You haven’t finished reading this sentence yet, but you’re already contemplating hitting the back button. The Internet is packed full of articles, but too often they fall flat, failing to answer your questions or hold your attention. You’re already skeptical about this article; in a moment or two, you’ll start skimming. Such is the nature of Internet browsing, I’ve come to learn; it is the greatest challenge a web writer faces. How do you keep a reader engaged while providing the substance they desire?
1. Do Your Research
More than ten years of web writing has led me to create a personal writing philosophy, one that has been shaped by the ever-changing Internet landscape and the various technologies through which readers access content. No matter the article type or the publication destination, there’s one part of the philosophy that does not change: research.
Writers should have extensive knowledge of their topic before writing a single word, otherwise readers may find an error and ditch the article. As well, an inadequate understanding limits the writer’s flexibility and the angles from which they can pursue the topic, often resulting in generic, content farm-like content. All quality articles start with extensive research.
2. Know Your Audience
In the same way that you can tell when you’re being talked at rather than talked to, readers can tell whether an article was written for them or just to fill the space between advertisements. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t be able to write for them, merely at them, and the impersonal vibe will drive away visitors.
Knowing your audience means taking the time to involve yourself in whatever their common denominator is, whether it’s a passion for sports, an interest in politics, or something else entirely. Visit the sites they visit; follow the news they follow. This doubles as an excellent way to learn about the topic, keeping the research spirit alive, and lends an air of authenticity to your articles that knowledgeable readers will appreciate.
3. Heed Feedback
Internet writing can be tough when it comes to criticism. The anonymous nature of the Internet coupled with impersonal interactions over text can mean harsh feedback from readers. No matter how hard it is to hear, though, writers should take all comments into consideration. A reader may not convey his or her thoughts in a nice manner, but that doesn’t mean their point is invalid.
Readers are the bread and butter of any website, and heeding their commentary will take you far when it comes to understanding what they expect from that particular publication. Interacting with visitors and listening to what they have to say also makes a writer seem like a person rather than some impersonal force producing words; readers will know you care if you take the time to hear them out, and they’ll be more forgiving if you do make a mistake at some point. Every comment is a potential asset, so don’t waste them.
If you keep these tips in mind, your content will win over readers’ attention…and keep it! Captivating readers is an essential part of content marketing. Find more content strategies by checking out our Content Marketing Academy.
Media Shower writer Brittany Hillen well-known for her work in technology, travel, and home improvement. You can follow her on Twitter.