The First Thing Bloggers Need to Know – Readability

You know, it’s funny. When I graduated from high school back in 2007, I knew one thing about my life and only one thing. I was never going to enter a university or higher education. It just wasn’t for me. Then again, it seemed to me that so little in the world could be “for me”.

I was adrift with what to do in my life. I ran through the gambit of jobs that you get right out of high school. Corner store clerk, Yep. I’ve been there. Hamburger flipper, yep, I’ve done that too. I was also the poor unfortunate soul that management crams behind a service desk during peek holiday seasons… the dreaded “temp” worker.

From babysitting to mowing lawns, I drifted through many jobs trying to find my place in this vast world. Eventually though, I found my calling; freelancing. Now, I’m not your typical “gig worker” in the sense that I only write blogs or that I only work for writing mills.

I don’t make my income entirely based on that, and most bloggers don’t. It really is nice when someone can have a mastery and build that following to only be a bloggerI’m going to tell you a little secrete of the trade, something a lot of people don’t want you to know.

We’re jacks of all trades, but we’re rarely masters at any of them. Success is easy to brag about, once you’ve got the clout. What about if you don’t though?

I’m not writing this to get your attention, I’m writing this because I’m going to tell you the truth. You’ll follow me of your own volition, or you won’t. If not, that’s fine, but I promise you this; I’m going to give you good advice.

How many times have you read about finding your niche audience? What about defining keywords? Oh, here’s a good one. How many times do you see bloggers talking about the big traumatizing “algorithm” we all battle on a daily basis?

Now I have real hard hitting question for you. Do you, as an aspiring blogger, know what “REI” stands for? What about just the word readability? Do you know what that means?

This is your first lesson. “REI” stands for Reading Ease Ideal.

To be simple, it is just a tool we use. Reading comprehension is a requirement of a good blog. Reading ease tools measure reading comprehension. It tells you how easy your written word is to understand. That’s all “readability” actually means.

Understanding the reading level of your target audience matters. Your blog will be useless if your target demographic can’t comprehend it. You need to master this before you try to master keywords and algorithms.

If you want to get an edge, begin at the heart and soul of the craft. Master your ability to understand your own writing. There’s all kinds of reading ease measurements out there. You need to learn about them.

You need to have all the tools in your tool belt. You’ll gain an edge over other bloggers. Many don’t understand this concept. If you understand what REI means, and how it needs to be used, you’re going to have a better shot against the competition.

Getting your foot into the big media doors isn’t always easy. If you write effectively from the onset, you’ve got a much better chance. That’s the reality. Major publications have standards for reading comprehension.

For example, Time Magazine has a median reading level of “grade 7”. This means the average 13 year old can read the magazine and understand the content in it. Reader digest aims for a baseline of around 15 years old.

That’s not to say the content will appeal to those ages, mind you. The basic reading level of your blog and your target audience are not the same things. However, they are symbiotically tied together.

Therefore, I repeat: Reading Ease Ideal.

Cram those three words into your heads. Old veterans in blogging can roughly determine these things on their own. We can do this by sight alone. That takes practice. If you don’t have the skill, learn the skill.

Step 1: Before you start digging into keywords and algorithms, make sure you have a good word processor.

Step 2: Figure out what metric for reading ease that processor uses.

Step 3: Then you decide what sort of content you want to make. Find out the target ages and the reading level of that group. Look at what the reading level is for major publications in your niche. You can google this, for a lot of big industries.

Step 4: Make sure ALL of your posts are within the target metrics.

If you are writing for a relaxed reader, you’d better not be posting university level reading material on your blog. If you are writing to be understood by the average reader, keep that in mind. You should not go above the reading level of the average young teenager. Unless you are writing Reader’s Digest level material, don’t toss around “grade 9” blog posts.

The lesson here: write for your readers.

That is the most important detail. Do not deviate from that mindset as a newbie. If you do, your posts feel inconsistent and sloppy. During your editing phase, edit to suit your target demographic directly. How educated is that group? Does your post meet the reading ease required for that group?

Figure that out before you post.

Once you start doing this, you’ll be a better blogger. I say this because it is resoundingly true. Every blogger making the big bucks, knows this is true. Middling bloggers like myself, wishing to compete with the pros, learns this is true.

It will help to improve your SEO rankings. You will have a much easier time defining your keywords later on. If you found this helpful, follow me here on Medium. You’ll be getting more tips and tricks like this soon enough.

I’ll leave you with my scores for this blog post. That way you’ll know I’m not feeding you a bunch of nonsense:

Readability Consensus
Based on (7) readability formulas, we have scored your text:
Grade Level: 5
Reading Level: easy to read.
Reader’s Age: 8–9 yrs. old (Fourth and Fifth graders)

After Post:

See what I mean? A child could read this post if they wanted. It’s not aimed at them, but that doesn’t rightly matter. I just wrote it and tossed it. Sure there may be spelling errors, I’m not going to edit this stupid thing. It isn’t because I don’t care. I just wanted to prove a point, reading ease matters. If you can do it by sight alone, you’re a step ahead of the game.

Follow me for more content, you’ll be glad you did.

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