How to Format a Blog Post That People Will Actually Read
Blogging is easily the hardest thing I've ever done well.
I use the term well loosely, as I am constantly finding ways to improve the quality of the content I produce, while simultaneously attempting to streamline my creative process.
The trouble is, research on how people read websites has revealed that 79 percent of test users scan any new page they come across, and only 16 percent read word-by-word. (Source: Nielsen Norman Group)
It's clear that the odds aren't in my favor, or any content creator's favor for that matter. So rather than sit and pout about it, I've taken it upon myself to start thinking outside the box.
Now matter how funny, interesting, or good looking I am, people aren't going to read my content unless it's easily digestible.
If you're having a hard time simplifying your blog post format, we've come up with a few tips to help you tame an unruly piece of content.
Define Clear Headers
In order to effectively ease the readability of your content, you want to break up your post into more digestible headings. Headings and subheadings can be used to set expectations for your readers, and make it easy to navigate from one area of focus to the next.
Clear, definitive headings help to guide your reader through your article, making sure that they make it to the pot of gold at the end, aka your call-to-action.
I'm no master of code, but HTML heading tags primarily range from h1-h6. Essentially the tags are used to create a header hierarchy, meaning that the h1 text is reserved for the most important information on the page, usually the title. Aside from that, the h2 and h3 tags are commonly used to label the subsections within your content, and so on.
The fact of the matter is, readers are quick to move on from your post if they don't find something that pertains to what they are looking for right away. With a ton of alternative resources out there, you have to optimize your blog's format so that it lends itself well to these "scan & abandon" style readers.
Bulleted lists work well to put forth valuable information in a less intimidating way. The key is to keep it simple, because even in a list format too much information can deter readers from putting in the time to make sense of it.
Keep in mind that lists function well within blog posts because the offer readers a visual break from paragraph-style text.
Be Aware of Spacing
When I first started writing content for IMPACT, our marketing director brought my spacing (or lack thereof) to my attention.
He asked, "If you were to read the post out loud, where would you pause to take a breath?"
What I found is that this usually serves as a good rule of thumb when looking for a way to optimize your spacing. Rather than presenting the reader with a large block of text, look for a logical place where you can insert a space. Not only does it help to offset lengthy areas of text, but it also helps the reader's eye flow throughout the post.
It's important to think of white space as your friend. While you want to deliver as much helpful, relevant information to your reader as possible, you don't want to scare them away with a content-heavy format.
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About Carly Stec
Carly Stec is a Senior Content Strategist and former Marketing Blog Editor at HubSpot. Prior to HubSpot, she got her start here, at IMPACT, as the Content Marketing Manager from September 2013 - March 2015. Carly has a strong affinity for New Haven pizza (#TeamModern) and anything Kate Spade. She currently lives in Boston with her fiddle-leaf fig, Boyd Tinsley.