Hacking Your Brain to Think Like Your Reader
Your brain is hardwired to make you defensive, egotistical, greedy and fearful. They’re the qualities that survival of the fittest thrives on. Fortunately, many of us have thrown those ideals out the window in favor of community. Still, we continue to write blogs like we’re about to enter the Hunger Games. The key to blogging success is thinking like your reader. It’s learning to be open, humble, giving and exciting instead.
Easier said than done, right? Here are four simple tips to hacking your brain to think like your reader.
1. Get Personal
Storytelling is more popular than ever. Seth Godin himself wrote about the power of storytelling in modern marketing in his book, All Marketers Are Liars. Telling a relevant personal story at the beginning of a blog post helps your reader connect with you on a different level. That connection sets you apart from the other bloggers who are undoubtedly writing on similar topics.
It’s also important to make reference to the story throughout the post, especially in the conclusion. Our brains are trained to follow a story through to its end, which is why we often find ourselves finishing a bad book or movie “just to see how it ends”. Follow the traditional structure of a story: beginning, middle, and end. Your readers will be less likely to skim your post if you do this right.
2. Show Authenticity
Authenticity isn’t just a social media buzzword. It’s a real factor in how your reader thinks of you and your blog. You can show authenticity quickly with three simple tricks.
- First, write the way you speak. Don’t use complicated words or sentence structures – just be casual.
- Second, don’t be afraid to write about your failures. A blog post titled “My $2,000 Mistake” is going to have more of an impact than “5 Lessons on Customer Acquisition”.
- Third, show personality and give your honest opinion. Sitting on the fence and writing clinically won’t get your blog too far.
And remember, you shouldn’t have to try to be authentic. It has to come naturally. Tweet this!
3. Highlight Value
The first thing you need to know about your reader is that he’s looking for immediate value. The value might be in new information, a free product, a discount or even entertainment. Whatever your value is, highlight it quickly. Use your title to clearly indicate the topic and the value. The title and first sentence should fully answer one important question: “Why would I want to read this?”
4. Improve Readability
There is a lot of content out there today. You’re indirectly competing with the entire Internet for your readers’ attention. Every second spent reading your blog is a second that could have been spent on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email, etc. Partnered with our shrinking attention spans, readability is vital.
To increase readability, focus on saying more with less and properly formatting your posts. Carefully select every word you use. When you go back to edit, look for words to remove. If a word (or even a sentence) isn’t necessary to prove your point and provide value, cut it out. Similarly, keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Large blocks of text are overwhelming and push readers away. For the same reason, lists and subheadings are always a good idea.
That’s all there is to it! Those four steps will help you start thinking like your reader instead of like it’s survival of the fittest. In the content-fuelled online landscape, only the writers who can hack their brains will survive the competition for readers’ attention.