the face. In other words, talk directly to your audience. Use the first person. Use ‘I’ or ‘me’, not ‘we’ or ‘us’. And if you want to know more about how to talk directly to your client, click that link!
Let’s Get Technical
When it comes to your posts, there’s a level of structure that will help to bring that readability to your words.
Keep your paragraphs clear and concise. Start them with an important point then go on to explain. And keep the paragraph to one point.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Keep your sentences short. Although, you CAN use medium and longer sentences interspersed. Because it gets a bit monotonous reading short sentences all the time. Check out this glorious example from Gary Provost:
For the love of Matilda, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Avoid academic vocabulary if that’s not what you use on a day-to-day basis. Put aside the flowery language if you’re more plain-speaking. This isn’t a competition. Getting the information across is more important than making yourself look like something you’re not.
While words and type on screen can all look a bit same-y, you can use certain tips and tricks to make your typography pop and look more visually impactful. Using things like headings of different sizes or bolding text that you want to stand out from a paragraph is useful. Don’t be afraid of white space either. Break up your longer paragraphs into more manageable chunks and intersperse with a bit more white space. It’s easier to read and digest important points that way. Even having paragraphs of a single line with white space either side is really effective.
Talking About Visuals…
Let’s not forget images. As a photographer, I was bound to mention this at some point. Breaking up your page with photographs will keep things interesting and your reader scrolling on through. I get that not everyone is a photographer though. But there are options for you! Check out free stock websites like Unsplash and Pexels for some beautiful images that you can use to pretty up your blog posts.
Link It All Up
Offer links in your blog posts to other websites or other posts on your website that might relate to your chosen subject. Sometimes it’s great to show that your post isn’t a self-contained space with only information you’re sharing about something. We all get information and ideas from elsewhere, so don’t be afraid to share that with your readers! A note on linking though. If you’re linking to your blog posts within your website, then it’s quite alright for that link to open up in the same tab. BUT, if you’re linking to an external website, MAKE SURE you select the option that makes that link open in a NEW TAB.
THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT PEOPLE!
While you want to be sharing the wealth of knowledge, you don’t want to be steering people away from your site never to return! So, by having new links open up in tabs, you’ll ensure that your website will be sitting up there on one of their open tabs to come back to as soon as they’re ready. Just a handy little hint for ya, right there. And there you have it. A full-on guide to making sure your blog posts are the most readable they could be. Can’t be arsed to do all that yourself? You should get in touch and find out about my blog post subscription service!