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The Kenny Rogers Guide to Getting People to Read Your Whole Posts

I never thought I’d quote Kenny Rogers on this blog but here’s something he said to a contestant on American Idol this series:

“the first word that comes out of your mouth helps people to decide whether to listen to the next word, which in turn helps them work out whether to listen to the next word, which helps them work out whether to listen to the next one… and so on and so forth…” (paraphrased)

When I heard it I was immediately reminded of a message that Joseph Sugarman comes back to again and again in his book Advertising Secrets of the Written Word when he’s talking about the headlines or titles of advertising copy.

Throughout the book he drums this into his readers (again a paraphrase):

“What is the purpose of a heading or title?

To get potential readers reading the next line of your ad.

What is the purpose of the first line of your ad?

To get those who’ve read it to read the second one.

What’s the purpose of the second line?

You guessed it – to get readers to read the third….”

Kenny and Joseph’s advice is much the same. The first things you sing, say or write in any form of communication are of vital importance when it comes to engaging people well.

The way you open a song, advertisement, book, speech or blog post often determines whether people will track with it.

If you want people to still be with you at the end of your post work hard at attention grabbing, intriguing, captivating and desire creating titles and openings.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hey Darren, I know how he feels.

    I find the written word easier to manipulate or should I say, captivate my visitors than audio.

    There’s something about the web that makes me more comfortable with writing than speaking.

    This is coming from someone who is experimenting with audio presentations.

    Now I want to rethink my initial plans.

    Don’t know whether to thank you or otherwise. LOL

  2. Hey Darren,

    This is really simple advice that many content publishers many a time forget. This advice means that before publishing your content on your blog you should’ve given it enough thought, because if you have a single ‘word’ (thought) that does not fit the post, readers might just go away or skim through the entire post.

    I read your post on attention span of an average reader a few days back. Now since we know that an average reader will not stay for very long before moving to another web-page, we need to put in that something-extra in our posts. In my opinion, that something-extra would be thinking over your post a few times over even after completing it. Check if it’s worth reading, properly structured and if one thought leads to the other, thereby guiding readers to the next thought rather than breaking the thought-process. This may make them just skim-through or move to another site/blog.

    Cheers!

    Siddharth Thakkar

  3. Kenny Rogers and blogging ? who’d have thought it?

    Though I agree with Kenny , a blog post is like a song which has to flow.

  4. Dave Starr says:

    Interesting thoughts … as I gaze back at last year’s often over-long and disjoint prose on my blogs. Another New years resolution … but a good one.

    A blog post is indeed a lot like a song … you’ve got to capture attention, keep them (the reader) at it just long enough, and then send them away feeling as if their couple minute’s of attention was pleasant.

    I know that the statistics and split testing show that those insanely long ‘sell’ pages for a lot of “Internet Help” stuff theoretically sell but I often wonder how. I seldom even rad to the last page where they put the price.

    Mark Twain once wrote to a friend, “I apologize for the length of this letter, if I had more time I could have made it shorter.”

  5. Alex Becker says:

    I will work on it.

  6. Trent says:

    Wrong Kenny Rogers quote when you’re talking about blogs. “You’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” is a better one. Why? Blogging is an art form and part of that art is knowing your voice and your appropriate level of brevity, lest you seem long winded to your readers.

  7. Thanks for this very relevant information. I’ll make my first word interesting!!

  8. When encouraging people It is better to improve the way you communicate. Sometime people may judge you who you are in what you convey. Communication is very important, imagine the world If all people are mute. have a nice day!

  9. Where do you get your inspiration for your posts?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I was inspired to write this article after reading an article on ProBlogger.net titled, “The Kenny Rogers Guide to Getting People to Read Your Whole Posts “. It is a short article that will capture your attention. [...]

  2. [...] – WordPress Planet – If you’re using WordPress, then you’ll need to subscribe – Google Blogoscoped – Info ANY ‘net user would find useful – Google’s Official blogs – (Take a look at the column on the right for the list). They really seem to be updating often now. Thanks to Matt Cutts? perhaps – Scobleizer – Robert Scoble is about 30% of my news source, and even then he can be hard to keep up with… – ProBlogger – I don’t know WHERE Darren Rowse finds the inspiration, but boy can he write! [...]

  3. Weekly Brief says:

    [...] First word has a big impact. Problogger explains it with two quotes. [...]