Are you struggling to write engaging long-form content? Follow these seven steps to success.
Beyond concrete grammar guidelines, there’s no right or wrong way to create long-form content. That said, there are methods to produce useful content for your readers.
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- Craft Engaging Introductions
Depending upon the platform you plan to use to publish your long-form content, your readers will see an estimated read time. For instance, when you click on a post on many blogs, you can see the read time underneath the title.
Some readers might see that estimated time and immediately feel forced to skim, specifically if the read time is exceptionally long. So to hook the reader right from the beginning, make your intro something that gets their attention.
There are many ways to create an exceptional introduction. You can provide an anecdote at the beginning of the piece and continue to utilize that anecdote to highlight points throughout the remainder of the blog post. These anecdotes can lead to exciting long-form content that the reader will happily continue browsing.
If you can’t think of a way to pull the reader in, give a relevant, exciting statistic in the above-the-fold details. What you present above the fold will make that reader say to themselves, “I have to keep going!” Or not, if you fail to hook them in the beginning.
- Break It Into Sections
Take note of paragraph structure when you sit down to begin writing long-form content. To optimize your piece for readability, keep your paragraphs short. Preferably, paragraphs shouldn’t be longer than three sentences unless you have a good reason to add more.
Well then, what’s a good reason to add more sentences to a paragraph? For example, if you’re composing a paragraph where the impact is provided in rhetorical questions, keeping those questions in the same area may look much better to your reader.
Does the paragraph have an impact on the reader? Do you effectively get your point through to them? How will you use paragraphs to make your long-form content more absorbable? Does the formatting help pull in your reader?
Sometimes, it’s alright to disregard the three-sentence rule if, like above, each sentence streams together. Adding a whole new paragraph simply to adhere to that rule does not supply the same result and does little good for your formatting.
- Use the Right Headers
Headers are your friends. You’ll find H2s, H3s, and H4s in almost every writing tool, such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word, WordPress, and other software. Headers help the reader get through your long-form content’s main ideas by breaking it into digestible sections.
For instance, in this piece, the essence of this section is about writing long-form content, so we use H2 headers for each main point. If we were to list additional tips about using headers underneath this section, we’d add an H3 heading, which supports the main idea of the H2 section. You can use H4 headers for subsections within H3 headings.
Headers split up areas of your text and make it feel more organized. For example, it would be pretty challenging to navigate this long-form blog post without using them. Furthermore, when you work on long-form content, planning headers in advance can support you in including the right sections; you can imagine what you need to add to make each part perfect.
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- Use a Conversational Tone
Your tone is another factor that helps keep the attention of your readers. Don’t take yourself too seriously; it’s alright to lighten up a little. Imagine reading a college textbook: the technical language and often monotonous tone do little to keep your attention.
Unless your long-form content is for an academic journal, you don’t have to use complicated language to look like a professional on your topic. Readers will find your post beneficial if you give well-researched, thoughtful, and actionable content. Getting too technical could have an unfavorable result and leave your readers feeling like they didn’t take anything away from your blog (if they even finish reading it!).
- Get to the Point
Long-form content has the added problem of keeping readers engaged throughout the piece. To fight this, make every paragraph count by avoiding unneeded added length and keeping readers excited.
You don’t want to include extra information that doesn’t serve the purpose of your post when writing long-form content. This can cause convoluted, detailed paragraphs that don’t make much sense.
Get to the point quickly to maintain your reader’s attention. End each section with why your readers should care to ensure they get the most out of your long-form article.
- Break Up Your Text With Images
In addition to separating long sections with short paragraphs and headers, adding captivating visuals can help separate long sections and keep the reader engaged. Typically, if your readers are skimming an article and run into images or videos, they’ll get instantly drawn back into the post.
However, it doesn’t always have to be images or videos. Blockquotes and anchor text are also incredible tools. Blockquotes are those big quotes you see highlighted in posts, and anchor text directs your reader back to areas you referenced earlier in the piece.
- Organize Your Thoughts
Long-form content needs to make sense. So, before hitting “publish,” read through your article to see how it flows. Ask yourself if it has a start, middle, and conclusion that readers can follow.
Each section should be logical. For example, in this blog post, the very first tip for writing long-form content is about the introduction, and each other section follows in order of how you’d write an article.
Readers could easily get confused if your long-form content isn’t arranged in a way that makes sense, so be mindful of formatting.
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Start Writing Better Long-Form Content!
Writing long-form content is a creative process. Readers can tell when you didn’t enjoy writing it, making them not want to read it.
Long-form content has benefits over short-form, although the latter might be the quickest way to start publishing fast. However, it’s important to have longer pieces on your website, and readers will find them helpful. And if you take these tips into account, they’ll enjoy reading it, too.
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