Tag Archives: promo

Ask Yourself These 3 Simple Questions to Craft Better Headlines

answer these questions to write better headlines

Last week, when I wrote about how to become a writer, I forgot to mention something about why you’d want to be a writer.

Writers are communicators. If you’re proud of your ideas, you want to be able to communicate them clearly and precisely.

Headlines are your first opportunity to present your message to the audience you want to reach. The language you use should appeal to those people and make them want to find out more.

To review the next headline you write from the perspective of an editor who is focused on audience engagement, here are three simple questions you can ask yourself.

A guide to finding the right words

Once you’ve written a draft of your headline and article (or you’ve recorded a podcast episode or video), use the questions below to ensure your headline is the most effective it can be:

  1. Who will benefit from this content?
  2. How do I help them?
  3. What makes this content special?

The answers to these questions most likely won’t produce the exact headline you’ll use. Rather, they’ll help mold your headline draft into a persuasive message that reaches and connects with the people you want to attract to your content.

To keep the process of infusing your headline with meaning and fascination simple, I recommend answering each question in one to two sentences.

If you need to write more, recognize your opportunity to fine-tune your goal for the content before revisiting these headline questions.

Let’s look at the important information each question will help you cultivate and how the answers will transform your headline.

1. Who will benefit from this content?

As Brian wrote yesterday:

“The point is to bond strongly with someone rather than boring everyone.”

When you define your audience, you can review your headline to make sure you use language that intrigues those individuals.

For example, your target audience may be marine biologists who have a tendency to procrastinate.

If your headline only says, “10 Tips to Beat Procrastination,” you can look for ways to add words that will attract marine biologists. And you don’t have to explicitly announce, “Hey marine biologists who have a tendency to procrastinate, this content is for you!”

You could try:

10 Tips to Beat Procrastination Faster than a Black Marlin

(A black marlin is one of the fastest fish.)

2. How do I help them?

People don’t necessarily wake up in the morning excited to read content.

The promises that certain pieces of content make to expand people’s understanding or knowledge of a topic persuade them to read content throughout the day. The content may even change their lives.

Your tips might help marine biologists accomplish tasks faster, and if they can accomplish tasks faster, they’re less likely to put them off.

Here, you can add another benefit to the headline:

10 Time-saving Tips to Beat Procrastination Faster than a Black Marlin

3. What makes this content special?

You may now realize that while a lot of other articles focus on “beating procrastination,” your content is special because it shows how to simplify and organize your daily marine biology to-do list so that each task is manageable.

Now you’ll want to revise a few words from your original headline:

10 Time-saving Tips to Zip Through Your Work Day Faster than a Black Marlin

Custom-tailored headlines for your content

We started this exercise with the headline:

10 Tips to Beat Procrastination

The final result is:

10 Time-saving Tips to Zip Through Your Work Day Faster than a Black Marlin

If you’re a marine biologist with a tendency to procrastinate, which headline would you click on?

The post Ask Yourself These 3 Simple Questions to Craft Better Headlines appeared first on Copyblogger.

2 Essential Elements of Irresistible Content

improve your writing with these two crucial components

I once asked on social media:

What’s your biggest challenge when creating compelling content?

I didn’t treat it as a poll with various challenges. I wanted pure, unfiltered responses.

And the number one answer was:

Keeping it original and interesting.

So, let’s talk about that today.

Meaning + fascination

The two elements that lead to reader engagement, social media sharing, and the “gotta have it now” impulse are meaning and fascination. But you knew that from the subhead.

Let’s unpack each a bit.

Meaning: This is the informational aspect of your content that your regular readers, listeners, or viewers expect from you. This is also a topic that matters to the prospective audience you’re trying to reach through social media sharing.

Another way to think of this important aspect of your content is relevance. Content must be highly relevant to your existing and prospective audience, but I prefer meaning, as it implies an extra level of value that makes people treasure you.

Fascination: The fascinating element of your content is where your creativity shines. It’s the fun, shocking, or entertaining aspect of your content that makes people pay attention and share with their friends and colleagues.

Often you’re using an analogy, metaphor, or simile to make an associated connection between something cool and an important topic that might otherwise be pretty boring.

Not only does this attract and hold attention, it also aids in comprehension and retention for your audience, which in turn increases your subject-matter authority with them (because they actually learn something).

Here are two examples from Copyblogger (meaning in italics, fascination in bold):

How I Became a Better Writer Thanks to Distracted, Hungover College Kids

This article took a highly improbable source of fascination to deliver the meaning readers of Copyblogger seek — how to write better.

5 Things a Bad Dog Can Teach You About Writing Good Copy

It’s pretty easy to spot the meaningful and fascinating elements in that one, right?

(Don’t fear) fascination

Many people, especially in professional services or conservative industries, are afraid to go out on a limb and throw in that fascinating aspect. I’d argue that these are the types who have the most to gain from breaking out of stodgy convention and shaking that moneymaker a bit.

You can get a lot of mileage out of industry inside jokes and references that are completely obscure to outsiders. Remember, you don’t care what anyone else thinks other than your target audience.

And from post to post, you may only bond strongly with a small segment of the people you talk to. One article speaks strongly to some, the next to others.

The point is to bond strongly with someone rather than boring everyone.

Bonus points if you got that the subhead for this section is a terribly clever Blue Öyster Cult and Human League reference: (Don’t Fear) the Reaper + (Keep Feeling) Fascination.

Also, if you have to explain your terribly clever reference, it’s too obscure. Clarity matters more, no matter how cool the author thinks it is. ?

Ultra-meaning can be fascinating

It’s true that you can intrigue people with an overwhelming amount of relevant meaning, to the point that it becomes fascinating in and of itself. This is the realm of list and how-to articles that go viral on sheer value alone.

The key to this type of engaging content is specificity. The more specific the value you promise and provide, the more fascinating people deem it.

Check out these examples:

Hopefully you feel the same way about this article.

Yep, this is also how you write great headlines

In each example I’ve given, you can spot the intersection of meaning and fascination from the headline alone.

That’s why meaning + fascination = the secret to engaging content and great headlines.

Remember, the title of your article is simply a compelling promise of what your content offers. When I say write your headline first, I mean come up with an intersection of meaning and fascination, reduce it to a working title, then deliver on the promise by crafting the content.

If you find you can’t deliver on the promise, you’ve got to scrap that idea and find another.

Don’t strain to make a bad analogy work; simply look for another pairing of meaning and fascination — they’re everywhere once you understand what you’re looking for.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on April 7, 2011.

The post 2 Essential Elements of Irresistible Content appeared first on Copyblogger.

How to Ruthlessly Cut Worthless Words from Your Sales Copy

how to ruthlessly cut words from your sales copy

When you’re writing sales copy for your business, showing a little personality is a good thing.

It’s also a good idea to use natural language whenever possible, so people know you’re a real person who is genuinely interested in helping your prospects and customers.

I write conversationally when I write copy, and so do a lot of other folks I trust and admire.

However, there are limits to how far you should take that advice.

Are you taking a risk when you use slang?

Unless you have proof that your audience uses slang — and wants to see it in sales copy — you should avoid using it in your persuasive emails, sales pages, and other types of “selling” collateral.

And when I say “slang,” I’m also including alternative spellings, slang abbreviations, and hyperbole.

I know there’s a high probability I sound like an old grandmother shouting at kids to stay off her lawn — but lately I’m seeing this trend more and more frequently in sales copywriting. And I suspect it’s radically decreasing conversions.

Types of slang to avoid in copy

Want to see some examples? These are all words and phrases I’ve recently noticed on sales pages and in emails that were designed to sell me something:

  • BOOM!
  • Pleez (or worse yet, pleeeeeeeeez)
  • OMG
  • FREAKING ROCKED
  • LOL

Chances are, you’ve got your own list of words that annoy you when you see them in professional writing. My list could go on for a while, but I’ve chosen some of my biggest pet peeves. I wince every time I see those words in an email from a business.

Why you want to avoid them

There’s a compelling reason to avoid slang and abbreviations like the ones on the list above: they often don’t add value to your copy — and can actually distract your prospects.

When your prospective buyers read your sales page and decide whether or not your product is a good fit for them, you don’t want to distract them for a single moment. You want every line of your copy to flow seamlessly into the next, without interruption.

If you sprinkle your sales page with slang and nonsense words, there’s a good chance you’re going to interrupt that flow.

Keep prospects focused on the action you want them to take

You might innocently include “OMG” in your copy in attempt to sound conversational, but prospects could be distracted by that choice and think, “Wait, why does he say ‘OMG’ in the middle of this paragraph?”

If you’re trying to reach people who aren’t native English speakers (or who come from older generations), they might also ask, “What does ‘OMG’ mean?”

At best, the “OMG” is only a temporary distraction that slows down prospects’ decision-making processes as they read. At worst, the slang and misspelled words will turn off readers so much that they abandon your sales page forever — and you’ve just lost them as customers.

Slang words and abbreviations that belong in text messages also don’t add any value to your copy. As sales copywriters, we must choose every word carefully. Every word and phrase on the page needs to pull its weight — slang and overused exclamations like “OMG” just don’t cut it.

Think I’m wrong?

Perhaps in certain circumstances you’re correct — there are exceptions to this rule, of course.

If you performed extensive research and know for certain your prospects use this type of language — and want to see it in sales copy that promotes your product or service — you might be able to get away with using it.

You should test out these words and phrases to see if including them increases your conversion rate.

If they don’t, I recommend cutting them. Even if your prospect tolerates these words and phrases, they’re probably not contributing anything to your copy.

Get more copywriting tips

If you’re looking for more tips on how to make your copy tighter, more readable, and more persuasive, check out Copyblogger’s free ebook Copywriting 101: How to Craft Compelling Copy.

The 90-page ebook is packed full of helpful advice, including more thoughts on audience research and using your prospect’s preferred language.

Do certain words irritate you when you see them in professional copywriting? Or are there any you’re guilty of using (or overusing) yourself? Tell us about it in the comments below.

The post How to Ruthlessly Cut Worthless Words from Your Sales Copy appeared first on Copyblogger.

5 Ways Strategic Bullet Points Make You a Stronger Content Marketer

be smart about building your bullet points

Bullet points make you a stronger content marketer?

Absolutely, if you’re good at writing them. In fact, being a master at writing exceptional bullet points is one of the most important copywriting skills around, second only to headline writing.

The goal of strategic bullet points is primarily to keep people reading. You’re highlighting easily digestible bits of important information, which keeps your reader’s attention focused and breaks up dense pools of text.

The downside is that if you write weak, boring bullet points, you give the reader an express invitation to leave. People scan content to decide if they want to keep reading, but also as a way to justify not reading.

So let’s write some better bullet points.

1. External fascinations

These types of fascinating bullet points are usually found in sales copy for information products and membership sites, and they function like headlines that prompt a purchase or other action.

Also known as “blind” bullets, they hint at the content of a product or service and create curiosity without revealing the actual substance.

You can also use these bullets to prompt an opt-in or subscription tied to a free report, audio, or video.

Here’s an oft-cited example from ace copywriter John Carlton:

“The amazing ‘Towel Hanging’ trick that increases the strength of your erection … plus your lovemaking stamina … allowing you to supercharge your love life in a very short time! (You have to experience these kinds of ‘rocket-burst’ orgasms to believe they’re possible! See page 139.)”

I don’t know about you, but that got my attention.

2. Internal fascinations

Internal fascinations are pretty much identical to external, except they’re designed to persuade people to continue reading the content they’re currently reading.

If you have a long article that you want to sell people on reading all the way through, you might lead with some teaser bullet points that captivate the imagination.

For example:

By reading this article you’ll learn:

  • 3 counterintuitive activities that will improve your business
  • How to turn your process into a product you can sell
  • Why you’re not normal, and why that’s a good thing

3. Bullet chunking

Extracting bullets out of compound sentences helps you drive home a point while also increasing the usability of your content. Attention spans are short for sure, and reading dense paragraphs of text on a computer screen is still nowhere as easy as in print.

Don’t forget to begin each bullet point with the same part of speech and maintain the same grammatical form.

Here’s an example.

Fascinating bullet points are great for:

  • Drawing people back into the copy they skimmed
  • Prompting the download of a free offer
  • Causing the click of a link
  • Driving subscriptions to your website
  • Triggering the purchase of your digital product
  • Initiating a new client relationship

4. Authority bullets

Authority bullets are used to recite the data and proof that support your argument.

You want this information strongly presented in order to bolster the credibility of your content and your level of authority as a subject matter expert. As with all bullet points, try to turn dry, factual information into interesting reading if at all possible.

Here’s one approach.

Don’t believe me when I say reading is an uncommon activity? Check these facts:

  • 58 percent of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school
  • 42 percent of college graduates never read another book
  • 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year
  • 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years
  • 57 percent of new books are not read to completion

Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.

5. Cliffhanger bullets

Cliffhanger bullets tease and foreshadow what’s coming up next or in the near future.

You can close an installment in a content series with a cluster of teasers that have people looking forward to the next installment, which can also spur subscriptions. You can also use cliffhanger bullets to lay the groundwork for an upcoming promotion, launch, or special content event.

Check this one out …

Next week on Copyblogger:

  • Discover how to ruthlessly cut words from your copy to make more sales
  • Learn two essential elements of irresistible content that can dramatically transform your website
  • Find out three simple questions you can ask yourself to craft better headlines

See you then?

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on July 14, 2008.

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[Join Today] The Price of Authority Is about to Go Up

authority-price-raise

A quick message today.

I’ve got two compelling reasons why today is the perfect day to join our Authority advanced content marketing training program (before the price goes up tonight).

Reason #1: Brand-new courses are coming this fall

Copyblogger Authority PlanDid you get a minute to take a look at the Copyblogger Authority Plan yet?

You can click the image to the right to download and read it — no opt-in required.

The Copyblogger Authority Plan spells out the new courses we’re creating for members. And they’re going to be super useful and helpful.

These will be self-study, learn-as-you-have-time courses.

  • You control what you want to focus on mastering
  • You decide how quickly you want to move through the courses
  • You choose how you move from one topic to another

The courses will be available this fall, and will be free to current Authority members, so now’s the time to sign up.

They are in addition to the regular benefits of Authority — the library with more than 300 hours of archived information (more on that below), the networking and problem-solving in the member forum, the weekly live sessions, and more.

Reason #2: The price of Authority is about to go up significantly

That price raise I mentioned above? Here’s an explanation:

We’ve been hemming and hawing on raising the price of Authority for years now.

But when we realized that we now have more than 300 hours of video and audio content — not to mention transcripts, worksheets, handouts, and ebooks — we knew we needed to adjust the price to reflect the high-quality materials we deliver in this program.

At 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time tonight, the price of Authority will become $595. That’s more than fair for the quality of the training you’ll receive.

Right now, you can get Authority for our old price of $399. That’s somewhat ridiculous. But we’re standing by it. :)

If you’re ready to learn the “Copyblogger way” to market your business, we’d be honored to support you. But please don’t hesitate: joining today will save you almost $200, and you’ll lock in that low price for the lifetime of your membership.


Save almost $200! Get Authority (and lock in your low price) today.

Join Authority

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The Most Powerful Way to Persuade

connect and persuade with emotional stories

He’d been on the job just two short weeks.

Two weeks at the most prestigious publication in his industry, and he was already on the brink of bringing The Entire Machine to a halt. With a thud, not a screech.

With a Wednesday article deadline looming, on Monday morning he had nothing but the few beads of sweat forming on his brow. Those were something at least, so he didn’t wipe them away.

He procrastinated. He hopped from link to link, half-reading in between his worries … a mere 29 minutes from the conference call where he’d be asked by the top brass about the obviously gaping hole in this week’s schedule. Wednesday. Damn Wednesday.

His number was up. He was about to be found out. Then a headline caught his eye. And he knew it was the inspiration he’d been looking for …

The most indispensable lesson he’d ever learned about persuasion would save the day.

Stories persuade

Stories about dying, mothers, and fighting for your ideas.

Stories about snowboarding, subdural hematomas, and the secret of life.

Hell, even made-up stories about CEOs on ether trips shooting social media darlings with elephant tranquilizers.

They persuade in different ways and for different goals. But they persuade. And the storytelling doesn’t even have to be so blatant.

To grab your audience’s attention, you don’t need to use the third person and narrate neurotic work worries you once had. (Though you can, like I did above.) You don’t need to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets.

No, you just need to:

“Find ways to connect with your audience on an emotional level.”

Those are the words of Cliff Atkinson, author and communications consultant, from an article in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, even a publication known for numbers and news knows that when it comes to persuasion, stories succeed.

But not just any story.

So, how do you tell a good story?

You make sure you have the five elements that every great marketing story needs:

  1. A hero
  2. A goal
  3. An obstacle
  4. A mentor
  5. A moral

Number 4 is where you come in.

As Sonia Simone wrote, “You are the wise mentor who can provide essential information and tools that allow the hero to attain his goal.”

Weave yourself into your story as a wise mentor by demonstrating authority. Take your audience on a journey that solves their problems and satisfies their desires.

You can do this by sharing with your audience how you overcame an issue they might be facing.

You can do this by sharing special anecdotes from your own experiences that teach people universal lessons they feel warm and fuzzy learning and relearning, like this ode to a blue-collar genius.

And you can share the stories of others, like the man who rescued the family furniture business with nothing but a book and a killer work ethic.

And if you want to tell not just a story, but a remarkable story, add the following:

  • Know your audience
  • Select your frame
  • Choose your premise

That means understanding the worldview of who you are talking to, then framing your story in a way that makes it resonate with your audience, and finally delivering the story — and its message — in the best way possible.

“Stories have been retold over and over throughout the ages — some are just better told than others.”
– Brian Clark

When you tell a good story, when you tell it better to an audience than anyone else, you earn the privilege of persuading them.

Tell your narrative with confidence and authority

Facts, figures, and PowerPoint presentations can’t do what a narrative can do.

Narrative conveys. It relates. It distills. Most importantly, narrative promotes understanding and cultivates connection.

Paul Smith, an associate director for Procter & Gamble’s market research, learned all about the power of storytelling …

As Dennis Nishi retells it in the WSJ, Smith spent three weeks assembling a PowerPoint presentation he was to give to Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley. But on the day of the presentation, Mr. Lafley never once looked at the slides.

He just watched Smith speak. The CEO of a multinational corporation didn’t care about slides. He cared about stories.

Which is why Mr. Smith now uses far more anecdotes in his presentations. Which is why Mr. Smith now has far more success selling his ideas.

So take it from him:

“Confidence and authority help to sell the idea to your audience.”

To develop your confidence, learn how to feel great naked.

To develop your authority, learn the time-tested methods that work from the people you trust.

And then the next time you inevitably get in a pinch … tell a story.

Not your facts and figures. Not your ideas. But your facts, figures, and ideas woven into a story that connects, solves, and satisfies.

After all these centuries, stories are still the most powerful way to persuade.

It’s a lesson that rescued me. And it might one day make you a hero.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on November 13, 2013.

Image credit: Albert Anker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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How to Craft a Marketing Story that People Embrace and Share

how to create a memorable marketing story

You’re telling a story.

Whether you know it or not, or intend to or not … you absolutely are.

Everything you do to market your business is another paragraph, page, or chapter in the story people hear from you. And the story people hear is the one they act (or don’t act) on, and repeat (or don’t repeat) to others.

Now, it’s not necessarily fatal if you’re not aware you’re telling a story, and you’ll never completely control your story anyway. But purposeful storytelling is the mark of the great novelist, screenwriter, and playwright — and purposeful marketing stories are a sure sign of a great content marketer.

So why not tell your story on purpose? Here’s how.

1. Know your audience

The battle is won or lost, right here. Put me up against the greatest writer in the world, and if I understand the audience better, I will kick his or her ass every time when it comes to connection, engagement, and conversion.

What do you need to know? You need to know whom they admire, and what they aspire to, despise, fear, and cherish.

Instead of sitting around dreaming up content you guess people might react favorably to, you tell an educated story based on one or more archetypal individuals who represent the whole.

Understanding your audience at such an intimate level makes creating buyer personas important. It also helps you be a part of the market you’re speaking to, which results in a more authentic story and easier leadership of the community you form.

Research doesn’t sound sexy, but it’s the foundation of any smart marketing plan. The more time you spend understanding the people you’re talking to, the better story you’ll tell them.

2. Select your frame

When you know your audience well, what you’re really tuning in to is the way your people view the world. And when you understand the worldview your prospects share — the things they believe — you can frame your story in a way that resonates so strongly with them that you enjoy an “unfair” advantage over your competition.

Consider these competing worldviews, framed differently by simple word choice:

  • Fitness Enthusiast vs. Gym Rat
  • Progressive vs. Moonbat
  • Businessman vs. The Man

These are extreme examples, and you can cater to audience beliefs and worldviews without resorting to name-calling. For example, the simple word “green” can provoke visceral reactions at the far sides of the environmental worldview spectrum, while also prompting less-intense emotions in the vast middle.

Framing your story against a polar opposite, by definition, will make some love you and others ignore or even despise you. That’s not only okay, it’s necessary.

You’ll likely never convert those at the other end of the spectrum, but your core base will share your content and help you penetrate the vast group in the middle — and that’s where growth comes from.

3. Choose your premise

The premise is the way you choose to tell the story so that you get the conclusion you desire. It’s the delivery of the framed message with dramatic tension and one or more relatable heroes so that your goals are achieved.

  • It’s the hook, the angle, the purple cow.
  • It’s the difference between a good story and an ignored story.
  • It’s the clear path between attention and action.

It’s important to understand the difference between the beliefs or worldview of your audience (the frame) and the expression of that belief or worldview back to them.

Think about your favorite novel or film … the same information could have been transmitted another way, but just not as well. In fact, stories have been retold over and over throughout the ages — some are just better told than others.

The premise is essentially the difference between success and failure (or good and great) when it comes to copywriting and storytelling.

Content marketing as storytelling

“Marketing succeeds when enough people with similar worldviews come together in a way that allows marketers to reach them cost-effectively.” – Seth Godin

That’s exactly what content marketing allows you to do. In fact, it’s the most cost-effective (and just plain ol’ effective) online marketing method ever devised when done properly.

Even better, people aren’t just coming together. They’re coming together around you.

You’re telling a story.

Why not make it remarkable?


Discover a home for content marketers who tell remarkable stories

At Copyblogger, we’ve found that when you build your online presence slowly and carefully, you create a long-lasting asset — an audience of people who want to hear from you, who need your help, and who trust you implicitly.

That investment in your audience pays off in a long-term business that increases in value over time.

Authority is a home for people who create content that’s helpful, entertaining, and engaging in order to attract an audience to their products and services. It’s our flagship program that teaches you how to build your online authority the “Copyblogger way.”

This week, you can get the advanced training and support inside Authority for our previous low price of just $399/year.

Click the button below to get in now before the annual price goes up to $595 on September 16, 2016.

Join Authority

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on December 2, 2010.

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8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content

small tweaks to get more attention

Your precious words. You know they’ve got to be right to attract the audience you want.

You’ve slaved over them, carefully crafting each phrase. You finally hit “publish,” and what happens?

Nobody reads them. No comments, no tweets, no sharing on Facebook.

It’s enough to send a writer into deep depression and wipe out motivation to keep producing great content.

Think you need to spend another 10,000 hours perfecting your writing skills? Probably not.

Actually, the solution may be a lot easier than you expect. Writing less and styling your text so it’s easy to read could be all you need to do to attract and hold attention.

Impatient searchers

Jakob Nielsen’s seminal web usability study from 1997 showed that 79 percent of web users scan rather than read.

Think about how you use the web. You’re in search of information. And if you don’t find it on the page you’re visiting, you click away and look elsewhere.

The web is a “lean forward and participate” medium. Television, by contrast, is a “lean back and let it wash over me” medium.

What can you do to engage your readers so they lean into your content, stay on your pages, and interact with your information?

Make it snappy

To write successfully for the web, you need to forget some of what you learned in English composition class.

Accept that people scan web pages, rather than reading them in detail, and work with this reality rather than fighting it.

If you want to cover a complex topic, consider breaking it into a series of posts. It’s a great way to keep people coming back for more, and your reader will find it easier to digest your content if they get it in portion-controlled sizes.

Structure your paragraphs in the inverted pyramid style. This means stating your conclusion first, then supporting it with the sentences that follow. This helps scanners move from point to point and decide where they’d like to dive in deeper.

Once you’ve done that, use the following easy design techniques to make your content much more reader-friendly.

It takes just a few minutes to turn a post from an overwhelming mass of gray text to something that engages the reader and pulls her in.

1. Embrace the line break

There are few easier ways to make your content more readable. Even complex content can be made much more reader-friendly with the simple introduction of lots of white space.

Feature one idea per paragraph, and keep them short — three or four sentences at most.

And try writing some paragraphs with one sentence only.

2. Break up your content with compelling subheads

One technique taught here at Copyblogger is to write your headline and subheads first.

A strong headline (and therefore a strong premise) is vital to getting readers to check you out in the first place. And solid subheads keep readers engaged, acting as “mini headlines” to keep them moving through the rest of your content.

Make your subheads intriguing as well as informative. Web readers have well-honed BS meters, so don’t exaggerate or you’ll lose credibility. “Compelling” is not the same as “hypey.”

Once you’ve written your subheads, review them to see what readers/scanners will understand if they only read that part of your article. Is there a compelling story? Will they get the gist of your information?

3. Create bulleted lists

  • They create fascinations your readers can’t resist.
  • They’re an easily scannable way to present multiple points.
  • They look different from the rest of your text, so they provide a visual break for your reader.

4. Use “deep captions”

Studies have shown that image captions are consistently some of the most-read copy on a page. Try pairing a strong image with a “deep caption.”

Deep captions are two to three sentences long. That’s long enough to intrigue your reader to dig into your whole article.

5. Add relevant and helpful links

Internal links back to your own cornerstone content will keep people on your site and reading your best material.

External links demonstrate that you’ve researched the topic and want to highlight other experts. Good content uses both to expand your reader’s understanding and add value.

Another advantage of internal links is they make it less frustrating when some dirtbag scrapes your content (cuts and pastes it to their own site without attribution).

6. Highlight content strategically

Add emphasis to your content by bolding important concepts. You reader will be able to scan through and pick out the most important information at a glance.

Don’t highlight everything (which would have the same effect as highlighting nothing). Instead, emphasize the key points so the scanner can quickly pick them out.

7. Harness the power of numbers

Think those numbered list posts are tired? Think again.

Numbers are an incredibly effective way to both capture attention and keep the reader oriented.

If you don’t believe me, take a quick look at the “Popular Articles” on the right hand of this site. You’ll get a mini-tutorial in some of the ways you can use numbers (and other techniques) to make a post more inviting.

You can often make a post more compelling just by numbering your main points. Give it a try.

8. Check your formatting to turn scanners into readers

Once you’ve used subheads, numbers, bulleted lists, and other formatting to highlight the key elements of your post, read through it again — looking only at the text you’ve called special attention to.

Does the reader get the gist? Have you pulled out the most interesting and relevant words, the words that will pull your scanner in and turn her into a reader?

How about you? What are your favorite techniques for getting readers to lean in to your content? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


Want more advanced content tips? Get your free Authority session today!

content-map-video-image

We’re reopening our Authority advanced content marketing training program soon. Authority is like Copyblogger amplified.

  • We have weekly multimedia sessions (video, audio, transcripts) that bring you the latest content marketing strategies, tools, and approaches.
  • We show you how to build a memorable online presence that builds your business.
  • In our private members-only forum, you can get your questions answered by members of the Copyblogger editorial team and your fellow Authority colleagues.

And today, we’ve got a free Authority session when you sign up for the interest list for the program. It’s called How to Use a Content Map to Convert Prospects to Customers.

This session will help you discover:

  • How to map out your content so it reliably moves people from prospect to customer.
  • The rule of thumb for deciding which content should be free and which should require payment.
  • How to decide what form your content should take: Blog post? Autoresponder? Sales page? White paper? We’ll show you how to give your content a form that helps it function best.

Join Sonia Simone and me for How to Use a Content Map to Convert Prospects to Customers. It’s free when you sign up below.

Bonus! When you put your email address on the interest list below, you’ll find out first when the program reopens and get a special offer no one else will see. :-)

Get a free session and find out when Authority opens:

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on December 7, 2010. We’re observing the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. on Monday, September 5, 2016, but we’ll be back with a fresh article on Tuesday.

The post 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content appeared first on Copyblogger.

Last Chance to Get 30% Off Everything at StudioPress

Last Chance to Get 30% Off Everything at StudioPress

Prices go back to normal tonight!

Just a friendly reminder that our big blowout sale ends today (8/30/16) at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Until then, you can get anything we sell at StudioPress — including the Pro Plus All-Theme Package — for 30 percent off.

To activate your discount, click this link.

Then browse individual themes, and pick up as many as you want for 30 percent off.

Or, locate the button for the Pro Plus Pack (see image below) and get everything for 30 percent off.

Click here to get 30% off the Pro Plus All-Theme Package

With Pro Plus, that means every theme we sell right now, every theme we make in the future, plus 15 additional third-party themes.

It’s a great value. We’re excited for you to take advantage of it, so you can give your website a fresh look and feel … and fall in love with it all over again. ?

Get your 30 percent off discount now, before it’s gone.

Just click this link to shop and save:

http://my.studiopress.com/coupon/blowout-discount/

The post Last Chance to Get 30% Off Everything at StudioPress appeared first on Copyblogger.

How to Get 30% Off Our Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes

How to Get 30% Off Our Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes

Only a few days left before this offer expires …

On Tuesday, I alerted you to the massive StudioPress blowout sale going on this week.

Basically, it’s our big annual Black Monday discount delivered three months in advance.

The details couldn’t be simpler: Until the offer expires on Tuesday, August 30 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, you get 30 percent off everything we sell at StudioPress.

Everything.

Want any individual theme? Click this link, and browse all 39 StudioPress themes and all 15 third-party themes — you get 30 percent off as many individual themes as you want.

Want all of our themes? Click this link, and then find the blue box:

Click here to get 30% off the Pro Plus All-Theme Package

Click it, and you’ll be able to get 30 percent off our Pro Plus All-Theme Package — plus you lock in your Pro Plus account without the usual recurring annual payment of $99.99.

It’s just a one-time payment … and at a big, big discount.

Decisions, decisions …

So … which theme should you choose?

You don’t need me to spend any more time stressing the value of the discount. Forty-five percent off anything is pretty darn good.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for which themes you might want to consider trying on your site.

I’ll reveal the three most popular StudioPress themes of 2016. So many customers can’t be wrong, right?

And I’ll also reveal my own personal favorite, which has received rave reviews ever since I put it on my own website.

The 3 Most Popular StudioPress Themes of 2016

We’ll begin the countdown at number three …

3. Digital Pro

This is one of the newest StudioPress themes, and it’s wasted no time carving out a niche of popularity.

Why? Because if you’re building a business around digital goods, you need a theme that will support your efforts and won’t get in the way when you’re marketing your digital products.

Digital Pro builds trust with a friendly, open feel and clean, easy-to-read typography.

Here’s how it looks:

Click here to get 30% off Digital Pro

To get Digital Pro:

We might mention Digital Pro again later. Stay tuned.

For now, let’s move on to the second-most popular theme of 2016 …

2. Altitude Pro

Altitude Pro is another relatively new theme, which I’ve used on one of my personal sites.

It’s a visually stunning theme — but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s style over substance. The parallax effects will grab your eye, but it’s the features and flexibility that will move your mind.

Altitude Pro is a theme with a purpose, and that purpose is to take you and your online business higher.

Click here to get 30% off Altitude Pro

To get Altitude Pro:

And the #1 best-selling theme so far in 2016 is … well, it’s the #1 best-selling of all time at StudioPress.

Still the undisputed champion of the StudioPress world, it’s …

1. Foodie Pro

Foodie Pro is one of the 15 third-party themes currently available at StudioPress — and yes, as mentioned above, third-party themes are eligible for the 30 percent discount.

Customers fell in love with Foodie Pro from the day she was released, and the love affair has not subsided.

Foodie Pro is sleek and svelte with her minimalist approach and clean design, but she sure packs a punch when it comes to features. She is the most flexible Genesis theme to date — with a minimalist style and plenty of color and typography options.

Click here to get 30% off Foodie Pro

To get Foodie Pro:

And finally, a quick nod to my personal favorite theme …

My Personal Favorite StudioPress Theme

What do you know? My personal favorite is a theme from our top three. I didn’t intend on that happening when I had the idea for this post … but hey, when a theme is good, it’s good.

I tend to be a tinkerer with my personal sites. I’ve tried out almost every StudioPress theme at one time or another.

For my Assembly Call website, I’ve never been happier with the look, feel, and function of the design as I am right now.

And the theme I’m using is Digital Pro.

Compare the demo image of Digital Pro with how my site looks:

Click here to get 30% off Digital Pro

Image of AssemblyCall.com, which uses Digital Pro

I love the hero image area, which I easily customized with my own image to fit my own brand.

I also love the setup of the widgets on the homepage. (Click here to check out how I have mine set up.)

And the individual category pages are striking in their simplicity.

I could go on and on.

Suffice it to say, I’m enamored with Digital Pro. Can you tell? :-)

Definitely give it a look as you are deciding which themes you’re going to get for 30 percent off.

Have fun browsing and deciding!

It’s always fun looking through new themes and envisioning what your site will look and feel like with them installed.

It’s even better when you can get your favorites for close to half off. :-)

Take some time today or this weekend and see which StudioPress theme will help you usher in the next evolution of your site.

Remember: Make sure you click this coupon link so you get your 30 percent off discount.

And don’t wait too long, because the big discount expires this upcoming Tuesday, August 30, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

The post How to Get 30% Off Our Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes appeared first on Copyblogger.