You spent all day hunched over the keyboard working on a blog post for your website… Finally, you type the last line and stand up to stretch.
Excited, you share what you’ve been working on with a friend, a colleague or even just your wife.
They get halfway through, yawn, and say, “Eh, it’s okay.”
Not exactly the response you were hoping for. So, what can you do? Here are 5 simple swaps to make your blog posts more appealing.
Simple Swap #1: Write “You” Not “I”
I could have started this point out with a personal anecdote… but let’s be honest, I’m just not that exciting.
Using second person (“you”) in a blog post makes it easier for readers to emotionally connect with the story you’re telling.
At least, that’s what scientists found in a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology.
Simple Swap #2: Write Short Paragraphs, Not Long Ones
Two quick stats from Neilsen data:
- 79% of web users scan, rather than read.
- Reading from a computer screen is 25% slower than from a printed page.
Combined, that means readers just aren’t going to read long paragraphs of text online.
Shorter paragraphs create additional entry points—places for those scanning a piece to start reading.
One or two lines of text also take less time for our brains to process than five or six lines, keeping readers hooked from paragraph to paragraph.
The occasional longer paragraph is fine, but most of your content should have lots of white space.
Simple Swap #3: Write benefits not features
What’s more compelling:
Option 1: The John Deere X534 has 4-wheel steering.
Option 2: All four wheels turn on the X534 to greatly reduce the need to back up when trimming around tight areas such as trees or highly curved landscaping.
I’m guessing you choose option 2. That’s because option 2 is all about the benefits of 4-wheel steering—option one is just a feature.
Benefits connect with readers on an emotional level. Focusing on benefits—how a product can actually help the reader—is therefore much more persuasive (Struggling to figure out the “real” benefits of what you’re writing about? Copyblogger has a great how-to).
Simple Swap #4: Write “Write this, Not that: 5 Simple Swaps…” not “Writing good blog posts”
A good headline can make or break a post. It’s that simple.
17% of page views last less than 4 seconds. Fewer than 4% last more than 10 minutes, reports Statistic Brain.
That means your headline might be the only thing on the page your reader actually reads.
Simple Swap #5: Write “because,” don’t just make assertions
While the use of “because” is changing (because internet), it’s still one of the most persuasive words in the English language.
In the famous Xerox study published by Ellen Langer in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Langer attempted to cut the line for the copy machine.
She tested 3 different ways of framing her request to cut in line. The response rates are startling:
- 94% agreed to let her cut when she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
- 60% agreed when she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
- However, 93% still agreed when she said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
Because, it seems, is a pretty powerful word—and you should use it, and the other simple swaps here, because they help make your writing more engaging and more persuasive.