Write a winning blog post every time
With more than 1.13 million blog posts per day (and counting) for March 2015 (worldometer.com) knowing how to write great blog posts to differentiate yourself from the crowd and continue to serve your readers is critical to your success. Here’s a quick checklist to help you improve your blog posts.
Although it’s a hard statistic to measure accurately, blogs have become one of the most influential ways people gather information today. See this chart from www.statista.com.
There is much research available that has been gathered by large blog sites… But for most small business owners, consistent blogging will deliver on five basic goals:
- Establishing your expertise
- Sharing information to serve your clients
- Creating your brand voice/experience
- Delivering fresh Public Relations and marketing content
- Consistently contributing to improve your SEO
There are many ways to write a good blog article – and some formulas are as detailed as a surgical procedure! Even though there are hundreds of resources out there, there are a few key ingredients to help you write a winning blog post every time. Popular blog posts are known by two magic results… they always appeal to their readers, and the have a high level of engagement.
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Here are my top tips how to improve your own blog posts.
1. Know Your Readers
If you do not have a clear idea in mind of your typical blog audience before you sit down to write, then it’s time to: stop, drop and get in the right mindset. Clarity with who your reader is, what they are struggling with and what they find interesting is the MOST important factor to reader appeal, engagement and sharing! I typically focus on one of my clients when I’m writing, as if I’m answering a direct question. This leads to reader-relevant content and helps keep ideas flowing.
2. Headlines Matter
Many people will tell you to start generating headlines as soon as you can… and my writing coach shared that I should generate at least 25 headlines for each post! (Nope, I don’t do that regularly… ever) – but, it’s proven that headlines draw people in… or not.
One of the greatest discoveries I’ve made is an automatic headline generator: I like and recommend this one from Portent. Although some headlines are not very usable, it does help get me over the fog and any writers block to simply play in the sandbox for a few minutes. For instance, for this article, I entered the words: blog posts in the generator tool and got the following cute headlines that helped me get started:
- How Blog Posts Are Bringing Sexy Back
- The Evolution of Blog Posts
- How To Create Awesome Blog Post Titles
3. Start with a Hook
My copywriter always tells me to start with a hook, whenever I’m writing copy for a program or product advertisement. This advice is great for blog posts too! A hook attracts readers and draws them closer – into your content. The most common hooks are:
- Questions – Relevant questions are great ways to grab your reader’s attention
- Example: How much time do you spend planning your tasks weekly?
- Stories – Telling a personal story is a sure-fire way to heighten engagement (people LOVE talking about the neighbors at dinner…)
- Example: When I was a kid, the family dinner table was sacred…
- Buzz – Starting with a controversial statement, some idea or news that is trending, or a famous quote can pique interest and really stir up reader’s curiosity
- Example: Women business owners in their 40s have more sex!
- Facts – Sometimes things ‘read’ like facts (especially on many social blogs) but before you get too analytical about it… facts are often quantified opinions.
- Example: 70% of business owners have no contingency plans for their businesses in time of trouble.
4. Solve a Problem
When you solve a common problem for your readers, guaranteed they’ll be more apt to read what you’re writing. And better yet – if you can help them to actually apply what they’ve learned in your post, all the better! Focusing on a problem in your copy is often better for your SEO as well because typically people search their ‘problems’ more often than their solutions. For instance – the average monthly searches for the word ‘get organized‘ is 13,990, where the average monthly search for the word ‘Declutter’ is 55,430 (that problem-oriented word is searched 3 times more often than the solution-oriented word!).
When you’re writing a post to solve a problem, it’s even more effective if you help people uncover the ‘root cause’ of their problem within the post. Helping uncover what your readers ‘don’t know, that they don’t know…’ – will provide them with an ‘a-ha’ experience, and almost certainly lead them back for more!
4. Get Visual
Other than Seth Godin, few bloggers enjoy immense influence and authority with a non-visual blog. Roughly 60% of people prefer to learn and take-in new information through visual means and representation. The remaining 40% of learners (aka readers) are split between the auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities. Visual appeal is one of the most significant factors to encourage spontaneous entry, and help convey your brand message and your influence among readers and followers.
6. Credit Your Sources
In this uber-inundated information universe, it’s never been easier to parrot other people’s ideas and pose them as your own. BUT – Beware of plagiarism. Although it’s easy to find source information and create it as your own, it’s just as easy to seek and find those who are doing that. To guard yourself from the risk of plagiarism and infringing upon others copyrighted materials, it’s always best to capture any contributing sources, resources and cite them within your post. This is also true of photos you use.
Hubspot is a great blog resource I frequent and refer to quite often – and here’s a great article by Hubspot on how not to steal other people’s content on the web that covers the basics on how to add citations in your own blog posts.
7. End with a call to Action
Providing a call to action within your post is a great way to help people apply what you’re delivering. If your call to action involves little risk and is fun, it’s more likely that your readers will actually to it. A call to action can be as simple as asking them to comment on your post – or may even include some type of sales pitch. Creating a call to action will always deliver on its promise for the reader who may otherwise be tempted to quickly click away.
Your Sanity Assignment
Take a look at your last three blog posts and examine them through these tips.
Determine the one tip from this post that will most enhance your blog results if implemented today.
Then, in the comments below, please let us know your thoughts! I’d love to know what you’ve taken away from this particular post as most helpful for you!