I still remember being quite shocked, some years ago, when a blogging expert said something to the effect that if you wanted to attract and keep readers for your blog you should make the language simple enough for someone with a reading age of Grade 7 or 8. So that’s around 12-14, right?
I was shocked because I felt a bit annoyed at the implication that I should be ready to “talk down” to my readership, rather than expressing myself in the language and sentence structure I would normally use.
But I also thought that if I wanted to communicate my ideas and especially if I wanted to generate some discussion it might make sense to get down off my linguistic high horse and write more plainly, more simply.
However, since then – say about 5 years ago – I’ve not really bothered about the level of language or complexity of sentence structure I’ve used. Just hoped that you and others reading this blog would get what I was writing about, clearly enough for it to be interesting and maybe helpful for you.
So all this came up for me today when I was participating in the weekly Twitter hashtag conversation #blogchat where we were discussing the topic of “speaking the language of our readers”. The transcript of this week’s #blogchat is here.
While the chat was proceeding, I ran a little test on a couple of blog posts from my other blog at Des Walsh dot Com. I used the free testing tool at Gift Rocket. Results? One was assessed at Grade 7, the other at Grade 8.
For the one at Grade 8, the testing page declared:
Your blog reads at Grade 8!
Well done. You write better than most bloggers do. Your blog reads at the level of your local city newspaper. Your blog is well-liked for its easy-to-understand flow.
Hmmm. Had I been subconsciously making myself keep the language and sentence structure at that level? Is that appropriately high enough for the professional audience I see myself blogging for?
And what about this Thinking Home Business blog – what was the reading level here?
Much higher, it seems. A test just now on one of the posts here produced this result:
You write like you just aced your AP literature class. Your writing is up there with USA Today and other national publications. You’re showing signs of promise to be a professional blogger!
If that is typical it would indicate I write with a bit more complexity for this blog than for the other.
Might be interesting to test from time to time.
Question. Do you have a blog and if so what do you think is the average reading age of your readership and does that work for you?