In the current age, exchanging and providing information has become an essential activity indeed. Being able to capture a prospective reader’s attention often ensures the success (or the failure) of a site, a news agency or the like. With people’s attention spans at an all-time low, successfully drawing one’s attention and gaining traffic becomes increasingly more and more important. Blogs face a similar predicament, and they often don’t enjoy an existing readership or audience of an established site like the Wall Street Journal, meaning that long posts and articles will often be ignored. Knowing how to maneuver in this environment is essential, so here is the trick to writing blog posts people genuinely want to read.
First, let’s remind ourselves what a longread is. A longread is commonly understood as a long-form article or a journalistic work that explores a given topic in detail and consists of tens of thousands of words at a time, although the actual length may vary. However, the problem here is exactly in its rather substantial length. Most people, even the most attentive among us, often have neither time nor patience to read an article or a post that just does not seem to end, continuing on and on and being terribly dragged out. Some people won’t even bother reading an article like this, preferring a summary or an abstract. This can be easily attributed to human laziness, which is, of course, true. However, an average person nowadays requires access to information in a quick and succinct manner. Longreads, at least the way they were usually done, are simply not up to the task anymore.
Writing an article that will draw attention requires accepting a simple reality: most people won’t bother going through anything that is too long or is a wall of text after a wall of text. Capturing a reader’s undivided attention often necessitates old-fashioned tricks like clickbait. The text must be peppered with pictures, with their nature just as clickbaity as the article or story itself. Otherwise, reading a post becomes a chore. It turns into something that is not only disinteresting (regardless of whether you find clickbait interesting or not), it takes additional effort to even attempt reading and then comprehending a text. Perhaps the readers of today are just lazy, but I would attribute this more to the much quicker pace of everyday life.
Consider the following: you are busy with schoolwork, or with your job or with whatever activity you may find interesting or necessary at this very moment. You are presented with a text that is dozens of pages long, and not just regular book pages, but the long webpages that you can scroll through for weeks and still not get to the end of. You need to read the entire article, summarize its main points and possibly even retell it. Would you rather spend more than an hour of your time doing that, or would you rather read a shorter article that provides the same information, but in a more concise way? Most people would choose the latter, and it’s hard to blame them: it is simply not that easy to cope with the rhythm of modern life. Presenting the information in a manner that is best suited to this stress-inducing rhythm is therefore of immense value.
So, which articles are better, long or short ones? The answer is not as simple as one may think. On the one hand, short articles lack substance, they’re hardly informative and, as stated previously, they can rely on clickbait in order to get the viewer to click on them. On the other, being able to describe and discuss a topic in under a 1,000 words is an essential skill: providing an overview of an idea in a form that most people can figuratively digest is quite handy. When it comes to discussing ideas and concepts in more detail, then there’s no question about it – a longread is what you need. It gives you plenty of space to work with, something that short articles are lacking. Ultimately, though, it all boils down to a personal preference. Some people prefer shorter articles, others feel more at home with longreads.
How does one write a good longread in our day and age, then, you may ask. This is a good question. It doesn’t have a definite answer, since a potential longread relies on quite a lot to get attention: the topic of discussion, the existing (or potential) audience, the size of the article and the way the article is promoted or advertised. Providing an actual example that fits everyone is a challenging task in it of itself.
There are a few tricks to consider, however. First and foremost, hone your writing skills. I’m not talking about just your grammar: improving your style is also necessary. Nobody wants to read text that is boring, long, bookish and completely devoid of anything that would make it worth reading in the first place.
Second, find a good topic and an audience that would be interested, or else your efforts are pointless. Third, don’t rely on writing alone: a good article or blog spot includes videos, pictures and illustrations that break the monotony, which is a must for longreads. Fourth, try avoiding clickbait if you can help it. Sometimes catching the reader’s eye is necessary, but clickbait is hardly something that readers appreciate or tolerate for long.
The fifth and final point – don’t be afraid of being controversial! People tend to avoid controversial topics like the plague. Some ideas are the cause of many controversies and debates, but discussing them in an interesting, novel way, with relevant examples and sources is never a bad idea, no matter what some people might think about it. Just make sure that attracting controversy is something you don’t mind doing in order to get clicks, if getting clicks is your main goal, of course.
So, the above are tricks to writing blog posts that people genuinely want to read. They may not suit everyone, nor should this list be considered exhaustive. In our day and age, writing a successful blog post or article requires capturing the reader’s attention and delivering substance. The quick pace of modern life requires providing information in a manner that is most suited to it, meaning that substance is sometimes sacrificed in favor of form. However, finding an audience, discussing interesting ideas in a novel way, without a fear of attracting controversy in the process can help make a longread really stand out, making it interesting and relevant regardless of its size.