The “Enter” Key: How to Instantly Get Readers to Finish Your Post

If you’re wondering why you’re getting so few likes and comments on your blog posts, there’s one suspect you can immediately investigate.

Your readers’ attention is fragile. They have limited spare time and mental bandwidth, and most will decide whether they’ll stay and finish your post upon first glance. This creates a number of “traps” your post can fall into, which may cause readers take the path of least resistance and move on.

One is unnecessary clicks. Surveys, subscription requests, content-less home pages that require people to dig for your actual posts – this stuff will dislodge many readers at first sight. Be careful with these.

Another is sheer length. If visitors skim the post and see that it’ll take more than a couple minutes, you’ve probably lost them, no matter how good your content. 500 words is a good maximum.

But the subject of this post is the size of your paragraphs.

Paragraphs exist for a reason. They break down your ideas into manageable chunks, lend flow to your work. This is Writing 101.

People struggle to follow paragraphs that ramble on. It signals “massive investment required”. If the first thing that greets visitors is a paragraph running off the page, many will just click “X”. They’re not book readers. They’re surfers, read-on-the-go types.

On the other hand, a post that’s split into manageable paragraphs tells them “I’m going to do the hard work of building and supporting my ideas for you, reader!” This is a good thing.

I personally don’t like going over four or five lines in any single paragraph (my column width is about 90 characters long).

I also don’t make EVERYTHING a paragraph. Some ideas can stand on their own as a single sentence.

Then again, making EVERYTHING a single sentence is just wonky. It strikes readers as a pretension, draws attention to itself. It also doesn’t do much to reveal your ideas’ structure and interplay.

Vary the lengths of your paragraphs (using the “size” of each idea as a guide). Shake things up. I’ve tried to make this post a good example.

I’m rooting for you, Christian blogger, to hold onto those slippery readers when they come by. I know it’s frustrating that your valuable ideas alone won’t hold onto people, but that’s just life. Let’s embrace the art – be good at everything, as Christians should be.

 

11 thoughts on “The “Enter” Key: How to Instantly Get Readers to Finish Your Post

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