Writing isn’t easy.
Writing content that gets read.
Even if you produce a stellar piece of content in terms of quality, length, and depth, it will not get read if it’s not a good read.
The most viral, shared, and successful content is addictively readable. It’s the type where you read half the piece without realizing it. It sucks you into its universe. It takes you somewhere.
It sounds like this type of content is sprinkled with fairy dust or touched by a unicorn.
At its core, it’s just readable.
There are other factors at play, but the foundation of the content rests on that one little thing.
So, how do you make your content more readable?
There are a few tricks you can use to infinitely improve your chances of getting read.
First, you have to understand what we mean by “readable.”
What Readable Content Looks Like
Readable content is not just well-written and error-free. It has some other attributes baked right in, ones that help push the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.
1. It’s Well-Researched
Readable content leaves the reader with zero doubts or questions. It answers all of them, and it provides the sources to back it all up. This content is readable precisely because you trust the writer leading you through it.
All the way through the article, blog post, or what-have-you, that writer consistently reestablishes that trust with evidence of good research.
Content that isn’t readable makes claims but doesn’t provide evidence. It doesn’t cite sources. It’s a mish-mash of hasty assumptions, stolen ideas, and personal opinions that teach absolutely no one anything.
Which would you rather read?
2. It’s Not Stuffy
Readable content is also written in plain language. Anybody can read it, learn from it, and enjoy it.
That’s key – a big component that helps lots of content go viral.
Stuffy content, meanwhile, reads like a college textbook. It’s dry and boring. There’s no life or personality behind the words. They convey meaning, but there’s nothing there to keep pulling you in.
If you sound snobby, or like you’re trying to show off your extensive vocabulary, nobody will want to read your content. If you write like a robot, nobody will want to read your content.
For these reasons, Convince and Convert recommends keeping your content empathetic. Empathize with your readers, get on their level, and relate to them. It’s only when you place yourself above them that the stuffiness creeps in.
3. It Has a Unique Angle
The content flood is real. The internet is literally deluged with it – the good, the bad, and the laughable. It’s no wonder information fatigue is an actual condition people deal with.
As such, readable content is content that stands out from the masses of crap out there. That’s because it takes a unique, interesting angle on a topic that’s sunburned from seeing so much daylight.
Even if you’ve already read 50 articles about a topic, you’ll still want to take in a readable piece that explores it. Why? Because the angle is so interesting or novel. That’s the power of readability.
4. People Care About the Topic
The most likely reason a certain topic has received attention from hundreds of other bloggers and writers? Because people care about it.
After all, you can’t expect them to have any interest in a topic that doesn’t concern them. They won’t even be looking for it online.
That’s another key to readable content – you have to write about what people are searching for. You have to write stuff that speaks to what’s on their minds: their problems, concerns, worries, and interests. Keyword research can help you discover topics like these, but remember: You still need to approach it from that interesting or unique angle to stand out.
5. Readable Content Has the Right Tone
Content is readable when it hits a sweet spot regarding tone.
Tone is your style of speech. For example, you might speak one way to your three-year-old niece, and another way to your boss. You employ different tones to customize your speech for your audience.
In the same way, you need to hit the right tone for the audience you’re writing for.
When you get it just right – when you’re addressing the vast majority of your readers – that content hits home. It’s not just readable; it’s compulsively readable.
MailChimp has a great definition of their brand’s specific voice and tone in their Content Style Guide. It tells writers exactly how to address the brand’s main audience in their content:
What’s notable here is that MailChimp tells their writers to consider the reader’s emotional state and adjust their tone to fit. Writing for a reader experiencing a certain emotion is a great way to make content readable.
How to Make Your Content Addictively Readable
Now that you know what readable content looks like, you can craft your own content in the same vein.
If you want to make your content addictively readable, there are some extra tips that will help.
1. Don’t Use Passive Voice (Most of the Time)
Passive voice can be a death knell for any writer who overuses it. Write your entire article this way, and it will sound dull and strange. Take this great example from Paper Rater for how passive voice can convolute a perfectly fine idea:
There are, however, times when passive voice is perfectly warranted. For instance, you might want the focus of the sentence to be on the person or thing who received the action:
“I was hurt.” – It doesn’t matter who hurt me; instead, I want to emphasize my pain.
“The money was stolen.” – The money was important, not who stole it.
“George was saved by a paramedic.” – We want to know if George is okay, so we put him first.
The key is knowing when passive voice is okay and when it isn’t. To stay on the safe side, avoid it as often as you can, and check your writing for passive voice using tools like the Hemingway Editor.
2. Be Less Selfish
A great point from CoSchedule involves selfish writing: Using “I” more than “you.” If you’re guilty of this, you’re making your content far less interesting for the reader. The focus should be on them!
3. Read It Out Loud
A great way to discover if your content is readable is to… well… read it.
Don’t just skim it for misspellings and incorrect grammar, though. Read it out loud and pay attention to how it flows.
If it reads well out loud, you’re on the right track. Don’t forget to get at least one other person to read it in case you’re biased. That can mean overconfidence as well as crippling self-doubt. (Hey, I don’t judge.)
Ask them to read it out loud, too. They could even read it to you, which will help you understand how another reader approaches it.
This is the perfect way to nail a readable flow and keep your audience engaged.
4. This Sounds Weird But… Write One-Liner Paragraphs
Did you notice a pattern in this blog by now?
Good lookin’ out.
Yes, there is quite a majority of one-sentence paragraphs.
That’s not exactly AP English, is it?
But did you notice something?
It reads well.
It flows well.
Your eyes follow the one-liners.
Why does this work—and does it work?
SmartBlogger broke it down in their blog, How to Write a Paragraph in 2017 (Yes, the Rules Have Changed):
Basically, the paragraph has evolved because of the way we read media. There is so much media—content—on the web, that we must evolve into content formats that are extremely easy to read, thus getting our reader to stay on our pages the longest.
Copyblogger and SmartBlogger are led by some of the top thought leaders in the content marketing industry. Check out how the majority of paragraphs are one-liners:
- Copyblogger: “Use These 4 Copywriting Pillars to Craft Kickass Presentations”
- SmartBlogger: “8 Ways to Make Old and Boring Topics Feel New and Exciting Again” (Check out how the first paragraph is simply: “I get it.”)
Readable Content Will Help You Get Noticed
That sums up readable content in a nutshell – it keeps the audience riveted.
Each sentence pulls them along to the next, and the next, and the next.
When you take the time to produce quality content (and you should), you want it to get read.
Make it readable, and the ROI can follow.
If you need some help with the readability factor, Express Writers is here to help. Check out our Content Shop to see what we can do.