The End is in Sight: Seven Minutes to Listless Posts that Get Read
You’ve got an idea for a helpful tip you can offer your subscribers. You sit down to bang it out really quick, but then you recall all the advice you’ve read about blogging and writing newsletters. Everyone knows you’re to avoid big blocks of text—that instead your copy should read like a list. The problem is your idea is more of an insight than a tip. And you’re not sure you can parse it into numbered steps for your readers without distorting it beyond recognition. So why is the list format so important anyway?
One of the benefits of a numbered list or a series of bullet points is that most readers are probably thinking about what else is in their in-box or on their to-do list. Being able to get the information in manageable chunks makes time-budgeting easier, while getting immersed in a bunch of reading—even if it’s really good—can cause anxiety. Maybe they got sucked in—but now they’re behind schedule. Plus, you never know when you first plunge into a block of text if it’s going to be any good. Scanning a list is quick, easy, and allows you to assess the quality and usefulness of the information without making a commitment to read further.
So what about that insight you’ve had that won’t fit into a list format? First, you just have to accept that being concise is crucial with content marketing. If you can’t say what you have to say in a few paragraphs, you might consider a different venue. But if you can say it in a post that will take under ten minutes to read you’ll go a long way toward relieving readers’ anxiety by telling them upfront how long the reading will take. Scrolling down and seeing text with no end in sight is intimidating to anyone on a tight schedule. One of the biggest benefits of a list is that it allows you to quickly gauge how long it will take to read. If you’re not writing a list, just time yourself reading your post, add about ten percent (since you read your own stuff faster), and inform your reader in the heading or in the first line how much time to budget.
Now, seven minutes after you started reading this post, you’re ready to get back to your to-do list. Did seeing the time it would take to read influence your decision to take a plunge into the text? So next time you find yourself looking at content without numbered or bulleted lists, relieve your readers’ anxiety about how long your post will take to read and you’ll make them that much more likely to read it.