You read that right.
It’s so tempting to chase after the next shiny object – the blogging platform with the bells and whistles, the sleek photo-editing software, the newest reader engagement stats – that we entirely forget to make our writing readable.
Readable writing doesn’t rely on new, flashy techniques or state-of-the-art word processors. Most often, good writing (and, therefore, good blogging) goes back to the basics and does them well.Tweet
So, here are three ways to make sure nobody reads your blog post.
Use words that nobody knows
Big, fancy words that exist only in the dictionary may make you sound smart. But if your reader doesn’t understand what you’re saying, they won’t stick around long enough to see just how brilliant you are.
There are a bunch of different “scores” and “indexes” people use to see how simple or complex their writing is, but don’t get too caught in the weeds trying to get a number. I suggest using WebFX’s Readability Test Tool to check your writing.
Simply input your blog post’s URL or copy/paste your text into the field, and you’ll see what grade level your writing is most appropriate for (plus all the scores and indexes).
Most people agree writers should aim for no higher than 9th grade level.
“The average American adult reading level is that of a 9th grader. But popular mass-market novels are written at a 7th grade level because studies show adults prefer reading two grades below their ability.”Hollister Creative
To simplify your text, use common words rather than exotic ones. Try reading your writing out loud, and the tongue-twisting parts will become obvious.
I use the Hemingway Editor to help me simplify my writing.
Use big blocks of text
Big blocks of text don’t make you look like you have a lot of great things to say. They make it visually hard to slog through your writing.
I’ll pick on myself here. Below is the first paragraph of a blog post I wrote about three years ago:
If you made it past “Rolodex,” good job. But I’m sure you did it to be polite.
Why is this big paragraph a big problem?
- It’s a poor visual experience. Approaching a large block of text can turn a lot of people away. We might be used to reading paragraphs like that in a novel, but on our mobile devices during lunch break? To instantly make this paragraph more readable, I could’ve split it up into shorter paragraphs that keep readers moving from one to the next.
- It isn’t concise. My main point is buried in the paragraph. I made the assumption that people would read long enough to learn what I’m actually trying to say. In reality, the best writing uses the fewest words. Become friends with the Delete key.
Don’t use pictures – those are for kids!
Endless text with no imagery works for research papers and Wall Street Journal articles, but they don’t typically work for the average blog reader. Visual relief is important for readers of every age.
Doesn’t every speech instructor tell us to use visual aides? Why would it be any different with writing?Tweet
You stuck with me this far, and you want your readers to do the same for you. Keep in mind, there are many other faux pas that make for a sub-par reading experience on your blog. But I suggest you unlearn these three first.
What are some writing “no-nos” that you’ve had the pleasure of clicking away from? Share below, but don’t call anyone out by name – we play nice here.