Every day, we are bombarded with a deluge of information online. In the virtual world, everyone’s an expert and everyone’s got a story to tell. This creative expression results in a massive amount of data being produced every second. We as content creators face the insurmountable task of attracting readers to our content, guiding them through, keeping them engaged and then getting them to subscribe or buy.
Not everyone has enough time and the appropriate attention span to read miles and miles of text. You need signposts and visual clues to keep them skimming through the content while still deriving valuable information and help break the monotony.
Unfortunately, very little information is available about the importance of visual clues in a blog.
What are Visual clues?
Think of visual clues like stepping stones in a shallow stream. What’s their purpose?
Help you cross the stream.
Blogs and articles online are like these streams that people have difficulty crossing if you don’t put the stepping stones there. While none will really drown in a shallow stream but they won’t cross it without the stepping stones. Very few will be willing to get their feet drenched and cross the stream with no help.
People visiting your blog but not reading it are the ones who need stepping stones to consume the information from your blogs and articles.
And if you make the stepping stones real pretty, people will cross the stream for the sake of it.
Let me help you understand the idea with this simpler version here:
Even though the long-form content is a search engine favorite, a lot of people find it tiresome. The common complaint: too long, didn’t read.
The worst fate that your writing could suffer is get bookmarked and forgotten. Sadly, this happens a lot.
Expecting visitors to flock to your 3000+ words guide is insane and reading it all the way to the end, purely unrealistic.
As a blogger and writer, you should be focused on helping your readers get the most out of your blog/article without getting bored. This is where visual clues enter the picture.
You want your readers to grow attracted to your blogs through these visuals and grasp the most important information as soon as they look at the blog.
The long length of your writing and exhaustive nature may scare some writers but if you employ visual clues right, they will work like stepping stones, helping readers consume the information without getting stuck or drenched in the stream.
Using the right visual clues
To help your readers comprehend your blogs better, you need to leave them visual clues. Sometimes, people just click on a link to view the featured photographs/images so you may as well end up increasing your click-through rate. The focus of your content should be to help your readers gain the valuable information they were looking for.
Adding Visual clues will help your readers skim through and still get the information they needed.
Take the classic newspapers for example.
Ever gave a thought to their news formatting and presentation style?
If you didn’t, it’s time you did.
The best way of presenting your content using visual clues is by highlighting the critical and moving parts of the story. You should always start by highlighting your title because that is the first thing that any reader will read the minute they visit your blog.
The responsibility of bringing that visitor to a particular blog/story lies solely on the featured image and your title. So, make them both very catchy, crisp and intriguing.
Let’s focus on how you can use visual clues in your content to increase engagement:
The big title
No need to give out the whole plot in the title. Just compose your title to intrigue and capture attention. Your title should thrill, surprise, shock, amuse and evoke curiosity from the reader.
Other than deciding the perfect headline, you should pick the right font size for your title.
The opening and featured image
Newspapers often chronicle tragedies but have you ever noticed how they titillate the reader’s attention with a featured photograph?
You don’t have to start writing tragedies or romance to generate attention but simply emulate the classic practice of including a featured photo in a written piece.
A relevant featured photo has also become common practice among famous blogs online. A lot of writers follow the promising title with a spot on introduction with a featured photo right next to it. When picking your featured photo, make sure that it supports the title.
The benefit of having a featured photo right next to the opening content is that the words per line will reduce and readers will find it particularly easy to read them. Moreover, readers will process the photo much faster and move forward depending on how spot-on was the image. You must understand the importance of images in the post.
Break it down
Not breaking your content down in small, digestible chunks is plain torture. The quality of your writing won’t matter much if you don’t format it well.
Always break your content down into small paragraphs complete with apt headings and bullet points and a conclusion that summarizes it all.
Focus on packing information in such a way that your readers consume the information as they come across it instead of procrastinating.
- Start with a simple, easy to understand, relevant opening/introduction and establish the point you are trying to make. Gradually, start elaborating the idea/point you have been trying to establish. Follow it up with supportive information and secondary details but make sure that you write them in distinctive paragraphs so they are easy to comprehend.
- Don’t forget to make subheadings for different paragraphs you write. Subheadings will help your readers get the outline of your blog/article clearly.
- Finally, when summarising the whole blog/article, mention the most important points as key takeaways and present a condensed version of the blog. This will help your reader get the gist of the entire blog even when they end up skimming through it.
Highlight Quotes and other information of great importance
Ever noticed how newspapers have a major quote printed right in the middle of a story? This is done to evoke a response and boost the human-engagement factor or the piece. People tend to read quotes more and they consume small content that’s highlighted in a story faster than they consume the entire story.
Try highlighting expert or critical quotes in your blogs and articles along with information of great importance.
Use data batches
When researching for topics, you may come across information that may not blend with the tone of your blog/article. But if you feel it’s crucial, you can present it separately in simple data batches.
Just make separate columns, use a different color theme and highlight them so they don’t get ignored.
It’s good to be a writer with a passion but to grow your blog’s engagement, focus on being a storyteller. Tell people not just what they want to hear but also what will help them get ahead.
Storytelling is incomplete without some vivid imagery so don’t forget to craft clever, creative and intriguing captions when you support your blogs (stories) with real images.
A lot of people just browse through images and writing clever and descriptive captions can help you get their attention to your blog.
Visual content: Improve your content consumption with visuals.
If you are new to the idea of visual content, here are the 7 pro types of visual content you should start using immediately:
- Screenshots– When writing a how-to blog post or a tutorial, screenshots are a must. A lot of your readers may not be able to comprehend the text instructions. Some may not even know the technical terms or insider words you may be mentioned in your post. So, consider adding screenshots with each step to make a comprehensive and easy-to-understand tutorial. You can even make a slideshow and post it on SlideShare for higher views and more traffic.
- Images– You can use original photographs or stock images depending on the type of post you are writing. Add relevant images to a travel guide and try to include as many original images as you can if you are penning a personal experience based guide/review. Also, use relevant images when writing product reviews. If you can’t produce original images, choose stock images available in the public domain and customize them to fit your visual theme and identity.
- Infographic– Exhaustive guides are brilliant but there’s a better way of packing all that groundbreaking information in simple, digestible chunks: Infographics.
- Graphs and charts– It’s particularly easy to present intricate information in graphs and charts then explanatory paragraphs. Save yourself the trouble of analysis and use appropriate graphs and charts in your case studies, informative posts, etc.
- Cartoons and comics– Cartoons and comics let your portray your message and content in a clever, endearing and simple way. The big benefit is that you’ll attract plenty of readers who generally don’t read blog posts or guides.
- Memes– Be very careful with memes and try customizing them to fit the context. They fit listicles rather well but avoid overdoing them though.
- Embed Posts and tweets– Cash in on the trending tweets and posts by embedding relevant and trending social media content in your blogs.
How to use these 7 types of visual content?
Use a big, attention-grabbing, relevant image right under your title and before you begin writing the opening of your blog. Since it’s the featured image, you can choose one as wide as your post but if you want to feature the opening or introduction alongside the featured image, you can resize the image and use it on the right or left-hand side with the introduction content right next to it.
Using the featured image right next to the introduction or opening will also help your readers comprehend the information better.
Support your content with visuals
Allow your readers a brief break every 300 words by including images at specific intervals. If your blog is only 300-500 words, only one image will do. But if you have written 500+ words, consider using images every 300 words. Keep the content/blog theme and topic in mind and use relevant, informative, easy to comprehend images.
Unless you are documenting original research and contributing to the revered journals in science and technology, it’s best to customize your content to fit your readers’ needs. Engagement depends largely on how easy your content is to consume in addition to relevancy. Just in case I lost you at original, here are the Key takeaways:
- Write crisp, engaging titles that promise something valuable and evoke curiosity.
- Support the title with a relevant, highly attractive featured image.
- Break down your content into smaller paragraphs and use subheadings and bullet points to present information in a digestible manner.
- Always highlight the crucial points of your blog/article.
- Use the supportive information in data batches to help your reader get the background of the blog/article subject.
- Leverage the power of visuals and use clever captions.
- Use screenshots, original/customized/stock images, infographics, charts, graphs, cartoons, comics, memes, social media posts, etc to visually represent your content.
Just focus on bringing value to your reader when writing and making it easy for them to consume and process the content if you want your audience to grow.