How to Write Copy That Keeps Readers Attention

This is the second of three guest posts brought to you by Marc Pieniazek of Welsh Scribe.

This is the second post in a 3-part series. The previous post looked at writing headlines that attract attention and enticed readers to continue reading. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to maximise that attention once you have it.

Hopefully by now you’ve realised the importance of a great headline, the power it has to draw potential readers in and get them to read your copy. But the battle is far from over.

When structuring a blog post bear in mind that many readers have a short attention span. It’s no-one’s fault, it’s in our nature to filter the information that we’re bombarded with. Still, the last thing we want is to have someone click away from your blog post without reading it.

At the very least you want to give them the opportunity to skim through and take what they can. We can do this by breaking up the text.

Bitesize Chunks Are Easier to Swallow. Start with an excerpt or an introduction, something that gives the reader a quick overview of what to expect from the post. Keep them short, 3 or 4 sentences at most. Consider making them visually distinct from your copy as well by using italics.

Paragraphs need to be shorter than usual. Grammar sticklers forgive me; when it comes to blogging – one sentence does make a paragraph.

Headings and subheadings need to convey what’s coming up next or be intriguing enough to get the reader to slow down if only for a moment. If you can do both then you are onto a winner.

Take the previous post in this series as an example. One of the subheadings was to “Steal From Others”. Quite a provocative statement and one that hopefully had it’s desired effect.

Write lists. They are short and let you get your points across quickly with little effort required on the reader’s part. Lists should contain your most salient points, the ones you want your reader to take away with them even if they ignore every other word you’ve written.

Use bold to make parts of your copy stand out. The trick is to use it sparingly however. Like lists, highlight only the salient points.

Closure. There is one more thing to do with your post content to make it truly effective. Ending it properly. It’s no good leaving your readers hanging wondering what next.

That however is the topic of the next post in the series.  😉

So now you have a variety of ways to make your blog posts easier to digest. Remember, don’t stop at the title, once you have the reader’s attention don’t let it slip through your fingers.

Marc is a freelance writer and SEO specialist who helps freelancers build a profitable business. Grab his RSS feed today

Melinda is the founder of SuperWAHM.com and started the site to share her learnings to help other Work At Home Mums become more independent and able to spend time with their families

Melinda Jameson

Melinda is the founder of SuperWAHM.com and started the site to share her learnings to help other Work At Home Mums become more independent and able to spend time with their families

8 thoughts on “How to Write Copy That Keeps Readers Attention

  • May 21, 2009 at 3:34 am
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    This post was an easy read and a good length, Marc, so the suggestions work! I’ve been experimenting with doing all of those things in my guest posts, and more have been accepted, but the tone of my more flowing, personal posts changes completely if I use any of them; this technique works its magic best with information-based posts. That’s why I find non-informative posts so refreshing at the moment – anything from one quote wisdom to serialised fiction, just as a break from this tried and tested formula. It does work though, no doubt about it. (And hi, Mel – I miss you as much as WS!)

    janice’s last blog post..Poetry, Wedding Vows and Gift Ideas for Loved Ones

  • May 21, 2009 at 4:46 am
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    Another super job, Marc! I’ve tried to stay away from formulas for the last eight months, but alas, whenever I stick to them I do see the results. It appears my friend that your hammer and head are very well met.

  • May 21, 2009 at 5:20 am
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    @Janice – Thanks Janice. I was a bit worried when I wrote it that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching 🙂

    @Sean – I’ve been kind of lucky. I find identifying and fitting into patterns/formulas quite natural – well informative type writing, still need to work on fiction writing.

    My English teacher always said I’d make a great journalist but I never took her seriously.

    I can’t say I’ve heard of that saying about a hammer and my head, sounds too much like a headache 🙂

  • May 21, 2009 at 6:50 am
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    Thanks guys. I’ve been away for six days, hence the guest posting. Back home now and ready to go next week. One last post from Marc coming up tomorrow.

    @ Marc, I think he means a hammer and nail. As in the head of the nail.

  • May 21, 2009 at 7:10 am
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    Good stuff Marc.

    I’d say this, though… Indeed headlines and subheadings can be very effective and beneficial for the reader, but with my style of writing, I only include these measures when the subject matter calls for it. In other words, I don’t make including these a matter of practice, certainly not.

    Furthermore, list posts can get real old real fast. To me… sometimes… list posts take the art out of what is being written. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t just want useful information; I want more than that. I want writing that captivates me. Writing that I admire. Lists are so formulaic that they just seem to kill the art of writing, sometimes.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended’s last blog post..Why You Should Accept Everything in Life Just the Way it is

  • May 21, 2009 at 7:34 am
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    @ Bamboo there needs to be a balance in your style of posting. Readers need to be kept interested and just list posts won’t do it, as you have pointed out.

    I think list posts can be interesting too, as long as the writer doesn’t just write a list but expands on each point and brings their style of writing, humour etc into each point.

  • May 21, 2009 at 8:02 am
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    @Bamboo I totally get what you’re saying and I have to agree that writing for the web can at times suffocate creativity.

    The important thing to take away is that these formulas work. If you can take that and weave it into your own style of writing then perhaps you’re on to a winner

  • May 21, 2009 at 11:47 am
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    @ Melinda: List posts can be done well, you’re right.

    @ Marc: Good point… they do work. They have proven themselves time and again.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended’s last blog post..Why You Should Accept Everything in Life Just the Way it is

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