If you have a blog or ever thought about having one, you may be aware of the huge time investment that’s involved. Many of my clients ask me “what are the best practices for writing one that will stick with the readers”. My advice is to focus on your readers, give them something that will grab their attention and feed their appetite for knowledge. There can be numerous ways of structuring blog posts. The best ones define a problem, its implications, offer solutions and provide an action plan. Another way to structure a post is to explore one idea and provide your opinion on it.
Whatever structure you choose, here are some essentials to keep in mind:
1. Headlines: It is imperative to start with an intriguing headline to grab the reader’s attention. The headline should talk about the issues that your readers care about. Titles like: 3 Mistakes Most People Make When …, or The 5 Biggest Problems With …, or 10 Tips for Dealing With …, immediately grab the reader’s attention.
2. Opening paragraph: Once you have their attention, open with a relevant line that expands on your headline. This lets the reader get a little taste of what your post is about and also lets them know they are about to receive some useful information. A number of successful bloggers use a key insight or summary of the blog post as the opening.
3. Images: Some readers may be attracted by visuals, so if possible, include images in your posts. Images should be relevant to the subject of the post and should not distract the reader.
4. Personalize the content: Connect with your readers by personalizing the posts. Talk about specific challenges they may be facing, or share relevant stories and solutions. Write as if you are having a conversation with your readers.
5. Text formatting: Whenever possible, use short paragraphs and bullets to break up the text and summarize key points. This makes it easy for readers to scan through your blog post.
6. Action and Advice: The most important tip is to always share valuable advice that is practical and easy to implement. Leave your readers with action-oriented suggestions that keep the doors for discussion open. This is the key to engaging them and creating repeat visitors to your blog. (NOTE: Make sure you engage in conversations when readers leave messages on your blog.)
7. Call to Action: Since every blog has a purpose, your post should end with a call to action. However, your call to action must be soft (not pushy). Remember, readers are on your blog to learn, not to make a purchase. Some recommended calls to action include asking readers to:
- share the content through social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- forward it to their friends
- read related blog posts
- share feedback or comment on the topic
Bonus tip 1: Blogs come with a very neat technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS). This means that your blog post can be automatically distributed to thousands of different websites and social media venues like LinkedIn, Facebook etc. This not only improves the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking of your blog, but it also improves the reach of your content on the web. For this reason, you should also include your bio and signatures with every blog post, so they are carried over with your blog post.
Bonus tip 2: More online visitors are consuming information using videos. If you were to use a vlog (video blog), or a mix of text and video, all the above suggestions equally apply to these posts.
If you have any suggestions, or ideas that have worked for you in the past, please share them below.
Ashish Malik is Partner, Client Services at 108 ideaspace inc., a firm that works in Web/Social Media/Marketing Automation strategy and implementation. A Certified Consultant, Ashish has helped several clients automate their sales and marketing as well as grow their business by implementing CRM. For more on Ashish Malik or 108 ideaspace, visit https://www.108ideaspace.com.
I hope you have found these suggestions helpful. If you would like to know more about blogging, sign up for our six-week blogging course Six Steps to Strategic Blogging. There is no cost to register.