The Short Attention Span Law Firm Blog Post
Reading a phone screen is a completely different experience from reading a print book, newspaper, or magazine. Your phone is constantly sending you alerts, and the text moves or changes size every time you touch it. Even on a slow news day, your phone is full of enough distractions to make the illustrators of the Where’s Waldo books jealous. Therefore, it takes more than just good writing to hold your readers’ attention in a blog post.
As a lawyer, you are well practiced in writing and public speaking that command your audience’s attention. On a blog, though, you are writing for a different audience. A few of the people who read your blog may be the same people that read your printed correspondence, but even they are reading it in a totally different context. A post from Express Writers offers concrete advice for lawyers who want to write blog posts that will keep their readers engaged all the way to the call to action link at the end of the post.
Use Short Sentences
Court decisions and legal memorandums have dizzyingly long sentences. Therefore, it is no surprise that the sentences in a blog post should be shorter. How short should they be, though? Some content marketers take 20 words as a maximum word count per sentence. Express Writers says that 8 words is the longest sentence you can write without risking that readers will lose their place or misunderstand the meaning. Obviously, many of your sentences will need to be longer than that. Express Writers’ advice is “cut your sentences in half.” In other words, you can often rewrite a long, unwieldy sentence as two separate sentences.
Use the Second Person
The most important word in a law firm blog post is “you.” Make your readers imagine themselves in the place of one of the parties your lawsuits describe. Requiring yourself to say “you” instead of “the plaintiff” or “the defendant” will naturally make you use more conversational language.
Use Distraction-Proof Formatting
Neil Patel is a famous proponent of short paragraphs in online content, but his reasons have nothing to do with readers’ attention spans. He reasons that, on a mobile phone screen, even the most interested reader can lose their place in a long paragraph. Consider also that, when people read their phones, they are surrounded by distractions both from within the phone and from the outside world. Someone who is reading your post on their phone while walking down the stairs to a subway platform will be able to read it more easily if it has large print and short paragraphs with spaces between them.
Consider also that people skim most web content instead of reading it carefully. This is especially true of law-related web searches. If people want to know what the legal limit of blood alcohol content is in your state, make sure they can find that in your post in less than ten seconds. If they can’t, they will click on someone else’s site.
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