The world is full of great leaders with great ideas who will remain somewhat unknown because they just don’t know how to package their ideas for market. Since this is the age of blogging in which everyone is in the publishing business, it’s imperative for anyone who wants to be a thought leader and influencer to know how to craft a basic blog post that grabs and moves readers.
As an editor, I filter through a ton of material each week in search of content I believe leaders need to be healthier leaders. What I often find is great content that will probably never be digested because the mechanics of the post are off. So here are my editorial, insider, words-to-the-wise suggestions for aspiring bloggers…
Write a Killer Title
Don’t blow this. Be poetic with your subtitle, but craft a title that spells out exactly the benefit the reader is going to enjoy by reading the article. The only point of a blog post tile – I mean this – the ONLY point of the title, is to get the reader to read the first sentence of the post. I’ll write more about writing great titles soon, but start with writing titles that
- Address a need or problem.
- State some kind of goal.
- Give a clear preview of the content that follows.
And it never hurts to start your title with a numerical digit. Psychologically, it conveys a sense of value. So “6 Tips for Writing Blog Posts That Get Read” is better than “Writing Better Blog Posts.” But don’t go to seed on this or you’ll annoy your regular readers.
Write a Killer First Sentence
If the only point of the title is to get the reader to read the post’s first sentence, then guess what the point of the first sentence is? Yep. Get the reader through the first paragraph. When I started writing the post you’re reading, the second paragraph was originally my first, but it would never grab a reader. Instead, I’m trying, with my first sentence, to grab the attention of people who hope to package their great ideas better.
Write a Killer First Paragraph
If this feels redundant, you’re getting it. We’ll get to your great content in a moment, but our first goal is to get the reader into the post. We do that with a first paragraph that summarizes the reason why the reader should continue. A traditional thesis paragraph states what is coming in a dry, academic way, but a blog post is a bit more emotionally involved, commanding attention.
Eliminate Everything Unnecessary
There is no set length of a good post. Brian Clark writes long while Seth Godin gets to the point, but both know how to make every point and paragraph meaningful. Whether your post is 100 words or 1,000, pack it with value and chuck the fluff.
Break It Up – Make It Readable
Books require paragraphs, but blog posts require bullet points and subtitles, and sometimes graphics too. This is a basic rule of “web copy” that can’t be ignored.
Drive It Home and Tell the Reader What To Do Next
We can have plenty of readers, but no practical influence, if those readers don’t actually do anything as a result of interacting with our content. So always ask, as you’re wrapping up your post, what should the reader do next? It doesn’t have to be something monumental like “go save the world.” It can be as simple as:
- Leave a comment.
- Check out a product.
- Share this post.
- Go save the world… you get the point.
My hope in writing this post is that some of you who are reading will gain an understanding of how to better spread your ideas. You know some good stuff and you have a desire to share it, so share it well. Show me a headline I can’t not read. And while you’re at it – tell your friends about this post!
What did I miss? What would you add?