Attention is valuable — just think of how much you’re willing to pay for it in other channels!
That means you need to give something of value in the content. And that value needs to be mostly independent from purchasing your products (the exception to this is when your content shows how to get more value from products they’ve already bought).
As you’re planning the content we talked about in Step 1, think about this for each piece: What will your target audience get for spending their time on that content? Spell it out. Make those “takeaways” (to borrow one of Denny Hatch’s favorite words, and bend rule 2) bullet points you intend to deliver.
4. Make It Skimmable
A lot of people say, “No one reads anymore.” That’s not true; after all, the vast majority of the content consumed on the internet is text. But people don’t read in depth like they used to. There’s more to read, watch and listen to than there’s even been before. And most of that content is a complete waste of time.
Readers know this, and they’ve adjusted. They skim to try to figure out what parts, if any, are worth reading. A good headline gets them to look, a good lede paragraph gets them to keep going, and obvious subheads and bullet points keep them moving through the article. Even if they skim the longer text, they still see the main points you’re going for.
List articles, AKA “listicles,” get a bad rap. But the format is popular because it’s easy to skim and lends itself to great headlines.
Remember those takeaways we were just talking about? Those should be highlighted in bold subheads or bullet points. Short, obvious phrases that tell your readers HERE is where they’ll find that thing they’re looking for.
5. Leave Room for Conversation
Finally, as important as it is to answer the questions that are on your audience’s minds and give them strong takeaways, you also don’t want to be the last word on the topic. You want readers to ask questions, talk in the comments about things you didn’t get to, and to come back for more content on the topic.
That means you should write as much as you need to satisfy your readers, but stop once that’s done. If you’re thinking of doubling the post length to add details about the next step or writing a sidebar that addresses an aside about that topic, don’t. Save that for another article, or bring it up in the comments.
Don’t write all the air out of your topic, leave room for it to breath and for the conversation to continue.