How to Grab Attention Online: 3 Instant Fixes

grab attention online

Why do you need to grab attention online?

It comes down to a desire all aspiring writers have in common: to get more readers.

Do you dream of having masses of readers who can’t get enough you?

You can make it happen, but you need to get your name out there.

If you’re hidden in the shadows, nobody will find you and nobody will read what you write.

Luckily, both nonfiction and fiction writers can become known and loved, long before they publish a book. And that is through writing on the Net.

Whether you create an author platform or gather readers by writing blog posts, one thing is important:

You need to learn EXACTLY how to grab attention on the Net.


Join the FREE online workshop, 5 Powerful Online Writing Strategies for More Shares, More Subscribers, and More success. CLICK HERE

This will enable you to step into the spotlight and be noticed.

In this article, I’ll share 3 tips on how to fix your online writing to get more attention, more readers, and have more success.

All three tips are rooted in the science of reader behavior:

1. Use cinematic writing.
2. Add visual impact.
3. Feed the informavores.

Let’s start with cinematic writing. As celebrated editor Sol Stein said, ‘Readers, transformed by film and TV, are used to seeing stories. The reading experience… is increasingly visual.’

1. Use Cinematic Writing

To make your writing more visual, you need to use techniques like setting the scene, zooming in, panning the surroundings, and using words to make pictures.

Here is an example of just some of the techniques:

Imagine the following as an introduction to a blog post with the title: How Challenges Can Trigger Success.

Have you ever felt the foundations of your life crumble?

Like it happened to entrepreneur Mike Bridavsky.

“I had no job, I was $110,000 in the hole, and I had no way to get money. I started crying hysterically. I had a nervous breakdown, and my friends had to take care of me.”

In addition to his money worries, his girlfriend had just left him and his band hadn’t had a gig for 7 months.

You can imagine how desperate Mike felt.

While he was down in the dumps, a weird turn of events made him extremely successful. (I’ll tell you about it a little later.)

If this was the start of a blog post, would you read on?

I would, because reading the introduction above has made me invested in Mike’s problems and I want to know what happened next.

Here are the cinematic techniques I just used:

  • Set the tone: “Have you ever felt the foundations of your life crumble?”
  • Give bare context: “… entrepreneur Mike Bridavsky.” All the reader needs is a few signposts to show who the protagonist is or what the setting is. Give too much context and readers will click away before reading it.
  • Zoom in: Start the story with a person’s experience. Once you’ve zoomed in, you can zoom out and add a wider context.

In contrast, below is a writer who used this story in an introduction to a blog post in a way that makes readers click away.

grab attention online

As you can see, that is too much information for an introductory paragraph!

It doesn’t make you warm to Mike because this long paragraph gives an overview of his life at that time, instead of zooming in on Mike’s personal experience of this particular time in his life.

If you use cinematic techniques, your writing will attract a lot more readers and hold their attention.

2. Add Visual Impact

You may think that visual impact is just about using images, but there more important factors; factors that determine how we display what we write.

Let’s detour to cooking for a moment.

The Instagram chef ‘Jacques La Merde‘ found that presentation is everything when she started plating up junk food like high-end cuisine.

Here is a Filet o Fish Value Meal plated up to look like a meal in a 3-star Michelin restaurant!

Jacques La Merde plating

Created by @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram

Or this one made of pop tarts…

grab online attention

Created by @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram

The presentation catches your attention, doesn’t it? (The Instagram Chef who created these wonderful spoofs was later outed as Christine Flynn, the Executive Chef of a well-known Toronto restaurant.)

‘Presentation is everything’ applies to writers as well. To demonstrate, I’ve got a quick quiz for you.

Take a look at the following excerpt from a blog post and quickly decide whether you would click on the button “Read Full Text.”


grab attention online

Would you have clicked the button?

I would be surprised if you said ‘Yes!’ See, the problem with this piece of text is not the content; the problem is that it is visually unappealing.

Readers make an instant decision whether to they want to read something or not.

If it looks like a dense piece of text like this one, it looks like too much work to read it.

Readers are drawn to scannable text online.

If you format your blog posts to make them scannable, you can grab your readers’ attention and keep them reading.

Here are the 5 most important tips for making text scannable:

  • Use short paragraphs for ease of reading, especially in the introduction.
  • Show the bones of your post by using subheads and bolded or italicized text.
  • Use bullet points to put your information across.
  • Use white space (i.e. use space on the page that has neither text nor images) to make a text more digestible.
  • Use images to break up your text.

The Science behind Scannability

According to the Nielsen Group, improved web writing and formatting can be measured objectively.

They published their findings in the article How Readers Use the Web.

In their experiment, they started with the paragraph below:

grab online attention
They then applied principles of concise text and scannable layout to this information to see whether these changes would make a difference.

Here is the altered text:

grab attention online

The second version rated 124% higher in usability improvement.

This means that you would get 124% more readers actually finishing your post and sharing it!

As you can see, learning how to create visual impact is a crucial skill for online success.

Of course, this also includes using images! In fact, blogger Neil Patel suggest using an image every 200 words.

Here are some stats about the sharing of articles with and without images by Buzzsumo:

3. Feed the Informavores


Web users behave like wild beasts in the jungle,” said the usability expert Jacob Nielsen.

He took his inspiration from Peter Pirelli, a cognitive psychologist who coined the term information foraging. His information foraging theory shows that readers often seek information online in a manner similar to the foraging behavior of wild animals.

Web users track the scent of information.

Your readers will stay if the scent of information they are looking for on your website is strong.
They’ll scan a new post in seconds, and if they don’t ‘smell’ what they need, they’ll leave.

That’s because online readers are informavores—organisms that consume information.

Jacob Nielsen described Web readers as selfish, lazy and ruthless!

This means that your readers are looking for information that benefits them, and is easy to assimilate. They are willing to leave immediately if they don’t find what they are looking for.

You only have moments to make them stay, so you need to lay a trail.

How to lay an information trail

In order for your information scent to be strong, you need to lay a trail that has a clear destination.

Here is how I explained this in my post Is Your Writing Missing This Crucial Ingredient?:

The simple truth is: if readers feel disoriented, they tend to leave. Your blog post needs to be a journey for your reader,  a journey with a point of departure and a clear destination.

Your headline should clearly “signpost” where your blog post is heading. Next, you need to craft an introduction that gives readers a sense that they’re going to find the information you promised in the headline.

Readers tend to scan the headline and the introduction. If they find words that signal the information scent they are searching for, they will most likely read on.

In fact, you need to carry the information trail right through to the end in order to keep your visitors reading.

How to Grab Attention Online: The Conclusion

As you can imagine, there is a lot more to be said about how to grab attention online.
However, the three tips I covered will help retain the interest of your visitors and lift your subscriber numbers.

Here they are again:

  1. Use cinematic writing,
  2. Add visual impact, and
  3. Feed the informavores.

But this is only a small part of what you need to know about how to grab attention online.

Join the FREE online workshop, 5 Powerful Online Writing Strategies for More Shares, More Subscribers, and More SUCCESS. CLICK HERE

About the Author:

Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at Write to Done and a published author. She has trained over 5,000 bloggers in the A-List Masterclass.  Join her FREE online training:  How to Write Like an A-List Blogger

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26 thoughts on “How to Grab Attention Online: 3 Instant Fixes”

  • David Throop says:

    Wow, wow, wow. This is really great stuff.

    The way you break down the structure of a post and examples of what works, and doesn’t, is great. The only thing I would expound upon is the importance of using images – Neil Patel stresses that his highest converting posts have 1 image every 200+ words.

    You imply it in your transition from point #2 Add Visual Impact and the introduction of point #3 Feed the Informavores with this quote:

    “As you can see, learning how to create visual impact is a crucial skill for online success”;

    followed immediately with the sub-heading for #3 Feed the Informavores and the image of the drinking tiger.

    Perhaps one sentence here on the importance of adding an image would really stand out?

    Either way, thanks for composing and sharing this research/insight.
    David Throop recently posted..3 Keys To Maximize Productivity And Improve Your Unintended ConsequencesMy Profile

  • Mary Jaksch says:

    Thanks, David. I’ve added a sentence and a link to one of Neil Patel’s posts about using images, as well as some stats about using images. I”m definitely going to give tips about using images in the webinar, though! There are some interesting new trends…
    Mary Jaksch recently posted..Are These Shortcuts to Greatness For You?My Profile

  • Chris P says:

    Oh dear… I must be the exception that proves the rule.

    The first ‘Cinematic’ piece had me wanting to scroll by the second line… but I lasted till the next paragraph before I actually did, when the subject matter made me say: ‘So f—ing what?… Loser!’ – maybe it’s just because he wasn’t someone you’d feel sorry for… or maybe it’s me.

    Whilst images can attract, they also annoy in equal measure if they take an age to load due to a slow broadband connection. This is especially so when they turn out to be nothing more than window dressing anyway.
    I’ve given up on so many sites that take too long to load. There’s usually another one on Google that gives the same information that I was looking for without all the poncy graphics and other crap… but then, aren’t Google and it’s ilk aimed directly at the ‘informavores’ anyway?

    No, I don’t think this blogging lark’s for me. I’ll stick with writing novels and editing those of others. I like words… not tacky gimmicks.

    • Mary Jaksch says:

      I admire your staunch stance, Chris.

      At the same time, it shows up a problem. Most successful authors today create an author platform – which is basically a blog. It’s a must-do action because this is what publishing houses are looking for .. that you have a ready-made audience.

  • Surinder says:

    What a great content it is! Thanks a lot!
    Something I want to know, is blog dying? Blogger Chris says that now people don’t share comments and old strategies are failed to make blog successful.
    What do you say? Please must share your views.

  • I think the cinematic and visual impact elements of blogging success are so important, as you mention, Mary. The days of long-form copy are done — we are in the age of a sound-byte and the tweet. If a picture is worth a thousand words, why read a thousand words when you can consume the image and capture just as much “message” in a matter of seconds. 🙂 I’m a fan of Stephen King and always disliked the argument against his writing as pandering to potential filmmakers. For example, I recently finished Mr. Mercedes, which has the kind of thrill-ride ending that moviegoers would absolutely love to see on celluloid. I have no idea why this aspect of his (or any other writer’s or blogger’s) style would be a source of criticism. As you say, we need to be visual. We’re all children at heart, no matter what our age, and we like to look at pretty pictures.

  • Umesh Singh says:

    Hi Mary,
    I would honestly say that this post made my day. I was always missing this point “Use cinematic writing” in my writing.

    Whenever I read my post it seems like something is not right. Now I know what was that?

    Thanks for show me the way. 🙂
    Umesh Singh recently posted..Free Keyword Research Tools to Find Keywords Like A Pro in 5 MinutesMy Profile

  • Sam Green says:

    Dear Mary, I want to thank you for the wonderful peace
    just magnificent
    yours Sam
    Sam Green recently posted..Stay Organized with the WordPress Editorial Calendar PluginMy Profile

  • Another great post from mary, I never miss your posts. You cover the topics in every possible way. Thanks

  • Dave Jensen says:

    Great tips, Mary!
    I posted a blog about scannable content a couple of weeks ago. I wish I had seen this earlier.


  • raleighsimon says:

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    raleighsimon recently posted..Suggestions of Best Essay Writing Services by Expert ReviewsMy Profile

  • FabTechs says:


    Today, I started reading AntiMoon blog posts while reading, am just losing confidence, this leading me keep quiet for a while until I become normal.

    Kindly, throw some light on me – what to do, what not to do?

    Is this written sentence good?


  • K.L. Starr says:

    Is there a way you can write a post similar to this for people who write fiction pieces online on sites like Wattpad? I’m interested in starting there before I publish, but I’m curious how I would attract eyes to my work.

  • LEONIE says:

    I have missed the online workshop by miles. I have so much to learn and so little time to my avail. Would it be possible for me to still receive a “repeat ” which I can work through on my own time ?
    Please ?

  • Sandra Haven says:

    Your use of red “X”s and green check marks are perfect examples of your point about creating a scannable post! I loved them–and your entire article. It proves out every step that you so clearly explained. Thanks!

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    Mathematics writing Help recently posted..Operational Amplifier CircuitsMy Profile

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