Why do you write blog posts—because you have something to say, or because it is Tuesday? If you blog with purpose you will find that creating blog posts is easier, and your posts will attract more readers. Some of my most popular posts are those I wrote because I was especially excited or angry or otherwise passionate about the subject. However, even if you blog with purpose there may be times when you are writing because it is Tuesday and you always post on Tuesday.
In either situation, the tips here can help you to create better, more engaging blog posts. Try following these steps to create your next posts, and make a habit of doing as many of them as you can.
1. Each Post Should Have a Purpose
What do you hope to accomplish with this post? It might be to move readers to action, build your credibility as an expert, encourage others to share your viewpoint, or just to make people laugh. Whatever the purpose, know what you want the post to achieve before you start to write. Then write a post that accomplishes your goal.
2. Start With an Outline
This step is not always necessary. If you are inspired and writing with passion you may find that the words just flow. However, most blog posts benefit from some pre-planning. This is especially true when you are explaining something, such as in a tutorial or instructional post, but most posts can benefit from good organization.
A simple way to plan your post is to create a simple outline. Just list the main points you want to make (or the steps in a tutorial), then list a few subtopics for each point.
Make your subtopics questions and the blog post almost writes itself—all you have to do is answer the questions. You can leave the questions in the final post as sub-headings, change them to statements or perhaps even remove them, depending on the post.
3. Include Both Facts and Stories
Facts and figures add credibility: “According to the Department of Useful Statistics, 53.7% of Americans say that…” Use real data and cite the source. But facts and figures are not enough. We humans love stories. Share your own experiences or those of clients and others that illustrate the points you are trying to make. Telling the stories of real people will help readers to relate to the content and how it applies to them. Of course, if you are telling stories about other people make sure you have their permission or change identifying details in the story.
4. Start With a Quotation, a Statistic or a Question
Quotations, statistics and questions can draw readers into your post because they appeal to their curiosity. Start with something surprising or controversial and they won’t be able to resist reading the entire post.
5. Don’t Forget the Call to Action
What is the purpose of this post? Include an explicit call to action to tell readers what they should do next. That might be subscribing to your blog to read the next post in the series, buying your product, contributing time or money to your cause, or taking some other action. You have gotten readers engaged enough to read your post—now they will want to know what to do next. Tell them.
6. Always Edit
You may think is it “only” a blog post, but anything you put out should be edited. Read the post carefully to check for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. I find that reading my work out loud helps me to catch errors. If you are unsure of your writing skills, get and editor or assistant to proof your work.
Format your posts to make them easy to read. Use plenty of white space, sub-headings and bulleted lists to break the content into easy to absorb chunks.
7. Choose a Great Image
I am a verbal person, not visual, so it took a while for me to grasp this, but people like to look at pictures. Pictures catch the eye. They can be used to illustrate important points, such as showing how to do something in a tutorial.
Images you use in blog posts may be literal extensions of the written words (such as in a tutorial where the image shows how to do what the words at telling how to do) or they may capture the spirit and feeling of the article. For more about choosing good images for your blog posts, see this article: How to Choose Great Photos for Blog Posts
Each of these seven tips will help you create more and better content for your blog, and increase the impact your blog has on readers.