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Elyssa and Ann Wylie in New York City.

Have you taken a step back to look at your content marketing and writing recently?

There’s always room for improvement. That’s why I was ecstatic to attend Ann Wylie of Wylie Communication’s Content Writing Workshop in New York City a couple weeks ago.

With her tips, I learned how to improve readability online by engaging your target audience with shorter writing. Check out some of the key takeaways from the workshop:

Think like a Friend, Fan, or Follower

Make your content all about the reader. Try starting your message with the word “you” and give helpful tips or entertaining content that your target audience would want to stop and read.

What kind of problems can you help your readers solve? Ask questions and use bulleted lists to keep your audience involved. Use the five senses to provoke human interest and tell a story.

A rule of thumb is to use the imperative voice to capture your audience. For instance, use a phrase such as “Live life to the fullest” instead of “You can live life to the fullest.” Give the reader an action to increase engagement.

Cut Through the Clutter

The shorter your website, blog post, or press release, the better. Shorter content is, “easier to understand, is more memorable, is faster to read, and is simpler to scan for relevant information,” according to Wylie.

Therefore, nothing you write should be more than 800 words. After 800 words, your readers become disinterested and will stop reading.

The average American reads for pleasure for less than 20 minutes a day, according to a study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. People spend very little time reading anything. So don’t expect them to slog through long paragraphs or wordy websites.

Make it easy for your audience. For your website, follow the 3 click rule: You should be able to get anywhere on your website in 3 clicks or less. Otherwise, your audience will quickly click out of your page.

Furthermore, humans are naturally unable to comprehend long sentences. To increase readership, keep your sentences to 14 words on average.

By creating content that is clear and concise, while keeping your audience in mind, you’ll be able to increase your engagement and readership in no time!