Have you ever spent hours on a blog post only to publish and… crickets? Have you ever created content that you were so proud of but that nobody actually read?
You are not alone.
However, there are ways to stack the odds in your favour the next time you produce content for your business.
I have been creating content for many (yikes is it really that many?) years.
I started my career as a financial journalist on a news wire, became the managing editor of a global financial publication - and now have my own business helping others to create content.
I loved creating content then and I love it now.
However, without a doubt, one of the most important lessons that I learned during my time as a journalist and editor is a lesson that just might well surprise you.
Creating Great Content Is Not Enough
The hard truth is that you can write the most amazing piece of content (I’m talking groundbreaking quality here) and still lose.
If your content is not looking at its best your readers will simply disappear (harsh but true). There are just so many other content options waiting to steal their attention.
I have learned this the hard way.
Back when I was working on that financial magazine there was a time when we started to find it hard to attract the necessary advertising revenue.
Now, this wasn’t about the articles that we were publishing. Our magazine was full of high quality content. Indeed, the editor at the time felt that we should be able to attract advertising on this basis alone.
Then, at a tense and rather uncomfortable meeting, a potential advertiser told us that it didn’t matter what content we published.
They would not spend a penny of their marketing budget on us.
Well, the bottom line was they felt that our magazine looked like the publication equivalent of a cheap, discount store and they wanted to advertise their product in a publication that felt ‘designer’.
The takeaway here is that we have to consider the reading experience as well as the content.
It is not enough to publish a slew of words no matter how amazing those words might be. We have to put ourselves in the position of our readers and rate the overall experience of consuming our
Here are five examples of ways in which you can ensure that your content gets noticed - every time.
Choose A Great Headline
You just can’t overestimate the power of an amazing headline. With (literally) nano seconds to capture the interest of a reader who is buzzing through pages and pages of content your headline can make the difference between a click and a scroll by.
It is not for no reason that all of the major publishing houses have teams of sub-editors charged with the creation of stand-out headlines.
Now, while it is true that (regardless of your business) we are all media companies now, it is also true that most of us just do not have the resources to cover the costs of large editing teams…
... however, this doesn't stop us from stealing some tips from them!
When it comes to writing killer headlines, prepare yourself. You will need to create at least 20 different versions (oh yes) before you reach the end product. You will need to tinker and edit and play around again and again (and again) until the perfect headline emerges.
Yes, it is a lot of effort - but it is worth it.
Thankfully, there are tools that can help. Indeed, I have recently come across one. It is called the Blog Post Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule and it helps you to see the impact your choice of words can have. It also rates the power of your proposed headline.
Once you have settled on the best headline do you just delete the other 19 different versions?
The headlines that didn’t quite make the grade can still be used in the form of social media posts and as the text on graphics. That always makes me happier about the time I have spent agonising over headlines!
Focus On The Reading Experience
Take a look at your content. Look at the way you have placed your words on the page. Think about your readers. Will they enjoy their reading experience?
To ensure that the reading of your content is a positive (and pleasant) experience, consider the following:
Fonts - do not use too many fonts. One for the body of your text and one for your headers is often enough.
Colours - in the same way as with your fonts, make sure you do not overwhelm your reader with colours. Take two or three colours from your brand’s visual identity and use them sparingly. Less is most definitely more.
White Space - do not underestimate the power of white space. Don't bunch all of the elements of your blog post or online content together. Consider your space and use it well.
Text size - make sure that your reader can read your content easily (and avoid eye strain) by selecting a good font point size. I would suggest somewhere between 14pt and 16pt.
Paragraphs - The more the merrier (see below).
Images - Apply liberally (see below below).
Bold - Don’t be afraid to be bold. If you bold the key points in your content you can help your readers to scan your text and evaluate whether your words are worth their time.
Break Up Your Content
There is nothing more off-putting than a mountain of text. Do this and you will just end up overwhelming your reader.
The best way to ensure a great reading experience is to break up your content. Keep your paragraphs short and then shorter still. You will see from this post that my paragraphs are typically two or three sentences long.
By doing this you are allowing your reader the space to breathe and process your content.
You can also break up your content by inserting images (see below) to draw attention to the progression of your argument. In addition, you can include paragraph headers to help you organise your content in a way that will make sense to your readers.
Be Concise - But Storytell
Have you ever read an article and started thinking to yourself… come on, get to the point?! I know I have.
There is a delicate balance at work here. Your readers do not have much time and they need to get a sense of the value of your content quickly and easily.
Do not use five words when one will do. When proofreading your content, always ask yourself if each paragraph needs to be there. Does it serve a purpose? Would the article suffer from its absence?
The balance comes when almost every content creator you come across is advising that you storytell. Surely including your back story in every blog post is the quickest route to waffle there is?
Thankfully. this is just not the case.
By including your story, you become more relatable to your readers. You can show that you have been through what they are going through now. You can share the value of your experience and your readers will recognise that benefit.
Telling your story and the story of your business is a sure fire way to get your content noticed and (even better) to persuade your readers to come back for more. (For more information about how storytelling can boost your business just click this link).
Use Great Visuals
Including visuals in your content will help ensure that your readers have a good experience when they consume your content.
I keep visuals in my mind when I am writing content. I am always thinking to myself - would that comment or question look good on a graphic? Would that information look better as a chart or a graph?
I am not a graphic designer but, by using some great free tools (see Create Awesome Visuals With These Free Online Tools) I manage to create some stunning images.
Visuals play another essential role. It is a fact that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than we process text. The emotional impact that an image creates is powerful indeed. Why not harness that power in your content?
Use visuals to highlight a point, emphasis a key question, inspire emotion and trigger engagement. Images are crucial weapons in the fight to draw attention to your content and keep it there.
I have one final point. Don’t be afraid to promote your content. Don’t publish your blog and then lament a lack of readers.
Use your images, sample headlines and key comments in social media posts with links back to your content. Do this several times at different points in the day in order to catch as broad a range of readers as possible.
If you have any other tips on how to get content noticed, please do feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Good luck and thank you for reading!