Have you ever read a blog title, looked at the picture, and moved on to something else, while never reading the content? We all have. Writing content well takes work.
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The blogger has 2.5 seconds to cause the reader to pause, think, and read their content. If they cannot accomplish this in 2.5 seconds, then the potential reader will never break stride.
You may have amazing content, but nobody is reading it. There’s a reason for that. It’s your title (first) and your picture (second). If those two things do not tell your story in a way that captures the attention of your potential reader, then you will lose the reader.
Welcome to the world of online blogging.
Reader Mailbag: Do you come up with your topic selection for your articles? I like them because they are relevant without being based on current events.
There are three main parts to any blog article. They are the title, photo, and the content. The most important part is the content, but not initially. Your title tells the story in succinct written form, while your photo continues the story in succinct pictorial form.
Unlike the picture in this article, a good title and photo leads the reader to a place they want to go. If the title and photo are vague, the reader will move on to something else.
If interest is stimulated, then they will read (or scan) the content. It’s like the tried and true evangelism method: You have a 30 second speech, a 5 minute speech, and if they are still interested, you sit and talk about Jesus over coffee.
Unfortunately, too many Christian writers do not understand this and/or they do not have the gifting to write good content, which includes their titles and photos. All three of them tell the same story. It is an incremental process that introduces the reader to something good, while holding their attention to the end.
Part of what I’m talking about is gifting that comes from God, whether common grace gifting to the unbeliever or a mercy to the believer. The gift consists of the ability to think quickly and succinctly, while mixing in a pinch of winsomeness, relevance, practicality, and clarity.
I have spent the past 30 years studying and reflecting on how to write content titles—as well as how to write content in relevant and resonating ways. One of the biggest keys (if not the biggest) is understanding the human mind.
Steve Jobs was one of the best at doing this. Though he was probably unsaved, he knew how to disconnect his thoughts from “how it should be done” while focusing on what the customer wants.
It’s a remarkable “other-centered world view” from a probable unregenerate person. And though his real motive was to stack Benjamins to heaven, which he did, you can’t really knock the philosophy behind his other-centered point-of-focus. What I do appreciate is his ability to understand people.
It’s really amazing that he could create something that nobody wanted (iPad) and make it ubiquitous. It is an astounding gift that needs more of our reflective time. He knew how to “think like them” (the customer), which enabled him to give them what they wanted, even though they did not know they wanted it.
What I have just described to you is a key truth about evangelism: give the people something they want, even though they may not know they want it or that it exists.
The majority of Christian writers do not know how to do this. Again, I realize it’s a kind gift from the LORD, but a little more reflection about “marketing” (if I could use that word) is also essential.
There is an old–though still relevant–marketing strategy called positioning marketing. It’s the idea of positioning your product in the mind of the consumer. The way you do that is by identifying what is already in their minds, and then position your “product” next to that thing that is resident in them.
Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. – Acts 17:22-23 (ESV)
Paul (the apostle) was a master at this. When he was on Mars Hill, he identified what was “already in the minds” of the people. You see this when he talked to them about their unknown god.
That was the “hook” he used. Since it was already in their minds, all he did was position “his God” to something they were interested in. Paul did not create anything new, but “biblically” capitalized on what they knew.
Paul was a positioning marketer. (Insert wink here)
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
Of course, Jesus was the best at doing this. You see it in John 2:24-25 where John said nobody needed to tell Him about man, because He already knew what was in man. Insight into the human mind, which all Christians have access to, is an absolute must.
Most bloggers come up with titles that they like, or those that flow out of their “overly Christianized” personality, or it’s just good Christian-cliche-speak, BUT IT DOES NOT RELATE well to the reader. It does not cause enough pause because it sounds like the last twenty blog titles they read.
Like it or not, that is how the web works. People move at the speed of the Internet, and it requires a lot of prayer, thought, and practice to slow them down long enough to read what you have to say.
Typically, blog titles are devotional and sentimental, or they jump into the ravine of sensationalism where the title and/or the photo is a bait and switch. Paul and Jesus did not roll that way. Neither did Steve Jobs, hence it has to be a gift. In Steve’s case, it was common grace gifting.
With 2.5 seconds at your disposal, it is a non-negotiable must for the blogger to spend redemptive time thinking about how to compose content well. I learned these things from reading my Bible.
God’s Word is so amazing.
AND from studying those in our culture who are truly crushing it. Typically, those people are not Christians, thus I study the pagans, while filtering their insights back through the Bible to maintain integrity, no compromise, and a solid hermeneutic.
The most ironic thing I have learned about marketing is that whatever is true and whatever is working in our culture, there is a biblical precedent for it. The book, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, was written in the 80’s and republished a few times after that.
Paul was doing that stuff 2000 years ago, and so was the one he followed.