How to Make Your Content More Interesting to Your Readers

Jeanette Helen Wilson

Published Tue 19 Aug by Jeanette Helen Wilson in Creating Better Content

This article highlights 8 techniques you can apply to your content creation, that will help your readers engage more with your articles and blogs

‘There really is no such thing as a boring subject. Just boring, unimaginative writers’

~ Ben Hart

Some products and services are easy to write engaging content about, perhaps because they are inherently interesting. Dating websites, for example, may not need such great content because the niche market is so huge.

But what if you sell paint? Or offer SEO services?

Your potential customers will still want to visit your site and get some useful information. But to keep them coming back, it has to be engaging.There’s more competition online now, and you’re competing with businesses in your niche market from all over the world, so how can you help your content stand out?

For our example, we’re going to imagine that you sell paint. Something that is commonly used to sum up boredom is: ‘Watching paint dry.’

So how do you turn this into interesting content?

Ask a Question

This technique is guaranteed to pique your readers’ interest straight away.

Why?

Because you are putting it out there: you are immediately involving your readers in the conversation. Conversation with your audience is essential online, especially if you’re writing a blog. Asking a question will interest your readers because they will start to see your subject in a different way. Look at it with fresh eyes. So you could ask: ‘Why does paint lighten in tone as it dries?’ Or: ‘Why is paint harder to wash out of fabric once it’s dry?’

The latter question is probably more likely to attract interest than the first, because it addresses a common problem many of the readers in the niche market of DIY will have experienced first-hand.

Once you’ve explained the scientific reasons for this quandary, you could go on to give your readers some useful tips and advice about how to remove dried-on paint stains from their household fabrics and clothes.

Ask a question to attract attention, then maintain the interest by adding value in your answer.

Ask the Right Questions

The key to the first point is to ask and answer questions that are relevant to your target audience. What they want to know about drying paint is more important than what you want to tell them. How do you find the right questions to ask?

  • Look on social media platforms
  • Visit forums in your niche market
  • Look at your competitors’ websites and see if there are any comments on their blog posts, asking particular questions. Harness these in your content
  • Research Yahoo! Answers to see what are the pressing issues in your field of expertise: what are your potential customers looking for answers on?

Answer the Questions Thoroughly and Thoughtfully

Say the question that was coming up time and time again amongst your target audience was: ‘How many hours should I leave between coats to ensure the paint is properly dry?’

  • In your answer, go into detail to establish yourself as an expert
  • You could, for example, talk about the factors that may affect drying time. Include variables such as dampness, temperature and humidity, what type of paint they are using and whether the job is indoors or outdoors
  • You could include an infographic showing the correlation between humidity, temperature and drying times. Infographics are becoming increasingly popular online. They are a quick-glance reference tool that is easy for visitors to your website, blog or social media platforms to digest and share with others
  • Try highlighting the potential pitfalls of not allowing enough time between coats for drying. Helping your target audience avert disaster means they will see you as someone to trust and rely on. They will reward you with their loyalty and regard

Make it Personal

Your readers will like to be able to relate your content to their own personal experience. Try painting a picture of their problem and then offer them your solution. Don’t be scared of including something a bit more personal, to create intimacy with your readers. They like you to be an expert, but not a robot.

When we say personal, we mean something that speaks to them as a fellow human being. They want to know that you have ‘been there too.’ So show them. For example:

‘When I first started out on my first DIY painting project, I didn’t watch my paint dry for long enough. I was restless and impatient. I couldn’t wait to get the job finished so I could get onto the next room. So after just an hour, I put on another coat. What harm could it do?....’

Telling this story shows that you can put yourself in their painting plimsolls.

And readers love this basic empathy. They will feel supported and understood by you.

Tell a Story

The above example tells a story that shows a common problem. It engages the reader because it has a narrative with a human being at its centre. Readers are far more likely to read something that has a person as its focus, instead of an abstract concept or an inanimate object.

‘Storytelling is an incredibly powerful, primal medium through which we connect as a species... the extraordinary fact that our brains are hard-wired to understand each other in this way has huge implications for the manner in which we deliver information’

Nathalie Nahai, Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion, p110

Use the Word 'You' Often

This relates what you’re saying to your readers. It reminds them that they are at the centre of your content, and it is for them that you are writing. It has long been said in the world of copywriting that the most important word to use when writing content is ‘You’.

Use Images

Using images to accompany your content is a guaranteed way of making it more interesting to your readers.

However, as David Ogilvy’s research showed, this will only be the case if your image is placed correctly, and if it is totally relevant to your post

The Benefits of Using Images

  • Images are more immediate than words
  • Images grab instant attention: ‘For every bit of eye-candy on your site, your sales will increase an average of 16.5%’

So how can you make sure you’re getting it right, not only to grab your readers’ initial attention, but to keep it and convert it into a sale?

Place the Image at the Top of Your Posts

David Ogilvy advises that they appear before your headline / title. He explains that the sequence we follow when scanning an article or blog post is always the same: firstly we look at the image, then we scan the headline, then lastly, if we are suitably captivated by the first two elements, we follow through and digest the body copy

Choose Relevant Images

The best images are those that are clearly and simply relevant to the post. Using an image that is not directly or obviously relevant to your body copy can actually harm your conversion rates. Some may think that putting a picture of an attractive woman on every post means a passport to success, but if this is seen by readers as gratuitous, they may feel like they have been duped and manipulated. This could result in readers not trusting you in the future to deliver on your promises.

Images that Tell a Story

These will intrigue your readers and they will want to pursue your body copy to see how the story plays out / is resolved. Set up a scenario in their head by using a relevant image. Make it quirky if you like, something that will pique their interest and make them want to read on for an explanation.

Use an Image which Demonstrates

Answer your reader’s implicit question: ‘What’s in this for me?’ ‘How can this benefit me?’ One of the best ways of doing this is showing images of ‘Before’ and ‘After’ scenarios. This clearly shows them how using your product or service can improve a situation in their life. Address an issue that they’re worried about. Show visually how you can deliver that solution.

So we have discussed techniques you can put into practice today, to draw readers in and attract your target audience by directly addressing them, answering their concerns and putting yourself into their shoes.

What do you think? What tactics can you suggest to make any subject interesting to readers? Use our comments section below, or visit our ask an expert page to ask a specific question to one of our team!

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