You have a few seconds to grab the attention of your “online” reader. And even if you hook them with a great opening, every second thereafter is a battle to keep them on the line.
People are busy.
They’re inundated with messages every day, every hour, every minute. Each piece of information they receive requires energy to read, evaluate, and make a decision: Keep, discard, or take action?
Every piece of information competes for their focus. Multiple screens (phones, tablets, computers, TVs) and multiple relationships (work, home, recreation) demand their attention and their time.
What I am about to share with you just may take your writing to the next level. It did for me.
What’s in it for me?
With every piece of information that comes their way, people are asking a simple question: What’s in it for me?
It’s a necessary filter in a world cluttered with messages. Because, after all, why should anyone invest precious time reading something if it holds no value for them?
If you aren’t writing your content (books, blogs, articles, social media messages) with an awareness of this “What’s in it for me” question your readers are asking, then you’re headed for the delete button. Or maybe the ignore pile.
How many times have you bailed out of an article you were reading online? How many times have you started reading an email, then closed it after the first paragraph or so? Ahem. And how many times have you deleted an email without even opening it?
Probably more often than you realize. Why?
As an overwhelmed reader you make split-second decisions every day on content that has been written by a writer somewhere, hoping you’ll hang in there for the duration. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t.
Don’t feel guilty for deleting. Don’t feel guilty that you stopped reading before the end. You have developed an amazing filter to safeguard the quality of your life. You need the filter, and your readers need their filters too. The “What’s in it for me” question isn’t selfish. It’s a matter of self-preservation in today’s information age.
Turn “deleters” into readers
Are your well-written articles being disregarded or deleted? With all the competition for attention, how do you keep readers on the line? How do you write conspicuously good content? Writing this kind of content is a skill that takes practice, but these five tips are a great place to begin.
- Keep in mind the question your readers are asking, i.e., What’s in it for me?
- Know the value you’re offering them. (If you don’t, how will they?)
- Answer the “What’s in it for me” question immediately and often throughout your piece. Don’t hide the value with ambiguity or excessive words.
- Stop being bashful. Give yourself permission to write with directness. By the time you finish your warm-up, you’ve lost your audience! Come out swinging with quality.
- Filter first. Don’t send out the same tired material just because you have a content publishing schedule to keep. You’re better than that. Prove it.
(It’s important to note the value you provide your readers may simply be entertainment. That’s entirely valid. But if that’s your aim, hit the mark by delighting your audience from beginning to end.)