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What Can Real Estate Bloggers Learn From Betty Crocker and Oprah?

Betty_Crocker_RecipeYou don’t have to have a household name to ensure that your article will be read from top to bottom.

The internet has created impatient speed readers out of us.

Regardless of the value of the content, it seems skimming the article before delving in for details is the approach.

Blog reading is different from newspaper reading, book reading, letter reading, and essay reading.  Therefore, blog writing and formatting needs to be different as well.

The approach to reading online is more akin to reading magazines and cooking recipes.

A tasty headline.
A compelling picture.
Clear, accentuated points.
Brief enough to follow, detailed enough to enlighten.

Magazines have changed their own formatting over the last few years and in turn have experienced huge growth in readership and subscription.  The one page, bite-sized, snack of an article is now king.  The days of the New Yorker's 15 page articles are gone.  Oprah, GQ, WIRED, Men's Journal, Elle, FHM, Cosmo.... They all just want your attention for a couple of minutes.  They know you will pick it up again if the commitment is short and sweet.

Oprah_ArticleThe Cooking Recipe (click image above) is the classic example of well organized, must follow information.  An image, a short story, bullet points, tips and overview.  The goal is to not only seem easy to follow, but be easy to follow.

After a quick scan of the site, a ‘once-over’ if you will, the content will be judged as ‘worth reading more closely’ or ‘off to the next thing’.  Not all exiting traffic fails to return, but I would bet that your odds of developing a subscriber are better when you consistently engage your reader to slow down for a few minutes.

Of course, there are examples of real estate blog writing that are widely read and wildly successful that do not follow these guidelines.  The above is not meant as a rule, but rather a suggestion for those looking to grab their readers' attention quickly.  My experience is that, no matter how well written the content and how compelling the message may be, one loses interest when the article looks like a reading assignment.

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Comments

I love comparisons, and this is an excellent one. What a great way to make "digesting" a blog post easier ...

It's amazing what a difference formatting makes.

This speaks directly to how I read my feed reader. Fast Ladder's reader has a function that allows you to "pin" articles by pressing the letter P while you're on that article. SO, I scan at a billion wpm and "pin" the articles that I will ACTUALLY read while ignoring those I won't. I would say I only invest time in about 25% of the material on my reader of 150 blogs.

I also think that scanning methods probably vary by age. The Internet (and even Google) was around for my college life, so the bombarding information blast of the Internet is not intimidating for generation Y.

GREAT analogy to a recipe! I think that is how I will describe blog formatting to new bloggers that ask for advice! Thanks, Jim!

.Look good
.Be tasty
.Have fun

I never got the hang of headlines. i used to write for a paper and had the editor write them. Here on the tomato I have you write them. In fact my headlines should serve as a how not to for other bloggers. I do make sure Google will like them but have even gotten a bit sloppy about that. Love the recipe analogy, I cook more than I play golf. :)

I'm with T on the cooking more than golf, but I do love all your analogies. I'm still learning the difference between writing for blogs and print, but I'm determined!

Enjoyed your article about skimming before reading. Interestingly that was how I was always tought to read anything - even a book. For a book it's read the back cover, table of contents to get a feel for the chapters, peruse a few chapters to see if you want to invest the time to read the entire thing.

There is still value in 15 page articles, they just have to fit the need.

I used to write articles for a newspaper where I was paid by the word! Being brief is a new skill. Then I had a job as a technical manual writer - which are notoriously unclear. But every career choice has brought new challenges, and I'm always willing to learn! Now I think I'll go bake some cookies....

Thanks for the reminder. I know readers would prefer to be jolted or titillated than really understand a subject in depth.

"Link bait" is now the internet version of "sound bites"

Part of me is disturbed by how shallow media conversations have become. I find this especially disturbing in the realm of politics and world affairs. Our country now has votership informed by soundbites, photobites, and link bait. As a result, we may not know the difference between Slovakia and Slovenia, and we can elect others who don't know either, but who have the power to drop large bombs on places we don't even understand.

The good news, I suppose, is we don't need much intellect to join into the conversation. It is pretty easy to write with bullet points and supplement with photos.

Thank goodness we still have books. I realize I soon will become thankful that I have FastLadder.

P.S. If you take all of the sentences in my comment, give them bulletpoints, and then rearrange them in any order you please, the value of my comment submission is neither enhanced nor diminished. Try it. The lack of substance in my comments means there is no logic to follow or rich ideas to develop or explain. You can skim the surface with no fear of drowning.

surely for newby like me this is very good article..

Valuable advice - short & sweet

Blog...
simple four letter word...
sounds simple...
and is..to do poorly.
Thank you for leading the way with excellence.
Mike Netzel

Simple but understandable point of view. I like the way you compared. Interesting article. Thanks.

gabe@Realtors

I agree with your article. So many bloggers lack the inspiration or knowledge to do it right, that we all suffer.

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