When I first started writing for the online platform my then editor laughed at my introduction and the whole tone of the story saying it had a ‘magazine feel” which is true because I had just come from the magazine world. He was very categorical that the attention span of online readers is very short and the ideal number of words should be 300 with the second paragraph as a quote.
Many years later this was to change as powerhouses as the Washington Post, NewTork Tmes, CNN, The Guardian among other media houses normalized long reads and now they are all over. Just as with any other niche, long reads have their own eyeballs as well as shown by the website that caters solely to long reads. A colleague recently admitted that he was a fan of long reads and has since substituted them for the love he had for hardcopy books. So if you want to write features and long commentaries, her are tops to make tour articles and stories more engaging:
- Use Videos
One glaring challenge about long reads is that they tend to rumble on and on and you can break this monotony by use of entertaining videos. Videos are very popular and the best aspect of these videos is that they can double up as attribution in the case of feature stories. Videos also make people take much time on your site which makes search engines recognize it as popular and hence valuable.
- More visuals please!
So apart from videos, you can break the monotony of text with visuals and there so many of these days. According to research by Anneleen Ophoff from Vranckx, readers will remember information are twice as likely to remember information when it is represented visually. It is easy to make it a colorful journey for them through infographics, photos, charts, hilarious memes, GIFs, cartoons and so on. The former and the latter can help break down a very complex idea into a simple one or make them seem less intimidating. Some of the best resources for visuals are social media and Unsplash for photos.
- Mobile –friendly
Remember the fact that contrary to prevailing opinion on the attention span of readers, some people really like long reads? Well, such people can be found on long bank queues, in heavy traffic, at the hospital and so on. This means that you should also fashion your content for mobile
Variety is very key for a blog with long reads and you can do this by bringing in different people to talk about various topics, their life experiences, their expertise and so on. Some blog owners often donate their spaces for guest writers who want to talk about various issues as well. Those who blog for various companies and organizations should always remember to tie their content to the already established brands as it will help in converting new readers to regular readers. Try to blog more than one post each week for better results.
- Use anchor links to refresh reader’s memories
Anchor links play a very key role in making it easier for readers to follow the long and heavy text. Anchor links make it possible for people to refer to text you had done earlier. Readers do go back to reread earlier texts and thereby get a better understanding of what you are talking about 800, 1000 words later. Eventually, every reader will get to know you and your blog much better.
- Don’t always eye SEO
It is an open secret that long reads with over 2000 words appear higher on the Google search engine. In an effort to meet this threshold, some people may start writing irrelevant words and stretch stories that should have ended at 300 words. You stand to lose many readers with this as they will get bored along the way with the repetition and irrelevant words.