Why creating attention with content is key online. To survive online, you need to get to the heart and soul of your readers.
If you publish a press release – and nobody really reads it – was it then ever communicated? Find out how to avoid this online disaster – chances are you’ll love it.
If you want your message to be heard – and make a bang out there – be more creative.
Highlights on this page
The art of creating attention
Creative and interesting content will make people read, share and remember.
Creating attention with content doesn’t come out of the blue.
See it as an art – because you will be composing.
See it as a service – because you will be serving.
Some of the following 20 tips will stir you up, others will be a gentle reminder.
They follow a sequence, starting with the most essential. They make you reflect on things you might want to do, to keep the reader on the page.
1) Define your own intention
What do you want?
What’s your goal with this content of yours? If you don’t know, chances are that you will leave your readers confused.
2) Address your real readers
You are addressing bikers, but you’re writing like a lawyer. If so, your readers will be gone within seconds.
Check your target groups style and expression. You better adapt to them – because they will not adapt to you!
3) Choose a snappy headline
If a headline doesn’t grab your attention, why read the rest?
Fact is, most readers never get beyond your headline. Maybe because you didn’t give your headline the tender care it deserves.
4) Make it appealing
Every talented chef knows – that his clients will eat with their eyes too.
A visually attractive content,
is more likely to
touch the heart of your readers.
An appealing quality content looks like this for me:
- I grasp in seconds what it’s about.
- It’s easy on the eye.
- It illustrates facts and figures.
- Images are well chosen.
- I find style and stories memorable.
- There is a logical structure.
- The author doesn’t repeat himself.
- It breaks the content down in easily digestible sections.
- Simple to navigate through.
- I quickly find the nuggets.
- Longer content changes rhythm and style.
On the hyper-competitive web,
you need quality more than quantity.
5) Position your main message well
A website is not a suitable place to build up tension.
You better say
what you have to say,
Your key message must be like Trump – always having to stand first. Some may not like him, but we can’t miss him.
Who remembers number 3 or 4 in the line?
6) Give it a clear character
Bring in a fresh view or a colorful angle.
In a strictly business context, you could also combine this with a vivid case study.
It may feature a client and show how your product helps him exceed his business goals.
7) Don't be boring
Don’t make your content sound like a master thesis that needs to be 80 pages long 🙂
There is enough boring information on the internet – and there is plenty of blah-blah.
TO REFLECT: If you can’t get to the point on your website – you probably have the same problem in real life.
8) Use metaphors
Albert Einstein said:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Metaphors are great to simplify complicated matters. They help people to alter the way they think. Metaphors break the ice and activate our imagination.
Mostly they are simple and quick:
“Time is money.”
“America is a melting pot.”
“Conscience is a man’s compass.”
Vincent Van Gogh
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
9) Use quotations wisely
Use quotations well chosen and sparingly –
but use them –
without losing your own authority.
10) Add a story to relate to
A story often makes the difference between a content that sticks – and soulless corporate gibberish.
It gives me something
to relate to.
11) Give your words a twist
It doesn’t hurt to wake people up here and there.
Sometimes a slight twist will do.
The original text:
“The idea that writing should be clear and concise is certainly not limited to government agencies.”
“Not only government agencies should be pounding their heads against the wall, to make their writing crisp and clear.”
12) Spice it up with humor or irony
Here less is more. A slight hint may be very refreshing.
The text sample from above with slight irony:
“The noble goal of writing crisp and clear is not only to keep government agencies busy – it’s also for our enlightenment.”
13) Dig into the details
Painting a picture with words makes things vivid. Often small triggers are enough to kick-start the reader’s imagination.
Initiate that picture with a brief story. This works very well for web-content, too.
14) Make it physical
to experience it.
Bring the scene to my mind. Enable me to be there and then.
Describe things like the sound, silence, wind, temperature or breath of a key scene.
15) Give it structure and overview
If your content looks daunting,
you have a problem.
Very few readers read the entire content. Therefore, work with frequent sub-headers.
TIP: Structure it well and make it possible to grasp the content by only reading the sub-headers.
16) Use plain language
Simplify your words and shorten your sentences. Try the famous Flesh test to check the readability, (link below).
Complicated is easy.
Simple is progress.
Clear is genius.
Interestingly, academics rarely seem to have their students in mind when writing. Instead, they write for peers to get their tenure.
Adapt to your real readers –
they will thank you for it.
17) Variate style and rythm
Break up extensive content. Use paragraphs not only when changing subject but also to change rhythm and style.
Keep your paragraphs short. This puts air around your text and makes it look inviting.
A symphony is structured to create a narrative arc.
Its four varying classical speeds (allegro, adagio, minuet & rondo),
not only reflect beginning and end, but emotions.
They are designed to captivate the listener.
18) Don't impress - create value
A content, overly rich with text, full of effects, but without intention or added value. Are you just trying to impress?
Maybe you are over designing your website or content. Or maybe you are writing great content, pretending it’s all yours.
“Give credit to whom credit is due.
It’s the best way to do good to yourself and justice to others.
There is plenty for everybody, and more we can consume in our time.”
19) Re-think your buzz words
If you think the average reader understands the following sentences, you need to re-think your use of buzzwords:
“Growth hacking would have been right up my wheelhouse 20 years ago. However, now I’m going for the low hanging fruits, unless I happen to open a kimono.”
Value add | Take offline | In the pipeline | Result oriented | Growth hacker | Actionable item | Laser focused | Cutting edge technology | Low hanging fruit | Loop in | Out of the loop | Reach out | Open the kimono | Key takeaways | Window of opportunity | Drill down | A priori
20) Strive for simplicity
Make an art out of writing short. But also kick out everything that is unnecessary.
The more white space you give your thoughts – the clearer they will come across.
Practicing concise writing – will maximize the power of your message, (see link below for further tips).
To filter the content,
is a writer’s gift to his readers.
Creating attention with content is ultimately about investing in your own future.
If you serve your readers –
they will thank you –
and you will truly enjoy your work.
Should you have a hidden artist within –
you will thrive with the composing and decorating part of this beautiful task.
In case you are the born analyst –
you will love to structure, test and make information understandable for others.