Yeah, because it’s that easy.
It’s like saying that the solution to losing weight is to ‘eat less, exercise more’. Want more readers? Write awesome content.
But we still haven’t addressed how to do this. How do you write totally awesome blog posts that readers will love?
That’s what this blog post is for, to share with you all the things I’ve learned from blogging for the last 12 years.
Prep before you start writing the post
Before you start writing your post (and this is something you should do for every post you write), ask and answer these three questions:
1 – Who am I writing this post for? Be as specific as possible. Is it for companies wanting to learn how to better leverage social media marketing in the hospitality industry, is it for cross-stitchers in New England or single dads that own dachshunds in Oregon? Know who you are writing for.
2 – What do they get from reading this post? Are you trying to inform them? Teach them a skill? Entertain them? Shock them? Know who your readers are and know why the post you are about to write is of value to them.
3 – What do YOU get from writing this post? How does this post benefit you, the writer? This is important because while you need to make sure the post has value for the reader, you also need to make sure that you know what you want from it as well. For example, I am writing this particular post in a very specific manner to test a new online content marketing tool. Know what you want to accomplish with each post you write.
Elements you need for a totally awesome blog post
First, you have to nail the post headline. This has become increasingly important in recent years since so much activity on Facebook and especially Twitter is now simply linking to other blog posts. We are all sharing our favorite blog posts, and typically all we are sharing is the title of the post and its URL. On top of that, we are all scanning our Newsfeed or list of tweets from the people we follow.
So at best, your headline has about 2 seconds to grab the attention of others and get them to click on the link. So you need to craft a killer headline that immediately gets attention.
But writing a great post headline is an art in and of itself. Here’s some tips:
Make sure the headline doesn’t simply summarize the post. This is probably the biggest mistake bloggers make, they simply let the headline summarize the post, almost as if the headline is an afterthought. For example, let’s say you write a very detailed blog post on a 10-step process for building more engagement on a blog. Which headline is more likely to get you to click on it:
1 – Building blog engagement (Summary of post)
2 – 10 Steps You Can Use To Start Building More Engagement On Your Blog TODAY! (Specific)
It’s probably going to be the 2nd choice, because it’s more specific, and you have a better sense of exactly what the post covers.
Make a specific claim with your headline. In the 2nd example above, the headline tells you that it will not only show you how to create more engagement on your blog, but it also promises to give you a 10-step process that you can begin implementing immediately to build engagement on your blog. In other words, you have a better sense of what the post is about, based on the specific headline. Tell potential readers exactly what they are getting if they read your post.
Make a specific claim with your headline then back that claim up in your post. Nothing is worse than clicking a link based on an awesome headline, then the post ends up being 250 words of fluff, or worse a thinly veiled sales pitch. I made a specific claim in the headline because I wanted to force myself to have to write a comprehensive and complete guide. For example, right now we’re already at the 700+ word count for this post and we haven’t even got into the writing of the post itself yet.
Writing the totally awesome blog post
First, let’s discuss the proper length for an awesome blog post. There’s no one right answer to this, many people will swear by shorter posts, but it’s more difficult to truly make an impact in 200 or 300 words.
So my advice when it comes to ideal blog post length is to use as many words as you need, but edit relentlessly. If you want to write a 2,000 word post fine, but keep in mind you are asking a lot of your readers to hold their interest that long. So edit, edit, edit.
Proofread your post. See if you have repeated any points or ideas that can be removed. Make sure you are using clear language. The idea is to strip out all of the filler so that you are left with a lean post that’s value-packed. You don’t want to go into writing your post thinking “I can’t go over 500 words!’ Write the post you want to write and with the words you want to use. Then go back and see if it needs to be shortened via editing.
What type of post should you write?
1 – The How-To Post. This is my personal favorite (this post is an example of this type), because you are teaching others a valuable skill. The more valuable that skill is, the more likely that your content will be shared. Additionally, teaching others a valuable skill helps establish your expertise.
The key with these types of posts is to make the information easily digestible and organized in a clear manner. Basically you need to give your readers a roadmap. This is why ‘X Steps to’ type posts are so popular, because people want to know the exact steps that they need to follow in the exact order.
There’s two approaches to the How-To post. The most obvious is to teach readers a skill that they want to learn. The problem here is that more than likely there are many posts about this same topic. So you need to do a better job than the competition.
The second type of How-To post is to teach readers a skill that they don’t know they need. Sites like Lifehacker are great for teaching you how to do things that are useful, such as filling up a bucket with your sink faucet and a clean dustpan.
You can also curate how-tos into a larger post or series as well. Length is again an consideration, but as long as the additional tips are valuable you’ll be fine.
2 – Raising awareness about an idea or a belief. With this type of post, the idea is to share your passion and to make sure that your readers share that passion, or at least are moved to respond based on their passion for you and your passion. You need to clearly articulate to your readers why this idea is worth their attention. Also, it helps to give them a clear and easy way to become involved. An example might be to show your readers that a problem exists, and then explain to them how solving that problem would lead to a better outcome for them. Then show them how their involvement can help you solve that problem.
3 – The Research-based post. These types of posts are often very time-consuming, but the payoff can be huge if you can create a research/fact-based post that is valuable for your readers. The most popular post I have ever written here was this post on how much social media costs companies. It currently has over 100,000 page views, but it also took me over three months to write. I interviewed over a dozen social media consultants, agencies and companies to learn what they charged for social media marketing services, plus I researched what similar consultants, agencies and companies were charging for their own services. I wrote this post because I knew from talking to clients and companies that there was great demand for guidance on how much basic social media marketing services cost. You can do the same thing by first identifying a question that a lot of people have, then finding the answer and sharing it with your readers.
4 – The Rant. This type of post is pretty self-explanatory, and for me at least, has been completely hit or miss. The key to an effective rant is to hit on a topic that’s relevant to a lot of people. You want to elicit an ‘Amen!’ or ‘I know exactly what this guy means!’ type of response. That prompts others to share your post. Often, a blogger will say that their ranty posts are the ones that they never thought would be popular, but often are. And then leads to a final point about writing an awesome post….
Whatever you write, write it with passion. Passionate writing is always more interesting. We want to read your emotions in your posts. If you can’t get excited about the topic then you can’t expect your readers to either.
Bloggers are always lamenting that “All the topics have been covered to death, what is there left for me to write about?”
It’s not about writing about something new, it’s about writing in your voice and with your passion. That’s truly the key to creating awesome blog posts.
Wait, you need an awesome visual!
An awesome visual to go with your awesome post is imperative to ensuring that your content spreads. Ideally, the visual will expand on and enhance the post itself. But there’s no substitute for a killer visual when it comes to attracting attention. If you have an eye-catching visual and an attention-grabbing headline, then you’ve already won half the battle.
When using pictures, you first need to consider copyright and if it’s legal for you to use someone else’s work. Luckily, I’ve already written a post on using other people’s pictures, so just click over here to read everything you need to know.
There are plenty of sources you can use for legit pictures but my favorite is the Flickr photos that are licensed with the Attribution License via Creative Commons. These are pictures that the owner has said you can use and even adapt, as long as you attribute who the owner of the work is. And Flickr currently lists over 55 Million photos with this license, so the odds are you can find an awesome image for your photo.
Another way to incorporate visuals into your post is to include charts and graphs that support the idea of your awesome post. This ties in with the idea of the research-based post. Often research firms and agencies such as Forrester or HubSpot will release their own research study, and with it include charts and graphs that you can use for free. Obviously they want you to blog about their report, but you can take those charts and graphs and use them as visuals for your own posts. Also remember that this helps your readers understand and process the information you are sharing with them, and in a new form (visual).
Finally, don’t forget about video! It’s now painfully easy to embed a video from YouTube and other video-sharing sites. Plus the additional benefit to you (assuming you pick an interesting video) is that readers will at least spend the amount of time on your post that it takes them to watch the video. And the more time they spend with your content the more likely they will enjoy it (again assuming that you’ve written useful and valuable content for them!).
If you can give your readers information in multiple contexts and forms, it can help them learn the core lesson you are trying to teach them.
The Formula For Writing an Awesome Blog Post Every Single Time
1 – Do the prep work beforehand. Figure out who you are writing for, why the post will be valuable for them, and also determine why the post will be valuable for you.
2 – Write an amazing headline. The post’s title needs to immediately grab the attention of potential readers, and be as specific as possible.
3 – Post length is optional, but in general don’t make the post any longer than it needs to be. Make sure you proofread and edit your post before publishing it (I often forget to do this!).
4 – Decide what type of post you want to write, and make the information easy for your readers to digest and absorb. Again, my personal favorite is the How-To post because you are teaching your readers a specific skill.
5 – Pick awesome visuals to go along with your awesome post. Remember that your content is being shared on other sites like Facebook and Plus, where the picture you add to the post will be shown. If the image is eye-catching, that simply increases the chances that your post will be read.
6 – Write with passion. If you aren’t excited about the topic then your readers won’t be excited about the post. Passionate writing is more interesting writing, you want the readers to be able to feel the passion you have for that particular topic. Because passion inspires us.