Often, authors ask me what they should blog about. Recently, Nokolas Baron approached me about writing a guest post, and shares on this very subject.
Thanks for being here Nikolas. Take it away!
The Age of Information
In this day and age if you can’t impress someone within the first ten seconds, you’ve lost your chance. From the very first sentence, picture, or frame, you have to encourage the reader to keep reading, and come back for more. It’s hard to hold the attention people used to instant gratification. Blog readers want to be entertained the instant they reach the site. The abundance of lists with pictures and quizzes about which TV character you are has seriously downsized the time people are willing to spend reading.
The average blog reader skims at best, and what’s easier to skim than a list? Lists quench an essential need: quick information. They display information fast, and they get to the point without any fluff. They give the reader what they want upfront without having to wade through any unnecessary information. Lists capture attention immediately and hold it for a short time. Just perfect for the instant gratification generation.
Where Do You Spend Your Time?
When you happen upon someone’s blog, what grabs your attention? The design? The photos? The titles and text? Think about what you’re looking for when you read a blog. Do you have time to read a ton of paragraphs or do you only have a few minutes before you make dinner to relax and read a short list? Americans are turning into time magicians. They’re able to cram more into a day than ever before. Free time is limited with longer work weeks, play dates, and appointments. Blog readers crave lists because they have only a few seconds to glance at the page.
In addition to time being precious, readers enjoy lists. A short list allows them to feel a sense of completion, and provides them with valuable information they need. Lists provide a beginning, middle, and satisfying end to the reader’s experience. Lists present information quickly; just what the reader wants.
When you consider that reader’s time is valuable, proofreading and editing become crucial. Nobody will return to a blog, whether it contains lists or not, if it’s bogged down by errors. If you’re a blogger, always perform a grammar and spell check before you publish. I like to use Grammarly because it’s easy to use, fast, and helps me find my most common errors. Over time it’s helped me to cut down on editing time so that I can post quicker and present clean and error-free posts.
Is There Anything Else?
Lists aren’t the end all be all. There are plenty of blog readers who appreciate a well-written paragraph, a great short story, or a travel log. Not all of them need to have lists in every post to feel like they’ve read something useful. There are infographics and charts, photos and videos, and polls. Blog readers enjoy all sorts of formats.
Instant gratification lasts merely that, an instant. Blogs with only lists will only succeed for a short time and then have to adapt to a new style to remain relevant. Blogs that focus more on useful content will find it easier to gain readers and keep them.
Thanks Nikolas for sharing your thoughts.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.