The Tale is in the Telling

The Tale is in the Telling

Help your reader enjoy your long content with these simple tricks.

We talked last time about the benefits of long content. The first step is having something meaningful to say and articulating it in an inviting, conversational voice. The next step is presenting your story in a way that’s easy for your audience to digest.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make your copy more reader-friendly:

1. Include an attention-grabbing headline.

Copywriter Bob Bly suggests a good headline is four U’s: Unique, Urgent,Unforgettable, and Ultra-Specific. A headline should never be an afterthought. Take the time to craft several effective attention-getters for your story. Ask colleagues or select members to weigh in, and go with the most compelling option.

2. Use bulleted or numbered lists when appropriate.

Notice how the list you’re reading right now helps guide you to key takeaways? Use bullet points, numbers, pull quotes, sidebars, and/or bold text to help readers connect with your story.

3. Insert subheadings.

Subheadings guide readers with bite-sized tidbits of information, and they should be as good as your headline. Their job is to grab attention with specific details and more or less tell your whole story to anyone skimming your text.

4. Don’t forget whitespace.

Advertising guru David Ogilvy advised “Avoid gray walls of type.” You might scare off readers before they read a word. At the very least, include a line of white space after each paragraph to gives your readers room to breathe.

5. Choose fonts that are easy to read.

Sans serif fonts, like Helvetica, are a good choice for electronic communications. Make sure the point size is 10 or larger. Black is always easier to read than any other color. Don’t sacrifice readability for design.

6. Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

Don’t confuse long content with the need for flowery language and rambling sentences. Your members are more likely to connect with conversational everyday language in short chunks. A good rule is sentences with 20 words or less and 5 to 7 sentences or less per paragraph.

Good meaningful content that’s relevant to your audience is way more than half the battle when it comes to long form storytelling.

Just don’t forget to go the extra mile to ensure your fabulous long tale reaches your membership and drives them to act.

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