How To Write For Your Readers

If you want people to see the beautiful photos on your blog, you need to write meaningful content to guide them to it. In other words, you need to know how to write for your readers.

It's the words in your post that search engines read, not your photos. You can be very descriptive with those words, but the point of a blog isn't to connect with search engines. You need to connect with your readers. That's what makes them want to share your stuff and come back for more.

How To Understand Your Reader's Motivation

Most people scan blog posts rather than take the time to read them. Catchy headlines only do one thing. They get the reader to read the first sentence. That sentence gets the reader to the next one, and so on down the line.

The problem you face is structuring your content in the order that your reader wants to consume it. Fail to get that right and they'll leave your article in the dust. Fortunately, there's a good strategy to understand the people who reader your words and how to structure your article to make it useful. Fortunately, there's a guide to help you understand your readers and structure your content. It's the 4MAT methodology developed by Bernice McCarthy.

There are four learning styles based upon the way people perceive information. Different styles have their own key points and tolerances for getting to the material they want the most.

  • Innovative learners want to know why they should learn something. If there isn't something in it for them, they'll leave immediately.
  • Analytic learners want facts, and then they want to see the supporting data to back up the message.
  • Common sense learners are curious. They want to know how things work and prefer strong examples.
  • Dynamic learners are the “what if” people. They like possibilities and love to see how they can create their own variations on your theme.

Learning How To Write For Your Readers Using 4MAT

Each of us uses these four learning styles to some degree, even if we gravitate heavily to a particular style. That's part of the reason why 4MAT is a cyclical process.

Using a consistent structure for your content helps you engage with the largest potential audience. For some, it's fast and easy to whip out a post in the order that they perceive it. The goal is to make things easy for your audience, though. 4MAT helps with that process, and so does a consistent approach to your writing.

So how do you put things together when you're creating content?  Here's how it works.

Tell Me Why

The largest group of your readers fits in the Innovative learning group.  They want to know why your content has a benefit or value to them. Don't make them wade through a bunch of stuff to see a payoff at the end. You need to feed their curiosity right away and tell them why your content should mean something to them.

Tell Me What

These people want you to lay it out for them.  Give them facts.  Back it up with reliable sources. These are the people who like to look at specifications, product features, and details. You need to show them all the pieces and parts before you proceed to the next segment.

Tell Me How

If you've demonstrated value and shown the pieces to your reader, then it's time to give a practical example. Show them how the pieces work.  Show a lifecycle, offer a description, and demonstrate the content in action. This is the place where you can offer a practical example of the information you're describing.

What If…

Now you've shown what you have, add a bit more to give some examples of how you can take it a step further.

Imagine you're writing a behind the scenes piece to go with your photograph. Don't just show them what you did to achieve the results. Give some alternatives. What would happen if you moved the light source or changed the light modifier? What if you changed your focal length or exposure? Give some thoughts about ideas that you could have done, perhaps even as an exercise for the reader to try different strategies on their own.

You don't have to write a complete, hard recipe for others to follow.  Leave some loose ends for others to experiment, or at least give some suggestions for alternatives to achieve the same thing.

Use Your Own Voice

Remember, this is a structure to advise you. It doesn't tell you how to get there.  If you're a grand storyteller, use that voice to move the reader from why to what to how and the what if parts of your article. Communicate in your own style. Write it the way you would say it if you were speaking to someone across the table from you.

Learning how to write for your readers in the way they want to consume information can really help both of you share an experience, a lesson, or just a nice moment. Give the 4MAT methodology a try and let me know how it works for you.

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