Your Content Is Boring, Stop Sending Your Readers to Sleep

Jarratt Isted Jarratt Isted on

Lying in Cuba with my Kindle in hand, the 30ºC sun frying tanning my skin while I sip my lemonade. I'm content (no pun intended). I'm in the midst of reading Hurricane Gold by Charlie Higson and I'm gripped. There's no way I'm not finishing this book today.

Zzz Social Image

That's how I should feel when I'm reading your blog post. Okay, so maybe not the lying on a beach in Cuba part, that requires traveling, but being gripped.

There are some articles that I just can't read. They're far too boring, my brain turns off. Pages of text with no exciting twist or takeaway.

I can't say I'm an expert on making articles gripping. Hey, you might not even bother reading the whole of this! What I can pass on to you is some of my knowledge, and what I think makes a great article.

Read on to find out how to engage your readers.

Story time

Well, if you've got this far, you must've liked my story up there.

Telling a personal story is a fantastic way to engage your readers, because they can relate to what you're saying. Bypassing a story makes you sound more like a robot churning out information than a human typing away at the keys.

You can't always tell a story though. Sometimes it just doesn't fit with the message you're trying to send across.

You must tell your own story to stand out. Learn as much as you can from successful blogs, but don’t try to copy their angle

Alex Turnbull, Groove

If you can think of a personal story that might relate to your article, insert it at the beginning. It'll be far more engaging than just putting information there.

Alex, the founder of Groove is a master at telling a story to engage his readers. He usually tells his side, explaining key interactions he had and how they led him to a decision about his own startup.

1/4 of people read this section

People love statistics, and it's easy to see why. It helps us make sense of the world around us. Things that make awesome statistics in your posts include:

  • How effective/ineffective something turned out to be
    • e.g. Unique traffic increased 20% with the sloth picture*
  • People's opinions on a subject
    • e.g. 90% of respondents said they liked the sloth picture**
  • Scale of something
    • e.g. Over 60% of blog posts in the world include sloth pictures ***

* Not true
** Not true
*** Maybe true (ok, not true)

Using statistics can draw the attention of the reader because they can make sense of the data in front of them. It means they don't have to read through a dry piece of literature, and instead get it condensed.

It's also more useful for them, because they can reference it themselves at a later date.

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Be careful though, statistics can be skewed. You shouldn't be tempted to make them up, unless you want a bad reputation.

Use Images

Create featured images to spice up your blog posts. But please, please don't use gifs, for the sake of my computer (and sanity). It's like it's about to launch off my lap. Every time one loads the fans go up to full warp speed.

Here's a list of useful tools to create images:

Recap

  • Get a grip - You need to get the attention of the reader. Otherwise they'll leave and never come back ever again.
  • Tell a story - Get personal. You need to make sure they can relate to you. Telling a story is a great way to achieve this.
  • Statistics - Tell your readers about an experiment you or someone else conducted. What were the results and what did you learn from it?
  • Images - Use images to spice it up a little. While not essential it can help when your post is on the long side.

Okay, so I just broke one of my own rules, but hey, look how cute he is?!

Jarratt Isted
Toronto, Canada
Jarratt is the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Contentacle. He loves design, UX and penguins.