Do you wonder when you’ve edited your post if it’s good enough? Are there proven formats and blog writing guidelines that can make your posts meaningful every time?
Yes, there are.
A good blog post is like a good story: both meet human psychological needs. Ignore those needs and you can wind up with boring writing.
We all enjoy a bit of suspense, a puzzle to solve, having our curiosity stirred up. We also appreciate a piece of writing that promises to help with a problem we are having, calm our fears, or, on a more positive note, help us improve a skill.
So what are the ingredients of an effective blog post?
1. A catchy title.
- A title that isn’t too long. Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics advocates using the breath test. If you can say the title of your post without needing a second breath, it’s length is probably okay.
- A title that asks a question zeroing in on a need or worry or interest you figure your reader has. Or, wording that stirs your reader’s curiosity.
- A title that also hints at the topic of the post.
- And, remember, the job of a title is to motivate your reader to keep reading, to move to that next sentence.
2. Content focused on your reader, not you all the time–a suggested outline.
- A potential reader has stopped by your blog. She has read past the title because she senses there’s something potentially helpful to be gained. She has come with a problem that calls for relief, a desire for improvement, a hunger for knowledge. In your first paragraph let her know you are aware of her need.
- Next give some evidence you are going to provide that help. In other words, announce the content.
- Now provide the help. Here is your core content, your points, your message, your advice—the value you are providing. Spell it out briefly but enough so that it is clear and useful.
- If you have authoritative indicators that what you are advising works, add those in too.
- Then end with a call to action. What’s the biggest problem with a lot of business letters? Too many letter writers end without asking the reader to do something. So the reader is left with a question? “What does he want me to do?” This can be a weakness in a blog post too. So, what can your reader do to take your advice and take action?
3. A reader-friendly format.
- Keep those words, and sentences and paragraphs short for the most part. But include some variety too. Don’t have a lot of one-sentence paragraphs, for example. Put white space between your paragraphs. Make it easily scannable.
- Keep your content focused on you main idea. Don’t meander. Stay on target.
- Suspense is a great idea throughout your post, not just in the title. Constantly ask yourself what will keep your reader intrigued enough to want to keep reading. “What question can I ask at this point?” Make it suspenseful—a key aspect that works well with nonfiction and not just fiction. “Am I keeping my reader wondering?”
- Use bullets and numbering for your points.
- Keep it informal, conversational, and make sure you are saying what you mean to say, that it’s clear.
- Make it personal. Include some of your experience with the content. If you have a brief anecdote or illustration fit it in.
Your turn: Do you have any points to add for effective blog posts?