4 Ways to Keep Your Lifeless Blog from Boring Your Readers to Tears

image of bored woman

You’d better sit down.

I want to tell you something, and you’re not going to like it.

Your dreary blog is putting me to sleep.

I just visited your site, gave it the requisite three seconds of my attention, and found myself in Dullsville.

Nothing grabbed my eye. No headline inspired me to read. No images drew me in.

And here’s the thing: I’m not a captive audience. It was remarkably easy for me to rid myself of your insipid prose, your bland blog. One quick click and I was gone.

It doesn’t have to be that way. A few tweaks here, a little more effort there, and your website will stop me in my tracks.

Try these four changes this week to market your blog more effectively.

1. Speak to me

If it’s me you’re trying to reach, let me know by tailoring your writing and design so it connects with me.

(I’m pretending to be your perfect customer here. Work with me.)

Discover what frustrates me, and write about how to fix my problems. Find out what I’m passionate about, and share everything you know about the topic.

Learn what keeps me up at night, and figure out how you can restore my slumber.

If you’ll do that, I won’t be able to resist reading. I’ll become a frequent visitor, and I’ll know you’re speaking directly to me when you write. And — most importantly — I’ll realize your products and services are exactly what I need.

2. Colorize to feed my eyes

Why’s everyone so afraid of color?

If we had to print our blogs instead of displaying them on screen, I could understand the hesitation. In print, every ink color you add makes your job cost more.

But this is the web. We have millions of colors available to choose from.

So pick two.

Why only two? Using two main colors (not including black or dark grey text) is a great way to visually brand a website.

It’s easier for visitors to register and remember two colors. That’s one reason sports teams use two colors.

Don’t be afraid to harness the power of color to establish your brand personality. Find two that will resonate with your target market. Use them consistently in everything you do.

3. Break down those walls of text

You may have a lot to say on your topic.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but please, please present it in a way that I can digest it.

It’s frustrating to arrive at a website only to be greeted by walls of text with no line breaks, no subheads, and a scrollbar that gets progressively smaller as the page loads. Reading sites like that feels like a chore.

The solution is easy. Stick to one idea per paragraph. Keep them short: three to four sentences at the most.

Spend time writing good subheads, too.

After your headline, many readers will scan your subheads to decide whether or not to invest time on your site. If the subheads are compelling and tell a story of their own, your post will look appealing rather than daunting.

4. I’m yours for the asking

You’ve drawn me in, you’ve held my interest, and I made it all the way to the end of your post. Now what should I do?

Time for you to get bossy.

Tell me what you’d like me to do next. Should I share your post? Do you want me to sign up for your updates? Would you like to hear from me in the comments?

Insert a call to action. I can’t read your mind.

Once I’m at the end of your post, my hand is poised to click away. So ask me to take a “next action.” Sell me on the idea. Make me spend an extra minute on your site.

I can hear some of you now. “I just want to write. I don’t want to market my blog.”

These marketing and design techniques don’t take a lot of effort.

The first one takes some thought.

The second is a one-time decision.

Numbers three and four are simple habits you can adopt.

You have something to say. With these easy tweaks, you’ll wake up your visitors, keep them engaged, and give your ideas the best chance of spreading.

Don’t think of it as marketing. Think of it as caffeine for your website.

About the Author: Want to learn more about formatting your pages to invite scanners to stop and read? Download this free (no opt in) report, “8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content: Illustrated,” based on Pamela Wilson’s popular post.

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Comments

  1. Good one Pamela, Nice to see your post on Copyblogger again. I believe that the call to action is the one that defines how successful your blog is.

    • The call to action is super important. If people make it to the end of your post, they’re interested. If you don’t add a call to action, all that interest gets wasted!

  2. Great post Pamela. I’ve really gained 4 more things to do to enable me improve on my blog. Thanks for the lovely tips.

  3. #3 is so important. I’ve learned a lot about scannable content from simply reading Copyblogger.

    • Did you download the report, Jeff? That’s got lots of detailed information on easy ways to make your content scannable.

      • Nice call to action in the comments section, Pamela!

        Your helpful tone keeps it from coming across as another pitch, too.

        I think I’ll go download that free report right now. Thanks for the post.

        • Busted!

          I don’t want people to miss the report. After I wrote that post last year I was left feeling like I wanted to show visual examples of the concepts, especially the “deep caption” idea, which left a lot of people confused!

          The report has space for images and examples, and I’m very happy the Copyblogger folks allowed me to share it.

  4. Hy Pamela!
    I am reading your post for the very first time of my life as I started reading copyblogger couple of months ago.
    You are also a popular writer I can see…I liked your post…specially point 3 on color…Really I should use colors which visualize my own standard…
    Thank you very much!

  5. Blogging really is a very social thing. You can’t hope to have a conversation with your readers if you aren’t connecting with them. That’s why number 1 is so important. You have to give the readers what they want! They have a problem, you have the answer. Make them listen.

    • I agree, Nick. It’s a great platform for conversation … but if you’re not talking about themes your readers are interested in, you might not get many comments.

      It’s a good idea to take note of the posts that generate the most comments and social media activity over time. Then write more like that!

  6. Easy steps for the win. Thanks for the article, good stuff.

  7. Great points. My blog definitely goes with more than one color, and I always break up my text with headers. Sometimes there is nothing more frustrating than getting a guest post that is one solid block and having to break it up for them.

  8. The breaking up of walls of text is one of those things that I know deep in my soul, but always forget to enact, especially with my own blog.

    The dual colors thing is pretty solid. I’ve always just used 1 color. REBRANDING TIME!!!

  9. I like your two-color idea and will consider applying it to my blogs. Making the content of a blog interesting is one thing, but making the surrounding stuff appealing is another. There’s a fine balance between interesting and busy, and if you overdo the images, etc., you’ll also drive visitors away. Thanks for the tips!

  10. Brilliant post! It resonates with me because since I “got” this…I’ve been able to produce better content for my blog plus it just makes marketing and branding easier. Thank you Pamela!

  11. I remember seeing a question that someone asked a year or so ago that said “Would you read your blog?”

    The difficult answer for me was no. Since then I have been working hard to answer that question in the affirmative. This post makes me feel like I am on the right track.

    Thanks for writing this Pamela!

    • “Would you read your blog?”

      I wish more people asked themselves that. Of course, it makes me really uncomfortable, to think about whether I’d read my blog, but still. Definitely a good question!

      And Pamela, this was a great post. It was kind of like caffeine for the blogger!

      • It’s one of those hard questions you have to ask, though, right? Because if you don’t, you might find you wasted a lot of time and effort, and you don’t have anything to show for it.

    • That ties in to how I know a sales letter is getting into shape — when I start feeling like buying the product.

  12. Thanks for telling it like it is, Pamela — I reviewed about 100 startup blogs recently, and don’t think I saw one headline in the bunch that made me just haveta click and read.

  13. Rock on! Very well done and you know, I was just thinking I needed to kick it up a notch yesterday and began with a look at my bio (bleech).

    My animal blog varies since it is a tutorial too but I am thinking it need to be more fun since behavior issues are so.not.fun. so guess the universe is slapping me around in that cosmic way. ;-)

  14. Good post. I especially liked the last one – I’m yours for the asking. The reader comes to you get his problem solved. It’s up to you to make or break the deal!

  15. These are great lessons for bloggers to learn. Simply adding extra line breaks does make a big difference.

  16. This is an awesome post… What is interesting is that most of these tips apply to any type of writing too. I loved the directive to write TO your reader (like talking to them).

    Great post!

  17. Great suggestion. Adding more color to a website/blog does make it more attractive and ‘wanting’ to read. I do agree with keeping it 2 colors, in design we tend to have 3 colors the most. Everything over that just seems too circus-like. Well done!

  18. By the way, I just downloaded and read the 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content. It’s a fantastic supplement to this post!

    I love the inverted pyramid approach. It makes so much sense when people are scanning. I will put it to work!

    Thanks again Pamela!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Russ. I’m glad I was able to share that report!

      People enjoyed the post when it ran, but the report gave me more room for visual examples, which helps people to understand the concepts.

  19. I think this one is one of your best because it’s so simple. I knew about the images, compelling titles and subheads and breaking up posts into easily digestable content but I never thought about “call to action” unless I was selling something. It never occurred to me to ASK for anything. Thank you!

    Jaime

  20. Demian Farnworth :

    Ah, color, yeah…not a fan. Like simplicity, white, grey. But you’r'e making me squirm because my wife said the same thing to me…

    You gals might be onto something. Very interesting.

    How about this, I’ll give it some thought, okay? :-)

  21. Hi Pamela,

    I completely agree with number 4: at the end of a post, you always want to give a call to action. Even if it’s as simple as asking people to share the post, it’s much more likely to happen if you are for it than if you don’t.

    Joseph

  22. This was a great post. I agree on everything. I know for me, colors and titles grab me. If the website is poorly designed and they have crap everywhere, I miss their content completely and might pass over something that might help me.

  23. Pamela: Great list of tips to follow. Now I’m guilty of a lack of color. Prior to this post, I used a dark-grey background for my site (sorry). I’ve since changed it but still… I feel like it’s too much. Perhaps I’ll go with white. Still trying to find that right color scheme ya know.

    • Hi Ricardo,

      Sometime a really pale color — mixed with grey so it’s not too bright — can be a good way to add color without going overboard. Imagine the background grey color here at Copyblogger with just a hint of color added to it.

      If you’re shy about color, that’s a way to get started.

  24. Scannable content is a great thing, but GREAT content is king. Plus, I’ve found that creating and maintaining community on your blog is huge. Comments and questions and NOT pretending that you know it all but you do know a lot.

    And if you can move people to action… well that’s the point isn’t it. Not just read and abide, but to do.

    Good post! Thanks.

  25. Awesome set of tips and hints for anyone with something to say. Thanks for putting it out there as a good reminder on how we should be serving the reader something exciting beyond our words.

  26. Excellent post. Well written, easy (and fun) to read, great information. I particularly like the part “but I just want to write.” Because if you don’t promote your blog no one will read it, and what’s the point of writing if no one reads it?

  27. Amen CopyBlogger, Amen!

  28. I don’t agree with the point about colour (we spell it with a u here in New Zealand).

    Colour is appropriate on many sites, but it’s not always a good idea. It can be distracting and, whatever you say, it often looks unprofessional.

    It’s worth pointing out Copyblogger isn’t exactly a psychedelic splash of colour.

    • We do think a lot about color for all of our projects. Not wild flashy color, but color that sends a message. Copyblogger has been black/white/red for a long time, and I think it works well with our brand — attention-getting but not eye-popping.

      Pam always teaches bloggers/designers to be controlled with color, which I think is smart. Unless you have a medical marijuana blog, keep the color palette under control. :)

  29. If every site was grey and black, the Internet would look like a newspaper.

    I think there’s a place for color, but I agree: it has to be used carefully. If you use a reduced palette like I recommend — and like they use here at Copyblogger — it’s a very effective way to brand your site. Just because something is tricky doesn’t mean we should avoid it.

    Thanks for the comment, Bill.

  30. Hi Pamela!

    Truly, your blogpost is a perfect example of how not to bore readers! I learned a thing or two about colors and I totally agree with the last one – have a call to action. Often neglected but it’s a very important part of posting a blog. It’s that kick out of a reverie that you want to establish.

    Great job!

    • “It’s that kick out of a reverie that you want to establish.”

      Yes: that’s a perfect way of putting it! You want to build on the goodwill your visitor is feeling by the time they’ve finished reading.

  31. Thanks for the great post Pamela. Gave me a new perspective on my blog.

    And I’m wondering: How can you tell if your readers are engaged? (apart from comments left) Is there an industry standard benchmark for the time an ‘engaged’ reader spends on a web site?

    • That’s such a great question, Olwen.

      Other people may answer this differently, but I can tell you that when I look at the analytics for my site, I check to see if it looks like people are spending enough time on my pages to actually read what’s there.

      And if you measure social media engagement: tweets, Facebook shares, etc., that can also give you an idea of what resonates with visitors.

  32. A very “Cool” read. :) I absolutely love reading articles that not only keep me informed but also with some humor. I will try my hardest to add much of your valued writing to my blog because quite honestly, after reading this wonderful post, i look back at many of my posts and they are very boring. This was a perfect pick me up to add that spice back into my writing skills. It is so easy to forget about the human emotions that are vital to keeping people interested in your blog or website.

    Thank You for such a great article.

    Dave the Blogger

    • Glad to hear it inspired you, Dave. In the end, we’re really only talking to one person at a time, right? If you can bring that personal voice to what you write, your words will be more engaging. Good luck!

  33. Pamela – you nailed it girl! Great job and so well written. Thank you for sharing your brains with us!

  34. Good tips, I’ve been turned off many a blog because they just aren’t captivating enough. I really hate walls of text, headings and subheadings are the way forward!

  35. I support the last point strongly, and think it is quite important. By the way, in my blog, i have an sharing button, is it enough for the reader?

    • Do you ask for comments, too? You didn’t mention that, but comments are important.

      Sharing buttons are great, but sharing buttons that show how many others have already shared your information are even better. When people see a post that’s been shared a lot, that positive peer pressure instinct is engaged, and it makes them want to share it, too.

  36. great great article, I have a lot to learn about blogging, initially fear of doing the wrong thing prevented me but that doesn’t stop me from blogging anyway – thank you for this, I’ll be tuned to your blog posts for sure

  37. Pamela,

    You have some great design and content tips. It may seem simple, but these small changes seem like they could have a really large effect. Fixing these issues are fixing the “forest” so that people enjoy the trees.

  38. Great article.

    I find it hard to remember that you’re writing to engage the visitor. When i was new to writing i would simply write out the hard facts and finish it like that. Whereas without a doubt when blogging the most important thing is to interact with your users.

  39. Calls to action are very important, be honest with your readers and tell them what you want them to do.

    Be it a tweet, social bookmark, comment etc. It’s a key way of increasing your readership so utilize it properly and see if you reap the benefits!

  40. You are right on the money with the lines and lines of text. I must admit that once I start writing it’s hard for me to stop. I have to constantly edit my posts so that they don’t look like I’m writing a thesis paper. Great point with the color as well. I am still searching for the color/theme that will work the best for what I want to do with my blog and that will attract attention and not bore them! Very practical post that offers good suggestions to improve any blog.

    Thanks,

  41. I’m a student in eMarketing class and found this information to be very helpful. I think that font type also plays important part in readability and therefore overall interest of the blog. Are there any other ways to increase interest among visitors?

    • Well, I’m completely biased, but I’d recommend you click around on this blog. There’s a lot here about keeping visitors engaged. Good luck in your studies, Stan!

  42. Thanks for the post Pamela! I too believe it is so important to break up your post. It makes it that much more “digestible” for your eyes.

  43. Thanks a lot Pamela. I write lengthy paragraphs… not any more.
    “Think of it as caffeine for your website.” Well said. You have been of great help to a beginner like me.
    cheers,
    Samyak

  44. Hi Pamela,

    I pretty much do all of those. My call for action isn’t so much a request for a comment, because I often end the post with a question for them to answer. As for #1, it might be my weakness because I don’t have a niche for my blog. I don’t write about any specific topic, and so readers don’t know what to expect when they visit.

  45. Jeff Mitchell :

    Hello Pamela,

    Great post. Unfortunately, I found it completely off-putting in terms of starting my own blog. How am I supposed to REMEMBER to do all these things? Copyblogger, Problogger, Blog Tyrant…it’s all wonderful in principle. Doing it is a completely different story. I’ve been reading/studying “how-to/advice” sites for several months now and have basically concluded that I’m wasting my time.

    You folks that do this for a living are extremely fortunate, that’s all I have to say. You’ve got a gift, you really do.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

    • Jeff, “doing it” is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. You can read all you want — and those are all great blogs, by the way — but until you apply it, they’re just words.

      The only way to “have a gift” for this stuff is to practice it consistently. I’m not even a writer (sshh, don’t tell the Copyblogger editors!). But because I’ve been writing a lot over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten better at it.

      So don’t be discouraged. Take what you’ve learned and put it into action. It will make all the difference, I promise.

      • Jeff Mitchell :

        Hi Pamela,

        True enough…what I see as a “gift” is really the result of blood, sweat, and tears that the pros have put into their work.

        I learn best by doing, so you’re right that, at some point I have to roll up my sleeves and “DO IT!”. If my blog changes it’s look and feel a few times along the way, so what?

        :)

        Cheers,

        ~Jeff

  46. Really well written post, Pamela. I love your writing style and will be following your blog, http://www.bigbrandsystem.com. Your writing is so fresh and inspiring, even if it’s on a subject that I’ve already read before a dozen times. Just about any post I have read of yours has truly taught me a thing or two. :)

  47. Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for the great tips. I write blogs on various subjects and it can be hard to write them because I try not to get too technical in my descriptions. I try to make it so the every day person can understand. I think blogging takes alot of practice to get well at it.

  48. It’s a fine line between changing the blog up and making it flashy with crazy pictures and getting some consistency. Look at the biggest blogs and they change very rarely. The other little useful tip I suppose is to start the odd row or be controversial and get the comments going.

  49. My biggest weakness is drawing people in at the beginning of my posts. I tend to dive right into the meat when writing and forget about an opening that acts as a hook.

    Admittedly, my titles are bad as well.

    All this is changing I hope, and not at the expense of my content.

    The best way to develop a good title and an enticing opening is to think about it. Be creative. Who is your audience? What’s the problem you’re solving with your content? Then develop a title and hook that is both interesting and communicates what the content is.

    Since I’ve started working on writing better titles and opening paragraphs, I’ve actually developed content ideas from interesting title and theme ideas. This is completely opposite from my usual approach to writing. I usually think of a topic, write the content, then develop a title and opener.

    Now, after having worked on writing better titles and openers, this thought-process is actually inspiring content ideas.

    And I have Copyblogger to thank for working on my titles and openers – including posts like yours.

    • I’ll tell you a secret, Peter: I almost always write my headline first. Sometimes I’ll think of a crazy headline and dare myself to write a post to fit it!

      After I write the headline, I develop 3-5 subheads around the main points I want to make. Once I’m happy with those, I start writing to fill in the rest.

      I spend a lot of time on the opening paragraph, and I try to tie it all up on the closing paragraph. For some reason when I write like that, the posts flow right out. I still spend many hours tweaking, but using this technique gets me going faster than trying to write in a linear fashion from start to finish.

  50. lol What a clever list! I particularly agree with number 2. “Colorize to feed my eyes.” Generally speaking, webmasters are terrified of color. There is this strange notion that floats around in the Internet ether that if one’s site isn’t using apple-style font, is more than 3 shades of grey, and has any color outside of ad real estate, it is somehow not “professional.” Or, and at the least, not to be taken seriously… Hmpf.

    The psychology of color is fairly well researched at this point: Some work better than others. For example, red normally makes people want to beat the hell out of something (i.e. is agitating). However, this very site is a great example of how minimal use of red serves to punctuate the content and order the visual flow of the site.

    Anyway, where’s my mood ring………..

    • Thanks, Aaron. If red truly has that effect, I guess I’m in big trouble on my own site. There’s lots of red, but it’s a toned-down hue, and I combined it with other soothing colors.

      • It seems very balanced to me, and it obviously works for. There’s a definite ‘formula’ (if you will) for the use of color, but no ‘rules’ per se – if that makes any sense. I have personally found 3 colors to be the magic number when primarily selling content; when selling a product or service, one can be a tad more liberal (mostly with variant hues)–but not much.

        Some people process a lot of color, text and imagery all at once, some do not. But, as you mention, if everyone were to use only shades of grey the Internet would be one big digital newspaper..snooze.

        The use of color is certainly an aesthetic balancing act; and, can have a profound affect on one’s site visitors.

  51. Thankyou for this post.. Starting a blog is on my ‘Hafta Do’ list this week and I am tring to work out where to start, so have been reading, reading, reading.. This has been great!!

    Cheers
    Anita

  52. One of the most actionable posts I’ve read in a long time. I stayed more than 3 seconds! I usually shy away from exclamation marks, but you deserve one. I plan to take your ideas into the heart of my blog. Thank you, Pamela.

  53. Great , informative article that is easy to read (and scan; >) with tips I can take away and use. Can’t be much better than that!

    Two of the four, I”ve got in spades (come see my periwinkle blue Blog; >), but I am going to get all over Subheads… and chewing over calls to action as I type.
    Thanks so much!
    Ahnalira

  54. Nice work, Pamela. Thanks for the helpful tips, laid out so clearly. I’d put an image here in the comment box just to show you that I was paying attention, but….

  55. Hi Pamela, just found your blog. Great info. I’m but a “grasshopper” at this stage of blogging but being a poster child for ADHD I know I hate to be bored, One good thing is that I will never run out of content. I stay true to the three minute rule for posts and try to give personal photos and relevant videos. I treat it like my social life…if it’s boring, go somewhere else. The call to action suggestion is good. I’ll take it to heart and see what happens. I’ll be digging into your blog. It’s great to see so many pros willing to help the “newbies”. Thanks

  56. Regarding #1: One of the persuasion techniques I espouse in “300 Days of Better Writing” is to address readers’ fears, pain, and desires.

    What does the reader fear (and how can it be prevented)? What gives the reader grief and pain (and how can it be eliminated)? What does the reader want to accomplish (and how can it be accomplished)?

    If the writer can address any one of these, the reader will pay attention and will be more likely to perform the action step at the end of the post (article, letter, etc.).