Goldfish have a longer attention span than your readers

“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. John Steinbeck

According to a recent Microsoft study, goldfish have a longer attention span than most Internet readers.eight seconds

Goldfish have a nine-second attention span, while Internet readers since about 2000 seem to lose attention after only eight seconds

Short and to-the-point sell.

Especially in the blogosphere.  When a reader lands on your post, you only get 8 seconds to convince them to read past your headline.   If you don’t hook them early, they’ll click over to another site.

That short attention span tells me three things:

  1. You better have a brilliant attention-grabbing headline
  2. You better write compelling content
  3. You better write about a single topic with a few supporting details

Before I started blogging eight years ago I spent more than 30 years in professional writing gigs. If you’re interested click here for a gander at my experience.

My favorite writing gigs were my years as a newspaper reporter and editor. I often hadremington to bang out news copy on my old Remington right after a story broke in the morning and beat deadlines for publication that afternoon. Those  “sword of Damaclese” minutes-to-deadline taught me I could type 100-words-a-minute on a Remington. I often wrote news stories in my head driving back to the newsroom.

In those days time-to-deadline often dictated the length of the story.

News stories required brilliant, attention-grabbing headlines.  On some of my jobs a veteran editor or copy editor usually wrote the headlines.

We had to have compelling content with lots of facts and legitimate sources for our information.  No “sources close to the investigation” or “according to unnamed sources”.

We wrote stories about a single event (accident, murder investigation, city council mandate) all with as many supporting details as possible.

Given our readers’ shorter-than-a-goldfish attention span, to me, shorter, single-purpose blog posts and drop-dead killer headlines will snag more readers than blah headlines and 1,000 word posts.