On April 20th, I presented "Blogging to Support Fundraising Efforts" at the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Here's the slide deck and below it are the supplementary blogs relating to blog patterns and nuances.
The space break: a blog’s best friend
The key to online readability it white space. Because white space is so important to reading online, blog posts should be written in short paragraphs. Between one and three sentences will suffice.
Most readers skim. To provide value, use strong topic sentences for every paragraph. With so much information online, readers’ attention is difficult to retain. Making your text skimmable can mean readers get the most value from the blog without wasting their time.
For maximum impact, keep the sentences in the paragraph on topic and provide short, easy-to-remember examples to support your assertions. An example can be an effective way to demonstrate a point. Stand-alone sentences can provide white space and deliver an important point.
Space lets the eyes rest which is even more important in digital text.
Screen fatigue makes it difficult for readers of online text to stay focused. White space and short paragraphs can relieve screen fatigue. Most bloggers will provide single-line emphasis breaks or images to combat screen fatigue in readers.
Space breaks should occur naturally, as part of the rhythm of the text. An easy way to get text separation and white space is with a list. See the power of lists.
The power of lists
Bloggers love lists. They’re an excellent way to make communication more precise and memorable. Plus, they provide the much-needed white space that makes online text easier to consume.
Lists also provide great click-bait titles: Five reasons to re-write your resume. The 6 best apple pie recipes ever. Four exercises to get your abs ready for bikini season.
By telling the reader what to expect, you create trust. A short list tells the reader the blog read won’t take too long. A long list indicates you’ll be thorough. Itemizing the points tells the reader you plan to provide valuable, learnable information.
Lists should provide some new information, too. They need to have something unexpected, something unique to your own contribution. The web is so wide that your blog has probably been written at least a dozen times and posted on other sites. What makes your insight different?
To recap, the benefits of lists:
Built-in white space
Click bait titles
Create trust early
Provide new, easy-to-retain information
Lists can also provide tweet-able lines that make the blog easy to promote and socialize. To read more about tweet-able lines, keep reading this blog.
To drive traffic to your blog, tweet the blog’s subject, title, and location to your followers. While the title might be enough to lure a twitter reader to click through to the blog (see the blog on lists for click bait titles), tweeting basics can be like a whisper in social media.
To shout, use re-tweetable lines. These are lines that readers like enough to re-tweet. Philosophical, pithy, inspiring, or droll, re-tweetable lines get readers to share your link with others. Retweets are as valuable as click-throughs.
Unfortunately, click-throughs from tweets can’t be tracked as the source of your blog traffic. But Twitter will keep track of retweets and likes. Likes can mean someone is saving the link to visit later.
Direct quotes from the blog work as tweetable lines. Especially if they’re the same lines you’ve isolated to create space. See the blog on blog spacing for more about that.
When readers click through to an article and find the line they liked in context, they trust you. That trust can be eroded if the line is irrelevant to the message of the blog. Tweeted lines that take on a different meaning in the context of the blog will erode the reader’s trust in you.
Be sure the tweeted line means as much in the blog as it does on its own.
Inside the blog, provide concise insights that readers can highlight and tweet. The Medium blog platform provides highlight and tweet capabilities for readers. When readers tweet through Medium, the blog’s link is imbedded in the tweet.
More than anything, tweetable lines are short. When revising your blog, consider reducing lines into short, tweetable insights that you can use to socialize the medium. For more on brevity, read this blog.