5 tips to make anyone a fantastic online writer

The way your text looks can evoke a visceral response in your readers. Try these techniques to make the most of that gut reaction.

Working in content creation, I’ve received plenty of requests from bloggers, marketers and digital marketing agencies to craft amazing articles.

To my dismay, most of these pieces end up buried under pages and pages on Google. Only a few turned out to be successful blog posts.

The ones that generated social shares and creating hundreds of backlinks shared one feature that no one seems to notice. (It’s so simple that you’ll slap yourself on the forehead.)

The successful articles were all creatively designed.

I’m not talking about infographics. I’m talking about how the text is styled and how they incorporate design elements that make them more visually appealing. What are these exact design elements?

Using a certain point size

I want you to pay attention to the font used in the image above. There’s nothing special about it, but take a closer look.

The point size is significantly larger than that in blog posts that you see on other sites.

To be more specific, his text is 16 point. A larger font provides an immersive reading experience for your audiences. It captures their attention.

Theoretically, using a point size this large should create a more pleasant experience for your readers, resulting in better engagement and encouraging them to stay on your site.

Larger fonts help you appeal to a wider audience. There are a number of bloggers who use point sizes so tiny that you’d need a magnifying glass to read them. I think anything lower than 12 points is way too small. (There are 72 points to an inch, by the way.)

Frankly, it’s annoying, even for the tech-savvy fellows who are familiar with the Ctrl + Scroll combination, because zooming in makes everything look pixelated, cluttered and hard to read.

The moment that your audience members feel irritated by being unable to read your posts, they bounce.

The following image is an excerpt from “Reduce Your Bounce Rate in One Second” by Daniel Scocco, the renowned owner of Daily Blog Tips.

Scocco increased his blog’s text size to 13 points from 12 points and saw a marginal decrease in his bounce rate. It’s not exactly life-changing, but there’s something worth paying attention to here.

If you want your blog posts to perform at the same level as some of the top bloggers, use a larger font.

Use only short paragraphs

Take a look at Scocco’s writing style, and then read it out loud. If you’ve seen his videos and heard him speak, you’d probably be hearing his voice in your head.

That’s the exact experience that you want to create for your audience. You want them to imagine the author’s voice resonating in their ear canals.

How do you achieve that?

Easy. Just use a conversational tone, and keep your paragraphs short. Preferably, limit yourself to two or three sentences per paragraph.

It goes against everything you learned in school, but it works.

This applies to sentences as well. Short sentences make your points more concise, and they’re a lot easier to read than long sentences.

If you’re familiar with the dated phrase “wall of text,” you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Imagine if you were asked to read something that looked like this:


Look at that. It’s atrocious. Anyone’s immediate next course of action would be to simply close that page and move on.

Audiences are getting pretty bratty these days. The slightest irritation can spur them to bounce away from your page.

Providing your audience with the optimal reading condition plays a huge role in keeping your bounce rates to the absolute minimum.

Everything your audience reads has an emotional impact on them. It’s entirely dependent on the way you craft it that makes that impact either positive or negative.

Just pressing the “Enter” button and spacing out your text a lot more than usual can generate that positive impact for you.

Be more generous with boldface text

Bloggers tend to ignore the use of bold text. More often than not, that use is limited to headers and subheads.

That’s a mistake.

The above image is an excerpt from the top contender for a very competitive keyword “content marketing tips,” which was written by Leo Widrich and published on Convince & Convert.

If you noticed, he bolds several other important points throughout the blog post. It makes skimming and scanning the article a whole lot easier.

Some in your audience scan an article before reading deeper into it. Styling your blog post in a similar fashion will make it more aesthetically appealing.

That doesn’t mean that you should bold every third word on all your posts. Knowing that you should be bolding is one thing, but knowing exactly what you should be bolding is another.

Apart from boldface, you can use other types of font styles as well, such as strikethroughs and italics. Here’s a simplified list of instances where you can incorporate the use these three font styles:

  • Bolds: Emphasize a point, highlight strong keywords
  • Italics: Dampen a phrase to make it sound softer but more articulate
  • Strikethroughs: Indicate common mistakes and misconceptions

Hold your horses; let’s not get too excited about this technique. It needs moderation.

Don’t even think about using bolds and italics on the same word or phrase. The entire purpose of bolds and italics is so your audience can differentiate certain keywords from the rest of the paragraph. Using it this way would be overkill.

Use parentheses to inject positive emotion

It’s always a joy to read Brian Dean’s posts. When you’re able to inject positive emotion into valuable information, you’ll create an entertaining and enjoyable learning experience.

It’s like having a good day at school.

There will always be teachers who just can’t stand the sight of their class. It’s no hidden secret that they absolutely despise what they do. No one enjoys their classes. You’ve probably encountered (and hated) some of these teachers in your years of adolescence.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have teachers who couldn’t think of anything else that they’d rather do than teach. In this case, the teacher who’s injecting positive emotion into his or her lessons is the latter.

Parentheses are equivalent to the corny jokes that teachers just love to make. No one laughs at them, but somehow, everyone looks more comfortable and the atmosphere feels relaxed.

The best way to explain the use of parentheses is to kind of guess what your audience is thinking as they read through your content.

If you get it right, it’ll be pretty impressive. If you don’t, it encourages them to think about it anyway. Talk about a win/win situation.

Here’s how Dean uses parentheses in his blog posts.

Notice how he places “or at least like” in parentheses right after “love”? It’s like he’s guessing what his audience might be thinking when they come across that word. He’s embracing the curious minds who enjoy asking questions, while assuaging the readers who find the world “love” disquieting.

The result? His audience feels at ease, and they read the rest of the article with utter joy and amusement.

Here’s another instance where he uses parentheses—for a completely different purpose.

It’s obvious that he’s trying to inject a bit of humor with “blah” and “yawn.” It’s funny, and it makes his audience smile. If it didn’t make you smile, then you ought to lighten up.

Using parentheses in your blog posts helps you guide the emotions of your audience. They’re like cue cards indicating when readers should laugh, or when they should nod and smile. The influence you can exact is so subtle that it’s almost like cheating.

Use ellipses to create suspense

You’ll realize Scocco employs this “dotting” technique several times throughout his blog post. I had to read the sentences a couple of times before I actually understood why he did this.

As my focus grew closer to the dots at the end of the sentence, I found myself growing increasingly curious about what the next sentence was going to be.

I got so excited that I found my eyes cheating my way to the next line a split second faster than usual. It’s subtle, but it gives the next line that punch.

Most readers shared that experience, but they become so engrossed in these successful blog posts that they forget to notice this technique.

Now it’s time for you to put everything that you read into practice and start designing your blog posts to look like the elegant, gorgeous pieces of content they’re supposed to be.

Aaron Lin is a digital marketing expert and the director of Ignitive, a Singapore-based digital marketing and web design company. A version of this article first appeared on Convince & Convert.


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.