Knowledge | 9 min read

How To Create Interesting Long Reads That Will Actually Engage Your Audience

Watch the video for a TL;DR

A recent survey by Orbit Media found that bloggers who invest more time in writing their blogs – and also write longer articles– generally have a higher number of readers and interactions. The best SEO results are booked with blogs that are approximately 2,000 words long. However, how do you keep a long read interesting? How do you make sure that your readers don't just scroll through, or tap out when they are halfway through your article?

Bloggers who spend 6 or more hours per post are 56% more likely to report “strong results” than those who don’t. (Jodi Harris, Content Marketing Institute)

Here are some handy tips that will vastly improve your long read game.

Table of content:

1. Add videos to your blogs
2. Provide your long reads with enough visuals (Unsplash integration)
3. Write content for people first, then structure it for search engines
4. What is this, a crossover episode? (bring in a guest writer)
5. One for the road (adapt for mobile)
6. Write, track, measure, alter (learn from analytics)
7. Look for an editor
8. Variety is the spice of life (don't write long reads exclusively)
9. Refresh your readers' memory (use anchor links)
10. Write smarter, not harder (spend less time on publishing)

1. Add videos to your blogs

One of the most tipped blogging trends of 2019, is to add videos to your blogs. People generally just love to watch videos. This makes them a great addition to your content creation, as people "dwell" longer on your website and therefore Google recognizes your blog as valuable.

With our tool, you can easily implement videos into you blog.

2. Provide your long read with enough visuals

According to Anneleen Ophoff from Vranckx, readers are twice as likely to remember information when it is represented visually. Your story greatly benefits from implementing the perfect visual to support your text. If the blog post contains only text, people may click away immediately. Make your long read appear like a colorful journey, rather than a heavy Russian novel.

storychief long read
Holi Festival by AJP / Shutterstock
The more senses a visual is able to engage, the more attention it receives and the more information is retained. (Newscred)

You can now add images more easily in our editor, thanks to the new Unsplash integration. Unsplash is a provider of stock images, dedicated to sharing photography for free. They have a library of over 800,000 photos, so even the pickiest of bloggers can find the perfect visual for their article.

How to add images to your blog using the Unsplash integration in the StoryChief editor

3. Write content for people first, then structure it for search engines

As we mentioned, when your blog contains about 2,000 words, it is more likely to appear higher in the Google search results. However, this does not mean that you should try to make every single blog 2,000 words long. If the topic of your blog does not lend itself to a longer format, there is no use in stretching it until you reach the mark of 2,000 words. Only if your message is best conveyed through a long read, should you consider to write one.

Bender the robot saying "Shut up and get to the point"

4. What is this, a crossover episode?

Freshen up your long blog post by bringing in a new face. Most people already know that having a guest writer on your blog is a great way to drive traffic to your blog. So why not cooperate with someone from your network who has valuable insights on the topic you would like to cover? The mix of styles brings a breath of fresh air to your article. Moreover, the Orbit Media survey results show that having a guest writer on your blog vastly increases your amount of reads.

Bloggers who guest post are 48% more likely to report strong results than bloggers who don’t. (Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media)
The guest writer is here to save the day!

In the StoryChief editor, you can easily invite guest writers to your blog by adding them as a user (with the subcategory "guest writer") and then inviting them to your article.

collaboration StoryChief
Need feedback? Ask your colleagues or an editor!

5. One for the road

Most of us have busy lives, right? And sometimes, it can be very handy to have the option to continue reading a long blog post while you are out of the house or during your commute. Make sure you give your readers the freedom to read wherever and whenever they want. Do not tie them down to one place, but let them frolic through the world with your blog in their hands.

In our editor, stories are automatically adapted to all screens, so you don't have to worry about that anymore.

smartphone screen with long sloth
Mobile first, basketball later.

6. Write, track, measure, alter

Practice makes perfect. There's nothing wrong with creating a bad blog post. However, not learning from your mistakes can be harmful in the long run. You cannot always know whether your blog post will be successful or not, but you can learn a lot from your past results.

The analytics helps you understand more what your audience truly values instead of relying on your own biased opinion of what’s good content. Higher quality content combined with a better understanding of what your audience values is the key to improving performance. (John Hall, Calendar.com)

With our editor, you are never completely in the dark when it comes to foreseeing your article's future. It allows you to check how many people clicked on your article and how many people actually read through it.

7. Look for an editor

Most writers know that rereading is the most important part of writing. Many of them also know that it can be handy to let a third party review your articles. We've all been there and know how easy it is to overlook a mistake. Resolve this by having another person check your text before publishing.

With our tool, you can simply invite a guest to review your blog for you! This guest can then leave comments to let you know where you made a mistake, or where you could formulate a sentence a bit flashier.

Two heads are smarter than one.

However, sometimes you just don't want to ask another person to review your content. And yes, we have also thought about that! Our editor checks the readability of your article, which is a very important aspect of online writing (unless you are trying to rewrite James Joyce's Ulysses, then you probably do not want your text to be readable at all). It also checks if your article's SEO is fully optimized.

8. Variety is the spice of life

Getting people to read your long read is important, but converting those readers into regulars can be even more valuable to you. When you aim to blog for your company, it is important to bind customers to your brand. This is done best the old-school way, by publishing frequently. The Orbit Media survey results showed that people who post more than one blog per week are more likely to get good results.

Graph that shows how bloggers who spend more time on writing their blogs, are generally more succesful as well
(Source: Orbitmedia.com)

We are not saying that you should publish one long blog post after another, because that could become stale pretty quickly. However, throwing in a long read once in a while, can greatly benefit your overall results.

9. Refresh your readers' memory

If you want to make your text even easier to follow for your readers, you could add anchor links. With anchor links, you can refer to earlier parts of your text, in turn greatly improving the experience for your audience. They just need to click on the link and in the blink of an eye, they can remember what you were writing about earlier in the text. At first sight, it may look like a small addition, but there will be a greater chance that your readers will actually go back to reread the earlier part with the anchor link. This will also give them a better understanding of your blog in the long run, as the key to memorization is repetition.

With the StoryChief editor, you can easily implement anchor links. Select a word, phrase, or sentence. Press on the link icon, just as you would do when you want to add external links. Change the dropdown from "external" to "source". Then simply select the part of your text you want to refer back to.

10. Work smarter, not harder

We are not going to lie: if you want your blog to be successful, you will need to work hard. The best results are seen by people who write long articles, spend over 6 hours creating one and publish more than once per week. If you are really serious about improving your content strategy, you need to be prepared to make it a substantial part of your week. That's why our sloths at StoryChief are doing everything they can to simplify your blogging experience and maximize your writing time. Don't waste your time on bureaucracy. Get the most out of your time by spending it on creativity and self-improvement.

And don't forget...Publish multichannel!

If you put all that hard work into creating your blog post, you probably want it to be read by as much people as possible. The more channels your blog is published on, the more frequent your blog will be noticed online. This may be quite a chore, but our editor offers you the possibility to publish on multiple channels with just one click. Writing a long read story is time-consuming enough in itself, so why spend hours on copy-pasting your content to other platforms? The less time you spend on tedious work, the more time you can invest in what truly matters: your content.

Ultimately, you can say more, do more, and reach more of the community without overextending internal resources. (Victoria Fox, Blackboard Blog)
multichannel distribution
Publish multi-channel with StoryChief

Another important thing you should always remember to add is a call-to-action and/or a lead capture form. You want to collect info of the people who showed interest in your article and keep them in your database! Build your audience and send them new updates regularly.

In StoryChief you can easily embed a lead capture form, whether connected to your CRM system, MailChimp list or just to get data directly to your email. Here is an example how it looks like:

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many other ways to improve your long read, such as having an intriguing design, adding infographics, including enough examples, using storytelling elements, etc. Let your creativity guide you and you will watch your content strategy improve tremendously.

You got this, partner!

Don't know where to start? Here are some useful guides we've created for you:
Improve your content writing and check out our tips how to optimize your content strategy!


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