After my previous blog post, a few people expressed interest in learning how to write their own. Though there are endless resources online and you could read for weeks, here are my top 4 steps that are sure to build a blog post people will want to read. This one’s dedicated to Stephan and Adomas.
My setup on a particularly sunny morning
1. IDENTIFY A MAIN MESSAGE THAT WILL BENEFIT YOUR READER
Understand from the get-go what you’re going to tell your reader. Ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”. Possibly the most important thing to remember while writing your post is that you should be helping your reader.
Once you’ve got a clear message, a take-away point, you’ll be able to build the rest of your article around this main point, by illustrating it with several sub-points (see step 2 of this post).
Make sure that your reader will be leaving your blog post with a clear message – what is it that you want them to remember from the blog post? It’s always much more interesting for a reader to read posts when they feel like they’re gaining something, rather than just reading your ramblings (although this might be combined…)
2. CREATE STRUCTURE BY USING POINTS AND HEADINGS
Too long, didn’t read.
A long, run-on big block of text is an easy way to scare off a potential reader even before they begin. Time is possibly the most precious recourse we have, and a person needs to see the value in spending their time reading your blog.
Separate your blog post into sections with big headings, under which you’ll cover a different point that you’re using to convey your message (sounds very high school essay, doesn’t it?). The headings help your reader in a whole bunch of ways:
- Psychologically easier to read than a big block of text – doesn’t look as daunting
- It shows them what they’re about to get into – they can decided if it’s worth their time
Added bonus: it keeps you on topic, and creates structure and value to your post.
3. MAKE YOUR POST SCANNABLE – EASY TO READ IS KEY
Your reader should be able to quickly scan over your post and understand what they’re going to learn in this post.
- use descriptive headlines – let your reader know what information they’re going to learn by reading the paragraph that lies under said headline. This helps your reader understand if it’s worth spending their time on, or if they already know, it, they can skip to the next point
- if you have a list, arrange it in bullet-point form (see what I did there? :P) – they’re easier to scan and to process the different information that’s being offered. People don’t process blocks of text very well, and who wants to read that?
- Use visual queues like bolds and italics – this way you draw your reader’s attention to what’s really important and shouldn’t get lost in the sea of text
- use images as an extra way to get your point across – images are faster processed by the brain than text, so this is a tool that can be used to your advantage
When you make your post scannable, you’re helping your reader even more – not only with the excellent content of the post, but also by saving them time. Believe me when I say that it will be appreciated.
I personally like to write things out by hand before I start typing it up…to each his own, I guess
4. CREATE A CONCLUSION WITH A MAIN TAKEAWAY
Your entire post is centred around a certain message.Each point so far has been iterating this message. You’d think that you’re done, right? Wrong. To make sure that your reader leaves your post with the intended message, you have to tell them what it is. Essentially spoon-feed your reader your message, and you’re guaranteed to get it across better than if it weren’t clearly put.
Some people like to name their conclusions “conclusion”. However I like to put the main takeaway in the headline, so that even just by scanning the post, the reader will know what I want them to know (see the next heading for an example of how I did it).
WHATEVER YOU DO, ALWAYS AIM TO HELP
As long as you write your article with the reader in mind, you should be fine. This should permeate ever aspect of the post – from choosing a topic that adds value, making it readable to save your reader time and effort, and using a conversational tone to make it easier to read.
Editing – this is something I do for every post (possibly a little too much). It takes me quite a while to get a post ready to be published, because I keep going over it and asking myself what can be improved. I look for brevity (Mark Twain wrote “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”, readability, and was that I can better illustrate my point (maybe by finding a statistic, or a quote…it gives a post some meat…and credibility). But be warned! Too much focusing on the details and you’ll never get anything published, because nothing will ever be “perfect”. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and click “publish”, with possible typos and all.
Additional reading – because there’s so much more to this blogging thing…here are some that I’ve learned from. All of these are excellent blogs to learn from, but here are some stand-out articles of theirs:
- Kissmetrics on how to write great blog post titles
- Intercom.io on making every word count (less is more)
- Hubspot on how to write a blog post
I in no way have this down-pat. I’m still learning, and I feel like practice makes perfect in this particular situation. So if you have any blogging tips, be sure to share them in the comments