This guest post is by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.
I’m working on a secret project, and it requires that I read studies. The information from the studies is absolutely fascinating, but they are run through a science machine that sucks the fun and life out of them. The verbose verbiage and dry delivery are brutal on the eyes.
Fiction: people enjoy academic studies for the writing style.
While studies and textbooks have a hidden code that says you must write with the intent to bore, there’s no such restriction on blogs. If your blog is boring, and there is another blog with similar content and enjoyable delivery, you lose. Pack up your keyboard and go home. Unless, that is, you want to unborify it.
In this post, I will suggest three excellent techniques to hold your reader’s gaze. When you type it in Word, “unborify” has a red line under it because all new words face initial resistance. This post has already been through the unborifying process, so I hope you enjoy it!
Three(ish) techniques to unborify your posts
1. Inject humor into bland posts
Humor breaks through stubborn minds, making your content instantly more relevant and accepted. Not only that, but humor is funny.
I like to use the strikethrough jest. It works by inserting a funny, out of place “what if I wrote THIS” word or phrase in a sentence. Then, use strikethrough HTML to cross it out. Readers can see the ridiculous word, but you “fix it” and write the correct words after it, like this…
Michael Jordan plays with his hair basketball.
I am more successful than
Darren Rowse several 6th graders.
I’ve noticed that women are hopelessly drawn to
These kinds of comments are laced with self-deprecating humor, which is funny when it’s used sparingly. Anyone can learn to add humor to their posts, but not many people do, that I’ve noticed, and it’s a mistake!
Make your readers laugh, and you will double their chance of sharing the article (there could be a study to back this up, but likely nobody’s read it because it’s boring).
2. Add in a relevant quote … or seventeen
Quotes are frustrating to me. Some quotes say more than a 1000 word blog post can. But instead of being jealously distant, bloggers are better off using them.
A relevant quote that coincides with your content is a nice break from the paragraph, paragraph, paragraph format. If it’s from a well known author and you’re not as famous, it serves as a credibility boost. You can even throw your own quote in a special box to highlight it.
“Quotes are good.”—Stephen Guise
Tip: Don’t add seventeen quotes to your post unless it is titled “The Seventeen Greatest Quotes From Ernest Hemingway.” Quotes are more powerful individually than in packs, so use them with care.
3. Build anticipation
People love anticipation. If the Summer Olympics were held twice a year, I wouldn’t be so darn excited about them every time. When you read in a blog post’s title that you’re failing to make a key revision to your blog, you want to find out what it is. List posts are filled with anticipation because you wonder what each list item says.
You can claim you have secrets, make promises, reference later parts of the article in the beginning, and structure your article to build to a climax. If you split an article into two parts, part II will have extra anticipation built in automatically. Anything that leaves your readers wondering what’s next is going to add valuable anticipation to your content.
4. Cut out weak content
5. When it doesn’t matter, choose interesting over technical
Sometimes you’ll want to add details, but there are other ways of stating boring data. Pick one…
- The weather was 97 degrees with humidity at 95%.
- I walked outside, and my shirt was completely soaked in sweat within two minutes.
See how both convey the same general idea, but the second version is more gross and interesting? Make your blog posts as gross as possible. Who cares if the humidity was 95% or 93%? It is remarkable to drench your shirt with sweat in two minutes and share it publicly. As a bonus, readers wonder what’s wrong with you, which builds anticipation for your next article.
6. Be unpredictable
Six! I wrote six tips after saying I’d write three. That is unpredictable. Nobody has ever promised a number of list items and then delivered more! Oh, they all have? Well, not twice as many. Do this too much, though, and readers will think you can’t count—or they’ll simply adjust their expectations to your chronic lies. My other list posts have been very upfront and honest, so this one is a true surprise.
People are naturally interested in anything they don’t fully understand (Lady Gaga’s brain) or can’t accurately predict (Lady Gaga’s outfit). They’re bored by predictable things (a loaf of bread on the table) and things they already know (the Lions are the best team in the NFL).
Deliver more than you promise or alter your format occasionally to keep readers guessing and interested in what you’ll come up with next.
In addition to “standard” posts, I write two series to mix it up. One is called Opposites! where I advise people to do the wrong things. The other is Mindshift, where I try to
give people a concussion teach people how to shift their mindset to a better place.
These series, and my dedication to being weird, do a nice job of keeping my readers on the edges of their mousepads.
A look inside the Blogger Sea
Once you’ve finished your final draft, go back through your work and ask, “how can I make this more interesting to read?” Useful information is ubiquitous, but useful and entertaining information is a rare treasure that readers crave. Applying these “3″ tips will instantly make your content better.
In the Blogger Sea, these techniques will propel you to giant squid status. But if you don’t use them, you’ll be a piece of seaweed. Giant squid are better writers than seaweed because they have more ink (okay … maybe leave this type of humor out of your blog posts).
What sea creature best represents you as a blogger? How do you spice up your posts?
Stephen Guise is an electric eel in the Blogger Sea because his wit is shocking and he likes sea caves. His passion for changing lives through changing minds is painfully obvious at Deep Existence – Personal Development’s Deep End. Humans are permitted to subscribe (no reptiles, NO exceptions) to receive Stephen’s acclaimed book – Stress Management Redefined.