It’s fair to say that most people don’t have a great attention span.
Maybe this is just a natural consequence for millenials, having more information at our fingertips than ever before. But I know I’m not alone in being scared of a giant wall of text.
When I started my first personal blog back in 2002, I’m pretty sure a wall of text was all I ever produced. I mean, even good writers start out as so-so writers. And I do think the content was reasonably interesting, but the way I was presenting it was totally disengaging.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about writing for an online audience:
1) Break up the text into manageable paragraphs.
I’m sure there are interesting psychological explanations for this. I’m also quite certain I read it in a design book. In any case, not only do small paragraphs look better, but it’s actually easier to read text that’s got a bit of breathing room.
2) Use headings to group content.
As someone who is obsessed with organization, this is one of my favourites. Not only do headings make things clear in your own mind, but they also help your reader by giving them a road map for your message.
3) Bold to highlight major points.
To be bold is to stand out. And that’s exactly what you want your writing to do. Used sparingly, bolding is an excellent way to emphasize your point. It highlights the most important information for people who prefer to just skim.
4) Make lists!
Yes. Maybe there are more than five things that every mother should know. But don’t you just need to know what those five things are now?! Lists make it easy for us to remember and often help us to simplify complex ideas. Awesome!
5) Be memorable.
In other words, don’t be boring. It’s good to know your audience – as you’ll use different language for grandma’s knitting group than a Justin Bieber fan club newsletter. But in either case, you need to evoke a memorable image… like Grandma’s Justin Bieber Knitting Club.
There’s certainly a lot more to good writing, but these are just a few of the major lessons I’ve learned about writing in an engaging way for a difficult-to-engage audience.
Need a writer, editor, or moral supporter for your writing project? Drop me a line.