Content is king. We know that. Finding your unique voice is everything. We know that too. We also know about killer headlines, good pictures, writing in the same manner as we speak (or close thereto) and the usefulness of what we’re putting out there. But how exactly do we achieve that? What constitutes a good blog post? With less than 90 posts under my belt since I began blogging in earnest last September, I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert on the topic but I do know why I keep going back to the same group of blogs and why I couldn’t be fussed with some, regardless of how popular they may be.
Headline + Content + Visuals + Relevance.
It’s all about the Fab Four. A headline to grab my attention. Content to keep me reading until the very end. Visuals to emphasise a point. And, this is by far the most important, how relevant is the information I’m about to absorb, how can I use it to better myself.
The following is a list of what I personally try to keep in mind as I write a piece. They are, I feel, key elements which, when put together, make for a good blog post.
Punch Up Your Headlines
When developing a title for my blog post, I’m often caught between a rock and a hard place. First of all, I want to name the post whatever the hell I want, it’s mine, and I’ve every right to baptise it as I deem fit, yes? On the other hand, I must somehow incorporate key phrases that are easily picked up by search engines such as How To, Top 10, What Is, The Best, 12 Ways To … that sort of thing. To be perfectly honest, I often plough through with calling it as I see it. And there are those which are on point, clear and concise in providing a teaser of the actual post, sometimes leveraging on a brand or product name.
Body Of Work
Once the first draft is done, go back and read it from the very beginning but from a reader’s perspective. Ask yourself if what you’ve written is clear from the get go, if it’s blatant what you’re trying to say. Are you making it unnecessarily busy? Using loads of big words to sound smart? What sort of experience are you creating for your readers? Are your personality and honesty coming through? Have you left gaping holes in your story that make it difficult for your readers to relate? Ask yourself all these questions before you click on that Publish button. It’ll make a world of difference, trust me.
An Intimate Spin
Wherever applicable, I add in bits culled from personal experience to make it my story. There’s nothing like sharing to create a bond with your readers. For instance, my very first blog post. I thought I’d written an amazing, killer post. Smooth and seamless as I wove from point to point. I took a quick biscuit break and returned for a final read prior to publishing it. How quickly my bubbles popped. It was the most boring load of junk I’d ever penned. I was crushed. I saved the draft, turned my laptop off and went to the gym. The next day, I rewrote the entire thing. Give it a read and tell me how I fared 🙂
I like to include viewpoints from others as comments in my pieces whenever I can. It makes for a balanced, well-rounded story, and elevates the post from being merely a compilation of my thoughts to an opinion piece.
The Devil’s In The Details
Check, check and check yet again. Walk away, do something else. Come back and, you’ve got it, check once more. When it comes to spelling, I use Oxford Dictionaries. As for grammar, I find Grammarly to be indispensable. For the record, I speak and write Queen’s English hence the inclusion of ‘u’ and absence of ‘z’, in case you were wondering 🙂 I also try very hard to not use the same word too often. It doesn’t always work out well.
A Picture Tells A Thousand Words – blah blah blah
Although there are some very successful bloggers whose style sof writing lean towards the lengthy and visual-free, I firmly subscribe to the concept of breaking up paragraphs with images. Be it to provide visual relief or (the more probable scenario) to visually punctuate a point, pictures go a long way towards cementing the message you’re trying to send. Depending on the nature of your blog/post, you can use stock images (I like Shutterstock) or invest in a decent camera. When it’s an #ootd or #motd post, I use a combination of my iPhone and my Canon, which I really shouldn’t as it shows up the disparity in quality very acutely. So there’s something I need to work on. When it’s a post such as the one you’re currently reading, image banks are my friend.
Baiting The Hook
At the end of the day, you want your blog post to elicit a response from readers. You want to interact with them. Engage and converse. The most basic (and effective) way of doing this is to end with a hook. Ask your readers if they agree or disagree with you. Would they have acted differently? If so, why? Is it a style or colour they would try? When you sign off with a question, you’re more likely to trigger comments from readers than if you ended on a (non call-action) flat note.
While I know we all write differently with varying agendas, I really hope these tips will be of some help when you put together your next blog post – even if just a wee bit 🙂 please, feel free to share other tips you might have. I’d be eternally grateful.
p/s here’s what I wrote on constructive commenting