Why your blog posts need to look amazing to attract and keep readers

It’s not just what you write in your blog that counts. It’s also what your blog looks like.

NOTE: This is Part 5 of the “mouth-watering blog posts” series. You have come up with a superb idea and a headline to match. Your writing is superb and you’ve added some attractive images. There’s one last piece of business to attend to.

Have you ever noticed how effective a plate of food is on a menu? Studies show that people tend to order the items pictured much more than those that are included just as text.

In fact, they tend to order things that look appealing. Never mind that looks have no bearing on taste; looks have every bearing on whether people expect the dish to taste good.

It’s the same way with a blog post. People tend to read the posts that are visually appealing, with all the ingredients organized just right. Never mind that looks have no bearing on accuracy, usefulness or relevance; looks have every bearing on whether people expect the post to be worth their time to read.

Create white space in your blog

White space is very important. People prefer to drive when they can afford to, because they don’t like crowded buses. They don’t like crowded elevators. They are protective of their personal space.

On your blog, give your readers their personal space.

There are two aspects to this. The first is a one-time fix. It’s how your blog is laid out. Are the headers and margins over-crowded? Is there space between the site-wide elements and the individual posts.

It’s worth your time to hire a designer to add white space to your overall theme.

On your blog, give your readers their personal space. Here’s how.
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Consider also how your text looks. Does the font look crowded? Is there white space between paragraphs and between words? Much of this can be set in the CSS file, and it will affect the entire site.

Use short paragraphs

The other aspect is how you create each blog post.

What you want to avoid are long paragraphs. They form large blocks of text that make the page feel heavy and crowded. They make it look like this will be a lot of work to read. Only the truly committed will risk that burden. You’ll lose most other readers.

You might as well post a “Keep out!” sign.

Keep out! Long paragraphs repel readers.

Break up long paragraphs into smaller paragraphs. And vary the length as much as possible.

Add bullet lists to your blog

Use bullet lists whenever they will work.

  • Bite-sized information is so much easier to read.
  • Plus, it looks organized (and, therefore, less work to digest).
  • And bullet lists are nests for white space, making the page less intimidating to read.

More importantly, bullet lists replace long, unwieldy sentences that not only look hard to read, but actually are hard to read.

Fan fact: unless you need the list to be in a certain order, list the items from shortest to longest, forming a visual pyramid on the page. Research shows that readers find this special structuring easier to follow, and they are more likely to read the list (and the page).

Why? Perhaps it’s just because the list looks more organized, so the brain can focus on the words and their meaning, rather than trying to make sense of a hodge podge.

Use lots of subheads

Subheads break up the text, creating extra white space. But they serve a couple other purposes.

Like bullet lists, subheads structure your information. More importantly, they show your reader that the information is structured. In other words, this won’t be a mess to read – the “cost” of reading is lower.

When your information looks organized, it looks more professional and more credible. In other words, there is more value to reading it.

Less cost. More value. No wonder bullet lists and subheads make sense.

Subheads also allow people to find what they are looking for more easily. Rather than losing people who don’t care about most of your information, you send them directly to what they are looking for.

Subheads also give the appearance of several smaller articles. Give people bite-sized food, and they will eat more than if you give it all to them on one plate.

And subheads also have the benefit of pulling in scanners. A “reader” might have left the text, started scanning to see if there is anything else worth reading, then get pulled back into your post by a subhead further down. You can recapture lost readers with good and frequent subheads.

Include multiple images

The more visual content, the more enticing a blog post is. Remember the menu? The more images, the more people are drooling to order.

Multiple images makes the blog post look more vibrant, more alive…and therefore less boring to read.

What else do images do? You guessed it, they break up the text. So the more, the merrier.

Images that convey information are best. They serve the added purpose of pulling in scanners, acting as subheads.

Images that convey information are like mini, visual articles. Even if someone has decided they don’t want to read through a lot of text, the images are easy to read. At least you’ve gotten some information through.

And if that information piques their interest, they might end up reading some of what you’ve written.

Add Pre-fab tweets for Twitter sharing

You’ve seen them before, right? Here’s an example. Try it out for yourself:

Pre-fab tweets make your blog post look more readable.
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The obvious purpose for including pre-fab tweets is that they help readers more easily share your blog post. That’s why they are there.

But they serve another purpose. They break up the text and add white space. As with most of the other visual elements we’ve looked at, they give the reader that crucial room to breathe.

How to make your blog post look mouth-watering

What we’ve learned here is that the look of your blog post can convert traffic into readers. Or it can drive them away, just as easily.

What you want to avoid is large, crowded blocks of text. What you want to strive for is:

  • lots of white space – room for readers to breathe
  • structure, so that your information looks organized and therefore easy to read and to understand
  • color and variety, so that it looks interesting and pleasant to read
  • subheadings and images that help your reader see options for getting your information

These tips will help you attract readers, retain readers and recapture escaping readers. Optimize your blog visually, to drive the highest readership possible.

Want to learn more?

Read the free ebook How to create mouth-watering blog posts, based on this Infographc.

Free ebook on creating mouth-watering blog posts

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.