You’ve slaved away for hours on your latest blog post, but how sure are you that it will be read by your readers all the way through? Here’s some guidelines to consider that might help:

Focus above the fold

The first part of your blog, the bit that you readers see first, is very important if you are going to be successful in getting them to read more of your post.

You have only three seconds to make a good enough impression to encourage them to stay. It’s all too easy for your readers to glance at the headline and then the first sentence, arrive at a quick assumption whether it’s going to be any good or not, or whether it will fulfill their needs, or satisfy the promise delivered in the headline, and then in a split second decide to stay or not.

In fact this portion of a blog post should have a lot more care and attention spent on it than anywhere else. You cannot afford to loose the interest of your reader, and drive them away through lack of persuasive attraction. The style, method of delivery, and language are all taken into account alongside the subject and content.

Hit them between the eyes

Time hungry readers want to be satisfied immediately. Attention spans are too short to wade through a plethora of paragraphs. We live in the 21st century and don’t relish reading a mountain of prose before we get to the bit we have waiting for.

Readers don’t have any patience. If they are unable to get what they want within a minimal amount of time, they will leave to find it elsewhere. After all, there is plenty of alternative content available, both good and bad. What you want is to make sure it is your content they are reading before anybody else’s.

So sock it to them. Don’t wait – or tease – your readers have not opted for delayed tactics. Set the scene within the first sentence. Say something sensational. Give them a sugar-hit from the very beginning – get their blood boiling and panting for more. And don’t disappoint – a poorly constructed post with little value in its content will not go down too well.

It’s in the first 100 words

If you haven’t managed to succeed in retaining your reader within the first 100 words of your post, you’re probably lost them. Even if they are interested in what you’ve got to say, unless you have managed to grab them by the short and curlies they will have more than likely bookmarked it and gone on to look at the next post.

This is not what you want. You want them to be hooked in, cajoled, and seduced into reading it all!

This is, in fact, a tall order for most writers. I own that I have yet to crack this nut too! But since learning this information I have taken far more care in my first 100 words than I used to. I carefully strip out any unnecessary rhetoric that could be classed as padding, and reserve that for a bit later in the post.

Go give it a try! Copy your first paragraph and imagine yourself as a busy reader. Does the content grab your attention? Does it fulfill a pressing need? Is it all totally relevant to the headline? Does this post satisfy what has been promised? Are you getting value for money?

And what about the rest of the post?

You need to be aware of some tactics that accommodate reluctant readers, such as those who prefer to skim read or scan a post before making their decision whether it is worth while reading or not.

This is a common occurrence. Many potential readers will have a list of posts to consider within a few minutes, usually in a break between projects or waiting for another event like a telephone call. Therefore the post must be created in a way that persuades them of its relevance and quality.

Sometimes it’s the difference between scanning a post for relevance, and making the decision to bookmark it for later, or read it there and then. Even long posts can achieve the latter if they are written successfully; I have many a time read a post through to the end, in spite of having no time to do so, because of the quality of the writing.

What aids should you include?

Any blogger worth his or her salt will know about subheaders breaking up long text, and short paragraphs making it easier for the reader to read due to more white space drawing the reader’s eye down the page.

And anyhow, I’ve mentioned this in my Infographic above!

But there are other factors to consider. I’ve already mentioned quality of writing, and this is influenced by the credibility and reputation of that writer. If you know in advance that you are going to get a cracking post because this person has written other exceptional examples in the past, you will make more time for them.

And then there is the experience you will get. Is there a story? Are you promised great things? Can you relate to the subject, or the writer? Feeling part of the ‘family of bloggers’ is another persuasive pointer that should not be ignored. Thus creating your social networking relationships is vital, even if you haven’t personally met or connected with that blogger.

Get the conversation going

I answered a comment this morning to a reader who asked how do they get a toe into the blogging world. They have tried making connections with blogs in their industry, only to be rebuffed or ignored. This, naturally, was making her very despondent.

The answer is to network. To comment. To do altruistic things that will draw attention to you. Sometimes it isn’t about you all the time, you have to think WIIFT (what’s in it for them). Create a good, thriving, relevant and fruitful social relationship first before you approach with any idea, whether guest blogging, affiliate marketing, joint venture or whatever.

And this includes making and creating conversations. I also read this morning about a new blogger who found out about the wonders of commenting. Fantastic! It doesn’t matter where, blog or social media, the difference is that you’re doing it! As long as you say the right things, to the right people, in the right place, and at the right time, you are much more likely to succeed.