Learn to keep the reader’s attention first, and then talk about your experience.
If everyone knew how to keep your attention, nobody could keep it — this is the biggest problem of the content creation industry.
In such a fast reality, there is no time for everyone. And rather than following many writers, readers prefer prioritizing a few trustworthy people. Someone they can connect with or share similar ideas.
So how can you make people stick to your articles?
Even if there is no exact formula, many studies agree that emotional content is the best way to do it. If you want to make people stick to your articles, you need to build an emotional bond with them. And you can do that in many ways.
Of course, you could share your feelings and thoughts, which is the most common way of bonding. But you could play with different techniques too, which may be more effective in some cases.
1 — Hit your audience where it burns.
Every piece of writing should be a saving grace for its readers. And you need to find a reason why people would love to keep reading your article instead of skipping to the next one.
So hit the audience where it burns. Find needs, and fulfill them. Talk about their problems, and show them glimpses of a solution.
The most exciting parts of an article always strike the points close to the audience. For example, I often love to put my readers in front of a challenge. And since I know they clicked on my article to solve it, I insist on showing them the problem, so they become curious about the solution.
So every time you start an article, ask yourself those questions right before deciding the topic:
- Why will people click on this article?
- What do they want to know?
- Which is the problem I need to solve for them?
And then solve it (if you can, of course).
2 — Keep the rhythm.
Each article has its rhythm. You may ignore it at first. But if you want to make people stick to your articles and write emotional content, you need to recognize it.
The rhythm of an article is an exciting-relaxing pattern that repeats in various shapes and forms. The exciting part (E) is brief and fast, and you can use it to hold attention. On the contrary, the relaxing part (R) is slow and explanatory, and you can use it to describe solutions.
The E-R-E is one of the most efficient patterns, and I used it in my articles. Keeping this rhythm allows me to grab the curiosity of my readers, expose my thesis, and then capture them again to make them continue.
But despite being the basics of writing, the E-R-E pattern risks boring the audience. If you use it too much, it becomes ordinary and loses all its power. So it is better to surprise readers with other rhythms from time to time.
Which rhythm experiments to try.
In one year of writing, I experienced different patterns alternating exciting and relaxing sections. For example:
- R-E or E-R → consistent switching of the two rhythms creates an interesting symmetry that catches attention.
- E-E-R → used for fast information, catchy headlines, and short-form articles. You want to shock your audience as fast as possible and then give a little bit of explanation.
- R-R-E → used for slow information like insightful and long-form articles. You want to inform your audience and explain everything they need to know about the topic. But you also want to finish with an intriguing take.
- R-E-R → an inefficient pattern that you should avoid or only try in specific cases when you want to alienate the reader.
3 — Procrastinate a little (but never too much).
Even if you want to hit your audience where it burns right from the start, keep yourself from revealing everything. You need to show that you are not a fraud but also trigger curiosity.
So, in the beginning, show the problem you are discussing, and then procrastinate a little. But never too much, or your audience will get bored and give up on you.
How much should you procrastinate?
It is up to you. Test it on your audience and see which performs better.
Sometimes, it is even better to break this rule to create surprise. So start with a bold statement without any further introduction. And delay the explanation of the problem to another section or paragraph.
4 — Don’t follow your heart.
When you discuss something you love, you will sometimes follow your heart too much. But this kind of writing makes you jump from one topic to another without an explicit link.
Our mind does it every day — it switches between topics thanks to delicate connections and interpretations. But an article shouldn’t be like that.
When writing an article, I want to take the reader from one point to another. I want to follow a logical path to help them understand my perspective. And for this reason, I use two similar techniques:
The Mini-Outline: a step-by-step process.
With the mini-outline technique, I list everything I want to discuss in a section of the article. And this helps me understand if every point of my argument connects to the previous ones.
So when I am writing an article that follows a path, I use the step-by-step process to get it out of my mind. This way, I don’t risk any digressions.
The Miniature Paragraph: a questionnaire process.
If my article is a message or idea I want to transmit instead, the questionnaire fits it better. Hence, I summarize what I want the reader to understand in a shorter paragraph before writing the final one.
To simplify this step, I answer two questions:
- What do I want to say?
- Where do I want to go?
5 — Trigger reactions and interactions.
We don’t live in ancient Rome anymore — there is no need to wait for months before having feedback on your content from the audience. And you should use the powerful tools you have today to trigger reactions and interactions in your communities.
If you don’t interact with your readers, you will never improve your writing. There is no doubt about that.
Every time I listened to my audience, I learned many things. And today, knowing what they think about my pieces gives me two advantages I cannot give up.
- First, I understand which articles they like the most. So I can produce more similar content and provide them with a reason to return.
- And second, I can improve myself by reading what they liked and hated.
This behavior, however, shouldn’t influence you too much. You need to develop a mindset and filter between helpful and futile feedback. Negative comments can impact your motivation and willpower. So be careful about what kind of reaction you trigger.
Sometimes being too arrogant may unleash keyboard warriors. And if that happens, it is better to ignore feedback instead of suffering because of it.
6 — Make it personal.
There are many ways to make people stick to your articles and write emotional content. But making it personal is, of course, the best thing to do.
If you want to make your readers passionate about your story, you need to add some part of yourself to the article and give it your voice. Otherwise, it will only be another piece like many others without any distinct feature. And nobody will care about it.
But sometimes, even making an article personal is a challenge.
When I started writing, I didn’t know to add personal stories to my narrative. I never experienced writing about myself before that, and it has been hard to put my thoughts on paper. So how do you make an article personal?
In theory, it is simple — give your opinion or examples of your life. But it takes time to master, and you may want to train yourself daily by writing a journal, for example.
- If you experienced something related to the topic you are discussing, say it as fast as possible. Put it at the beginning of an article, and it will help readers empathize with you.
- If you have a strong opinion about a topic, start with that, so you can trigger people that disagree and gain the sympathy of those that agree with you.
If you want to make people stick to your article, you need to write emotional content, which means much more than just talking about yourself and your feelings.
For some people narrating emotions could be enough, and they may connect with you. But veteran readers will always search for something more.
So to make people stick to your articles and write emotional content, you should also consider studying the rhythm of your pieces or how to present the problem and the solution to your audience.
Are you too greedy? May the reader lose interest because you insisted too much on a concept? Or even worse, do you jump from one topic to the other without exposing clear links?
These are all questions to answer if you want to write emotional content and make people stick to your articles. But there may be many more.
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Cover photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.